Your truck pulled past the front of our house, the old black one that had been sold many years ago but also held so many happy, careful memories.
I ran out the front door unsure why you would have driven past our house, you must have seen me running for you stopped the truck in the middle of the street. It was a small street, narrower than the one we lived in recently.
You rolled down the passenger window, and breathless, I leaned against it and before I could ask where you were going, I saw the flowers. In a pot, short red and beautiful.
“I forgot where we lived,” you stated.
“Who’s the flowers for then?” I retorted and that’s when you backed the truck up to our house. Inside I boldly grabbed your cell phone from your hand. Enough was enough. Scrolling through the first dozen or so messages, they were all women. Ones, I didn’t know. I had asked who they were, you said fuck off. I collapsed to the floor crying, “you’ve been cheating on me?” I sob as you walk away, uncaring. I threw a glass at you and even that wouldn’t shatter through your arrogant shell.
I wake, my blankets are too hot. I kick them off, then I am cold. My head is pounding from the over taste of alcohol last night. Christmas night, hammered at the airport bar, ugh. At least I didn’t make an embarrassment of myself, since I was the only one that sat there. Even the bartender didn’t care to speak to me.
I vaguely remember ordering room service at 3 am but it’s my dream that flags my mind first and foremost. It spins in the typical fashion of, my husband is cheating on me. Why does my subconscious do this to me? Why does my anxiety make me over analyze and dwell on thoughts, feelings and emotions that are potentially not there?
It’s Boxing Day, and after many days worrying over what I have done to my family and marriage. Wondering if there really was a rhyme or reason for my departure, or was it just my over exaggerate mind telling me? I decide no more, I won’t keep doing this to myself and if my husband has been gas-lighting me, then it will stop. Either in divorce, or my not returning. I don’t even know, my head spun from the impact of stress I was adding when I first had to deal with this hang over.
Then, enjoy my Boxing Day. Even if it was back at the airport bar.
I glance at my blank cell phone, not a text. Only two people had the number, Sadie and Jax and apparently neither of them thought to text me. I miss the morning text messages from James, even if we had fought the night before, he would still text, “good morning beautiful.”
I toss the phone with a sudden impulse of hang over rage. It clangs against the silver cart of room service, I had insisted on taking the cart in my room last night. The lady did not look impressed, for a five hundred dollar a night room, I didn’t care.
The sun burned my eyes through the blinds, I’m too old this kind of drinking. And really to get that smashed by your self was just asinine. The blankets had already been kicked to the ground, so for me to roll out of bed, I had to collect them around me as a ball gown. Heavy with my toxin induced sweat, I stumbled half drunk still toward the large double pain windows.
I motioned to pull the curtains closed, then remembered I had told myself I wasn’t going to do this today. I was going to stand tall and enjoy this Boxing Day.
The view from my window was of flat buildings, covered with snow and busy streets. I was not close enough to downtown to experience the CN tower, Royal Museum or other famous buildings I had heard of. This view, was a bit disappointing. I heard a soft moan, foggy memories of last night told me I hadn’t picked anyone up but the moan came again. It was a woman’s moan. Slammed the curtains closed, I spun on my heel and dropped my cloak like blanket covering to face the direction of the moan.
It was the television, ahhh! My shoulders slumped from their previous guarded demeanor and I was relieved to see it was a pornographic movie playing on loop on the TV. I had rented porn last night! How stupid, I probably paid nearly a hundred bucks for that stupid movie. I stomped over to the larger than life TV and flicked it off when the camera zoomed in on the woman’s mouth. Turning my direction back to the silver cart covered with food, I felt sick but needed to settle my stomach.
It might take me half a day to recover, but I will make the most of the later half.
The room service tray indeed was covered with food, surprising what you think you remember while drinking, then to realize what you truly remember. Moments like this shocked me. There are three dishes, none of the food was touched. Five miniature alcohol bottles empty, three beer bottles empty and a spilled glass of juice. I know I had been getting low lately but maybe I was entirely lower than I realized. To drink that much, I was certainly attempting to drown my sorrows.
Lifting the first silver covering, I found a lava cake garnished with perfectly red plump raspberries. The second had a lobster macaroni that started to smell. The third was toast, eggs, bacon and sausage. I ate what my stomach would handle and laid back on the bed. Leaving my mouth full of chocolate lava cake as I stared at the ceiling, pitying myself for wasting so much food and money. The cake slithered down my throat and I closed my eyes.
