Green Groweth the HollybyGirlintheMoon©
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Peace on Earth, etc etc! If you'd like to vote/leave a comment, that would be super cool.
P.S. For the record, I hate the term goose flesh. It just happened- I swear!
"So, what do you do?"
I could hardly make out my date's words over the buzz of conversation around us but I read his lips. It was stereotypical small talk, anyway, so it didn't take much to figure out.
My vodka and ginger ale was warm when I sipped it. "I'm a copywriter."
Brad nodded thoughtfully. "Cool. I used to want to do something like that."
"Allison says you're the best teacher in school."
I didn't miss the flicker in his eyes when I brought up our mutual friend who set us up. It was pretty apparent to me that he was into Allison since we sat down. The first twenty minutes of our blind date was spent talking about how great she was, how tough her divorce had been on her, and how she really should get back into the dating world.
Brad's martini glass was empty and he signaled the waitress over with a flirty smile that was more for Allison than for her. "She's such a flatterer. How long have you known her?"
Resisting a sigh, I ordered another drink when the waitress sauntered over and resolved myself to the fact I was going to have another lonely Christmas.
My beautiful cat Excalibur purred and rubbed against me as I told my friend my horrible tale. Thank God I got love from somebody.
"Oh, Jesus. Brad is such a moron." Allison snickered and shook her head, extending a hand to pet Excalibur.
At least one male in this world preferred me to my friend. He made a discontented sound and shifted away from her, nuzzling deeper into my side.
"Yeah he is. But you knew that already. And you had to have some idea he liked you."
Allison shrugged. "I don't really pay attention anymore. I'm sorry, Holly. I should have known better."
I stood and sighed, ignoring Excalibur's sad meow. "No, I should have known better. No blind dates!"
She got up and followed me into the kitchen. Her eyes watched as I prepared us tea and I could already hear her words before she said them.
"I think you should spend Christmas with me this year."
"Ugh." I handed her a cup and poured the water in. "Your mother is so depressing. I don't care how many people you have over to buffer her. You know I always get stuck in the corner with her somewhere."
"That's because she likes you. You should be flattered." Allison rested against the wall with a wry smile. "She typically hates everyone around her."
"She only likes me because I can match her drink for drink. I'm grateful for the offer, Ally, but no. I just want to order Chinese food and hang out with my cat."
"I hate thinking of you all alone in your apartment." Allison put down her cup and walked out to my living room. "Christmas is a week and a half away and you don't even have a fucking tree!"
"I hate Christmas trees. They're so messy. And fake ones depress me."
Her laugh was expected. "Holly, everything depresses you. You told me last week Christmas music depresses you."
I joined her and nearly tripped over Ex who had moved from his usual spot on the couch to a belly-up position on the floor. I tried to give him a nasty look but he was too cute; I ended up crouching to rub his tummy. "Have you ever taken a minute to pay attention to the lyrics in Christmas music? A lot of it is so sad!"
My friend picked up her coat and was obviously ditching me and my perfectly made tea. "Get yourself a goddamn tree by the next time I come over here. Decorate it. Pop some classic Holiday music on. Bake some freaking cookies. Cheer up. And please, please, please- will you consider coming over to my place?"
Following her over to the door, I weighed my options. "Well, maybe I'll think about it. On one condition." Ally's face perked up and she turned to me as she reached for the door knob.
"You invite Brad, too."
Her face scrunched up. "Fuck you."
Allison gave me the middle finger and slammed the door behind her.
A few hours later someone was knocking the shit out of my door. The peephole revealed it was Bobby. I should have known by the incessant knocking.
Bobby was my neighbor of six months. I think he was from Nebraska or something. He thought we were friends and I guess we were. He wasn't that bad to look at and he was very funny.
Problem was he laughed too much. He was too nice. He was too observant. He was just too... everything.
When he stopped by the week earlier and noticed the lack of decorations and holiday cheer, he knew instinctively the season was a touchy one for me. He never asked but I could see the knowledge shadowing his face and seeping into his every word.
And ever since I met him, he treated me the kindest of all. He constantly asked me if I was okay, brought over food he cooked himself, invited me out to parties and dinner and movies. I always said no. I would taste the food and then throw it out when he couldn't see me because I didn't want to get used to it all. And I loathed the question, "Are you okay?". No one ever truly wanted an honest answer out of that one.
