December 25th 2018
Audrey, Isaac and Claire had packed Isaac’s car with all their presents as they drove over to Claire’s parent’s house where they would all be spending Christmas with her entire family. As much as she loved all the people, as great as all her presents were and as delicious as the Christmas dinner had been, for the fourth year in a row, Audrey just wasn’t in the holiday spirit.
After lunch, everyone had gathered in the living room to watch a classic Christmas movie while some of them started a card game, but Audrey just wasn’t feeling it. Instead, she had volunteered to wash the dishes in the kitchen as the dish washer was broken and the repair man was scheduled to visit after New Year’s. As much as everyone had offered to help with it, she had forced them to leave as she wanted nothing more than to be left alone to her thoughts.
However, it seemed that she couldn’t have even have that as her brother saddled up next to her and grabbed a dish towel, the look on his face telling her that he refused to take no for an answer.
“I thought I said I didn’t need help.” Audrey huffed as she continued rinsing a pan under the sink.
Isaac chuckled and eyed the number of dishes that had piled up from the large Christmas dinner, knowing that it would take her ages to be able to get through it all by herself.
“You did but I don’t have to agree with that.”
She laughed softly and shook her head, knowing that there was no fighting him on this.
“Have you spoken to Joe?”
“You really should talk to him.” When she made no move to acknowledge his words, he sighed and pressed on. “You don’t have to call him if you don’t want to. You could start off with a message and see where that gets you. I bet that if you turn your phone on now, you’ll see that he’s left you plenty of messages to reply to.”
She frowned and glanced at him, the question evident in her eyes. “How do you know he’s been messaging me?”
“Lucky guess.” He stated, but it came out more as a question so she knew he was lying.
“Have you been speaking to him?” She asked suspiciously and when he refused to answer but instead, avoided making any eye contact, suddenly very interested in drying some dishes, she had her answer.
“You have, haven’t you?” She scoffed and shook her head, finding it unbelievable. “What did you talk to him about?”
“I just wanted to hear his version of the story.”
“What do you mean by that? Are you suggesting that I’m making it up?”
Isaac shook his head and sighed softly. “I’m not suggesting anything like that at all. I just think that you need to hear him out.”
“Why? What could he possibly have to say for himself?”
“I’m not going to tell you. If you really want to know, you’re going to have to ask him yourself.”
Audrey huffed and watched as her brother dried his hands on the dish towel and walked out of the kitchen as they were now finished the dishes, the job having finished much quicker as there were two hands on the job.
What convenient timing.
Audrey wiped her hands on a dish towel and glanced down at her phone. All of yesterday, Joe had blown it up by sending her several messages but she refused to reply to any of them. Since then, she had turned it off but she knew that she couldn’t avoid him forever.
After turning it on, she found out just how right her brother was.
Audrey, please don’t do this
We’re so good together
That had been one of the first messages he had sent her. When she had seen it, still in the car on the drive back to her brother’s house, her breath had hitched as she couldn’t believe that she had actually broken up with him.
It didn’t feel real at all but reading those messages just reminded her of the grave mistake that she had made in a moment of panic and haste to get away from him.
The next set of messages followed almost immediately.
You need to stop running away from me
I know you’re scared, but so am I
We can do this, we can raise the baby together
You can count on me, Audrey
Please stop pushing me away
After that, she had turned her phone off, not able to handle reading anything more from him. It was only now that she had turned it back on but was disappointed to see that all of his messages were from yesterday, having sent none today. The last message he had sent her was just before midnight.
I know you need some space so I’ll give it to you
But please don’t shut me out Audrey
Merry Christmas, pretty lady
I hope to spend the next one with you and our little baby
Her cheeks flushed at his endearment for her. Pretty lady. Whenever he called her it, she truly believed him.
Her eyes remained locked on her screen, willing him to send another message, anything. But that was just wishful thinking. She had been the one to push him away by breaking up with him so it was unfair to ask anything more of him.
Merry Christmas, Joseph
After sending that text, she turned her phone off and dropped it on the sofa next to her in fear of caving in and giving him a call.
She had used his first name more so for her sake than his. By calling him Joseph instead of Joe or babe as she had come to do, she was keeping him at a safe distance but she knew that he would pick up on it. Joe, Joseph, was very perceptive and she had no doubt he would notice the slightly cold greeting.
