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Sing With Me If It's Just For Today...
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
I wish I could have a do-over for this Christmas Eve.
“Why do you have to go?” It was the third or fourth time Billy had asked me that question, each time his voice whiney, or more accurately, pleading. I never gave him a good answer because there was no good reason for me to have to go up to Santa Barbara two days before Christmas.

“Russell wants to see me and exchange gifts.” It was the best answer I could give without causing a firestorm of arguments. It was a lie, of course. While I would see Russell while up there, I was driving up to Santa Barbara to see Michael who complained with me to see him. He was in from his home in Germany for the holiday and said he’d really been looking forward to seeing me. I felt obligated. It was a good three years past the expiration date on our relationship, one born from my indiscretion, but Michael didn’t know that. How could he? I was never honest with him.

“You’re seeing Michael, too.” An old wound opened up on Billy’s face.

“I’m just seeing Russell,” I said, notching another lie onto my belt. I left early the next morning, kissing Billy goodbye while he was still groggy in bed. I went to Michael’s first, then we both drove up the hill to see Russell. The day dragged its feet. After dinner at a local restaurant, Michael and I went back to his place. We stumbled for things to talk about until it was time for bed.

I turned on the TV, took an Ambien, smoked some pot. Michael tried to snuggle but my body built a shield, and he rolled over and fell asleep. I did too, eventually.

The next morning, I didn’t stay for breakfast. Calling Billy from the car, I told him I’d be home soon.

“I have a surprise!” He sounded excited, too excited, making me worry that old problems were about to visit for the holiday. When I arrived home, I found Christmas lights hung over the hedge archway Billy had grown years ago. They also spiraled down our little wooden columns that flanked the front door, and the lights lit up the living room window.

“Ta-Dah!” Billy loved “Ta-Dah”s almost as much as I enjoyed receiving them. I hugged him on the porch, carrying the gifts I’d received.

“What’d you get?” He was eyeing my packages.

“Nosy.” It was a pathetic response to hide my guilt. “I’ll show you.” We went into the house, and I showed him the round silver box that Russell gave me.

“What’s that?” He was pointing at another red-bowed box, barely looking at the silver box. I showed him the leather coat from The Gap that Michael had given me.

“Who’s that from?” He already knew but I told him anyway. “Nice coat.” He said it without any hint of bitterness, just a resignation of my deceit.

“You think? I don’t really like it.”

“Whatever.” He paused, his face scrunching just a little, a pout about to blossom. “When do you want to get the tree?”

“In a few hours? I want to relax for a little while.”

“We better hurry. They’re going to be gone!” There was urgency of a familiar kind but I looked at Billy hard, right in the eyes, and saw nothing but brightness and light. I determined I’d been wrong about our unwanted houseguest.

“There’ll be one, and it’ll have our name on it, Guyster.”

“O-o-o-kay.” He went upstairs to mix some music, I watched TV downstairs, and when we went to get our tree, he was right. They were all gone. We drove to three different lots before we found one that seemed worthy, one with our name on it, and later that night, on Christmas Eve, our last Christmas Eve, we decorated our tree. Bob watched from his perch on the couch, perhaps remembering the activity as he’d seen it seven times before.

“I put the lights up outside, you know!” He blurted this out just as we were putting the finishing touches on the tree.

“I kno-o-o-w.”

“And you know what I put them up with?”

“No. What?” I knew the answer, though. I knew exactly the tone of his voice and the look on his face when he’d finally give me the answer, the answer I already knew. It was a joyful prescription, one of the million billion pieces from our script.

9 comments or Leave a comment
grrtigger From: grrtigger Date: December 20th, 2004 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for sharing :)
cricketshay From: cricketshay Date: December 20th, 2004 12:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. I was feeling down about my current surge of bad luck and that helped me to see that the world is about more than me and my pitful little dramas. *big hugs*

quuf From: quuf Date: December 20th, 2004 12:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely, as always.

A good conscience never sleeps, but still: I wish you'd be a little kinder to yourself.
shawnsyms From: shawnsyms Date: December 20th, 2004 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for sharing this story. And I'm glad you were right about the unwanted guest's absence.

fabulist From: fabulist Date: December 20th, 2004 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
There may be precious few do-overs in this life, but then again, there's a whole lot of forgiveness out there, especially from people like Billy, who has better things to do than to endlessly fuss over such things. It's in you, too, and you'll know it soon enough.
explosivo From: explosivo Date: December 20th, 2004 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Michael (and Russell) were in my house on Thursday. Man, I don't know if there is a sexier man on the planet... It's actually kinda painful for me, knowing that I have no shot in the world at ever getting that cuddle...

Oh well, certainly not what the point of your story was, but I'm so heavily in lust *(actually as I have been since the first time I ever saw him.)
ruralrob From: ruralrob Date: December 20th, 2004 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, that's my new favourite Christmas Eve story.

Merry Christmas td. I hope you'll make lots of lovely new memories this year - not to replace these but to add to them.
ubermunkey From: ubermunkey Date: December 20th, 2004 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
love helps us get a lot of things done, don't it

be well
michaelkeane From: michaelkeane Date: December 21st, 2004 11:06 am (UTC) (Link)
9 comments or Leave a comment