Holiday fiction: The happiest day of your life | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Holiday fiction: The happiest day of your life

You were born on Christmas Day in 1975. While most people born around big holidays seem to resent the fact, you love it. You don't feel overshadowed by the holiday, if anything, it somehow makes your birthday even more special. Christmasbirthday was always the best day of the year while you were growing up. Your parents never separated the two. So whenever you heard a Christmas carol, or saw a brightly decorated house, or watched a holiday parade of lights, you felt like they were all in celebration of you. It made your birthday something bigger than itself, subsuming all of Christmas into it.

In your teenage years, New Year's Eve became the premiere event of the season. A holiday that brought heavy drinking, public kisses and all-night parties. In the first seconds of 1990, you had your first real kiss with Chuck Gordon at Melissa Ryan's party. It was also the first time you drank rum. You actually kissed almost everyone at the party, boys and girls, but everyone did, small pecks were fluttering around the basement rec room. But when you got to Chuck, he lingered. You could feel your cheeks flush as he kissed you softly, slowly, probably tasting the sweetness of rum on your lips. You could hear people noticing the kiss, their drunken comments, but neither of you cared, and kept on kissing as the music blared, missing the chance to kiss anyone else at the party.

In 2001, you meet him at a New Year's Eve karaoke party at the Khyber Club. All of your friends are there and they all seem to know him or at least know of him---how have you never seen him before? He has just moved back to town from Toronto for a new job. You are introduced to each other, talk and exchange glances across different groups of friends all night. When the countdown begins blaring out of the speakers Ten---Nine---he edges closer to you Eight--- Seven---Six---and you lean closer to him--- Five---Four---Three---and you smile at each other Two---ONE! And he leans in, never breaking eye contact and kisses you. There are noisemakers and confetti and people howling and stamping their feet. Surrounded by friends celebrating the beginning of something new, he kisses you for the first time and neither of you can look away.

You have never met anyone like him. He's ambitious and handsome. The two of you fit together easily and make long-term plans right away, without trying, without even thinking about it. After a couple months of dating, he proposes that for your first anniversary, the anniversary of your first kiss, you should elope. You say yes.

In the summer, he takes you swimming after work and on the weekends. On an especially beautiful Saturday, he takes you to Queensland Beach. He spreads out a blanket next to a happy German family with three beautiful blonde-haired little girls playing in the sand. He holds you close and runs his fingers all over your face and hair and body while you lean into him, feeling his warmth on one side of your body and the sun on the other. The three girls shriek and run between the sand and water. After the beach, you can't help but stare at him in the car. He stares back even though he is driving on the highway, slowly, and should be paying attention to the road, to the other cars, to keeping both of you alive. You are incredibly happy just to be around him, and you want this moment to last forever.

The following New Year's Eve, you say your vows in Niagara Falls and have your first kiss, as husband and wife, right on the count of one. All of the Eastern Standard Time zone shares in your revels. You are certain that this is the happiest day of your life.

It is December 31, 2010, and you still love him. You don't know how to stop. But last night, after he called to tell you that he'll be working late, he doesn't come home at all. For the past couple of years he's been looking at you differently, with the indifference that he would give a houseplant or a paperweight. It's been gradual, but it seems like you don't add anything to his life anymore, that he sees you as an obstacle. It is now morning. You sit at the kitchen table and drink your tea, because you're not sure what else to do. You imagine him with another woman, in another woman's bed, holding her as if you don't exist. You know these things are happening. You are certain.

Was New Year's Eve 2002 really the happiest day of your life? Or the day at Queensland Beach? How could either of them be? They have brought you to this grey morning, full of sorrow and absence. What you felt in those moments was so joyous when they actually happened, on that day when you met him at the Khyber, when you stared at him in the car, when you married him, but now, in this moment, they feel empty and unconnected to something greater. But could those days be reversed again? Maybe he'll realize the mistake he's made and maybe you'll learn how to forgive and someday take him back. Then those days would be unmarred after all.

Kelsey McLaren is currently a law student in Halifax, but in a former life she was an editor for a local book publisher.

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