Looking back now I know what you meant. I know what you said. To think that I could’ve missed it is utterly stupid. That one of the simplest concepts was lost to an idiot like me. Every day it haunts me. Your every word ringing like bells in my ear. Our every moment etched into my brain. Even when I dream, your words come back to me as if stuck on rewind in my brain. Sometimes I forget that others don’t hear your voice in their head the way I do. That they don’t understand my pain. That they don’t have to be reminded of what you said. Let me say to you one more time what I should’ve said long ago. Let me remind you of how you hurt me. Let me revisit my everlasting pain.
Those days were cold. Very cold. Some people say that those days the temperature was almost always below freezing. That winter was a mean creature and had no room for forgiveness in its icy heart. That being caught without a jacket could easily lead to death. That this was the meanest winter yet, but you still decided to give me your jacket. Your only jacket. To this day I remember how warm it felt against my skin even though the snow on the ground was deep and a blizzard had started to form. It reminded me that you cared for me. That I was still the most important person in your eyes. I liked knowing that I was important. I liked that you cared. You were always there for me even when I didn’t deserve it. You were there when the was weather was icy and you needed your jacket just as badly, if not more than me. You were there even when there was little to eat or there was only enough food for one. Even when we had to sleep outside. You were always there. You would even comfort me. You would always tell me it would be okay, but I don’t think you ever meant for you or for my sanity. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so much pain.
Winter had wrapped its icy fingers around us now. We were both frostbitten and shivering.
“It’s okay,” you assured me. “Just a few more miles.” It felt like we had been walking for days. My feet were burning and I couldn’t tell if it was from the frostbite or from standing too long.
“How long have we been walking?”
“Just a few hours. Just a few more steps. Okay?” I didn’t respond. I couldn’t. I used the last of my energy to continue to walk. To walk up the never-ending hill. To keep going until we could finally reach a place warmer than this freezing cold. Yes, anywhere was better than being outside in this cold. It was here, lost in my thoughts, that I finally saw it. A small gas station just a little way up and across the street. I started running now, needing the warmth that the gas station would provide. To this day, I don’t believe that the gas station was worth it. I would have rather walked a thousand more miles than experience this pain. I could experience a thousand more winters and it’ll still be less painful than this. It was here, as I was crossing, that you saw something very different from me. The car. You saw the car, and you pushed me hard. You didn’t say anything, just pushed and the car kept going.
“James,” I screamed your name at the top of my lungs. “Why did you do that?” I whispered, my eyes filling with tears as the snow-white ground became blood-red. The gentle snow engulfed your skin. Its pure white innocence hugging you. I was at your side now; cradling your head in my arms. “Why?” I demanded, needing to know why you would’ve done something so reckless. That day I might not have been physically hurt, but I started to bleed too, and unlike you, my blood would not stop running. I would not stop hurting.
“Because it’s Christmas, idiot, and everyone deserves a gift,” you replied, getting farther away from me. I couldn’t hear what you whispered next. “Merry Christmas, right?”
That was it, wasn’t it? What you had been trying to say this whole time, or is it that I had wanted you to live so badly that I imagined your lips moving. Forming words other than what I had heard. That is what my insanity would like to believe but I know that isn’t true. You told me you loved me. “Because it’s Christmas, idiot, and everyone deserves a gift… because I love you, dummy… Merry Christmas, right?”
“Merry Christmas,” I replied, wishing that I had said I loved you back. Hurting you more deeply than you could ever hurt me. I had broken your heart and stolen your life.