The city is quiet, no one is out, and most of the stores are dark. I go to a gas station, because it’s open, and buy a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito. It’s terrible and delicious, and I remember that there are good reasons to be here. The boy working behind the counter is young, maybe sixteen, and he stands attentive at the edge of the counter even though I’m the only person walking through the aisles. He wishes me ‘Merry Christmas’ as I walk out and I smile without showing teeth.
When I get home my mom is already beginning to prepare dinner. She has the nice dishes and real silverware and she sets up each place around the table like it will stay that way forever. The water glass, the wine glass, the plate, the bowl, the forks, the knife, and the spoons, the candles in the middle, the flowers framing the table around the room, and the extra chairs from the closet. I help her peel the carrots, and after she boils them and adds cinnamon and butter. The potatoes are mashed and butter and milk are added, the gravy sits on the stove to keep it warm. She watches the duck and chicken while the soup heats with the lid on. When my grandparents come she runs to them.
“Watch this for me please, Kyle.”
She hugs them and they comment on how beautiful everything is and how good it smells.
“Kyle,” my grandpa says, “can you go get the presents out of the car? They’re in the back seat.” It takes me several trips to bring them all inside, and I stack them in piles in the living room.
At dinner everyone is polite, and my mom is literally on her feet the entire time, bringing one plate after another. Whenever there is a break in the conversation she asks, ‘Does anyone want more potatoes?’ and run to the kitchen to put more potatoes in the bowl and bring it back to the table. Her parents tell her to sit down and not to worry, but she continues to stand up and go into the kitchen. My dad and grandpa talk about golf and business, my grandpa mentions politics, but it makes everyone uncomfortable.
“There’s a party for the board on Monday if you would like to come,” my dad tells my grandfather.
“Thanks, we have tickets to go see the opera that night, but maybe after it finishes.”
My brother and I excuse ourselves while they are still talking and go down into the basement and watch television until they call down that we’re going to open presents. When my grandparents leave we walk them to their luxury car and wait in the driveway until they have turned the corner. When I come back in my mom and dad are both in the kitchen smoking cigarettes. I take a seat next to them, but I don’t smoke a cigarette since they don’t know that I smoke, but I do finish what is left in the bottle of wine. After, my dad goes into his study, and my brother and I watch Apocalypse Now. My mom comes in several hours later.
“You guys should get to bed if you want Santa Claus to come,” she smiles, and I can see she is tired.
“Alright, mom,” I say and kiss her goodnight before she walks to the bedroom.
So at first i wish u marry x-mas…i am celebarting it now,i know u will do it tmrw…mmm USA always must have something special:-)
Now is all my family sitting in livingoom,drink some wine and talking about nothing or about something stupid,for example my mom is angry with boyfriend(u didn´t see him,but i told u that his face is so similar to Mr.Bean..)because he has bought her some underclothing,really nice, but the size is like for some dwarf…so small(actually i think taht it is my mother’s real size,but she doesnť want to confess to it…so funny
Also my grandfather is pretending that the socks with pink animal was really what he had wished…i love christmas
Tmrw iam going to celebarte it again, but with second part of family,greeeaaat..no, i like x-mas(once a year is enough)Tmrw.will be more funny,because now i am going with friends to party and probably it finishes in the morning,it means that from the party-directely to the house of grandmother..ajaj,i have to buy thousands of bubble gums..because my grammy doesn’t like the smell of alcohol.
U must write me how did u spent christmas..
ok honey i have to return to livingroom and listen to horrible christmas songs,smile and be happy..
It was very nice reading your mail, it would be the greatest thing if u come in april…i really miss u so much
So have really nice christmas time,and happy new year(don’t drink so much absinth..)
papapapapapapapapapapapap kisses Nina
P.S.No please don’t worry about some present..but if u want to give me a present-the most beautiful present 4 me-to see u soonest as possible..
