What I Wanted for Christmas (by Grant Bentley)

What I Wanted for Christmas

By Grant Bentley

If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.

My name is Theodore Thomas Ryan Gallagher. I am the grandson of the founders of the law firm Gallagher, Ryan and Gallagher. At the time this all happened, my grandfathers and my father were the senior partners. Seventeen other lawyers worked for the firm. My mother was the owner and lead fashion designer for Cara Fashions, an exclusive ladies’ fashion boutique. To say we were well-off financially is an understatement. In fact, I had a personal checking account with a minimum balance of twenty thousand dollars, which made me ‘rich’ beyond most kids’ wildest dreams.

We had a five-thousand square foot home in one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Toronto, a two-thousand square foot ‘cottage’ in Hawaii, and a three-thousand square foot house in Brisbane. I lived in the one in Toronto, although I only spent about two months a year there. I had been to the one in Hawaii several times, but had never been to the one in Brisbane.

I attended St. George’s Boys Boarding School in Vancouver. It offered a variety of academic options that included enriched and Advanced Placement classes. I had attended St. George’s since grade 7, and because of the Advanced Placement classes, I would be graduating from high school in June, two months before my seventeenth birthday.

So, what more could a sixteen-year-old boy have wanted? I had good looks and a great body, or so I was told, almost anything money could buy, I attended one of the best academic schools in the country, excelled at several sports, and would graduate from high school before I was seventeen. What else was there?

Well for me, all of that, as great as it sounds, was superficial. It was meaningless. Although I have to admit being financially comfortable was a good thing, I don’t believe quality of life can be measured by the size of your bank account or home or the quality and price of your car. To me, quality of life is measured by the amount of love in your life—or it should be. To me, the love of family and friends is far more valuable than money and possessions. I know, that’s easy for me to say because I already had everything, right?

In actual fact, I didn’t. While millions of kids were wishing they had what I had, I was wishing I had what most of them had…a normal life. A life with parents who showed that they actually cared that I existed; parents who thought I was worth spending time with. To have friends who liked me for who I was, not for what I had. To attend a regular high school and be able to come home from school and have my mom ask me how my day was. To lie on the floor and chat to a friend for hours on the phone about nothing. To play some one-on-one basketball in the driveway. To be able to grab my skateboard and spend the day at the park with a bunch of buddies. To go camping or fishing with Dad.

That didn’t happen for me. I spent ten months of the year at boarding school. When I was home, my parents and I got together—that is, the three of us in the same place at the same time—on seven occasions in the last two years, for a total of maybe twelve hours. If I didn’t have photos of them on my desk in the dorm, I could quite possibly have passed them on the street and not recognized them.

Just to give you an example, my birthday was August 20th, a time when I was actually at home. I was home from December 18th to January 3rd, and from June 30th to August 31st. This year was my sixteenth birthday…a milestone birthday. The birthday that allowed me to get my driver’s licence. The birthday that signified freedom. With that in mind, my dad had a new Maserati Gran Cabrio delivered to the house.

I can just see you all getting choked up about that and beginning to feel sorry for me. Not a chance, is there? ‘Poor little rich boy.’ Yeah, I know. How could I possibly find fault in that? I mean how spoiled am I? Right?

Well, if having a total stranger come to the gate, then drive up to the front of the house after being let in, hand you a set of keys, and say, “Happy birthday kid,” works for you, fine. However, I would rather have had a birthday cake, a hug, a sit-down meal with my parents, and a small gift they actually went shopping for.

They didn’t show up, phone, or even email me to say happy birthday. The next day, my dad came home, said, “Hi sport,” and went straight to his office to work on a case. I didn’t see him again for two days. Even then, the only reason I saw him was because he had to come down to the driving examiner’s office to sign the permission forms for me to take my driver’s exam. I didn’t see my mom until three days after that. She rushed by me, said, “Hi sweetie. Gotta run,” packed a bag and left for the airport to fly to a fashion show in London. Neither of them even mentioned my birthday.

