It was Husband and mine’s first Christmas without resident daughters.
I shopped with Bella for an artificial Christmas tree for her house, it came complete, baubles and all. I helped her erect it, and brought a touch of warmth to a cool house.
Husband and I threw a party on Christmas Eve, for family, for friends, a tradition.
Bella arrived with Mr Big I Am, later than the rest. Her hair just so, she wore an expensive mini skirt, with stilettos to match–on this freezing night.
After shared good cheer, spirits drank, the girls vacated, they shared a taxi into town: Bella, Mr Big I Am, her married sister, with her husband, merrily clambered in the waiting vehicle. The destination was reached: unlike the old days, the girls went separate ways. Mr Big I Am steered Bella to him. He liked crowds to stand out in, people to envy him. Bella had to do the same.
We visited Bella on Christmas morning to take our gifts to her. She was dressed in the uniform of a nurse, ready for her shift. She looked hung over. I handed Mr Big I Am a designer jacket with a zip. He smiled, a smile that did not reach his eyes.
Two days later the zip was broken on the designer jacket, teeth had been pulled apart. Couldn’t wait to tell me, our gift was of no use to him.
I wonder now if Bella went to work that day, had she stayed home to nurse her hangover, to carry on drinking?
Had she dressed in uniform to fool us?
The Christmas tree echoed her artificial life.