A Christmas Tale

Ho-Ho-whore! Merry friggan Christmas, he thought as he watched her pack her bags. How could it have happened? Jessica hummed a preppy carol as she folded and packed the Dolce and Gabbana top he had bought her just a few weeks ago.
“Come now sweetie,” she sighed as she glanced over and noted the look on his face, “It’s not the end of the world.”
“Not for you it seems,” he remarked bitterly. The attractive young woman rolled her eyes.
Jessica zipped up the black Adidas sports bag and shouldered it. By the gods she was beautiful he mused, beautiful and poisonous! For an awkward moment the teenage brunette just stood there in their bedroom. It was as though she wanted him to give his blessing or something!
It had been a exactly a year ago that they had met. He had been driving home one night, after pulling some overtime at work, when he noticed a slender female figure perched on the railings of the Biko Bridge. It was out of place, that late at night, and in an area not normally associated with sight-seeing. Beside it was Christmas and he had thought he was the only looser not celebrating. He slowed his car down and stopped.
“Excuse me, but are you alright?” he had asked.
The tear-stained face of an angel turned to look at him. The despondency and hopelessness he saw in those eyes prompted him to get out right there and approach her. It was an extremely bold move for the introverted man. She told him in no uncertain terms that she planned to jump and end her miserable life. She was only eighteen years old, and had already given up on everything.
He had spoken to her in his usual calm, reassuring manner. He had pointed out that living or dying was up to the individual and that all problems could either be resolved, or at the worst managed. She had been almost immediately receptive, as though no-one had ever bothered to engage her positively. He discovered that her problems were far from unsolvable. Jessica had come from poverty and never had a real break in her life. She had recently lost both her parents, had been swindled out of the meager inheritance, and her boyfriend had booted her out as he was sleeping with her best friend. The girl was up to her ears in debt.
“I don’t really want to die,” she had eventually admitted, fresh tears rolling down her cheeks, “I am just so tired of struggling!” The festive atmosphere of the season had seemingly been the last straw.
“Let me help you,” he had offered.
Actually it was more of a pleading from his side. As much as she needed his help, he needed to be needed. He was thirty years old and had been on his own for a very long time. All he seemed to have was his work. He too had lost his parents, had no siblings, and the few friends he had lived far away.
Tentatively she accepted his offer of help. In the beginning she was heavily suspicious and appeared to be waiting for the situation to go pear shaped. He however cleared away her debt, gave her a place to stay, and created a foundation for her to reinvent herself. In return she shared his bed and filled a gap in his life.
Like a plant thirsting for water, she blossomed from the nourishment he provided. In a new safe environment she secured a better job and built her self confidence from the ground up. He fell very deeply in love with her. Her noble benefactor never considered the feelings were not mutual. Perhaps he simply didn’t want to acknowledge this? Perhaps he simply was too naïve?
“I have to go,” she declared, breaking the silence. Of all days, why did she have to choose their ‘anniversary’?
“Just tell me Jessica, were you ever, at any point, sort of in love with me?” he asked.
“Oh it’s not like that,” she sighed and gave him a rather patronizing smile, “We had fun, didn’t we? Didn’t you tell me that the only guarantee in life, is change?”
“Is there someone else?” he checked apprehensively. For various reasons he did know the answer. He was hoping against hope she would deny it.
“It’s Danny,” she admitted with an exasperated sigh, “Didn’t you work it out?” Danny was her new boss, a rich social player. He was also almost twenty years her senior.
How ironic, thought the shattered man? She had been prepared to jump from a bridge after someone used her and then discarded her, once he had what he wanted, and now she was doing using and abusing! Surely a person would not do that to someone who showed them kindness, and surely not, when that very same thing had been done to them?
A multitude of emotions flooded the man as she strolled past him and headed for the front door. Surging up out of that maelstrom came anger. He was furious at her for treating him and his emotions like it had an expiry date. He was seething with himself for having been taken for a ride.
“Jessica?” he called.
She stopped with her hand on the door-handle. At first she didn’t look at him but bowed her head, closed her eyes, and shook her head.
“What?” she asked. As she turned around, there was a look of annoyance all over her face.
“Goodbye Jess,” swallowed the man as he produced a 9mm handgun. Jessica gasped.
A single gunshot rang out.

This post was submitted by Peter.


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