‘Twas the night before Christmas, and not a soul stirred in the house. From the outside, it looked very pretty. Fairy lights had been strung along the eaves of the house and over the leaves of the two trees in the yard. Their cream glow gladdened the hearts of all who passed by. As if that was not enough, a life like Santa figurine stood at the edge of the lawn, with his large belly and jolly green. It would take a heart of stone not to smile back. That was the outside.
It was dark and quiet inside, the two occupants of the house at home with their thoughts for the moment.
They’d had a whole lot to tell each other once, years worth of stories in minutes, but as with a fire that starts too strong, they burned themselves out.
Alone in the bedroom, the woman lay on her side of the bed. Well, there were no sides, but she felt more comfortable sleeping with her back to the wall. In reality, she could have sprawled across the whole bed if she felt like it. The other side of the bed had been colder for longer than it had been warm.
How many years now? She wondered. How many years had they been together in this tragic play of a marriage? Were they still together because of the children? As she took a sip from the cup of cocoa on her nightstand, all the excuses they’d made over the years blurred together, and she couldn’t for the life of her remember the handy one they’d chosen to use this year.
It was the day after Christmas, and all was quiet in the house. Outside the lights still glowed, Santa’s warm smile welcomed you in and appearances were kept. Inside the house a man sat at an armchair,a book in his hands. He shifted one way, then the other. He got up to look outside the window, then sat down again. He was fidgeting, and gave up on the pretense of reading after looking at the same word for five minutes. Had she opened her present yet? Didn’t she have anything at all to say about it? Had our relationship degenerated into this, just a big silent house, after all these years?
He couldn’t take it anymore. He got up with the intention of confronting her and provoking a reaction, any reaction, from her. He was so tired of the cold.
They met at the staircase, both going to the other.
” Is it time?” She asked.
” It’s time. ” He said.
She heaved a sigh of relief and clutched the divorce papers against her chest. A piece of tape and wrapping paper clung to one end of the papers, a testament to how nervous he’d been while wrapping her present. They might not be talking, but he knew she enjoyed the rituals of Christmas, and was always excited about opening her presents. She didn’t seem surprised or particularly sad about his present this year. She knew, as he did, that they hadn’t been a ‘we’ for years.
They both went our separate ways after that. He didn’t know what was on her mind, but he was wondering if there was any starting over for a seventy five year old man, or if he was destined to spend his life alone.