As far as friends go, I have always been quiet and shy. I think part of the reason for that was that, until I was eleven, I had a tutor and was home-schooled. I had always been around adults; never children my own age. Even when I started at St. George’s, I was two years younger than most of the boys in my grade. However, there were three boys in school that I chummed around with. That was because they were the only three boys I met who weren’t total pompous asses. I wouldn’t say they were friends, as in someone I would trust; just chums.

Out of school, I had no friends or even chums. For one thing, I was home for barely two months of the year. When I was home, I lived in a neighbourhood that catered to the ‘old money’ rich and famous. There were no kids my age living anywhere close by. We didn’t have easily accessible public swimming pools, skating rinks, skateboard parks or anything similar. If you wanted something like that, you simply built one in your backyard—something which was not conducive to meeting new people. I had taken a taxi to one of the public pools and to a skateboard park a few times. However, my shyness kept me from approaching anyone I didn’t know and striking up a conversation. Regretfully, I’m afraid, I gave up too easily.

So, when I was home, I tended to spend my time sitting by the pool, swimming, skateboarding on my own mini-park, watching TV or playing video games…alone. It didn’t matter what anyone said and it didn’t matter if I was rich or poor, lonely was lonely. Granted, I could have entertained myself in a hundred different ways, but lonely was still lonely.

I doubted I would ever be able to change my parental status, but I decided I could change my friendship status. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I was going to get out, meet people and force myself to be sociable if I had to, but I was going to meet some new people. I would be out for the Christmas break in a week and I had a plan. I arranged to have a new vehicle delivered when I got home. I decided on a used 2004 Jeep Wrangler Sport. It wasn’t pretentious like the Maserati, but it was cool. Once I was mobile, there would be no more sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. I knew I only had two weeks, but if I could plant the seed, so to speak, then maybe next summer I would have a friend to hang out with.

The day after school let out, I was putting my plan to work. I had my Jeep and I was on my way to Church and Wellesley in the village. I figured I would check out the shops and maybe get a coffee or something. If I was going to meet somebody, it might as well be somebody I could get interested in. About half a block ahead of me on Yonge, I could see a young guy riding a bike along the side of the street. All of a sudden, a car pulled out of a driveway right in front of him. He had no chance of stopping, hit the car, and went flying over it onto the pavement. I pulled over immediately and ran to see if he was okay. The idiot who pulled out in front of him didn’t even check to see if he was okay. Instead, he stood there yelling at the kid that he should watch where the hell he was going and something about damned bikes having no business on the road anyway.

When I was checking to see if he was hurt, I realized he was unconscious which scared the hell out of me. I pulled out my cell phone and started dialling 911. As I was dialling, I noticed the guy was about to get into his car and drive away. I yelled to him that unless he wanted to get charged with leaving the scene of an accident, he had better wait for the police.

“Who the hell do you think you are, punk, telling me what to do?” he yelled back.

As I was explaining what had happened and where we were to the 911 dispatcher, I reached into my wallet, pulled out one of my dad’s business cards and handed it to the guy.

“This is who I am, and this is who will be representing the boy you just hit in court,” I said.

The guy looked at the card and, recognizing the name of Dad’s law firm and knowing their reputation, he turned a little pale. Suddenly he became very concerned about the well-being of the boy lying on the pavement. I almost felt like laughing.

A minute later, an ambulance and a police car pulled up. The guy immediately ran to the police officer and began rattling on about this boy speeding down the sidewalk on his bike, not looking where he was going and striking his precious Mercedes. The officer had to ask him to slow down a couple of times. After the guy was finished, the officer told him he would have to come down to the station and give a written statement within twenty-four hours. He did not look at all pleased.

The paramedics wasted no time in putting a brace on the young guy’s neck and placing him on a wooden backboard before setting him on the stretcher, tying him down and loading him into the ambulance. I asked them where they were taking him and they said Toronto General. They handed the officer his wallet so he had a name for his report and so he could contact the boy’s parents.

As they left, I walked over to the officer and, in front of the guy from the car, I asked him if he would like to hear the truth about what happened. The officer glanced at the guy and then kind of grinned and said he would be very interested in hearing the truth. Just then, two other guys came up and told the officer they had seen what happened. He asked us if we would come down to the station and fill out a written report of what we saw. All three of us said yes, of course. After we helped the officer put the bike in the trunk of his car, I told him we would follow him to the station. He thanked us, said something to the other guy about seeing him at the station, and got into his car. I told the two guys who came over that they could ride with me if they wanted to. They, of course, said yes.

