Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Holiday After

This is a short outtake from Sins of Another.  Padrig was generally a very private character, it took rather a lot to drag most of his story out of him.  And even then he preferred to gloss over some of the details.  Nick is rather less reticent (probably owing to his years of living in NYC).  This is Nick's story about "the holiday after."  

(Click to read more!)

Padrig adored Christmas.  I’m not sure I could ever quite meet his enthusiasm, for me Christmas was a good time of year for my shop, a miserable time of year for weather, and a pathetic time of year for human decency.  But maybe that was just from too many winters in New York.

Not even a New York Christmas could dampen my Padrig’s spirit, though.  Winter was often rough for him and he always said it was Christmas that made the inclement weather worth it.  For Pad, it was the things that comfort us from the winter that he loved – a cosy fireplace, minty tea (his favorite was the kind with vanilla in), being snuggled up reading all day (because it was a ‘holiday’), and all the songs about how everything would be alright as long as one had love.

That was what Pad saw.  What I saw, at times, was a stark reminder that eventually the year would come that I’d have to face, alone, two solid months with reminders of things that made Pad comfortable through his toughest struggles. 

Last year was that year. 

I would have been content to ignore the whole holiday season that year until a few of those damned reminders ganged up on me (it was “Let It Snow,” fucking Bing Crosby).  I caved and pulled out a bunch of holiday stuff.  It almost felt like having Pad there again… until I thought that the one person who loved it the most was the one I really couldn’t get back this time. 

I wound up sitting on the floor against the couch, surrounded by boxes of festive crap, with tears streaming down my face.  Ok, I had straight up broken down.  I just didn’t know how I could stand this.  I thought I’d better call one of the guys from the group, I knew that was the best thing for it, but I was having one of those classically English ‘don’t want to bother anyone’ moments – which was really just an ‘I don’t want anyone else around’ moment.

I was shifting into a more pathetic position on the floor (I was sobbing so fucking hard my back hurt), when my hand brushed an envelope on the floor.  I figured it was just a Christmas card that had fallen out of a box, Pad kept them all filed away and liked to spend an afternoon with a cup of tea reading through them every year.  I picked it up to set it aside and saw that it was just addressed to me, in Pad’s writing.

I had no idea what it was.  I didn’t remember Pad ever giving me a Christmas card.  Against my better judgment I opened it.  Inside was a letter on Padrig’s Christmas stationary and a photo of him and I cuddled up on the couch together.  On the back Pad had written: “Favorite thing about Christmas.”

Then there was the letter.


How ya holding up, honey? 

I know this year is probably pretty rough.  I’m really happy you decided to decorate though (how else would you have found this?)  Don’t forget my stuffie Rudolph goes on the mantel. 

I also know Crimbo has never been on your tops list, so I really appreciate you doing this.  I just want you to know that as much as I’ve always liked the holiday season, it got really special when you came back.  This is my favorite Christmas picture because it has all the best things together in it – our tree, my favorite Christmas mug (with my minty tea in it!), our snuggly fire, Freddie was taking the picture and Marc was in the kitchen, and then there’s that hot bloke with his hands all over me – he’s such a complete manwhore for me, that’s why I love him so much.

Actually, Nick, you were favorite thing about everything.  It didn’t have to be holidays, it just had to be us, especially if we were having a snuggle.  I know I’ve probably said this a million zillion million-zillion times, but I’m going to say it again: you have no idea what you did for me.  If doctors could figure out how to put what you did for me into pills, nobody would ever be sick again. 

The billion or so times you kissed my shoulder when I was letting myself be miserable.  The trillions of times I fell asleep on your shoulder while you petted my back and stroked my face when I was feeling sick all over.  You made me feel so wanted on the inside when my outside was crumbling.

Can you do me a really big favor?  This Christmas, take a little time to cuddle up on the couch with some of my tea (you can use my mug as well!), and just remember me.  Remember how much I loved you.  Go ahead and feel it, but don’t go getting all depressed, ok?  You were the best of my life, be happy about that, because I always was.

Happy Christmas, Nick.

Love forever,

Your Padrig"

Sins of Another by Jessica Skye Davies is available from Dreamspinner Press:

One morning Padrig Kennedy comes home to find his partner, Nick Glenfielding, in bed with another man. Shocked, hurt, and vulnerable, Padrig flees and meets a stranger who seems to offer comfort—but he force-feeds Padrig a steady diet of drugs and prostitution instead. When he finally surfaces from his hell, it’s to another system shock: he’s now HIV positive.

Nick descends into darkness as well. Devastated by losing Padrig, he finds no consolation in the legal career he doesn’t love and tries to find solace in alcohol, spending his days in an ever-deepening haze.

Padrig and Nick find each other again, but their relationship can never be the same. If they’re to stand any chance of a future together, they must do the improbable: make sense of the past and learn to cope with new burdens they’ll bear for life. 

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