30 Minutes

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Contributor: Lena Ziegler

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So suddenly, I am alone.
No watchful eye asking me to be careful when I drive.
No laughter or shared inside jokes about shitty reality TV.
No more talk about our Christmas tree.

We said we’d hang the lights together. But together for us means alone.

I’m so often alone together with you, your body a vessel filled with emptiness parked steadily on our loveseat; my body aching with the strongest desire to go back to what we were.

30 minutes ago.

30 minutes ago you were the hero, now you stand defeated by the villain within you, forcing you to stumble and slur in the most unflattering ways.

You look like a fool.
You look like a freak.
You are not unique.

You are a washed up piece of wood, used and broken, unable to withstand the waves of jealousy that break through your mind.
You are everything I am glad I am not.

No details go unnoticed. You insisted on going to the car to get that last string of lights.

This strikes me as suspicious.

I have a job interview tomorrow. A great opportunity they tell me. I’ll really get the chance to jump start my career. Professional growth for college graduates and newlyweds.

The bells jingle around the doorknob as you open the front door, brushing remnants of snow off of your shoulders. It’s already melting into your hair.

You haven’t washed your hair in days.

You walk toward the kitchen, tracking snow and salt onto the carpet, forgetting to wipe your feet. You hand me the string of lights. Your eyes are already lazy.

No details go unnoticed.

I peel pieces of mozzarella off of the inner part of the cheese grater, my eyes tracing your movements. You pass from the kitchen to the attached living room, lingering as you kick off your shoes. Muddy snow crumbles out of the grooves of your boots onto my freshly scrubbed kitchen floor.

You are so careless when it comes to me.

Earlier today we bought our tree.

We hurried across the street, our feet slipping on the slick pavement. Freezing rain. I unlock the car and we climb in, wincing together as our legs press against the cold leather seats. My teeth chatter dramatically as a whine that I must be the coldest girl in the world. You kiss my cheek. The news had said that we shouldn’t go out. The streets are too icy. The freezing rain will soon be snow. Stormy conditions.

Only a few blocks down the city street to choose the new addition to our broken home; a lovely green Christmas tree.

“Turn it up,” you say smiling and reaching for the stereo. Bing Crosby’s “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” echoes merrily through the speakers and fills the car with something.

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