Never to be seen again

I unwrapped his gift slowly, contradictory resentment and protectiveness gurgling up inside. Why had I agreed to this ridiculous public display of obvious compare and contrast?

A gasp here and whispers there as the final bits of tissue paper fell away from the package, disclosing the brightly colored item therein. The last item to be opened, on purpose, after the endless procession of high end luxury brands flaunted and admired.

Immediately I lifted my gaze from the gift, to face him, willing his gaze away from the inappropriate giggles across the room. If our eyes locked, it would be just him and me, against the hypocrisy of such aloof hauteur. Instead, two brown eyes full of disappointment met mine. He was right. Shamefaced, I stared back down at the festive Christmas wrap; the only merry thing remaining.

The sniggers had stopped and conversations had moved on. The moment had passed and the damage had been done. I had missed it, remained still and silent thereby validating it all.

The space between us increased. Unstoppable before my very eyes. Had the space been a repository filled to the brim with mortification, anger, regret, betrayal and stupidity, I could have potentially crossed it. But this was a bottomless empty void, offering no safe passage no bridge to cross.

Queasy and cold, disgusted with myself, I jumped up and ran into the kitchen, abandoning him a second time to a roomful of piranhas.

Had I been surefooted this would never have happened. My wanting to prove his worth was as ignominious as their wanting to strip him of it. Essentially, I had put him on display like an animal at the zoo. Obviously, not with the intent of ever hurting him, rather to make believers out of the dissenters. But why? Why had I needed their approval? The approval of vapid vacuous insipid individuals.

Sideways furtive glances, whispered words, insults in the guise of jokes, veiled wrongful assumptions had accompanied us from the get go. But, as my feelings for him grew deeper, so proportionally did my need for him (for us) to be accepted. That was when I started to lose him.

By the time I had collected myself and gone back into the living room, he was gone. I knew I would never see him again. I picked up his abandoned gift, a bright dollop of color against the oatmeal colored carpet, and without a word to anyone walked out.

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