Six-thousand seven hundred and nineteen hours and sixteen minutes. That’s how long it’s been since I last saw Brian. He is a Master Sergeant in the United States Army. I’m so proud of him, but I miss him so much. His trip home for downtime was cancelled. His return date was deferred. For a long time we wrote back and forth, then everything went dark. I was lucky in the beginning to get a letter every six weeks if not more. Now, I haven’t gotten one in almost three months. My heart was completely broken and my mind had gone to that dark place where I was sure he was dead.
No, I wouldn’t be notified. We were a gay couple, not married and his mother, shit. His mother wouldn’t tell me anything. She doesn’t like the fact that he is gay, she liked me even less. Brian was raised in a very conservative Christian home. He was called an abomination, picked on, beat, starved and yet he used them as a beneficiary and as an emergency contact. Maybe it was for the best. Maybe I should just move on and wish him luck. It was becoming quite obvious that I wasn’t as important to him as he was to me.
Turning away from the window overlooking the frozen lake our house sat on, I moved across our room and opened the closet. There hanging perfectly in line was Brian’s clothes. I pulled out his favorite shirt and brought it to my nose. It still smelled like him and made my heart pound against my ribs. Closing my eyes, I could see him standing there in front of me. Bright blue eyes, brilliant red hair with the body of a God and a calm caring personality. He was everything I could ever want in a boyfriend and I’d hoped a husband one day. It was twenty-thirteen after all and we could get legally married. I took another deep breath and breathed in his unique scent. It was clean, a little spicy and masculine. It was a scent that made my mouth water and wish he was here so we could spend our day in bed.
So much for that though.
Hanging the shirt back up, I walked back into our bathroom and took another look in the mirror. Today was my office's Christmas party. I was dreading it. I didn’t want to be around anyone this close to Christmas, especially if my lover wasn’t here to spend it with me. Yet, I found myself wanting to go anyway. At least it would get me out of the house. Smoothing my red tie down, I donned my grey jacket and buttoned the top button. Hopefully, I could get in there and get out without having to explain to too many people where Brian was.
Picking up my wallet and keys, I headed out the door. The sooner I got this done, the sooner I could come home, empty the closet and start over. Don’t be such a negative Nancy, Marcus. I could hear my mother's voice, clear as day ring out in my head, imparting her words of wisdom, but it was hard not to be. So, I pushed forward. I knew what I needed to do. All that was left was the follow through.
Driving into town, couples walked hand in hand, smiles on their faces, gift bags in their hands. They looked happy. Oh how I wished that was me. I closed my eyes and remembered what it was like holding Brian’s hand last Christmas as we walked down the same streets, in and out of the same stores, and it seemed so long ago.
Oh Brian, how I miss you so much.
Once I was inside the office building where I worked, I was assaulted by the sound of Christmas music and laughter. My co-workers danced around the room, and on the table in front of me, was a wish box. It wasn’t a requirement, but I couldn’t walk away from it either. Grabbing a sheet of paper, I wrote down what I wanted most of all. Brian. Folding the slip of paper in half, I put it in the box and walked away.
The laughter was infectious, so was the music and atmosphere. Soon even someone as morose as I, was happy. I was glad I got out of bed and came to the party. My colleagues and I sang carols, imbibed maybe a little too much, but the eggnog was fantastic. I laughed and danced and for three hours I forgot about my troubles and my worries. I forgot why I was upset to begin with until the whole room went silent. Turning around slowly, I blinked. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I rubbed my eyes and looked again.
“Brian?” the words fell from my lips in a whisper. He smiled at me and walked further in the room. His blue eyes twinkled with merriment. A red scruffy beard covered his cheeks. He looked a little rough around the edges, but he was still my man, of that I was sure.
“Surprise,” he grinned, opening his arms wide. Still dressed in his Army fatigues, I stared at him in wide eyed wonder. He was really home. "Merry Christmas, Marcus."
Running to him I launched myself into his arms and held him tight. His scent comforted me. The way he held me so close to him, reminded me just how much I missed and loved him. Lifting my face to his, I kissed him. I didn’t care what my co-workers thought. All I cared about was that the man I couldn’t live without was home.
Later, once we were home and after we had thoroughly loved each other, Brian asked me what I want for Christmas. I smiled and said nothing. Because, what I really wanted most of all, was lying next to me in bed. My Christmas wish had came true.