"Did Mom respond yet?"
"Dude, it's been two minutes. Relax."
"I know it's been two minutes, but I have things to do today. Not all of us are freelancers, you know."
"I get that, but it's our mother. You can afford to take one long lunch break to help me organize her retirement party. Also, I do work on occasion."
"Pfft, yeah, I'd hardly call rolling out of bed and pushing a few buttons 'working'."
"Carter, you're a computer programmer. Isn't that, like, your whole job?"
"Yeah, but I wear real pants while doing it."
"Hey, I wear real pants!"
"Shelby, Lulu leggings aren't real pants, no matter how much you pretend they are."
"You're just mad that you don't have the butt to pull them off."
"Hey, I have a great ass. But that doesn't mean the whole world has to see it."
"Does the world ever see you, though? You're basically a professional basement dweller as it is."
"Wait, shush—did your phone just light up?"
"Yeah, but it's just my client. Jordan wants me to take a bunch of photos for her new eyeshadow palette, but her demands are so insulting. I'm convinced that this woman has never held a DSLR in her life, yet she has no problem telling me how to adjust the lighting in my shots. It's like, okay, I get it! I know how to work my own camera and pick a background… Believe it or not, social media is a hard world to navigate through."
"I imagine so. Hence why you need to wear pyjamas to accommodate for all that stress."
"You mock because you're jealous. That's the only explana—oh, that's Mom."
"What'd she say?"
"... She says she's busy next Friday."
"What? Doing what?"
"Going out for dinner with Sharon."
"Isn't that in two weeks?"
"I'll read you exactly what she said: 'I'm sorry, sweetie, but I'm going out for dinner with Sharon next Friday. What about next Saturday?'"
"Well, we can't do it next Saturday, I'm leaving town that day."
"I know that, dingus."
"Just 'Carter' is fine, thanks."
"... Maybe I could coordinate something with Sharon, so that Mom thinks she's just going out for dinner with her but then everybody else is there when they arrive… But I don't want to take over their dinner, that's not fair to Sharon. I guess we could do it in two weeks, but I don't want her to think that we forgot about her retirement in the meantime. I don't want her to ask too many questions or start suspecting anything."
"Would she think that?"
"Sheesh, okay. You were always more in tune with that sort of thing."
"Just the people-reading stuff. I don't know, you'd always be thinking about what other people were thinking. I'd just pick a random day and message a few close buds. 'You free this day?' 'Yeah.' 'Cool.' And that would be it."
"But this is a surprise party, though. If we don't think about what Mom might be thinking, then we could spoil it."
"Nah, you're overthinking it. But that's what you do—you get in your own head and freeze up. It's like the thing with your client—Jordan, is it? She puts all these demands on you and you just let her steamroll you."
"But it's her product. She kind of has a right to be picky."
"To an extent, I guess. But you're a grown-ass photographer. You're the professional, here. I get that you have to bite your tongue with her, but it seems as though you're not totally incompetent at your job, so stand your ground."
"Wow, you're such a sap, it's embarrassing… But thank you, Carter. I appreciate that."
"Sure. But what do we do for Mom?"
"I don't know."
"Well, you think about it and let me know what you come up with. I should get back to the office."
"But we're not done yet."
"Well, you can't just let me do it all myself."
"What do you mean, 'do it all yourself'? Did I not just sit here with you for 45 minutes to talk about it?"
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean anything if we don't have any goals to work towards. They're just loose ideas, otherwise."
"Look, Shelby, you're better at this stuff than me. I gave you my input. Just make whatever plans you want and let me know what you want me to do."
"Oh, sure. You have all the free time in the world to sit around and make snarky comments at me, but then you leave me right when it's time to pull the trigger. That way, if it all falls apart, it's my fault!"
"Oh, grow a pair, will ya? It's not that big a deal. Just think of what Mom likes."
"If it's so easy, then why don't you do it?"