“Cool Jeep,” one of the boys said as soon as we got in it.

“Thanks,” I relied.

“I’m Miles, and this reject is Stacy,” he added.

“Hi, I’m Theo,” I replied, grinning.

“Hi,” they both responded.

“You from around here?” Stacy asked.

“Yeah, sorta,” I replied. “I live in Rosedale.”

“Oh, a rich kid,” Miles said.

“My folks do okay,” I said. “That doesn’t make ME rich though.”

“I wish my folks were rich so I could have a Jeep like this,” Stacy said.

“It’s not like it’s new or anything, just a used Jeep,” I responded with a laugh.

“Still, I can’t even afford a bike,” Stacy responded.

Our conversation was cut short as we arrived at the police station. We met with the officer as soon as we got inside. We introduced ourselves and he thanked us for taking the time to come down and fill out a witness report. He then gave each of us a blank accident report and a pen and sat us at different tables in the station.

“Please be as specific as you can. Don’t leave anything out, because even the most minor detail might be important. The speed of the bike, did Mark seem to be paying attention, did the driver stop before entering the street, every detail is important,” he said.

For the next twenty minutes, the three of us wrote down every detail we could think of. When we were done, we handed the reports in to the officer, and we were free to go.

“You want to go and see how he is?” I asked the guys.

“Yeah, sure,” they responded, so we climbed into the Jeep and headed for Toronto General Hospital.

Once we got there, we walked into the ER and I asked the receptionist about the boy on the bike, Mark, who had been hit by a car. She asked if we were relatives and when I said no, she said she was sorry, but she was not free to give out information to anyone but relatives.

“Can’t you at least tell us if he’s okay?” I asked.

“His parents are right over there,” she said, pointing at two men sitting close together. “I’m sure they won’t mind you asking them how he is.”

“Thanks,” I said to her.

“Parents?” Miles questioned.

“What’s wrong with having two dads?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he replied. “Actually, it might be kinda cool. My mom’s such a bitch.”

“No she’s not. It’s just that you’re such an ass,” Stacy said, laughing and jabbing him in the side.

I couldn’t help but laugh at their exchange, but I felt envious at the same time.

“Hi, I’m Theo, this is Miles and Stacy. We were kinda wondering how Mark is,” I said as we got over to Mark’s dads. “We were there when he got hurt.”

“I’m Jas and this is Rob. We’re Mark’s parents,” Jas said. “Are you the ones that called 911?”

“I did,” I said.

“Thank you,” he said.

“After we gave the police our report, we decided to come over to see how he is,” Stacy told them.

“He’s banged up pretty good. He has some scratches, bruises, a concussion, and a broken arm,” he said.

“I guess he got his arm up so he didn’t hit his head too hard, or his head injury could have been a lot worse,” Rob said. “Maybe now he’ll listen and wear a helmet.”

“Yeah,” I said. “It scared me when he flew over the car, and then when he was unconscious when I got to him, it really scared me.”

“The guy that hit him didn’t do anything but yell at him about how bikes shouldn’t be allowed on the road,” Stacy said.

“Yeah, and he was just going to drive away until Theo said something about leaving the scene of an accident and then gave him something,” Miles stated.

“What did you give him anyway?” Stacy asked.

I grinned. “I gave him Dad’s card and told him he was Mark’s lawyer,” I said.

“Quick thinking,” Rob said with a smile. “Do you have another one? I think we just might want to talk to your dad.”

“Yeah,” I said as I dug one out of my wallet and gave it to him.

“Oh my God. We’re talking big guns here,” he said as he gave the card to Jas.

“This is your dad’s firm?” Jas asked.

“My dad’s and my granddads’,” I replied.

“I’m not sure we can afford them,” Jas said, smiling.

“Maybe I can pull a few strings,” I said with a grin.

