The box was empty.
I look up at him, slightly confused.
Your wishes were to put any funds I had allocated for a Christmas gift for you in Henry's University account. I followed your directives to the letter. I want to know what to do next. He says this with his maddeningly handsome, bemused smile fixed in place.
Then why the box? Why the ribbon?
Because I wanted to confirm that you only said that to be difficult, and that secretly you hoped for something anyway. Maybe earrings or a pen or....a diamond ring?
A pen..I had hoped for the pen.
The pink one we looked at? I'll buy it for you tomorrow then.
No...I stammer. I don't want you to buy it. I just think you didn't need to do this, with a box and everything. I got the car service and-
What would you have done if there had been a ring in the box?
Nothing. You can't give me a ring.
I can do whatever I damn well please and we both know it. You'll have your pen before lunchtime tomorrow, or perhaps if you wish we can make use of your actual present and be driven downtown to make it a shopping and lunch date. Do you think Cartier does Boxing Day sales?
I shake my head.
He walks over to the door and opens it, waiting. Thank you for a wonderful day. I'm just glad I still know you better than you think I do.
I walk to the door. I can buy my own pen. It's just-
-not the same. Yes, I understand that quite well. He smiles and softens, becoming so quiet it hurts to listen. Merry Christmas Babydoll. Neamhchiontach.
I knit my brows in confusion and follow his lead, right out his front door. Merry Christmas, Diabhal.
See you at ten sharp. We'll get an early start on our bargain hunting.
I put the box in his hand, ribbon and all and walk out into the rainy Christmas night. I feel humilated, caught redhanded. I feel childish and I feel tricked into making Boxing Day a day spent with him now. I feel unprepared and sometimes I wish I could read his mind as easily as he reads mine.