Christmas
                 Fiction by Danielle Lapidoth

      The domesticated, almost cozy, landscape between the cut-up grey lake
and the highway around its eastern shore is unpeopled.  It’s the twenty-fifth;
families are doing whatever it is families do when they celebrate, or else
everyone is shy of the newly arrived winds, except for a few dogwalkers and us.
      The quiet and the cold revive me after the overheated cocktail parties of the
last weeks, with their artful holly sprigs and red and gold napkins.  Also, my
downtown lunch hour has been plagued by suburban shoppers since
Thanksgiving.  Now I think with pleasure of the locked-down department
stores and malls, of security guards going their usual rounds under unflattering
lights, bewildered nocturnal animals brought to life for a day.
      We are walking quickly, silently, four gloved hands in four pockets.  Your
head is down; mine is up, because my father once told me it was better to face
the wind directly.  My eyes are tearing and my tongue is cold; the wind breezes
through my teeth.  I have to close my lips.
      We finally look like what we are, a couple on the verge of splitting.  The
parties were an irritating counterpoint to our private unraveling, so this accord
between appearance and reality feels wholesome.  Past arguments and
discussions, we are resigned, but I am also happy.  I try not to let my happiness
show, or induce guilt.  I tell myself our split is mutual.  Or: I tell myself you
believe it is mutual.  I don’t mind thinking about how, instead of putting up a
tree, I’ve spent the month carefully coordinating this finale, hanging baubles and
tinsels and lights on it to make you believe in its appeal.  I even perched an
unflattering version of myself at the top, but with a light heart, almost playfully,
knowing it was designed to spare us both, in different ways.
      When you jerk your chin out of your muffler it can only be to look at me
and I meet your eyes before I can stop myself.  I know your expression well:
compassion and knowledge salted with humor.  It is a look that I loved for
many years but have not seen in months.
      You say, “I know exactly what you are doing.”
      I wonder if perhaps I am making a mistake.




                          ____________________________


Danielle Lapidoth lives and writes in Zurich, Switzerland, with her husband
and three children, ages 3, 2, and newborn.  She is a part-time English teacher
and editor (
www.webscribe.ch).  She has had poetry, essays, and flash
fiction published by
Midstream, The Lyric, Ellery Queen, Lily: A Monthly
Online Literary Review, Barnwood, Flashquake, Literary Mama, and
Mamaphonic.


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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Literature
 

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 1
(Spring 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

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published in the
Apple
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
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