I didn’t come wrapped in a bow or pretty paper, instead I came home a raving silent mess full of anxiety and nightmares fresh from Hell.  My wife said I was a gift, then, and said I should have died there at the end of our life together.  She was right.  I know I killed my marriage, although she helped it along.   Every night since I came home I lay awake until my mind gives up or I pass out from the cocktail of pills and booze, all in an effort to kill the memories. Nothing works.

Tonight was different though.

Tonight I was on the streets with the few friends who stuck by me in my misery, and why wouldn’t they? They understand. We don’t usually get together at Christmastime, couple of them are still married and they have family to contend with, The others have girlfriends and saw dragged to different functions and expose to strangers who don’t understand when they cringe when the Yule log snaps. But tonight we were all together and happy.

Happy is contagious and I felt myself relax for the first time in months. I hadn’t taken any pills or even had a drink yet, but I felt as high as I usually did with them. It sounds so cliché to say I saw her across the crowded bar, but that’s what happened. She didn’t stand out in the crowd, but faded into it as best she could, which wasn’t at all. “She was watching you earlier. Why don’t you go say hello? Still don’t get what the ladies see in your ugly mug,” Vinnie slaps me on the back with his customary roughness and gives a more private nod of encouragement. She is watching me, just like Vinnie said, with a soft almost sad smile on her pretty lips and a come hither gleam in her eyes.

The bartender was a feisty little thing whose voice carried across all conversations at all times. I often joke that she would’ve been the worlds best drill sergeant, and she usually hands me a snarl with a glint in her eye. I have no doubt she would eat me alive. At least it would be pleasurable this time, but this time Jinger shakes her head swiftly and points the watcher towards the bathrooms them calls me forward anxiously.

“Colt. Stay away from her. Go home now, please. Okay?” This quiet shaky voice was so unlike her gregarious natural nature that it stunned me for a moment, before I nodded and turned away. The boys are all standing by the door laughing in buttoning up against the cold chill outside. I joined them with a smile and glanced over my shoulder at Jinger, who blew me a kiss from those luscious lips.

When I woke up this morning, it was not in a cold sweat, but satisfied and at peace. I haven’t felt this way in a long time, so long that I barely remember it. Jinger is sprawled spreadeagled and naked on top of the tangled bed sheets, her luxurious lips trembling as she snores slightly. I really need to take a piss, but the sight of her laying there beside me gives other ideas.

“I told you to say away from her,” Jinger giggles from the doorway and I feel my bladder let go when she smiles with razor blade teeth and her hands on my thighs while Jinger cuddles close with her cheek on my chest, “I told her you were a gift.”

©MelanieMcCurdie

hurt-chamber
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