AVAILABLE: Friday, December 8th
Hayden’s life has changed since the divorce, but he can’t blame anyone but himself. He wants his old life back, but is that even possible? Some say that all things are possible over the holidays. Can he get a second chance…and does he deserve one?
Hayden opened the window and glanced outside his apartment. Nothing but concrete and brick stared back at him. “Home sweet home,” he muttered. The sun’s eerie glow lent the sky a strange tint. Gray. Snow’s coming. Chill hit his bones and forced him to close the window. He shivered slightly. On bad days, there wasn’t much of a difference between the temperature outside and that within his apartment no matter the season. A few strands of lights that had seen better days decorated the Blue Holly bushes in the courtyard. A few feet away, an inflatable snowman had become a flat pancake at the hands of some neighborhood kids. “What a life! Merry Christmas!” he said. He wiped dust off the window pane with his fingertips and stepped back.
“Shit!” he snapped.
The edge of the end table had attracted his bare feet like a magnet.
“For goodness sake.” He lifted his foot to examine his poor toes. Nearly a year had passed since he’d moved into this apartment, and he just couldn’t get used to it. This entire set-up took him back to his early twenties. The difference between then and now was then he had a steady girlfriend. Now he had an ex-wife and children and all the memories that went with a failed marriage. And none of the benefits. He could definitely see how people might call this a midlife crisis.
He took a deep breath to steady himself and moved to the corner of the room that he’d converted into a mini-memorial of sorts. Family pictures and his father’s urn decorated the table. He glanced at the collage and frowned. A large photo of his father dressed in his full uniform in front of his precinct commemorated his forty years of service with the NYPD Blue.
“I’m finally doing something right, Dad.” He stroked the cherry oak urn.
Getting my family back together. Only I hope it’s not too late.
He turned on the TV and plopped onto the couch. A message splayed across the screen. The local television station planned to broadcast the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Town Hall.
At one time they’d all attended the event as a family. He could admit now in hindsight that things had been rocky then. His decision to reunite with an old flame had royally screwed his marriage. He’d been weak and very vain. She’d added some excitement to his daily grind. How he wished for a boring life again. Once he spent more and more time with Niki and less with his family, that was the kiss of death.
“I don’t know how you did it, Dad. Managed to stay happily married for nearly forty-five years. Faithful and true to the very end. Guess they don’t make men like you anymore.” He sighed. Beside the sound of the TV the silence felt nearly deafening. Maybe this was his karma. He frowned. Simple things—such as seeing the tree on the TV—usually put a smile on his lips, reminded him of happier times. Today they just reminded him of everything he missed.
Christmas was coming faster than the blink of an eye. He’d barely struggled through the 4th of July alone having to watch the fireworks from his apartment complex and then came Halloween with happy families and their children dressed in costumes ringing his doorbell. Another year flew by. Outside of the lights strung on the bushes in the courtyard, the season of joy seemed to have passed by his apartment entirely.
He just didn’t feel like decorating… if not for his kids he wouldn’t. The plastic tree in the living room belonged in his bar, the Whiskey Sour, but took up too much space. The scraggly branches had seen better days, kind of like him. But hey, it was better than no tree at all.
“Dad, you’re really going to spend all day watching TV and sitting like a blob?”
A teenage voice snapped him out of his reverie, causing him to rise from the couch. His ex-wife’s spitting image stared back at him. Layla crossed her arms against her chest and shook her head. The look of Judgement.
“Huh? Layla? I didn’t know you were coming by. You should really call first. In case I wasn’t home.”