Sleep must have come quick, since the next time I looked at the clock it was much past lunch time. The room was too bright for night, even with the shades pulled my eyes burned immediately. My stomach growled to remind me of the poorly eaten meals I had ordered but a quick glance at my laptop told me I had wasted enough of Boxing Day already. I showered, ate some lobby purchased Pepto-Bismol and called a taxi.
“Where you going?” the cabbie asked me but I shrugged and retorted a question instead.
“What’s good on Boxing Day?” I snapped the mirror down and placed some color on my lips, I looked like death but had to compensate somehow.
“Festival of Lights it is,” the cabbie replied when it was obvious I had no intention of requesting a location. He turned the white taxi back into traffic and we rolled toward the high rises of downtown. The buildings grew larger as we moved. I plastered my face to the window to watch the scenery roll by, the city grow from the mediocre flat buildings to wondrous architectural advancements Vancouver did not have. That city had one or two fancy sky scrapers like the slow turning restaurant that I never got to eat at. Toronto seemed to have taller buildings on every street corner, I felt I had been transported to New York rather than another Canadian city. Everything felt so new and foreign. Other worldly.
As the cab drove further into the heart of the city, the whole sky seemed to light up. Reds, blues, greens, yellows. As if an explosion had gone off in a paint plant and colored the landscape vibrant shades. Larger than me, larger than anything I had ever done with my life. And now I felt small, crushed by my decisions. Smothered by my loneliness and devastated by my inevitable end result.
It’s just up here,” he spoke in time to stop my down ward spiral. I smiled weakly as I watched the sky light with Christmas colors and even the sounds of music crept through the windows. He slowed for a red light, which was adorned with red and white straps of material. Creating it into a giant candy cane and the Christmas joy street began.
“It’s an eight kilometer walk to Niagara Falls. You can hide a bottle in a bag if you need, but I never told you that.” The cab came to a stop and he clicked the button for stop meter but all I could do was gag at the thought of alcohol tonight. “Ice sculptors, hot chocolate, Christmas trees from every neighborhood and goodies galore!” I felt I was supposed to invite him to come with me or something, his eyes shining in a way that mirrored my desolation.
“You sound like a spokesperson,” I smirked as I dolled out the cab fee.
“Probably because I am,” he replied so flat that it felt awkward. I tried to grin in a friendly manner but was sure it came out strange and cold. I closed the door and found myself standing on a Toronto street corner. I had no idea where I was, I knew my expensive ass hotel room waited for me again tonight and I also knew the lights would lead me only one direction- forward. To the festivities that I promised myself, I needed.
The air was cold, it smelt of snow and mini donuts. The pathway opened in front of me, beckoned my beginning to the rest of my life. To accept the decisions I have made, and trudge forward.
The grass was completely covered in snow and I knelt to touch the frozen crystals, unsure if they were real or man made. It didn’t phase me if they were fake, once my finger tips were in the powdery heaven, nothing else mattered.
The realness of the snow depended on how badly you wanted it to be real. How much time and effort you would put into it, analyzing the chemical compound. The artificial makeup. Would you bask in the beauty that the fake frozen water would offer or would rip it apart and call it how it was?
What else was this life, this world we put together around us then what we make it? The canned tuna from the Salvation Army for the conversation filled meals or the steak and lobster cooked to perfection for an empty home?
I had made my choice, many times over. This fake snow in my palm, melted to the water it was. No matter how it became that angelic snow, they both started off as water.
I stood and noticed the heavy Clydesdale horses standing strong in front of the carriage. The red paint bold and fresh and brilliant against the white of the fake snow. I walked up next to the driver, his hat was old fashioned and his curled beard matched.
“Evening, kind lady, would you care for a ride?” He tipped his hat at me and I truly smiled. I didn’t bother to ask how much, I didn’t care. I climbed in the back of the horse drawn sleigh and pulled the heavy wool blanket over my legs. I hadn’t packed well enough for a midnight adventure that I was about to embark on. The sky had darkened quickly and though I was sure it wasn’t midnight yet, surely but they time I found myself back at the hotel, it would be.
The man turned the carriage into the wooded tree line, “my names Bastian, what can I call you little lady?”
