Wednesday, December 4, 2013

If it hadn’t been for Thomas, Gary never would have made it to that Christmas.  Thomas was always there, always had a smile, a shoulder, a hand to extend, and Gary truly believed that no matter what he did, that hand never would be retracted.  That’s why he worked so hard to get the house ready, even though he wanted nothing to do with the Yule this year. Sharon bitched constantly about the all the trees he bought, but he wanted the house to smell like a forest when Thomas came back from Canada; to feel at home. Maybe then he wouldn’t go back and they could start the whole thing over again from the beginning. Of course, he refused to even consider the alternative, which was what Sharon kept harping on.

“He’ll surely think you’ve lost your mind,” she told him over and over again, as he dragged one after another of the trees through the double French doors leading from the back porch. The dining room looked like Sherwood Forest, with wind chimes and stuffed birds adorning the branches. Sharon packed her bags and moved out on the twenty-third. As soon as she was gone, Gary drained her waterbed and filled it with dirt, then planted dozens of seedlings in it, draping them with miniature lights and wooden figurines.

With the house to himself, Gary listened to the clocks ticking down the minutes to Christmas. Soon. Soon they would both be here in this house, both under the sky-blue ceiling and the glow-in-the-dark stars sprayed across the plaster heaven. Here among the pines and the spruces and the firs that scented the air. He boiled apples on the hearth and cinnamon sticks on the stove, and delighted in the effect on his psyche. It was wonderful; a true Christmas.

And he waited.

On Christmas Eve, a package arrived, wrapped in plain brown paper and tied with a cord, the address scrawled in black marker. He found a knife and cut through the bindings, tearing away the paper. Inside, hidden among shredded newspapers from Vancouver, was a framed picture of Thomas in a three-piece suit standing outside a condo. The note explained that this was his new house; he had found a good job as an accountant with a prestigious firm and was too busy to leave right now. Have a nice Christmas. Love, Thomas. Nothing else.

Gary stared at the picture for hours, holding it up before him as he wandered through his forest, a forest that seemed suddenly stupid. After awhile, he found a nice clearing and sat down and piled up some logs and started a fire.

1 comment:

  1. I like it. Very descriptive and slightly nuerotic.