Just then, a doctor came out. He told Mark’s dads that he wanted to keep Mark in overnight to keep an eye on him because of the concussion. He said that barring any complications, he was quite sure Mark could go home the next morning. They thanked the doctor and asked if he could have visitors. The doctor asked them to give him fifteen minutes as they were moving him from the ER into a room. As soon as he was settled in, a nurse would let them know, and then he could have visitors.

“Do you want to wait and visit him?” Jas asked.

“Yeah, for sure,” Miles said, looking at Stacy and me. We nodded in agreement.

“Great,” Rob said. “I know he’ll want to meet you guys.”

About ten minutes later, a nurse came over to let us know that he had been moved into room 403. Rob led the way and the five of us went to the elevator and up to his room. When we got there, Rob introduced us and told him what we had done after the accident.

“Thanks guys,” he said, smiling.

“No problem,” we all responded.

“So how you feeling?” I asked.

“I’ve got a bit of a headache and my arm hurts, but otherwise I’m okay,” he replied.

“That’s not too bad then,” Stacy responded. “If you had been two seconds faster he would’ve probably run right over you.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said. “I guess I was lucky, if a broken arm and concussion can be called lucky.”

“It’s better than the other option,” Stacy remarked with a grin.

“Oh yeah,” Mark said, smiling.

“So, you guys from around here?” Jas asked.

“Not exactly,” Miles said. “Theo here is from Rosedale and Stacy and I are from University Heights.”

“University Heights?” Rob questioned.

“Yeah, it used to be known as Jane and Finch…the Ghetto,” Miles replied.

“Theo and us are kinda from the opposite ends of the earth,” Stacy said with a chuckle.

“So how did you all end up at the same place?” Jas asked.

“Well, I was going to Church and Wellesley to check it out, maybe do some shopping,” I replied.

“We were going to the U of T just to have a look. We both want to go there next fall,” Miles replied.

“Yeah, we’ve both qualified for some grants and student loans already,” Stacy said, “and if we keep our marks up, maybe academic scholarships as well.”

“Congratulations, and I wish you the best of luck,” Rob said to them.

“Thanks,” they replied.

“You were coming to the village?” Mark asked me. “We live in the village, on Maitland, just off Jarvis.”

“Oh cool,” I responded. “I’ve never been down there before. I was going out of curiosity to see what it’s like.”

“Uh huh,” he responded with a grin.

Just then, an orderly came in with a tray of food. I guess it was dinnertime. We hadn’t been paying attention to the time and suddenly we all realized we were getting hungry. We decided we should head home and maybe dig up some food too. Before we left, Stacy asked Mark for his number so we could get together sometime. After we all exchanged numbers, we said good bye to Mark and his dads and left.

As we left Mark’s room, I asked Stacy and Miles if they wanted a ride home.

“You sure you want to come to our part of town?” Stacy asked.

“Why not?” I asked him.

“It ain’t Rosedale,” he replied.

“Yeah,” Miles said.

“You gonna hold that against me forever?” I asked with a smile.

“Sorry,” Stacy replied. “It’s just that guys like you don’t usually want to hang out with guys like us or come anywhere near Jane and Finch.”

“Guys like me?” I questioned.

“Look Theo, you seem like a real nice guy,” Miles responded, “but you’re the rich and famous and we’re white trash. We don’t fit together, you know?”

“You’re Rosedale and we’re the Ghetto,” Stacy added.

“That’s bullshit man,” I stated. “My mom and dad got together just long enough to have sex once and I was the result. It’s not my fault who my parents are, or where I live. Who our parents are and where we live has nothing to do with who we are.”

“You really believe that?” Stacy asked.

“Yeah I do,” I replied. “Look. You talked to the cop, you went to the police station, you filled out an accident witness form, you came to the hospital to see how Mark was, you talked to his dads, you visited with him, and exchanged numbers so we could get together sometime. What part of what you did was different from what I did?”

“You drove,” Miles said with a grin.

“Fuck you,” I said, grinning back.

“I guess maybe you’re right,” Stacy said, “but it’s like you got it all man, and we…well, we got nothing.”

“Let me ask you something,” I responded.

“Okay,” Miles replied.