He turned to grin and warmly accepted my offering of my full name. New name, new person.
There were two paths marked in the scuff of snow on the fields. One was an apparent walking path with millions of foot prints dug deep into the snow. The second was the less beaten path that the two fawn colored horses followed with the red sleigh. The trees grew taller as we ventured further. I could see through the tree line to were the foot pedestrians strolled.
I could see the millions of Christmas lights strung along the miniature steel trees, the wooden Santa’s and the ceramic Rudolph’s. But in my path, I got to see birds nests that were real, frozen frost crystals that clung to the evergreen trees, the round of the moon as it rose above my head and the snap of the horses heads as they pulled.
The smell was delightful, the baked grease of street food faded as the sleigh turned further from the beaten path. The scent turned to the fresh cool breeze of open air, I could smell the horse dander as if they had been brushed just today. The smell of the heavy wool blanket on my knees of hickory was amazing. The night grew ahead of me and my smile widened.
The horses went on for near half an hour from what I gauged. We passed all the money grubbing food vendors and I could hear the soft roar of the falls approach.
“This is the end, little lady. Merry Christmas,” the man leaned back to open the small door for me. I pulled my purse to my front to offer the fee but he waved me away. I shook his hand instead and wished him the same warm seasons greeting. Thanked him for the ride and followed the remainder of the path in the direction of the growing wall of water.
I found myself on the worn path that I had gotten to avoid for the sleigh ride. It was just enough to take in and enjoy. I knew however far I walked down the path, I would have to walk twice as far back since I would not be so lucky with a sleigh ride again. I didn’t mind, I was in no hurry to get anywhere. The night air cooled further, I could see my breathe and snow flakes began to dance in front of me.
The solitude I’d had in the horse drawn sleigh dissipated quickly as couples appeared everywhere around me. Dozens, no hundreds. I felt sick with the sudden mass of people, holding arms, holding hands, laughing, kissing and loving. They stood and gave direction to other couples to wait in turn and center themselves with a perfect Christmas Tree behind for the winter wonderland photo. Pictures they would stamp and mail to their families and receive ones in return. I wondered what my husband had done today.
I refused to let it me bring down. I stuffed my hands into my pockets and pressed on.
The trees towered above me, the snowmen built higher and the ice castles grew. Everything was getting larger the further down the path you ventured. The sound of Niagra Falls behind it all, peaked and as I broke through the last candy cane wrapped archway, I found myself standing on the concrete dam pathway.
The water jutted out at a equal height to where I stood behind the steel reinforced banisters. Lights seemed to spill from under the rushing water, every color of the rainbow. They spilled out with the water and created wondrous rainbows in every direction. Magenta washed along the top of the fall, broke through and fell into pool below. A solid purple to begin with before it broke into slivers of pink, rose, auburn and even gold. It split apart from each other and yet they were still one. Twirled around each other then collided once more into the perfect magenta. Amalgamating to what it was meant to be at the base of the grand waterfall.
The ground shook gently from the roar of the magnificent beast of the falls. My heart fluttered with the beauty and I reached my hand out to pretend to grab my husbands hand. One that I may never get to hold again. All the pain I had caused myself, all the tears my husband had caused me, all the emotional turmoil we had been through our marriage. The fights over what I said, or what he thought I said or what I felt after he said such and such had seemed so large once. But in front of these falls they seemed so petty and in the end those over reactions on both our parts have put us apart.
I have put us apart. In a world meant for lovers, I stood alone on the most magnificent scene I had ever seen.
As a family, broken into shades to shine off and show their own colors. To come together once more, a refreshing blast of a rainbow completely unlike it’s beginning shades.
You don’t see the purple of a rainbow often.
The yellow of sunny days is bright.
The red of first love is strong.
Green of the nurture that built you first and even the blue of deepest tears stood bold.
But the purple, it’s something of myths.
Chased once spotted but not often sought and hardly never found.
It’s the shade reserved for the brightest of us, the ones that tend to be crushed out to blend in and soften their tone. The one’s that we should fan to lighten but instead shield our eyes from it’s brightness.
The purple of the rainbow is the boldest. The most difficult to harness and the biggest reward to win. It is the truest love of marriage and the darkest hate that accompanies it. It is the blended family that hangs on by a thread. It is me. And I have dulled my own vibrancy by trying to blend into the rainbow.