With Bobby, however, I got a sense he genuinely cared. Or when he asked the question, he was at least interested in getting an answer. There was also something in the way he asked it, too, that made me suspect he knew I really wasn't. It irritated me. So I tended to be a bitch to him. He took it well.
After my terrible date, a restless night, and "tea" with Allison, I wasn't in a fabulous mood. I knew I was probably going to be a lot worse than a bitch to him so I tried to pretend like I wasn't home. Bobby kept knocking.
"I know you're in there, Crazy. Open up."
I knocked my head into the wall and groaned. "Fine."
He grinned when I opened the door and strolled right in, picking Excalibur up and casually plopping a brown bag on my countertop.
"What the hell is that?"
"Open it." Ex, the furry traitor, loved Bobby. The two of them ignored me while I begrudgingly peeked in the bag.
A red wool cap and mittens were inside, obviously knitted at home by someone who had a great care and love for detail. They might have been the most beautiful things I'd ever seen. Inside the wrist of one of the gloves, in small script, was my name.
"This is beautiful," I said. I took out the hat and pulled it over my brown hair.
Bobby's laugh was all drizzled honey and white cashmere. "My mom made it for you. It looks nice on you."
"Yeah. She loves making clothes."
"How does she know about me, Bobby?"
"I told her about you, obviously, Holly," he mimicked back, winking at me. He set Excalibur down on the couch and slipped his hands into his pockets, inhaling deep as he glanced around my apartment. "So, still no tree, huh?"
I tugged off the cap. "Why is everyone making such a big deal about this? I don't want to decorate in here. We're in New York, for Christ's sake. Christmas already threw up on the rest of the city."
"You're such a grinch," Bobby laughed. "It's okay, I like you anyway." I ignored the warm thrill that shot up my spine. "And maybe this Christmas will be the one your heart grows three sizes."
"You're cheesy and obnoxious. Go home now." I paused for a second. "Are you saying I don't have a heart?"
"I'm saying," Bobby sighed, "that you should come listen to me play tonight. I promise I'll only do one or two Christmas songs. That should pacify you."
"Ugh, I always forget you're a musician."
"Nuh-uh. I'm a struggling musician. Get it straight." Bobby paid no mind to me ordering him out of my apartment and watched as I put his mom's present back into the bag.
"How do you manage to pay the bills?"
"I sell my soul during the day, remember? I teach lessons to spoiled brats." He put a hand on his heart. "Honestly, you forgetting nearly every detail of my life is making me think you're even more of a Scrooge than I already imagined."
"Wait, who am I- the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge?"
He grinned. "Maybe a little of both."
"Does that make you Tiny Tim? Or- Oh my God, wait! You're Bob Cratchit!"
"Hilarious." Bobby's face turned contemplative and there was a mysterious glint in his eye. "So really. What are you doing for Christmas?"
"Stealing everyone's presents." He groaned and I smiled. "Getting visited by ghosts? I don't know yet."
"I'm having a few friends over Christmas Eve. You should come visit. They're all cool and we can get drunk together. You just have to walk down the hall and you're home."
I looked over at him and tried not to pay attention to the way his alert eyes made me feel. "Tell your mom I said thanks for the gift."
Bobby nodded slowly and opened the door, leaving me alone with my cat, my hat, and the ghosts of Christmases past.
Monday at work was unbearable. Preparations were being made for our holiday party the next day. Then we had three long days off. Everyone else was giddy with excitement. I sat at my desk brooding, wondering what the hell I was going to do in my empty apartment.
My boss, Alex, made his way over and sat on the edge of my desk, crinkling my papers. I fought the urge to punch him in his nutsack and smiled pleasantly at him. We used to have a thing, he and I. It was illicit and fucked up. He enjoyed my blow jobs in the office bathroom, at the company picnic, under his desk and I just reveled in the ecstasy of being bad. One day I woke up and realized how reckless I was being. We weren't going anywhere together, and while that was initially the draw for me, it ended up making me feeling lonelier than ever.
Another thing that drove me crazy about Alex was that he could never just say "hi" like a normal person. He said your name and then exhaled, like he was waiting for you to do or say something. It was fucking annoying.
"You're coming to the party tomorrow night, right?" His tongue slipped out to wet his lips. Real subtle.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world. I love Christmas."
