It hit me hard and I didn't expect it at all. It hit me in the heart, as soon as she turned to hug me. We just finished decorating our first Christmas tree as a couple, as an engaged couple who is set to be married in less than ten months, and there I am, I'm supposed to respond to, "I love you!" Instead, I'm standing like a deer in headlights, searching for the words to complete the moment. They were there, but they weren't cooperating. It hit me right in the god damn heart like an enraged bull.

I always wanted this moment to occur, but it was with someone who won't even talk to me anymore. We were so close, so incredibly close and inseparable, but because of a lost chance at love, we lost everything. She was supposed to be my co-decorator, and she was supposed to put the star on the tree. She was supposed to be there, not the woman in my arms. Alas, she's not. She's gone. She's so far gone that I won't even get a card, let alone give her a gift or see her face or share every single moment of this coming holiday season by her side.

I could go on for pages, but I'll spare the details. Marriage is the right thing for us, of that I have no doubt. But every special day like this, you will enter my mind, Kristin. You will be there.

Wrong Number

As I sat toying with a potential new job application, my mobile phone began to ring. Without looking at the screen, I picked it up, expecting it to be my other half, calling to say that he'd finished teaching for the afternoon and to talk about dinner.

Food's an important thing.

Just before pressing 'yes', I glanced at the screen. Precious few people actually call me considering just how many phone numbers I have stored on my phone, and so I was rather surprised to see my cousin's name flashing on the screen. I don't think my cousin has ever rung me before in my entire life, so I was rather surprised.

I answered the phone, exaggerating my surprise at his voice. I don't know why I did that. I was pleased to hear from him - I wanted to keep in touch with him when he came back into family life after a prolonged absence, and he's recently married a lovely woman. I'd love to consider them close friends. I had made a few attempts to keep in touch: letters, postcards, text messages, but nothing had really been reciprocated. Occasionally I'd get a text thanking me for something, but no further contact would be extended.

Still, he rang me. He was on the other end of the phone. I had recently heard a third-hand rumour, and wondered if he was calling to tell me that it was true.

He started talking, apologising if he was interrupting me cooking dinner for the kids. I know he knows that I don't have any children, so I presumed this was a joke. I chuckled, assuring him that, no, I wasn't cooking, and told him that I was searching for jobs online.

He paused. In retrospect I realise that at this point he was really confused.

He began to tell me about his plans for the cyclorama in a show he's appearing in soon on the South Bank, and asked if it was ok that he borrow Marcus' camera again.

I paused. I was very confused. I am only aware of two people called Marcus. One of them is a chef (Marcus Wareing - I think he was in my brain because I heard him talking on the radio last night), and the other was a friend of my brother's about ten years ago. I am also sure that I have never lent my cousin any kind of equipment.

I paused some more. Then I said "I'm sorry, but I don't think I understand what you just asked me."

There was a short silence. Considering how long it's been since we spoke, you would have thought there would be more to say.

"Oh", he said, "Have I made some kind of mistake? Who have I rung?"

My heart sank a touch at this. I was near elated that someone I hadn't spoken to in a while had rung me, and now it was becoming apparent that it was just an error.







So, it turns out that I share a first name with his sister-in-law, and sound spookily like her on the phone. I didn't ask, but I presume that Marcus is her partner, and that she has a child or two, for whom she cooks dinner.

Anyway, we had a brief chat about what I was up to, he thanked me for my recent letter, and then asked me about my siblings and mother.

As I put the phone back onto the table, I looked at the 'duration' which is displayed on screen for about ten seconds after a call has finished. All of that protracted exchange, including the embarrassed silences, only took 4 minutes and 3 seconds. Not that I'm obsessing.

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