“Do you see your mom every day?” I asked.

“Yeah,” they both answered.

“Does she ask you how your day was when you get home?” I asked.

“Yeah,” they again answered.

“Every day?” I queried.

“Yeah, pretty much,” they answered again.

“Well, I see my mom twenty times a year, maybe, and most of the time she’s in a hurry to go somewhere else and hardly has time to say hi,” I said. “I had a nanny until I was eleven. I could speak Tagalog before I could speak English, and I’m Irish-Canadian, born right here in Toronto.”

They both just stood there for several seconds staring at the floor before either one of them responded.

“I’m sorry,” Stacy finally said.

“Thanks,” I responded, “but that’s what I mean. You can’t assume anything about me because I’m from Rosedale any more than I can assume anything about you because you’re from University Heights. Hell, who knows, when you get through university, one of you might find a cure for cancer or win the Nobel Peace prize. Where we live now has nothing to do with who we are or where we’re going. Now, do you want a ride or not?”

“Since you put it that way, how can we refuse?” Mile said, grinning.

It took about half an hour to get to their apartment building. When they weren’t giving me directions, we chatted about whatever came to mind. I found out that Miles wanted to go into the sciences and Stacy was more into writing and journalism. I actually had a great time just being with them. In fact, it was the best time I could remember having in years. They were both great guys and maybe, just maybe I had planted a couple of seeds and real friendships would grow from them.

That seemed to be coming true when a couple of days later, my phone rang.

“Hey, Theo?” a voice asked.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“Hey. It’s Stacy,” the voice said. “How’s it goin?”

“Hey, it’s good,” I responded. “And you?”

“Great, thanks. Hey, Miles is gone to his grandma’s for the week so I thought I’d phone and see if you wanted to get together,” he said.

“Yeah, for sure,” I said. “What did you have in mind?”

“Well, I was wondering if you ever got to Church and Wellesley to look around,” he asked.

“Actually, no I didn’t,” I replied. “You wanna do that?”

“Yeah, if you want,” he said.

“Okay, how about I pick you up in about forty-five minutes?” I asked.

“You don’t mind?” he asked.

“No, of course not,” I responded.

“Cool, I’ll be waiting out front, see ya in a few,” he said.

About forty minutes later, I was pulling up in front of his apartment building. He was waiting out front just like he had said.

“Hey, thanks man,” he said as he got in the Jeep.

“No problem,” I answered.

We drove in silence for a few minutes before he asked, “You been down to the village before?”

“This is the first time,” I replied. “I’ve just been home for a couple of weeks since I got my licence, so I haven’t been out much. Actually, the day we met was the first day I had the Jeep out since I got it.”

“Really?” he questioned.

“Yeah, I go to a boarding school in Vancouver so I’m only home at Christmas and during the summer,” I responded.

“Geez, that’s gotta suck,” he said.

“Yeah it does. I don’t get a lot of chance to meet people and make friends,” I said. “But five more months and I’m finished. Then I’m going to university, probably here in Toronto.”

“We’re done in June too,” he said.

“If I decide to go to university here we can get together,” I said. “It’ll be good to have some friends to hang out with.”

“You see us being friends?” he asked.

“Yeah, why not?” I asked.

“No reason,” he replied as he turned to look out the side window.

A few minutes later, we were approaching Church and Wellesley. I found a place to park and the two of us started walking down Wellesley towards Church. As we were approaching the corner, Stacy jabbed me and pointed towards Priape and grinned.

“Ya wanna?” he asked, still grinning.

“Yeah, sure,” I replied with an equally big grin.

We weren’t even sure they would let us in as they not only cater exclusively to gay clientele with the latest fashions and accessories, but they also have a rather extensive section catering to leather and other fetishes. We entered cautiously, just in case it was adults only. Obviously we were okay because, as soon as we walked in the door, a young salesman came over and asked if he could help us.

“Well we’d kinda like to just look around for a bit if that’s okay,” Stacy replied.

“No problem,” he responded. “Just give me a shout if you need some help.”