His laughter was breathless and reminded me of the good times when we were snuggled up together in the sheets. "Well, with a name like Holly you definitely should! See you there. You never know... I might be your Secret Santa." With a wink and another laugh, he slid off my desk.
As vile as Alex was sometimes, and as obvious his come-ons were, he was handsome and fabulous in bed. I watched him walk away, wondering if maybe I could make the party a little more tolerable for myself.
Perhaps it would make the gnawing emptiness inside, that lack I always felt, shrink just a little bit more.
I thought of Bobby calling me a Grinch, saying maybe this would be the Christmas my heart would grow.
As I went back to work, it wasn't lost on me I was planning on doing something to make it shrink.
"Fuck, yes. Like that."
Alex's fist was wrapped around my hair, tugging it so hard tears came to my eyes. Normally I liked that but I was so uncomfortable in general. I was kneeling between him and his office wall, hunched over in a tight dress and even tighter shoes. His thrusts were rougher than normal and I kept getting pushed further back. I felt like I was being crushed.
"Holly. Hol- yeahhhh. Mmm."
His cock gagged me for a second and he laughed. "Sorry. It's just... Oh, fuck." He continued sliding himself across my tongue until all of his muscles contracted. He let out one final curse, gave my hair one last squeeze, and shook until all of his cum trickled out. He pulled himself away, letting his sticky dick slide against my cheek.
"Fuck," he choked, half-laughing and half-groaning. "You're such a good little cocksucker."
"Thanks," I whispered flatly.
I stood up awkwardly, trying to pull my dress up over my breasts. Alex zipped up his pants and ran a hand through his messed up hair. "Got a comb?"
I had a small brush in my purse and handed it to him. He fixed his hair in the mirror that hung on his wall and then tossed the brush back to me.
"That was so fucking good. Thank you, Holly. I wish we had more time so I could return the favor."
"Don't worry about it. Isn't Christmas all about giving?"
He slapped my ass. "Merry Christmas, Holly. Thanks for my present. Maybe we can do this again for New Year's. Nothing like blowing into another year by getting blown, eh?"
"Right." I smiled and he patted my shoulder.
He was gone before I finished tidying myself up. I looked around his office, still smelling the scent of his cum and our sweat.
"Merry Christmas," I muttered to the empty office, hearing the happy chatter of my coworkers in the next room.
Allison coughed on her beer. "Say that again?"
"Please don't make me."
"You went down on your boss last night? Is that what you're telling me?"
"Unfortunately. I had one too many rum and cokes." And unfortunately that was only part of it.
Loneliness makes us do the oddest things.
Allison ordered another beer but kept her eyes on me the whole time. I could tell she was trying to figure out how to say something delicately. "I mean... No judgment, but why would you do that?"
"I'm not sure. He was flirting with me the day before and it's been a long time for me."
"Well, did he even reciprocate?"
I silently sipped on my screwdriver, willing the tears pooling in my eyes away.
"Oh, honey. I'm sorry."
"Oh, God, please don't be sorry. I'd rather you be disgusted." I laughed and straightened my shoulders. "At least I gave good head. I wasn't too drunk to deliver."
Ally didn't laugh with me. "You keep pushing happiness away and inviting misery. I wonder why you do that. Is it because you think you don't deserve happiness? Or are you just uncomfortable with it?"
"Al. Please don't get shrinkish on me. I don't see one for a reason."
She held up her hands. "Sorry. I'm just worried about you. I really wish you would come over."
"I'd really rather get drunk on my own than in the corner with your mother."
"See, you saying that isn't really dispelling my fears." Allison smiled- against her will, I could tell. "And my mom probably isn't coming. Does it make me an evil daughter for being happy about that?"
"Not at all."
"Did your parents invite you over?"
I gulped down the rest of my drink and cracked up. "Um, no. Mom is going to Europe with her fiance and his kids and my dad is in California for the month with his new girlfriend. They know I'm self-sufficient."
Allison stroked my hair. "Parents suck, huh?"
"Bobby invited me over Christmas Eve," I blurted. I decided to trade one bad topic to one slightly less bad topic.
Like I knew they would, Allison's eyes lit up. "Really."
Ever since he moved in, Allison had been trying to get me together with Bobby. I resisted and resisted, of course.
"I'm not going. He said his friends are coming over. They're all pothead musicians, probably."
"You're such a snob, Holly." Ally shook her head. "Bobby isn't a pothead."
