There was wrapping paper scattered all over the living room and she could hear the
Christmas music muffled by high-pitched giggling and happy conversation
coming from upstairs.
There was so much to adore about this time of year…
how everything smelled of cinnamon and chestnuts.
The twinkling lights shining like small stars on every street;
the coming together of friends, family and strangers
eating good food and giving gifts and cards and thoughtfulness.
The magic of this particular Christmas, however, had been cloaked by darkness
too heavy for Gemma to lift on her own.
“This isn’t working anymore.”
She told him once again,
though every time her voice gets softer and muffled by the voices of others…
others telling her what to do.
“That’s bullshit and you know it.
It’s just those stupid pills you’re on.”
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
That’s what they all thought of her.
“It’s not the pills, you know that.
I’ve been unhappy for so long.
You have been too.”
He says, pulling her closer until she is settled in his arms,
against his chest.
She pleaded quietly,
“I’m so sick of this.”
“No.” He said firmly, pushing her away,
“How are you going to get back home, hm?
You need me.
We will work on this back home,
but I am coming with you.
You will see clearly again soon.”
She no longer had the energy to argue…she’d been arguing for years.
She was tired and b r o k e n.
s c a t t e r e d
in pieces too far from each other to reach out-to hold themselves together
in attempts to make her whole.
So she stayed silent, walking up the stairs to join the rest of her family in their joyous banter
with a painted smile on her face.
Over breakfast every one chatted pleasantly; she watched Joseph
as he charmed his way from one conversation to the next
as though he hadn’t a care in the world.
It was not so easy for her.
Her sister make a joke about prudish women, to which Joseph chimed
“sounds like someone I know.”
Before kissing Gemma on the cheek.
She coiled away from his touch, sick to her stomach of his charade.
“What’s wrong?” another sister asks her.
“She’s just grumpy.”
He answers for her,
and she cannot bite her tongue any longer.
“No I’m not. I’m pissed.
You guys don’t know what he’s like
when you aren’t around.”
She spits the words angrily and everyone seems shocked.
“We’re breaking up.”
“I’m sure you guys will work it out at home.” Gemma’s mom immediately steps in,
saying what she usually says when she expresses her need to free herself from him.
They saw a perfect picture of two people in love…high school sweethearts.
A false portrait that she herself helped create by never openly speaking about their problems.
And now they’ve been together for so long that nobody can picture anything else.
He reassures her mother instead of reassuring her.