Well, to say we had our eyes opened would be a real understatement. Other than clothes, jewelery, cologne, and DVDs on one side, they had a whole array of things I didn’t even know existed and some things I didn’t want to know existed on the other side. Needless to say, we both found the whole experience extremely entertaining and, I have to say, more than a little educational as well.

“Do guys really wear this stuff?” Stacy asked as he tilted his head trying to figure out how some weird thing he found worked.

“I guess somebody does,” I replied, laughing.

“I’m guessing you boys aren’t into leather,” the young clerk said as he came up behind us.

“Uh, not in this lifetime,” Stacy replied, laughing.

“We have a lot of other merchandise that I think would be of more interest to you on the other side of the store,” he said.

We followed him to where they had jeans, shirts, swim suits, underwear, jewellery and other stuff we could actually recognize. As we were following him over, he turned and smiled at us.

“You make a really cute couple, you know that?” he said.

I was about to say we weren’t a couple, but Stacy quickly said, “Thanks,” before turning to me and smiling.

We did find some T-shirts we liked that were on sale, and some underwear. Stacy bought a T-shirt and I bought a couple of T-shirts and some underwear. As we left the shop, Stacy looked at me, grinning as he said, “Holy fuck. I can’t believe anyone could be into half that shit. Some of that stuff was really freaky, man.”

“No shit,” I replied, laughing.

As we were laughing and discussing some of the things we had seen, we were wandering down Church St. and I spotted the Village Rainbow Restaurant.

“You hungry?” I asked Stacy.

“Yeah, but I spent most of my money on this shirt,” he replied.

“This one’s on me, next time it’s on you,” I said. “Okay?”

“Yeah, okay,” he said, smiling.

We went in and both ordered a burger deluxe and a coke. As we were waiting, Stacy looked at me and smiled.

“What?” I asked.

“This is so cool, thanks,” he said.

“What, for the burger? You’re welcome,” I said.

“No, for this,” he said as he waved his arm to kind of take in everything. “I could never do this with Miles.”

“Oh,” I said as I realized what he meant. “Yeah maybe not.”

“You’re the only person who knows now besides my mom,” he said.

“Thanks for trusting me,” I responded with a smile. “In my case, you’re the only one who knows.”

“Cool,” he said with a grin. “We can start our own secret society.”

“I think you need more than two people to have a society,” I said, laughing.

Our food arrived and we talked a lot about our thoughts and fears as we ate. How we felt when we first figured out we were gay, how, when he told his mom, she just smiled and said, “I know,” how we felt about coming out, our fears of being bashed, and whatever else came to mind. Stacy turned out to be one of the most intelligent, insightful, caring guys I had ever met. We sat there baring our souls to one another for more than two hours before we decided to move on. It was just so cool to talk to someone who knew, you know. But it was more than that. It was special in a way I can’t even begin to describe. It would be a time I would remember and cherish forever.

As we walked out of the restaurant, we realized we were on Maitland and just a block or so from Mark’s. Stacy asked if I wanted to go and visit him and I was all for it, so I pulled out my cell and called him. Five minutes later, we were at their condo, waiting for Mark to answer the door. As it happens, his dad Jas answered the door. He welcomed us in and told us Mark would be out in a minute. I guess he had been lying around in his boxers and figured maybe he should get dressed.

“Hey, I didn’t expect to see you guys,” he remarked as he came out of his room.

“Well we were in the neighbourhood and when we realized we were just a block away we figured, if we’re this close, we should stop by to see how you’re doing,” Stacy said.

“Thanks,” he responded. “I’m doing good.”

“Cool,” I said.

“So, you were in the neighbourhood?” he questioned with a grin.

“Yeah,” Stacy replied. “Miles went to visit his grandma so I phoned Theo to see if he wanted to come down and look around and maybe do some shopping.”

“So did you do any shopping?” he asked.

“Yeah, we found some T-shirts,” I replied.

“Where?” he asked.

“Nosey isn’t he?” Stacy asked me with a grin.

“At Priape,” I said. “Happy now?” I added, laughing as we heard a chuckle come from Jas who was sitting at the kitchen table.

“You went to Priape?” he asked, laughing.

“Yeah. You wouldn’t believe some of the weird shit they’ve got in there,” Stacy replied as we heard full-fledged laugh from Jas.

