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Holiday Christmas Sad

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

The play ended and as Ernest bowed, the applause and screams filled his heart to the brim. He stood on stage for just a moment longer to appreciate what had just transpired between himself, his fellow actors, and the audience. He hugged the crew as walked off stage and made his way to his dressing room. He wished everybody a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. He received the like. Once in his dressing room he congratulated his co-star on a wonderful Christmas Eve show and they exchanged a strong hug full of knowing that they had done their job well.

Ernest walked out of the stage door and into the cold December night. The autograph line had already formed. Enthusiasm and a good cheer spread throughout the eager crowd. Frigid fingers thrust playbills and posters at Ernest. He used his own pen to scribble his halfway legible signature. Ernest was attentive. He was kind. He was diligent. “Happy holidays, merry Christmas. Happy holidays, merry Christmas.” He said over and over, and he meant it each time he said it. “Ok, only a few more, I’ve got to get home to my family for a late-night Christmas eve movie!” Ernest said to the theatergoers. He made the crowd feel as though he wished he could stay signing autographs all night long. “Thank you so much! Happy Holidays to you all!” he said as he capped his pen and tucked it away in his coat pocket.

A vacant cab crawled past the crowd and Ernest jumped in. “36th and 10th please.” He looked back and waved as the cab pulled away.

A young boy in beanie and scarf chased after the cab. The boy clutched a marker and a wrinkled playbill. Ernest asked the cab to stop. The cab slowed and the boy tripped and fell, a little tumble. The marker flew from his small hand and fell through the gutter grate. The playbill flew too and landed in blackened, heavily trodden, melting snow. Ernest helped the boy up. The boy was tearful and stricken with embarrassment. The boy made to retrieve the sad, damp, playbill from its muck.

“No, no. Here.” Ernest said. Ernest pulled his handkerchief from his coat pocket.

“ What’s your name?”

“Parker.” Said the boy.

Ernest signed the handkerchief with his own pen and handed both the pen and the handkerchief to the boy. “Keep ‘em, I’ve got plenty.” The boy beamed and ran back to his parents who were clutching each other, watching their son. Ernest waved to the family as the family walked away, together. Alone, Ernest got back into the cab and thanked the driver for waiting. They rode in silence.

Ernest entered his quiet lifeless apartment. He poured oats into a bowl and turned the kettle on. He turned the T.V. on and then turned it off. He poured the hot water over his oats and stirred in a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter. He opened a bottle of red wine and poured it into a travel mug. He ate his oats and finished the wine. A siren wailed outside. He opened another bottle and refilled his travel mug. He left his loneliness in his sterile high-rise apartment and walked out into the Manhattan night. The wine was nice, the night was just cold enough, and he was going nowhere.

He thought of her, of her family. He thought of his own family. He pushed the thoughts away. He’d call tomorrow, if tomorrow came. A down and out man, old and withered asked Ernest for anything at all. Ernest ignored the request and walked on, sucking down the wine. The truth came quick and whole. The truth always landed on him as soon as he was alone and fed. Everything he had fought for, every goal he had achieved had amounted to nothing. The attainment of his lifelong dream had been a mirage and all he held was longing. He did not love along the way. He shed along the way. He wished to shed more. All he’d ever practiced was shedding. He walked toward the high bridge, the one with the signs that read CALL THIS NUMBER IF YOU HAVE SUICIDAL THOUGHTS. Jingle Bell Rock blared from a car window and a pretty girl stuck her head out the window and yelled “Merry Christmas!” He pulled out his phone. No notifications, just a bright empty screen. It was 3am and the fatigue caught up with him. He stopped and sat on a bench looking at nothing. “This is so awful.” He said.

The play ended and as Ernest bowed, the applause and screams filled his heart to the brim. He stood on stage for just a moment longer to appreciate what had just transpired between himself, his fellow actors, and the audience. He hugged the crew as walked off stage and made his way to his dressing room. He wished everybody a Happy New Year. He received the like. Once in his dressing room he congratulated his co-star on a wonderful New Year show and they exchanged a strong hug full of knowing that they had done their job well.

Ernest walked out of the stage door and into the cold January night. The autograph line had already formed. Enthusiasm and a good cheer spread throughout the eager crowd. Frigid fingers thrust playbills and posters at Ernest. He used his own pen to scribble his halfway legible signature. Ernest was attentive. He was kind. He was diligent. “Happy New year!” He said over and over, and he meant it each time he said it. “Ok, only a few more, I’ve got to get home to my family and help clean from the New Year party!” Ernest said to the theatergoers. He made the crowd feel as though he wished he could stay signing autographs all night long. “Thank you so much! Happy New Year to you all!” he said as he capped his pen and tucked it away in his coat pocket.

Ernest entered his quiet lifeless apartment. He poured oats into a bowl and turned the kettle on. He turned the T.V. on and then turned it off. He poured the hot water over his oats and stirred in a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter. He opened a bottle of red wine and poured it into a travel mug. He ate his oats and finished the wine. He opened another bottle and refilled his travel mug. He left his loneliness in his sterile high-rise apartment and walked out into the Manhattan night. The wine was too bitter, the night was too cold, and he was going nowhere.

September 02, 2022 18:27

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