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Once upon a time

Most stories remain untold, held close like secrets.

They're kept inside and (as if on repeat)  played over and over again;
 till they become epic and all consuming.
 Mindnumbingly so.

Say the words, without hesitation, it's quite simple: 
"Once upon a time..."

And release them into the world.


Once upon a time in the heart of the holidays, surrounded by a crowd of people being jolly, Maggie Andrews realized she was slowly losing her mind.
It wasn't anything specific that brought on this realization, more an acknowledgement of something she had known for a while now:

Without him, life had turned sour,
 and everything 
tasted of bitterness & bile.

She could recall the exact moment she decided to let him go with pure clarity: Jingle Bells was blaring over the car radio as she made her way home for the last time.
"Jingle bells, hurts like hell
Misery all the way..."
It was a conscious choice, but it was bloody hard.
Losing love sucks!
Giving up on love, well, that can drive you crazy.
Maggie knew she had to let him go: betrayal stings, leaves you battered and bruised.

Dignity in tatters, she had come undone at the worst possible time, in the worst possible place.
"Tis the season to be jolly, falalalalala..."
She glared at the Carolers with malevolence, firmly siding with the Grinch's view on Christmas.
More miserable than merry.
More beserk than blessed.

This was his favourite time of the year, so she decided to hate it.
He was a big kid at Christmas; greedy for presents with gaudy wrapping! Consuming cookies by the handful, his beard coated with crumbs! He imagined himself to be Santa, holding her tightly on his lap.
"You've been such a good, good girl," he whispered, biting her in the crook of  her neck as goosebumps flashed all over her body. She'd giggled uncontrollably, sliding to the floor , crouching on all fours, her eyes feral.
He craved warm kisses on cold pavements, drinking in the cinnamon and honey that lingered on her eager lips, devouring her with an insatiable  appetite.
Maggie used to watch him with envy (and love) finding enjoyment in his glee. He'd grin at her with delight while wrapping silver tinsel around her head like a halo.
"You're my angel," he'd teased, "touch me here!" he'd say, pointing to his heart, then drifting his hands down the length of him.
Everything about him left her weak: his eyes that twinkled, his wicked grin, his throaty laugh...
Her passion for him overwhelmed her.
She was little bit crazy even back then.

It was the pling of his phone that signaled the end. She hated smartphones now almost as much as she hated the holidays.
The message cut deep.
He had called the other woman, "Angel!"
And sent her giant red pulsating hearts.
And tiny xmas trees sparkling with baubles and fairy lights.
He said it meant nothing.
A distraction.
Some fun and flirtation in moments of boredom.
Nonsense reasons and nonsensical arguments offered when their love failed to matter.

It was a month before Christmas that he broke her heart.

14 days later she had walked away, leaving her heart behind on the floor under red & green wrapping in the house she had shared with Judas.

"Fa la la la la la la la la..." the music snapped her out of her reverie, her laughter trailing off.

14 pairs of eyes directed at her.
14 strangers judging her.
Turning on her heels, she walked swiftly away. She pushed her trolley at breakneck speed trying hard to avoid cutsy couples and fawning families. The mad, dodgy front wheel of the trolley made her trip to the car park dicey, so she ditched it, like she ditched him, carrying bags as heavy as her heart.

"14 days to the loneliest Christmas," the thought fixed itself to her like superglue.
She laughed uncontrollably, snot and tears running down her face.

And somewhere far far away, an Angel died.

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