I wake up late for Christmas, but I’m the only one up as I walk through the house. I see the full stockings, the same ones we’ve had since we were little, sitting by the fireplace. Lunch is happy and we all sit around the table, the four of us, talking and laughing, and my father tells stories and hugs my mom and kisses her cheek whenever the story is about her. I sleep and walk outside in the cold when I’m tired of sleeping. By night I’ve gone through enough wine that I’m starting to get drunk. I try again to read A Farewell to Arms but I can’t focus enough to read a page without forgetting everything. I sit with my mom and dad and they bring out more wine and we drink and talk until I fall asleep early, resting my head on the back of the couch with my face pointing into the air.
Looking through my closet I find a couple packs of cigarettes and a bottle of vodka I had stashed. My friends call in the afternoon.
“Want to go to a movie?” they ask.
“You have any pot?”
“Yeah, I’ve got some,” I say.
We smoke in the car and take our time driving around. Most of them fall asleep in the movie, and I want to but I have a headache, and my stomach is in knots, and all I really want is a beer.
After the movie everyone is tired, and I go home. I check my email but close it when I don’t see what I’m looking for. I walk downstairs and look through the house for my brother. I consider calling him but he is probably somewhere for a reason. I spend the rest of the night in my room. I don’t hear him come home and I don’t know where my parents went.
I lie in bed. The sensations on my body are memories I’m unable to forget. I position myself in a way to have a body curled against the inside of my waist. The smell is there and so is the feeling of warmth against my skin, a feeling that clothes can’t replicate. By now I’m tired and I want to sleep, the sun is coming up, I need to sleep, but I can’t because I start to dream. For help the dreams reach into my memories making the things I want more than anything into flesh and blood. Waking isn’t hard to do, but not crying is.
I pull my car over into the shoulder as I drive through the cross-town and walk up to the wall that runs parallel with the road. I’m choking, and I bend over but it’s not enough. I put my hand down my throat until a little bit of stinging liquid spills out into the grass. It runs down my hand and soaks into the edge of my shirt. I don’t feel any better, just exhausted and sick like my stomach is on water. I sit in the grass until I can breathe again. The smell of vomit doesn’t bother me.
When I get home I check my email and then drink a six-pack which makes me feel better. My brother finds me sprawled out in a chair in the living room.
“Drinking pretty early aren’t you.”
I laugh, “I’ve been up for awhile.”
He looks away from me. “Do you want to come to a party tonight?”
“It’s going to be downtown.”
“She’s been asking me about you”
“I don’t know why.”
“Well if you want to…”
I drink some whiskey and check my e-mail and my friends come over.
“Get in the car, we’re having a party,” they say.
We cruise down the interstate. I drink beer that I brought with me. The street signs come so fast that I can’t read them.
“We’re getting fucked up,” they say.
“Fuck yes,” I say.
They live in a new condo close to downtown. When I step inside they give me a shot. I take it and ask for another. They pour me one and slap me on the shoulder.
“Where are the pills?” I ask.
Everyone is destroyed, and I walk through the party stopping girls as they come to me. I try to kiss them and some move away and some kiss me back and either way I keep walking with my hand out feeling the wall as if it could tell me something that I can’t see. ‘Has anyone seen my Xanax? Has anyone seen my Ambien?’ Downstairs they’re watching porn, upstairs there is coke and alcohol, and I do a long line and laugh when my nose starts pouring out blood. Someone puts a dirty rag underneath it, it soaks through quickly and they take me to the bathroom. I put my head under the faucet and try drinking the water as the blood runs down the side of my face.
The cops come, and we run out of the back of the house into the neighboring yard. We walk to downtown and go into a bar. They pause on my fake but let me in. Inside there are girls I went to high school with, and we all take shots, and they push us when we say lewd things to them, but they don’t leave. Someone asks what I did for Christmas. I try, but I can’t remember anything more definite than ‘had dinner with my family.’
The music that is playing is hard, and I would give anything for it to slow down. I spin in place on a stool and drink what is around. She said she loved me; I never planned for that. I should have told her I loved her. We start a dance party in the bathroom and bring everyone in. I’m pulled into a stall and we make out. I push her against the wall and she puts her hand down my pants. She keeps it there until my friends climb the outside of the stall and put their heads over and yell to me. We laugh and I stand up on the toilet seat and kick the shitty metal wall.
I come to in a booth. I put on my coat and try to stand but fall over into a pool table. A couple of friends prop me up under my arms.
“Where you going?”
