Home > For You & No One Else (Say Everything #3)

For You & No One Else (Say Everything #3)
Author: Roni Loren

 

 


One


   Merry freaking Christmas.

   Eliza stared at the ceiling, willing herself to get out of bed, telling herself that she could have gingerbread cookies for breakfast, that she could stay in pajamas for as long as she wanted, that she could binge-watch The Great British Baking Show or Gilmore Girls all day and no one would be the wiser. She could have a great, rejuvenating day. Do all those self-care activities she talked about on her YouTube wellness channel. But none of her internal pep-talking was working today. Christmas wasn’t meant to be a solo holiday, and no mental gymnastics were going to convince her subconscious otherwise. That part of her knew what was up and wanted to pull the blanket back over her head and wait for tomorrow.

   Eliza did exactly that for a solid twenty minutes, safe in her blanket tent, but then it started to get humid under there and she had to pee. She groaned at how ridiculous she was being. If her clients could see her now, literally hiding from the world like a little kid, they’d cancel their appointments in a hot second. Therapists weren’t supposed to have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Therapists also weren’t supposed to wet the bed, so she’d better get herself up before she broke that rule, too.

   With a new sense of urgency, she flipped her blanket down and hurried to the bathroom to take care of the necessities. Once she’d brushed her teeth and washed her face, she felt a little more human, but she plopped back on her bed anyway—on top of the covers, though, so she counted that as progress.

   She checked her smartwatch, the screen informing her she’d had a restless night. You don’t say! She could almost hear its little electronic brain judging her—Maybe staying up ’til 2:00 a.m. watching sappy Christmas movies and drinking spiked eggnog alone until you’re dizzy isn’t the best life choice, Eliza. She winced, her head throbbing from last night’s activities—which had seemed like a good idea at the time—and reached for her phone. She grabbed it from the side table and unlocked the screen, making sure she hadn’t missed any calls from the answering service.

   Zero messages. The ping of disappointment that zipped through Eliza startled her, and she let out a frustrated breath. “Relief,” she said aloud, her tone firm. “That’s what you’re supposed to feel, Eliza. Your clients didn’t have any emergencies. That’s good news.”

   But the self-berating didn’t help. Knowing she wasn’t needed anywhere or by anyone today, even by her clients, made her throat want to close up. Her nose began to burn and her chest tightened. She shook her head. Nope…nope, nope, nope. Not doing that today.

   She would not have a repeat of last Christmas when she’d embodied every open-mouthed sobbing, mascara-streaked GIF on the internet. She’d allowed herself one Ugly Cry Christmas. One. Her parents wouldn’t want her to make that a tradition. Her parents would want…

   She inhaled a deep breath, trying to suck the energy out of a thought spiral that would lead nowhere good, and quickly opened her YouTube channel to distract herself with the stats on her latest video.

   Solo on Christmas?

5 Ways to Make the Holiday Special

   232 new likes

   Okay. Not bad numbers. And she had a few new comments as well.

   BreccaBri24: Love this! My family lives far from me, and I didn’t have the funds to travel this year. I was dreading Christmas, but I tried your tip about being open with friends about my solo state and a few have invited me to their family’s celebrations. Now I’ve got more places to go than I can probably fit in!

   GiPesslGi: I love the idea about volunteering on Christmas! Last year, I helped serve meals at the local women’s shelter, and it was the most meaningful holiday I’ve ever had. This year, I’m going to be helping out at the animal shelter!

   Some of the heaviness in Eliza’s chest eased as she scanned through the comments. Even though she was failing spectacularly at taking her own advice today, it gave her some comfort to know her tips had brightened at least a few people’s holidays. Plus, good responses to her videos always cheered her. A bigger online platform meant more clients, steadier income, and possibly some online sponsors one day. Maybe something even bigger than that—like a book deal on the relationship book she’d been trying to write for the last year.

   Plus, the awkward adolescent version of herself that still lived right beneath the surface, the one who’d had to move to a new school midyear in seventh grade and couldn’t have bought popularity with a million-dollar check, still got a little thrill at being liked.

   Buoyed, she climbed off her bed, vowing to follow her video Tip 5: Remember, it can be just another day. Remove the pressure. Her head pounded with a dull thud, and her stomach was considering staging a coup as she made her way back into the bathroom, but the hot shower and putting on a little makeup worked wonders. By the time she was dressed and having her café au lait and a piece of toast on her couch, she felt somewhat human again.

   She raised her coffee mug toward her houseplants, which were basking in the meager New Orleans sunshine filtering in through her sliding glass doors. “Merry Christmas, y’all.” She’d taken to naming the plants because she’d been posting them on Instagram and felt they needed identities. She set her cup down and took a few quick photos of Hemingway, the pencil cactus with the single red Christmas ornament she’d hung on him Charlie Brown style. She posted the pic with the caption, Happy Holidays from Hemingway! Hope you all have a wonderful day!

   A comment instantly popped up from one of her followers. Merry Christmas to you and Hemingway!

   Then another. Hemingway looks lonely. You should get a pet!

   Eliza frowned at the word lonely, the plant suddenly looking sad in the picture instead of festive, and that chest pressure tried to return. She quickly deleted the photo and, for a moment, wished she had a furry companion to post instead. She’d considered adopting a dog a while back, had even filled out the paperwork and gone through all the steps, but the lady who’d done her home visit had seemed very judgy about Eliza’s singlehood and busy work schedule. She’d both pissed Eliza off and undermined her pet-parent confidence. Maybe she was too busy. Maybe she was too single. She’d never gone back to the shelter.

   She sent a quick text and a GIF of a puppy popping out of a gift box to her friends Andi and Hollyn, puppies on the brain now.

   Her friends responded within seconds, each with their own well wishes and accompanying GIF. They had both invited Eliza along to Christmas celebrations with their partners and families, but despite the advice she’d given her YouTube followers, she didn’t want to feel like a guest anywhere today, an intruder on other people’s family traditions.

   Plus, her holiday grief was like a bomb with a hair trigger. She wasn’t foisting that liability onto her friends’ get-togethers. One minute she might be that fun lady who knew all the words to “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” and the next she might dissolve into hysterics because someone else’s mom also likes to make shrimp-and-crabmeat dressing on Christmas. No way. Spending the day alone was the right choice.

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