Christmas.

I’m outside.

And it is cold. And it is wet, but it is the only place I can breathe.

I am dressed inappropriately for the weather, and my hands feel heavy and strange.

Nervous, I am scanning the dark, looking for somewhere to go.

I am shifting my eyes across the people around me.

I am hoping, without any sense, for a familiar face or even an intelligible sound.

It doesn’t come. It never does. 

I am humming a tune on a boulder, swaying back and forth.

Someone practices wheelies and donuts on their scooter in the car park ahead of me.

I walk, my feet and legs grow heavy, so I stop.

I am curled on the floor, near a worksite.

The cold of the gravel pressed into my leg begins to burn.

I cry, I know then that I am not dreaming.

I hear my breathing against the hum of traffic.

Steadily I am inhaling, exhaling.

Eyes open in the dark.

I am clutching my jacket, I am waiting to fall asleep.

I think of my daughter and my son, of their little faces and christmas lights.

I sit up.

Don’t let them win.

I sit on the cold steps, and I wait.

I clutch my carrier bag of useless things and hope the clock moves faster.

It’s Christmas Day.

All I have to do is wait.

 

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