"He is a musician, though."
"Have you ever heard him play?" Allison asked.
"Nah. I hear he's pretty good."
"I've heard him play. I go to that club all the time."
My head turned so fast it cracked. "What? Really?
"Yeah. He invited me one night and when I realized where it was I couldn't refuse. He's really good."
"Huh." For some reason this bothered me but I couldn't figure why.
Allison's smile turned wicked. "We should go tonight! He's playing!"
"Um. No thanks."
"Come on! This bar sucks. Look at all the Wall Street yuppies."
I had to agree with her. I could practically smell the business cards in their suit pockets, ready to be handed out to the attractive girls who accidentally glanced their way.
"I'd really rather not go there."
She rolled her eyes. "We're going. Suck it up."
Twenty minutes later, without even knowing how I got there, I sat stiffly on a stool as Allison bought me a drink.
"You're going to love his style," Ally shouted over the hipsters talking amongst themselves.
I was about to say something snarky back but then I spotted Bobby across the floor staring at us. His eyes and mouth were wide open. He wore a beanie- gross- over his messy hair and his clothing was more floppy and loose than usual. If I were being totally honest with myself, I would have to admit the look suited him. Luckily I was never honest with myself.
I nudged Allison and jutted my chin in his direction. "Look," I said, waving at Bobby, "it's the King of the Hipsters."
He caught up with us and grinned. "Hi. I'm shocked Allison managed to drag you here."
"Me too. I guess I had more to drink than I thought."
Bobby pulled on a strand of my hair playfully and my toes scrunched up in my shoes. "I should warn you my first song is going to be a Christmas song so I can get it out of my system. The rest shouldn't make you gag too much."
"Bobby, you are so smooth. Where are all your groupies?"
"Right over there," Allison supplied helpfully, pointing over to a group of girls who were, sure enough, watching Bobby and giggling.
I turned back to him and looked him up and down, shaking my head. "How did you get so popular here, Nebraska?"
"I was always popular." His grin was sideways. "And I play a mean guitar. Speaking of which... it's time for me to leave you fine ladies. Enjoy the show."
"See you later!" Allison rocked back and forth on her heels, obviously excited.
Bobby nodded and winked at me before disappearing into the throng of girls and guys who never learned how to brush their hair or tie their shoelaces.
He reappeared on stage, his guitar already on him, and he looked straight at me. Unwanted goosebumps erupted in a wave across my body. I shivered and felt Allison staring at me oddly. What the hell? I swallowed my drink.
"This first song is for my favorite Grinch out there. Enjoy, Holly." Bobby laughed into the mike and then stepped back, nodding to his bandmates.
They launched into a cover of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" that had everyone wild. Even me. It honestly was an amazing rendition.
And Bobby gazed at me the whole time. I needed something stronger than vodka to compete with the crazy drunkenness his awareness of me was causing. Then I needed to kick the shit out of me for becoming so sappy.
The song ended and they immediately began playing other covers. I had to hand it to him; Bobby was a very skilled guitar player and an even better singer.
I could feel myself warming up, getting comfortable, forgetting all the worries and negative thoughts that pecked away at me all the time.
Allison's harsh curse snapped me out of my psycho trance and I looked at where she was staring in horror. A gorgeous guy was grinning at her. He was the kind of person who looked like he bathed in sex.
"Who is that?" I asked her.
I felt her shake beside me. Never in the year and a half since I met her had I ever known Allison to be nervous or get scared over something or someone. The man watching her now, practically absorbing her, obviously terrified her shitless.
"Who is he, Ally?" I repeated.
She turned to me but her eyes weren't really seeing me. "I have to go. I... I'll explain later, okay?"
"What the hell? Are you all right?"
"Fine. I just... I have to go."
"You won't be back?"
Allison met eyes with the stranger whom she obviously knew and shook her head slowly, a small smile flitting on her mouth. "No. Probably not. It's okay. He is... an old boyfriend of mine."
"Ah." That made sense.
"Call you later."
"Have fun," I giggled.
Allison slowly walked over to him. His grin slipped a little and he looked eager. Hungry. Like a wolf waiting to gobble up his Little Red Riding Hood. He hesitated before putting his arm around her shoulders. The tension seemingly evaporated under his touch. He looked my way and winked. They disappeared into the smoky haze with their arms around each other.