“The Gift”

I dreamed Santa brought me a sexy man. When I awoke, only my husband, Lou, was there. “Merry Christmas, Karen,” he said.

He drove me nuts. He’d say Merry Christmas again when we opened gifts. He’d say it at lunch, at dinner, at bedtime. If it wasn’t a holiday, he’d just stupidly say hi all day long. “Don’t start with me.”

He looked hurt, probably trying to make me feel guilty. “I got you a couple for Christmas, honey,” he said.

A couple of what? I ran my Christmas wish list through my mind. Birthstone earrings, red ankle boots, Capodimonte lovebird figurines. Rushing to the living room, I wondered what was under the tree, what else came in pairs.

Holy shit.

A man and a woman waited, curled up under the tree, each wearing little but a giant red bow. Lou had gotten me a couple for Christmas.

“Merry Christmas!” They popped up and yelled together, the way people yell surprise! at a birthday party.

“We’re Kate and Roger.” The woman had big sexy teeth, Chiclets. Roger was the man from my dream. “I’ll cook,” he said, heading for the kitchen. That’s

what he said in my dream. He moved like an athlete.

Kate dirty-danced on the coffee table, shaking the bells on her wrist and ankle straps. “All I Want for Christmas” played.

After I made my Mafia face, she got her spike heels off my nice table and teetered off to the kitchen.

Was I dreaming? “Lou. What on Earth?” “I wanted to get you something you wanted. He’s yours. She’ll take me, so you don’t have to

feel bad about leaving me. Merry Christmas.” My heart leapt. It remained suspended in flight a second. Then it plummeted, landing like a stomach punch. “Lou! Wait. I didn’t mean…” But he, too,

had left the room. After the brunch that I was too upset to eat, we were back in the living room. The gift couple

danced. Lou and I sat across the room from each other, sipping bloody marys. We don’t usually drink. My mind swirled. Roger and Kate were porn-gorgeous.

Kate moved on to dirty-dancing with Lou.

I should snatch the tramp up by the hair, march her to the door, fling her out onto the ice. See if that cooled her off.

But I couldn’t stop watching Lou like he wasn’t mine. He was brighter and sharper next to her, as if a spotlight shone down on him. A movie star version of himself.

Roger advanced. I motioned him aside. How strong Lou looked, how deep he laughed. Oh my god, leave. Both of you. Just leave. All I want is what I had. All I want is Lou. Lou opened the pocket watch I’d bought him. “Nice,” he said.

“Where did they go?” “Where did who go, honey,” he asked. “Never mind.”

Lou, still illuminated, tore the paper off another package.


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Carly Berg

About Carly Berg

Carly Berg is a decorative couch pillow who doesn’t want to be judged. Her stories appear in PANK, Word Riot, Scissors and Spackle, and elsewhere.