My best friend dreams my truths. Last night she dreamed me, building a nest built for two. She said it was splendid, a work of art woven from all of my most precious things, mahogany and gold and velvet. I had given my entire life to make it. It was empty. It had never been used. She said my heart was broken. After she told me the dream, I smiled and said it was true.
I don’t know how true until I am curled up alone on my couch, watching television, sipping wine, pretending to be whole, like I do, since I finally accepted I would only ever love you. People wonder why I am alone. “You can have anyone you want,” they say, and I smile without telling them the truth. No, I can’t. I can’t have you.
The Christmas tree twinkles. Candles flicker, giving off peppermint and pumpkin. Red and green, the scene might have been lifted from a Hallmark card, right down to the little dogs curled up at my feet. Anyone would think a dream lives here. A happily ever after. A me and you. Pictures of you adorn every wall, as if by pretending you live here, I can make it so. But it is not so. You are not so.
I have taken those photos down before so other men could come sit on this couch with me, only to find myself seeing your face in every scene that flashes across the television screen. Always, after weeks or months of pretending, I resent the latest victim of my inability to love anyone but you. I creep downstairs at midnight to dig through my drawers, find your photographs, run my fingers over the lines of your face, feeling home. You are my home, and since you won’t have me, my home is nowhere. My work of art nest houses no one.
“Oh Holy Night” drifts to me on a winter breeze leaking in through the window, and I wonder if this too his holy, this agony of no you. Is the absence of love as sacred as its presence? For two seconds, I forget to fight my pain, and blackness descends like a twister, rips through my skin, my blood, my bones, leaving me choking on my aloneness. I am one. Always, always, always one. There will never be anyone new. There will only be you, five minutes away, a universe away, watching television with someone who will never be me.
No wonder people shoot themselves at Christmas.
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