The city is burning. The city is a metaphor.

It seems inappropriate for this to exist on Christmas Day of all days.  I will not censor myself this time.

I hear the entryway door open and my stomach twists into knots.  Hello, Greg.  From our encounter this past Thanksgiving, I hope you have learned to keep your fucking distance.  Of course you haven’t.  You slowly walk in my direction, stumbling slightly, and I make a noticeable effort to look completely in the opposite direction at my beautiful girlfriend who is engaged in conversation about theater with my Aunt and GramBe.  Of all places to sit.  Next to me?  I feel you staring at me, wanting an acknowledgment but the only thing I am willing to acknowledge is what a failure and a lush you are.  After what feels like hours under your watery-eyed far-away stare you say hello.  I grit my teeth and slowly look over at you.  I fucking hate you.  I hate your face.  When we make eye contact, do you know what I see?  Fire.  An explosion of fire bursting from within it’s own self into an even bigger fire.

“How’s your Christmas?” you ask.

“Fine, how was your walk?” I respond.

“Not so good, my back isss…bad…uh.”

I look away again, trying to be subtle and for some reason, trying to avoid humiliating you by calling out the white elephant in the room and telling you to fuck off and stay out of my life.  Another minute passes.  I know this because I am counting the seconds.  You unfortunately open your mouth to speak to me again.

“Who is….this?  Introduced me to her.  What’ss…sher name?”

“Beth.  She is my girlfriend.”

Nobody else is paying attention to you.  I cannot recall the exact words that are exchanged between us; what I do recall is that the more you speak, the more I notice your slurred speech.  What a surprise.  After a few more minutes of you babbling, I ask you outright if you are drunk.

“Well I…..*sigh*…I….huve…had…I had 2 glashes of wine…I won’t lie to you abut that.”

I glare at the floor and then roll my eyes, too upset to even look at anyone else to see if they are watching our interaction.  I feel like everyone can feel how frigid the room just got and see how quickly a wall was built on the couch between us.  My girlfriend’s hands are so warm, mine are still cold.  She squeezes my hand as if to let me know she knows what is going on.  I give a light squeeze back and put my other hand on her arm and stare ahead out of the window.

“Boy is in the kitchen.” I say.

“Who?” you ask.

“My brother.”

There is an awkward pause for 20 seconds as you space out or something.  You lightly tap my knee with your palm and say,

“It’s tough…………..tough.”

Fuck off, you waste of space!  DON’T.  After you leave, I am left in a light haze from the lingering anger that fills me.  I have no idea what anybody in the room is talking about anymore.  Not enough time passes and you slink your way back out to the living room with some pastries.  Somehow you end up back on the couch next to me.  You start more Christmas talk:

“How is your Christmas?”


“Was dinner good?”

“We haven’t eaten yet.”

“When are you going to have dinner?”

“Around dinnertime at my place.”

“Ohhhh….sho…er–SO….yea…you’re living in New Hampshire now?”

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!!  You saw me at Thanksgiving and my brother showed you our apartment!  You pathetic son-of-a-bitch!

“Are you serious…..?”

“Oh…..yea…..(you squint your eyes) live here now in a house….your bruvver showed me before.”

Yes, you fucking asshole, most people do live in a house!  What the fuck is your problem??  If you only knew how much I burned with hatred toward you in this moment.  Sheer disdain.

Finally, there is a break in conversation in the room and you inject yourself into it, asking my girlfriend who she is.  She introduces herself.  You respond:

“I’m Alec’s fathe-.”

“BIRTHFATHER.” I interject, as my face turns stone cold and I shake my head.  The city is burning.  The city is a metaphor but it is consumed by fire and ash.  Nothing but roaring & rumbling can be heard and the ground opens up, crackling.

You fucking prick piece of shit, you only helped create me.  My father helped make me.  That is the difference between a man and whatever it is you are…..a male that has no problem letting his dick out of his pants but cannot manage a semblance of self-control or maintain a respectable reputation.  She looks away from you and you clumsily poke her in the leg to get her attention, causing me to snap my head in your direction and stare you down until you look away, which you do, and remember never to touch her again, especially in such a manner as that.  Do it again and I will ruin Christmas.  Again, with the talking:

“He must be in good hands.”

“Yea, he is.” she responds.

“And you…’re in good handsh.”

“I am certain of that.” she curtly replies.

“Alright, let’s go.” I say, and hastily help her up by the hand.  “Boy!  We need to get going!”

We go into the kitchen.  Fast forward.  I hug GramBe goodbye and say so long to my cousin.  You slur some kind of question to my brother about him having dinner at my place with my wife and then manage an awkward apology.  We are now at the door, chairs in hand, and here you come again.  I get a sympathetic look from my girlfriend.

“Merrry Christm-Christmuhs, kiddo.” as we shake hands. I don’t know why I shake your hand.  I stare you down and you babble out: It can-it doesn’t….it can still be good…be Merry.  Doeshn’t have to be like this.”

Ring the bell, someone.  Because after I hear you say that, I am ready to slam one of these wooden chairs over your head.  Doesn’t have to be like this……?  You fuck!  After abusing my mother, drugs, and alcohol, rarely contacting me as I grew up, and the last phone conversation we had……you….have the nerve to say something like that?  I laugh inside because I am never going to see you again.  For all I care, you can pass on in a bed soaked in your tears, alone, surrounded by your failures, guilt, and fear.   You are already dead to me anyway.

Aside from that thirty minutes of “interaction”, my Christmas was the best I have had in over a decade.  I loved being able to see my aunt, uncle, cousin and GramBe, have my ma (and her best friend), dad, brother and especially the wonderful woman in my life, with me this Christmas.  The entire evening was great.  I enjoyed everything and succeeded for the most part in not letting what happened earlier bother me.  After everyone left, the floodgates opened up.  I tried going to sleep early but I couldn’t do it.  So here I am, finishing this up, hoping it will all dissipate by morning.

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