Even though she was in big, warm house surrounded by loving family – her brother, his wife and her entire family whom she was very fond of and vice versa – she couldn’t help but feel even more alone. She had met Claire’s family on multiple occasions and been part of many of their family events and get togethers in the past, but not so many recently. Every time, she had enjoyed every minute she got to spend with them, mostly because her and her brother had never had much of a family except each other so each and every time, it had felt absolutely amazing to be a part of a family however, she couldn’t say the same this time.
Christmas was all about spending it with family and loved ones, making memories that would last forever, but she felt none of that. Everyone around her was happy and cheerful as they shared stories and caught up with each other, most of them having not seen the others since the summer, yet she felt so disassociated with everyone around her and had no one but herself to blame for it.
Her heart just wasn’t in it.
It was like she was back there all over again.
“Do we have time to open presents before we head over to your parent’s house?” She asked hopefully but really should have known better.
“No.” He snorted and rolled his eyes, tapping his foot impatiently as if her question was completely absurd. “I didn’t get you anything so don’t expect a present from me.”
Audrey glanced at him; the disappointment clear on her face but she forced herself to ignore his comment. Last year, they had agreed on a maximum of five gifts each and had even set a spending limit so they didn’t go overboard.
This year, she couldn’t even get him to wish her Merry Christmas. Oh, how things had changed.
“It won’t take long.” She urged him, wanting nothing more than to see the look on his face as he opened the present that she had gotten for him.
The past year or so, their marriage had been on the rocks and it had been extremely difficult for the both of them. She could argue that it was harder for her than him, especially since he seemed so unaffected by it all. Almost as if he didn’t have the time for her anymore.
Surely, this isn’t what marriage was supposed to be like. It certainly wasn’t what she had imagined for herself when she agreed to marry the love of her life a little over 2 years ago.
“We don’t have time, okay?” He snapped at her, whirling around to glare at her in hope that she would just drop it so they could get going.
The sooner they got to his parent’s house, the less time he would be forced to spend with her alone, and when the perfect opportunity arose, he would be able to make up an excuse about work and slip out without so much as anyone batting an eyelash in suspicion. It sweetened the deal even more that she would be stranded there and he would have the rest of his day to spend with his new girlfriend, Jane.
He couldn’t wait to give his present to Jane; the true love of his life and not the imposter that was stood in front of him right now.
“Please, just open it.” She walked up to him and thrust the present into his hands before backing away, hoping that he would just give in and open it. She was confident that he would love it once he saw it, but that was under the impression that he didn’t throw it back in her face.
Calvin scowled at her and dropped the box on the coffee table next to him, not the least bit concerned with being gentle.
Audrey winced at that as she worried of the glass breaking at the hard impact and force that it was dropped at.
“I said we don’t have time.” He repeated and turned around, heading to the front door. “If you’re not out of the house in the next minute, I’m going to leave without you.” He threatened even though they both knew it was empty. If he did leave without her, it would raise too many questions that neither of them was prepared to answer.
Her eyes lingered on the small box on the table, a small part of her wanting to pick it up and force him to open it but that would just result in another fight and they would be even more late than they already were.
Knowing him, he would leave her to lie and make up an excuse in front of his family.
A sigh escaped her and she hurried to strap on her heels and lock up the house behind her before scurrying over to his car. She had barely closed the door before he started driving, not at all caring of the surprised gasp that sounded from her.
As usual, it was like she was speaking to herself during the entire ride as she attempted to spark a conversation, willing to talk about absolutely anything as long as it meant that he would speak to her. When he turned up the music loud, not at all caring that it was one of the many Christmas songs that he hated so much, as long as it meant that it drowned out her voice.
As they had done so many times before when they were around his family, he wrapped his arm around her waist as they approached the door and knocked on it. Before it opened, he made sure to send her a sharp look before a large smile took over his face. While it was genuinely directed at his family, the same could not be said about her.
During lunch, she was forced to sit next to him and read the many texts that his lover sent him from over his shoulder so she wasn’t surprised when he made up a phony excuse and left the party early. While all his family felt bad for him for having to work on Christmas, she couldn’t bring herself to agree with them. Instead of exposing him, she laughed at every joke and feigned interest at every story when in reality, both her mind and heart were elsewhere.
For the rest of the day, she forced a smile on her face despite knowing that her husband was busy spending Christmas with his girlfriend, no doubt doing to her things that he hadn’t done to his wife in months.
That had been their second Christmas together and they had been married for just over a year. The Christmas after that had been even worse, and then the one after that, had been the absolutely worst; arguably so. The last Christmas had been her most recent Christmas when she had been holed up in her apartment, too scared and ashamed to see her family.
Would all of her Christmas’ be like this?
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