“I think we’re being monitored,” Mark said, glancing at Jas and laughing. “You wanna see my room?”

“Sure,” both Stacy and I said and we followed him down the hall. It was like any normal guys room, a double bed, desk and laptop, Xbox set-up, ipod dock, and posters of bands, and a few Playboy or Penthouse pinups. We spent the next couple of hours chatting, playing Xbox and listening to music. It was getting on towards dinnertime, so Stacy and I decided we should probably head home. We said goodbye to Mark and Jas, jumped into the Jeep and started out towards Stacy’s apartment.

As I dropped him off, he gave me a quick hug and thanked me. I just smiled and hugged him back. “No…thank you,” I responded. “Today was the best.”

“Yeah it was,” he said, grinning before giving me a quick kiss on the cheek and adding, “Have a great Christmas.”

I couldn’t get the smile off my face the whole way home. I had just experienced what had to be the best day of my life. However, the exhilaration was short-lived. When I got home, there was a note on the table to let me know my parents had flown to Brisbane. My gift was in an envelope beside it with a warning that I wasn’t to open it until Christmas morning. They didn’t even write ‘Merry Christmas’ on it.

I spent the next couple of days alone. I hung around the house and did some swimming one day and spent the next day just driving around. I went to Sears and bought a watch; not an expensive one, but a nice one. I wrapped it and was going to give it to Stacy when I saw him, but only if he had bought me something. I know that doesn’t sound good, but I didn’t want to give him a gift if he couldn’t afford to give me one. It would have just made him feel bad.

On Christmas Eve, I sat alone and watched A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. To me, it’s the ‘real’ Christmas Carol and the only one I watch. About ten o’clock, I decided to go to bed. I was definitely not in the Christmas mood; even after watching the movie, I felt nothing…I was almost numb and I couldn’t see a lot of point in staying awake.

About nine on Christmas morning, my phone rang. It was Stacy. He sounded like a little kid who just got everything he wanted and more from Santa. Apparently, his mom had saved up all her change for a year and was able to buy him an ipod for Christmas. He was beyond thrilled. However, hearing his excitement made me feel worse and I just wanted to cry.

Some time before they left for Australia, my parents had made a simple phone call and transferred a half-million dollar home to my name, but it meant nothing to me. Stacy’s mom had saved for a whole year to buy him an ipod and it meant the world to him. Why the difference? Simple, there was more love wrapped up in that tiny little ipod than I would ever see from either of my parents, no matter what they gave me. Once again, they couldn’t even be bothered to go shopping for me.

“So what did you get for Christmas?” he asked, his voice still crackling with excitement.

I glanced at the deed for the summer ‘cottage’ in Hawaii that was lying on the table with my name on it and a tear rolled down my cheek.

“Nothing I really wanted,” I replied sadly as I closed my phone.

I don’t know how long I had been sitting there, alternately staring at the deed and the bottle of pills I had placed beside it, when the gate intercom rang. I wasn’t going to answer it at first, but when it kept ringing I slowly got up and walked over to answer it.

“A mister Stacy Gardner is here to see you, sir,” the guard’s voice announced. “Shall I let him in?” he asked.

I thought for a few seconds before responding, “Yes.”

Before I got to the door, Stacy was frantically pounding on it. As soon as I opened it, I was pulled into a hug so tight I could hardly breathe. After about a minute, he released me and, with tears in his eyes, he leaned forward and kissed me gently on the lips.

“You’re alone aren’t you?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“I thought so,” he said. “You’re coming with us.” It was then that I noticed a guy standing at the bottom of the steps who had to be Stacy’s brother, they looked so much alike. He just raised his eyebrows and smiled at me. I guess now three people knew.

“Thanks,” I said as a weak smile took over my face. “Give me a minute, okay.”

“Okay,” he said, smiling.

I walked into the kitchen, picked up the pills, turned on the tap and watched them disappear down the drain.

As I walked back to the door and to Stacy, my smile grew into a grin. I finally had what I wanted for Christmas.

Someone to love me.

A very special thanks to Azy for his time and hard work editing this story for me.