“The bathroom, I need to piss.”
They take me a few feet and then let me go. I lean myself against the wall for a couple seconds and then walk quickly toward the exit. Outside I’m confused. There is a coffee shop and I sprint for it.
A couple taxi drivers are sitting at a table but otherwise the place is empty. One of the baristas jumps off the counter, the other doesn’t move.
“You guys still open?”
“Uh a coffee please,” I say.
He pauses, “Do you want anything else?”
“No, just coffee.”
I sit down in a chair facing out the window. I take out my cigarettes and I have one between my lips when I’m interrupted.
“What?” I say.
The guy has the three paper cups sitting on a tray.
“You can’t smoke in here.”
“I can’t smoke with my coffee?”
“No, you can’t smoke indoors anymore.”
I go outside and smoke a few cigarettes. The guy comes out to tell me to move away from the entrance. When I come back inside my coffee is cold. I drink a little and go to the counter.
“My coffee is cold. Can I heat it up?”
“There’s nothing back here.”
“I can see a microwave.”
He realizes that I’m not going to leave so he nods in agreement. As I’m handing it to him my hand shakes violently and the coffee slips out and splashes all over the floor. He shakes his head but doesn’t say anything.
“I would like to order another,” I say as the coffee slides across the floor and around my shoes.
For hours I watch people leaving the bars. After, I feel well enough to drive home and I keep the window rolled down a little so I can smoke cigarettes while I drive.
When I wake I feel alright. The sun is up and I’m up; I can’t find the desire to sleep anymore. I go into the bathroom. There are scratches all over my face. Did I do that in my sleep? I wash them, dress, and go downstairs. I’m surprised to see my mom sitting at the table opening mail.
“Hi, sweetie,” she says.
There’s still food leftover from Christmas, I need something real, and I heat it up and eat the potatoes and meat. A sharp shooting pain runs through my jaw from a tooth in the back and I eat on the other side. I try to look the dentist up but I can’t remember his name.
“Mom, do you have the dentist’s number?”
“Sure, sweetie.” She opens her phone. “You can call from this,” she says.
They tell me the soonest available time is the second week of January.
“Is it an emergency?” she asks.
“Uh, I’m not sure, I don’t think so. I’m just pretty sure I have a cavity.”
“Well if you want to try to come in on Friday I think the doctor can probably fit you in. You might have to wait awhile, though.”
“Thanks, I’ll be there Friday.”
I watch television even though I don’t want to. My brother joins me and I can’t tell if he feels the same. After a few hours I’ve had enough, I can’t wait anymore.
I open my email. There’s one and that restlessness goes away. I notice the message is short before I can read anything.
Hey Kyle i am just want to tell u happyyyy birthday, u have them tomorow, right?
So have great celebration and enjoy it..
I know that what i am gonna tell u now its not the greatest present, but maybe u should know it or i dont know…
So..i found out that i am pregnant..
I think about when we have watched those childrens playing ..it seemed nice..but I dont want to be mother at 20 years…
So i am decided to interrupt it ..i am going to doctor next week..so scared…but there is no another solution.
ok now u know it..i am sorry maybe i should’t have told u,i dont know…
I leave the house. I only have my coat, everything burns, my face, ears, eyes, nose, fingers, neck, and I just walk.
“Tim, can you come pick me up?”
“Where do you want to go?”
“Home, but take a long way.”
I see his eyes in the rear-view, he’s staring at me.
“Your eyes, they’re black,” he says. I don’t say anything. “Is everything alright? Was there a death in the family?” he asks.
I stare out the window at the old mansions and the snow that has been piled into small drifts along the road.
So that’s how they let you have it. They give you what you want, but never for free, because as soon as you have it they say no, no, no, but fuck them, because all those days that were so bright and all those times that made sense, for the first time made sense, they leave me into this heated cab’s air.
The one good thing you had, your anchor, a little mother-fucking hope, is ripped from you, and they make you pay for that hope. There’s nothing left but reality: an ocean, laced memories. I could fight and tear at them with my fingernails and hold it by the flesh but they will take everything. They always take everything.
“Have you ever been married Tim? I don’t think I can ever be like that with someone. I only think of myself.”