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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Tragedy · #2106207
An alcoholic remembers Christmas, and the beginning of his last drink.
I hate the Holidays. To me it is just another crappy day in the scheme of things. The only difference is, everyone turns into blithering idiots. Racing around, pushing and shoving, looking for the latest hot item on sale. Fighting over who got there first. Crazy drivers on the road in a damned hurry to get to the mall before they sell out of, who knows what? All they end up doing is speeding into the nearest cemetery, maybe even taking some innocent bystander with them. Holiday parties fueled by alcoholics looking for any excuse to get drunk. I ought to know. I was one of them.

My wife Candice left me two years ago. Said she wasn't going to put up with my bull-shit drinking anymore. After I missed three out of four counseling sessions, and skipped all the AA meetings, she just packed up her bags and walked out. She took everything, including a hefty alimony payment. In retrospect, I can see why she left me. All the nights I came home from work late. The smell of alcohol, and perfume on my clothes. Yeah, I cheated on her. I think she knew. I was a rat-bastard back then. I may have been a cheating rat-bastard, but I was never a physical abuser. I'm a lover not a fighter. Beside, my suits are all custom fitted. Why would I want to ruin a good suit.

It was one week before Christmas 2009, my third party that week. A light sprinkling of rain dotted my windshield, the temperature was forty-two degrees out, a little warm for this time of year. New York was ablaze with Christmas lights. One day of powering all those lights, could probably have funded all the homeless shelters, and soup kitchens for a year. Cabbies were honking their horns, traffic was at a standstill. Christmas Carols could be heard wherever you went. All I cared about was getting to my next party.

I was an hour late. By the time I got there the party was in full swing. Good thing I have my own parking space in the parking garage. I was greeted by all my co-workers, shook hands with everyone, even those I didn't know. Did I care if I knew them? Hell no! All I was interested in, was getting my hands on a gin and tonic, and Alice hot-lips. She was smoking hot, and not just her lips. Always wore the shortest, and tightest skirts she could get away with, and not abuse the dress code.

That Christmas came and went as all holidays do. Alice claimed she was 'with child', and that it was mine. I argued the fact, yet paid for her to have an abortion anyway. That was the last I ever saw of her. The last time I heard from her, she got another job in Cincinnati, Ohio. Took me for ten thousand. "Start-up money." she said. More like blackmail .

Christmas 2010 started out more of the same, another whirlwind of parties. Only this time it ended slightly different. She was standing by the Christmas tree. The lights from the tree casting an angelic glow on her golden locks. She turned her head toward me, and smiled at the man standing next to her. I fell instantly in love. I asked if anyone knew her name? I found out she just transferred from our California branch. I walked over to her, introduced myself. She smiled and shook my hand, let it go, then turned her head to answer someone's question.

Cindy Lu Thompson. She was a petite thing, nothing like my usual dating appetites. She was an angel, with short, curly blond hair caressing her pixie like face. She wouldn't give me the time of day, even if I asked for it. I asked myself while looking in the mirror. Who could resist me? I'm fashionably dressed, wealthy, good looking, physically fit, What's not to love? I guess she heard about my past indiscretions, and wanted no part of me.

I was persistent in my pursuit of her. I wasn't about to let her get away. I absolutely refused to take no for an answer. It was four months before she finally agreed to go out with me. I was on my best behavior, at least I thought so. I still went out drinking with the guys after work, but I never, ever cheated on Cindy Lu. I always made sure I got back early enough to spend each evening with her. I learned that from my first wife. Women need lots of attention.

We dated all summer. Movies, theater, museums, the arts. Cindy Lu was a very talented artist in her own right. I viewed some of her work attending numerous art exhibits. I was the happiest I had ever been in my life. I became educated in the cultural side of life. Went to places I had never been to. Discovered I liked going to the Arboretum. Everything was better with Cindy Lu by my side.

Two weeks before Christmas 2011, I walked into Tiffany's, and came out with a 2 K diamond engagement ring. Shortly after that my life took a drastic u-turn. I was driving her home after our office party. The roads were icy. I admit, I might have imbibed a little too much. My excuse was, I was bolstering up my courage to ask her to marry me. I was ready for a new beginning in my life. She wanted to drive, said "You are drunk." I hated that word. I said, "I'm fine." She refused to get in the car unless she could drive. I opened her door, and shoved her in. I was angry. I got in and started the car. We sat there for awhile, waited for it to warm up, while our tempers cooled down. She still wouldn't speak to me. We didn't speak the rest of the drive.

I shifted gears, pulled into the main stream of traffic and headed out of town. She lived on Long Island. By the time we got on the LIE it looked like we were in a blizzard. I could kick myself for not turning on the radio, and checking the weather conditions. Nothing was plowed. The salt trucks were out in force, but they couldn't keep up with the amount of snow dumping on the streets. Visibility was horrendous. I missed her exit.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital bed, with a concussion, black eye, bruised ribs, and two broken ankles. I was car number eight, in a fifteen car collision. Cindy Lu never came to visit me, or even called. I thought she still wasn't speaking to me. I was getting very upset with her. I later found out she died at the scene of the accident. If only I hadn't missed her exit, we would have been alright. My life is now nothing but a bunch of what ifs. What if, we went to my place instead. What if, I let her drive home? The roads and exits were more familiar to her. What if we left earlier? What if? What if? What if?

I was cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. My license suspended even though the accident wasn't my fault. The visibility was impossible. Had to complete a program to get my license back. The hell with it, I don't need no damned license. I live in the city. I'll just call the damn limo service.

I'm not sure what torments me most now. My nightmares of that fateful day, or the boredom and loneliness of my current existence. My ankles have healed, but remain painful. I limp and walk with a cane. The Doctors say there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, and I should not be having any pain. The pain I'm experiencing is imaginative, it's all in my head. Maybe they are right. Maybe my mind is refusing to let go of the pain, to punish me, so I won't forget what I had done. If so, then I accept my punishment.

I have been sober for two years now. I don't remember the accident at all. I hear no screams, no crunching of metal. I guess I should be great full for that.

Her funeral was a quiet one, attended by a small group of family and friends. Her body was kept in storage at the morgue until the weather turned warmer. It was the first time I ever cried at a funeral. The first time in my life, I ever truly missed someone, or cared more about someone other than myself. Our relationship ended, before it had a chance to begin.

I used to love the Christmas Holidays. I partied like there was no tomorrow. Truth be, there is no tomorrow anymore, at least not for Cindy Lu. My tomorrows no longer have any meaning for me. Each day seems just like the day before.

The nightmares still resurface once in awhile, but they become more intense during the Christmas Season. I can hear her voice calling to me from her grave, visualize her arm outstretched with keys dangling from her fingers.

Although her body may decompose with each passing year, to me she will always remain the vision of the angel that I fell in love with. I no longer celebrate Christmas, I put up no tree, or lights of any kind. I send no cards, and receive none in return. I do not attend parties, and I accept no invitations. My only decoration, a crystal angel. It sits on my nightstand next to my bed, holding a 2 K Tiffany diamond ring. A reminder of what could have been, and now never will. My hand written note lies folded under the angel. It now looks tired and worn just like me. Every Christmas Eve I unfold it, and read it.

My dearest Cindy Lu, I will always love you. Until we meet again. I am Forever Yours.

Justin Daniels

Word count 1682
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