You know, I can’t remember how and when we met. Think it was Twitter, might have been TwitterXmasSingle recording, could have been at a writery thing. What I do know is that Trish is a great friend. She’s full of laughs and great stories and poems. This one’s emotional.
Tissues at the ready?
Last Christmas by Trish Nugent
It had started to rain, small spitty spots on the windscreen. He turned on the wipers. They swished back and forth in rhythm to the music.
The door of the building opposite opened. A woman with a rain mac over her pink track suit came out. Breda, the canteen lady looked up at the sky and tut tutted. She tied a matching rain hat under her chin and pulling her brown shopping trolley behind her, she hurried up the street and round the corner out of sight.
‘Driving home for Christmas’. He used to love this one, but now it just reminded him he had no home to drive home to anymore. No one to drive home to. His house was no longer a home.
Rain lashed against the windscreen now. He turned off the wipers. He couldn’t see out the window. Tears ran down his face. What was he doing here, sitting outside the office? She wouldn’t want to see him. Too much time had passed. It was too late. Her life was without him now. Fecking christmas songs. Why did they have to play them incessantly on the bloody radio. ‘It’ll be lonely this Christmas’, crooned Mud.
He turned on the wipers again. Swish swish swish. They wiped the rain away. He wished he had a wiper to wipe out the past.
Maybe that would be for the best. Erase everything. Block it all out.
As he turned on the indicator to pull away, the door opposite opened again, and there she was. Curly brown hair to her shoulders, her floppy fringe covering her eyes. She was wearing her cherry red with the fur collar. He had bought it for her last Christmas. Was it really only a year ago? It felt like another lifetime.
Sheila tied her belt tightly around her and opened her umbrella against the rain. She looked up suddenly and saw him. They stared at each other as the rain beat down. She looked transfixed, rooted to the spot. A look of shock on her face as if she had just seen a ghost.
Which he was really. A ghost of Christmas past. He moved to open the car door as she made a step towards him a spark of light now in her eyes. Then the office door opened again and a man came out behind her. Putting his arm around her waist, he ushered her towards the navy BMW parked outside. She turned her head to look back, before the car pulled slowly away. As Wham sang ‘Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. The very next day you gave it away,’ he wondered if she was thinking of this day last year.
The day that had changed their lives forever. They had sat in the hospital room watching the small screen of the portable scan machine, searching for the little white flashing dot that had shown up so clearly only two days previously. ‘There’s your baby’s heartbeat,’ the nurse had smiled at them. They’d held hands and just stared in amazement at the screen. Now there was nothing but grey and black fuzzy nothingness.
‘I’m so sorry,’ the doctor now said ‘your pregnancy is no longer viable’. She looked at them with pity in her eyes. ‘The nurse will be back to prep you for theatre. We’ll do an erpc today and you can go home tomorrow.’ Sheila lay motionless in the bed as the tears flowed down her cheeks. Sean felt helpless. ‘I’ll leave you alone for a few minutes to get your head around things’, said the nurse.
Get your head around ‘things’? How could you get your head around this. Their baby was gone. Never had a chance to be born. Never got to meet his or her mammy and daddy. Never took the first breath of life. ‘No longer viable’ the doctor had said.
Christmas time, a time for family. Their family was ripped apart that Christmas. After he’d collected her from the hospital the next day, he dropped her to her mother’s house, where she stayed until the New Year. When she eventually came home, they avoided each other, when instead they should have been comforting each other. He blamed himself. If he had come home and got the decorations from the attic like she’d asked instead of going for a pint with the lads, their life would be so different now. He was so happy to be finally about to become a dad. As he celebrated with his mates, one pint turned to two,then three. He’d arrived home hours later singing, ‘So here it is merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun. Look to the future now, it’s only just begun.’
That’s when he’d found her up on the landing, at the bottom of the ladder into the attic where she had been lying for God knows how long in the dark. Unable to move, unable to get to the phone to call for help. They said there was no reason that they couldn’t have more children. No permanent damage had been done and they could start trying again within a couple of months.
They were wrong. Too much damage had been done. There was no trying again. As the weeks went by and Christmas turned to New Year, they grew further and further apart. First, they had slept in separate rooms, then in separate houses after she’d moved back in with her mother again. They’d been living separate lives for months now. Both missing each other so much but unable to talk about their loss. As Christmas approached once more, the memories of last year came flooding back. He realised he couldn’t carry on any longer without her. He loved her too much and he knew she still loved him. He hadn’t imagined the small flicker of hope in her eyes, when she’d looked at him earlier, had he? The rain had stopped now and the sun peeped out from behind the clouds.
As Mariah Carey sang ‘I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need….’ the passenger door opened and Sheila slid into the seat beside him. ‘My favourite song’ she said, placing her hand on his. ‘All I want for Christmas is you’.
Find out more about Trish Nugent
and her writing on her blog Trish Nugent, Writer
or follow her on Twitter @trishanugent