Note: This is the concluding story of Stan, Carrin, and Krista Claire for 2022. Carrin is speaking.

My husband Stan admitted that he had had an affair with Maria, our housekeeper of three years. He said it was brief; on the top of the dryer, and over before the spin load had finished. But our family is forever changed.

Maria was gone. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. I fired her without severance pay. She left before we moved to The Heritage, but she reappeared last night.

My story begins yesterday. Stan had been asked to fly to New York for an emergency, holiday Botox session, and he took Krista with him. I didn’t go because the staff would have gone home early and, of course, I would have none of it. They put in a full day and left at 5. I curled up in front of the fireplace with a chilled bottle of merlot, a board of aged brie, and my Shih Tzu. I must have fallen asleep…

The next thing I knew, I was awakened to the sounds of a familiar voice. Maria was) standing in front of me, the fire crackling behind her. The dying ambers of the fireplace highlighted her silhouette, and she was wearing an apron and rubber gloves. She carried a bottle of Windex in one hand and a laundry basket in the other. She pointed the Windex bottle at me and said (and be kind: remember, Maria’s from El Salvador or whatever it is):

“Ju will be visited esta noche by tresss espiritos … the spirit of soccer past, the spirit of soccer present, and of soccer jet to come.”

I shook my head in disbelief. I glared at the apparition and said: “Be gone now -you are not real! Maria left us months ago, and I know I set the house alarm! You, you are nothing more than a bit of undigested brie… a fragment of an undone Xanax, or too much wine. I don’t believe in you!”

Maria smiled and said… “Ju will believe Miz Carren… ju will.” She lifted her bottle of Windex and sprayed, and I fell fast asleep. I awoke to the sound of the front doorbell ringing. I answered it.

There in front of me stood a pigtailed little girl…the little girl was…me, 30 years ago. The apparition was wearing my AYSO Dandelion uniform, and I queried: “Are you the spirit of soccer past?”

She replied: “Cha, like… yaaa,” and offered me her little hand.

I grabbed her hand, and we were suddenly whisked back in time. There we stood in Lanark Park, with my soccer coach and my old teammates. I remembered this day! The season was over, and we were eating pizza and having fun.

Little Carrin and I overheard my mother say: “This was fun…but I think we need to move on… Carrin is… well, better than AYSO. She needs to play club soccer.”

I looked at little Carrin and said: I wasn’t very good, I mean… you weren’t very good, but you had fun in AYSO… didn’t you?

“Yes” said little Carrin, “But mom wanted ‘us’ to play club.”

I felt a pang of regret – the friends I left behind… the greasy pizza with neighbor kids…The fact that I got cut from the club team I tried out for… I looked at little Carrin and said: “What does it mean?”

She said: “Aaaah… like, I’m 8… how do I know? But maybe, maybe mom should have let us play AYSO soccer?”

I closed my eyes and sighed. I pondered and said: “I didn’t want to play club soccer. Those girls were super mean, and they were all blonde. I wanted to stay with my friends and… and I wasn’t that good, you know?”

I opened my eyes, and little Carrin was gone. I was back in my great room at the Heritage, and the fire in the fireplace was dying. I felt a chill and there, standing under the Tiffany chandelier, was Porsche, Stan’s surgical assistant. She beckoned me forward.

I asked: “Are you here to haunt my present?”

She said: “Oh, you have no idea… honey, but yes… Carrin, you have turned into an ice princess, a beee-atch, if I might say so. And you’re delusional about Krista.”

I was mortified and stunned that Stan’s assistant would talk to me this way. Perhaps sensing my thoughts, Porsche said: “I’m a spirit, Carrin. I can talk to you any way I want. Now, let’s take a little trip.”

She grabbed my hand, and we were transported to what appeared to be the home of Krista’s soccer coach. It was a modest, tiny home nestled in a suburb. Coach was sitting at a table, next to the director of coaching. The spirit and I overheard them talking about the team.

The coach said: “Look, we have to make some moves. Krista just doesn’t have the chops. She has no left foot–and her mother’s a pain in the ass. She’s on the bubble”.

The DOC said: “You have to think about this, John, yeah she has limited skills, but they pay their fees, and that team party they threw was awesome. If you have to make a move, cut Katie; her parents are slow payers”

Coach: “ Are you crazy! Katie’s left-footed, and she listens to me”

DOC: “Well, just promise me you’ll think about it? This is a business, you know.”

I looked at Porsche and said: “I had no idea… they don’t know how good Krista is!”

Porsche stared at me for the longest time and finally said: “O…M….G. You really are delusional. Stan is so right. Look, unless you pull your head out, Krista is never going to grasp reality…. She’ll be in a constant state of delusion…. She’ll turn into… you.”

I closed my eyes and opened them again. Suddenly, I was back on a soccer field, and standing next to the third sprit. And that sprit was… me. The other me was older. Much older, OMG she, me, looked frightful. I apparently had some “work” done, and it hadn’t gone well. I looked like Bruce Jenner with boobs.

The older me said: “This is your future, Carrin. I am you.. Stan isn’t here because he divorced you and now lives in Hawaii with Porsche.”

The older Carrin pointed at a woman on the sidelines, and said: “That nasty woman yelling at the coach is Krista Claire. And the little girl pouting because she got pulled… She’s your granddaughter.”

I knew that instant I needed to change, and if I didn’t, my future was going to be ugly and lonely. I put my hand over my eyes and started to cry. When I opened them again, I was back in front of my fireplace and my Shih Tzu was licking my lips. It was disgusting.

I resolved that instant to change. I knew that I needed to let Krista just play–and let her enjoy being young and let the chips fall as they may.

I resolved to tell Stan and Krista that I loved them, plus give the staff a Christmas bonus.

And tell Stan to…. fire Porsche on Monday.