"Well, I'm not gonna bother brainstorming with you if you're just gonna do something else anyway."
"What do you have against planning a retirement party for your mother?!"
"That's crap, and you know it."
"Shut up! Stop asking questions!"
"Stop being offended by them!"
"You know you're the party girl. This is what you're good for."
"Is that what you think of me? Just some 'party girl'?"
"Well, can you blame me?"
"You are an ass."
"I said I had an ass, not that I am one! … Okay, you know that's just going to make me really uncomfortable if you just sit here and… Okay, fine, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, just stop crying."
"What is your problem?"
"Look, I didn't mean—"
"Why did you even agree to organize this thing with me? Why even bother if you hate me so damn much?"
"I don't know! ... I never wanted to do it, but I thought… I guess I just wanted Mom to know that I was involved."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, look at who she's texting. It's not me."
"What are you talking about? Mom loves you."
"Yeah, but she likes you. And in a family, that almost means more."
"She likes you too, Carter. She just grew up around women, so she knows how to interact with them."
"You always say that."
"But think about it, though: Her dad left when she was young, so she only had Grandma and Aunt Penny and Aunt Margie growing up, then our dad died… She barely had any men in her life, and you were the only one who stuck around longer than seven or eight years. She adores you, even if she doesn't always know how to show it."
"... Is that true?"
"What, you think I'm lying to you now?"
"Okay, you're right, you're right… I just remember Mom acting so... weirdly standoffish with me, and I was never really sure why."
"I did notice that she was a little more distant with you. But she just wanted to give you your space, that's all."
"I guess so."
"You were just a bit more reserved. And I was anything but that, so she and I talked a lot. I remember her telling me that she was worried about saying the wrong thing that would set you off. She had already lost so much, and she didn't want to lose you, too."
"And I can respect that, but... I didn't really have a dad growing up, and sometimes, I felt like... Because of my own stupidity, I didn't really have a mom, either."
"Even though I knew you could handle all this party stuff on your own… I guess I just wanted her to know that I still loved her, too."
"Well, truth be told… I wanted your help."
"Yeah, because you're totally right—I get way too caught up in my own head to make a decision on things. Sure, I like organizing these kinds of events, but I have a hard time saying 'go' and doing it. I like knowing that someone has my back. Plus… I never get to see you anymore. I miss you. And yes, I know—your schedule is way more hectic than I'll ever understand, because you're super smart and I'm just some—"
"Hey, no, don't do that. I was out of line when I made those comments. I couldn't do what you do."
"Are you kidding? I like the professional basement dweller life. Thrive off of it, even. But this party stuff... It's like a foreign language to me. But it's nice to know that there's someone there to help me through it."
"Yeah, I like having someone else to plan stuff with for a change… You can be really sweet when you're not trying to be an idiot."
"I know, it's disgusting."
"Ugh, come here and hug me before I start crying again."
"Okay, yep… I really am sorry. You're not just some party girl. I've learned so much from you, and I'm glad you're my sister."
"Thanks, Cartie. I'm sorry, too. I love you."
"I love you, too… Hey, why don't we do Mom's thing next Thursday night?"
"Yeah, it'll throw her off because she'll still have to work on Friday. And she'll be in such a good mood after her party that it'll make her last day a good one. Plus, she can spend Friday night with Sharon to work through all her feelings and crap."
"That's actually a really good idea… I'm gonna ask her if she's free on Thursday."
"So she'll think that you two are having dinner at your place, but then everybody will be there when you guys show up?"
"Yep, that's the plan. You can be front and centre if you'd like."
"I don't know if I'm ready for that, but that sounds good… Wow, I'm a little shocked that party planning hasn't been completely awful so far."
"Yeah, well, just wait 'til we get to Party City."
"Is waiting in the car an option?"
"Ha, not so much, bud. You're in this now. No backing out."
"Meh, worth a shot."
"... Looks like she's free Thursday. We've got ourselves a party."