Forty-eight hours later couldn’t have come sooner.

The orange-purple glow of the sun stains the sky, marking the impending end of another short winter day. The day before the day before Christmas. I’m curled up on the couch with Trixie’s head in my lap, halfheartedly watching Rise of the Guardians—her pick, not mine. The animated main character, Jack Frost, dons an easygoing grin. A complete and utter departure of the devastating scowl that belongs to the man in real life with the same last name. As much as I want to indulge my best friend’s need for fantasy and escape, I feel like the universe must be conspiring to give me the middle finger at every turn because I have no idea why she insisted on this movie out of all the ones we could have watched. I fold another origami Christmas tree as she stares at my absent roommate’s TV screen, the tiny paper shapes looking sadder than the real thing I can’t afford. I’m mostly making them for her—and to busy my hands and thoughts with something other than the constant reminder of where they’d been a few days ago.

Cuffed to a headboard.

Clinging to the straps of a sex swing.

Digging into the forearms of a mad man.

I suck in a breath as I implore my fingers not to mess up another fold, muscle memory guiding my motions. As much as I like the idea of celebrating,, I’m not one to spend on frivolous occasions that no longer hold meaning to me. Folding origami trees was something I did with my mom back when holidays meant more than bittersweet memories. She’d been so creative, her brain doing magic to turn flat sheets into three-dimensional wonders. The first time my dad folded a paper airplane for me, I was amazed. But forget turning water into wine, my brain damn near exploded the day Mom revealed she could sculpt miniature trees out of paper. As far as I’d been concerned, that was the real Christmas miracle.

Speaking of wine…

“Why don’t you have any booze around?” Trixie groans, glaring at my little tree like it’s the one depriving her. “You work at a bar.”

I chuckle dryly. Honestly, after the last few days, I could use a stiff one myself. Not for the first time this week, I sincerely wish I could afford the expense. I hate not being able to do seemingly small but impactful things. Like take a shot with my bestie after a brutal day, even though she couldn’t currently drink.

“You hungry?” I ask.

“For beer.” She doesn’t miss a beat.

Even after several hours of severe cramping and profuse bleeding in my bathroom.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar Kiannajay May 1, 2024 at 4:21 PM
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    1. Avatar Emended Hearts - Site Author May 12, 2024 at 11:09 PM
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