Nicole Davis walked into her hometown church for the first time in two years. She had just dropped Craig off at the Denver airport. He would be in Japan for a week on business. She was breathing a sigh of relief as she prayed alone in church. She sat in the front pew choking back tears wondering how life had become so hard.
She had met Craig at an outdoor concert in the city park. Craig was ten years older than Nicole, but Nicole was blindly infatuated with the tall thirty-something. Her folks were against it from the beginning, but Nicole was the strong-willed daughter. Within six months she and Craig married in the park gazebo.
Once they were married Craig began to display some control issues. He didn’t want Nicole to spend time with her college friends anymore. Instead he wanted her to solely consort with his small circle of friends.
Craig had been married twice before while living in Santa Barbara, California. Both women were stunningly beautiful. Nicole soon learned that Craig enjoyed the concept of a trophy wife, and she fit the description. Nicole was 5’10” with long blonde hair, and weighed only 132 pounds. Her friends referred to her as a waif, while at the same time Craig threatened that if she ever gained weight he would leave. One night while she was indulging in a bowl of Haagen Dazs ice cream, he grabbed the bowl and threw it on the front of her sweater while calling her a Haagen Hog.
He didn’t want her going to church. Craig was an atheist and proud of it. He knocked all organized religion and especially hated Christians. He despised the entire concept of Christians. He told Nicole that Christ was merely a crutch for weak people to lean on. As Christmas approached he demanded there be no Christmas tree in the house.
Craig worked for Paramount Plastics in Boulder. He had just hired a new assistant, her name was Pamela Jackson. Craig would always compare Nicole to Pamela, He would brag about how intellectual Pamela was, and how Nicole should aspire to become more like her.
Children began showing up for play practice so Nicole left church and drove to the Boulder Mall. She enjoyed seeing the Christmas decorations as the snow began to fall. Feeling disconnected and alone she dialed her parents’ number but pride made her hang up.
On the drive home she decided to buy a Christmas tree – after all Craig would be gone all week. There was a small lot by the Safeway store. She pulled into the quaint tree lot with the white twinkling lights. She picked out a small tree and then went in Safeway for a string of lights, miniature candy canes, and a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream.
She went home, decorated the tree and put on her favorite Christmas music. She stretched out on the sofa and polished off the entire pint of Haagen Dazs – savoring every bite.
Monday she stopped by Paramount Plastics to get Craig’s return flight information. His secretary was out to lunch so Nicole decided to wait in Craig’s office. She sat in the chair and realized their wedding picture wasn’t on his desk. She opened the top desk drawer and found a ring-sized box. The gift tag read “Pamela.” Shocked she closed the drawer and proceeded to search for the wedding picture. She found it face down in the bottom drawer. She looked at it one last time before placing it in the trashcan.
On Christmas Eve Nicole pulled up in front of her parents’ house. She sat in the car for twenty minutes staring at the Christmas tree in the window. She had hit rock bottom in a pit of regret, and knew there was only one place to go – and it was home. She gathered the Poinsettia plant, swallowed her pride, walked to the door - and knocked.
Craig was furious when he returned to Denver and Nicole failed to meet him at the airport. He tried to call her but her cell phone number had been deactivated. By the time the airport shuttle delivered him home he barged through the front door prepared to unleash his fury - instead he stood frozen. The house was completely empty. The only remains were some dry pine needles in the corner of the living room and an empty Haagan Dazs container in the trashcan.
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