I remember, the last Christmas, the Christmas that I told her. My wife, beautiful and slender, gazing at me from the garden, more resplendent than the roses. Proud.

The guilt I felt, the crushing inadequacy that I was not master of my fate. Funny, how the year turns.
This year has transformed my body. I have become a fat father Christmas. She didn’t leave, and I was a guilty fool to think it. Her proud choice to love puts my doubts to wing. My disease has no dominion over her heart. We built a house together, apple tree in the garden, blue crockery on the dresser.

But I am a slow father Christmas, with creaking body. The gifts lie on the table, fur coat and image of a rose. The future is full of hope; but for now I am tired. So tired after this shopping trip. I will wrap up this shopping. I will wrap up this year and untie a new one. But for now I stare, and gaze, glazed, haunted and disconsolate at the past.

Story by Lizabeth Smith

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