Dawn Keeley blushed to the roots of her hair at her rather pretentious entrance. She should have known better. If only Angela had been present, the slamming of the door might have been excusable, but of course a guest of Angela's had already arrived. One guest in front of her, and possibly more were in and about the house.
"I'm sorry," she whispered self-consciously, not really in Angela's direction. Dawn cleared her throat, and tried again, in the way her mom always told her to. She apologized once more with a louder, clearer voice. "I'm sorry, Angela. Sir. I don't know what came over me. I suppose, especially around Christmas, the childhood memories just overcome a person."
"Who are you calling sir? Me?" Uncle Michael dropped his face in false shock. "Now, young lady, I might be older than you, but there's no need to call me sir! Angela, why don't you introduce us?"
"Oh, this is Dawn, Paula's younger sister," Angela said affectionately. She walked forward to put an arm around Dawn's neck, drawing her closer. "Kiddo, please don't be so hard on yourself. Everyone slams that door. I actually mean to, on the rare days I don't out of accident, because it's such a pain. Now let me have a look at you."
Dawn retreated to arms' length once more so that Angela could perform a proper inspection on her. She hadn't been to this house since last year, that is, for Christmas 2007. Dawn was a tallish red-haired girl, tanned but without the expect freckles, and she wore no glasses, jewellery, or other accessories to complement her features save those Nature had given her. Blue eyes and not green irises stared out of a slightly heart-shaped face, framed by long lashes. A healthy glow apparently surrounded Dawn, though it wasn't easy to distinguish from the rosy pallour the dim lights of the foyer cast on her face. Dawn was 21 now.
"You should eat a little less, Dawn," Angela patted her shoulder. "You almost look like a small tree instead of only a branch off that tree." Dawn took the sarcasm good-naturedly. She meant that Dawn had always been a small and skinny child, and after she'd grown seven inches in one school year she never filled out sideways, accordingly. Dawn projected an image of a 5'8" thin sapling, exactly.
"If you think I'm bad, you should see Polly nowadays." Dawn's rejoinder was no criticism either. Paula Keeley's problem was that she hadn't grown even a centimetre in the ten years after hitting 16, but she'd had an early growth spurt and nonetheless looked like a normal 5'5" woman, height, weight and all.
"So tell me again, why can't Polly make it to my dinner?" Angela pouted a little, as evidenced by the minute protusion of her full lower lip.
Dawn shrugged. "She had things to do. She says- she says she hopes you don't mind putting up with her 'puny kid sister'". Dawn had some difficulty getting the words out, because despite everything, she did maintain that vision of herself, sometimes. She couldn't imagine that no one found her a burden, at every holiday dinner like this one. Dawn was old enough to attend these functions all by herself, but somehow she always ended up representing her sister.
Angela's tone suddenly turned sharp and reproving. "You tell her to stop saying that. You're here on behalf of yourself, and it's obvious I don't mind you being here. I invited you, didn't I? Now occupy Uncle Michael for just a sec, while I go check on the gravy."
Uncle Michael had been passed over for most of their conversation - however he'd noticed with interest the answer to his question, that Dawn was Paula Keeley's younger sister, the bright yet shy one - and he politely stepped forward now to remind Dawn of his presence. He smiled to show he wasn't offended by the last few minutes. "Yes, do occupy me. Angela hasn't been doing nearly a good job," he joked.
Together they wandered away, as Angela dashed to the kitchen for the quickest 'second', leaving Kelly to answer the timid knock on the door when she suddenly reappeared from the washroom.