In The Bleak Midwinter

Part 8 in Thurmount Holiday (see the category  “Thurmount Holiday” for the other entries).

Megan and I are wrapping presents in front of the Christmas tree, drinking spiked eggnog and singing Christmas carols, or mostly parodies of Christmas carols that we started when we were kids: “we three kings of porridge and tar.” She keeps glancing at me, maybe because she can tell my heart’s just not in any of this, although I am trying.

“What’s with you?” she asks.

“What do you mean?”

“You’re mopey. You are the one person I know who is never mopey.”

I get my back up. “I’m not mopey. You do not know the meaning of the word mopey if you’re applying it to me.”

“It’s Will, isn’t it?”

I can’t stop the wince. And, then because she’s my sister and because there was a time when we used to tell each other everything, I confide: “743 days.”

She frowns and leans back. “What’s that mean?”

“Will and I have spent some part of a day together for the past 743 days, except today.” I can’t believe I’m actually teary. I probably have to cut myself off from the eggnog.

“Have you spoken to him?”

“He never answered my text. Or the second one. I considered a third and thought that seemed like stalking or obsessing. It’s not like him. He’s flinging and not with me.”

Megan expertly curls a red ribbon and does some fancy bow that I only mess up when I try. She smiles at her own creation before she looks at me. “Do you want him to?”

“What? Have a fling with her?”

“No, with you, goof.”

I watch the flames dance and crackle in the fireplace, the golden yellow and orange and blue and feel mesmerized while I think about Megan’s question.

“No,” I say finally. “I’m just feeling mixed up with the holidays and seeing Blake again and not seeing Will. Will is my best friend. I want him to be happy.”

Megan wraps her arms around her legs and then rests her chin on her knees. Her wide brown doe eyes are unnervingly observant. “What if he and Luanne get serious and she doesn’t want you to be friends anymore?”

My mouth falls open. “That bitch.”

My sister laughs as if it’s the funniest thing she’s ever heard. My own smile is slow in coming.

“What?”

“I think you’re confused. I really think you like Will, maybe even care about him as something more than your best friend.”

I get up from the floor, with the excuse of filling our glasses. I open the back door and watch the snow fall from the pink hued sky. There’s a silence there, in the twinkling whiteness, and you almost think you can hear the gentle murmur of the snow, bit by bit rising on the ground. A shift of wind, curls the streaks of falling ice, so flakes seem to chase each other. I stand in the cold, watching the whimsical dancing weather. My cheeks feel icy, heat flees from my body, and I shiver. It’s Will I am thinking about as I close the door to keep out the cold that feels as if it has melded with my body. And, it’s Will I think about as my eyelids close on the first day we’ve spent apart in over two years.

end 12/12/2016

S. Darlington

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