The Christmas List

December 20, 2012

“This is what married couples do!” He implored. “You’re too independent for your own good” he snapped. “Marriage is about sharing and you’re being really selfish” he reasoned. These words and many many other words like them had slowly chipped away her resolve, months of badgering, of guilt trip laden arguments, shouting and tears. Finally she had caved in and closed her personal bank account, so now the only account she had was  a joint one. Even as she felt her resistance ending she knew she was making a big mistake, but couldn’t see any other options,the arguments were escalating and she had nowhere else to go, she was married now and this was what married couples did, this was what was expected from her. So just before their first Christmas he had stolen her money, she remembered thinking it and remembered feeling guilty for thinking it. It was their money they were just sharing, after all his money was hers too, she knew deep down though that wasn’t true, but she suppressed her treacherous thoughts incase they betrayed her in some way. After they had ‘made love’  that night him so passionate, so giving, so rewarding, he had whispered lovingly in her ear “you can’t leave me now”.
She didn’t really remember that Christmas in detail, did she remember any Christmases in detail anymore? Yes of course she did, just like the summer vacations she analysed Christmas in great detail, trying to figure out what had gone wrong and what could she change for the next time, agonising over all the things that she had done wrong. Happy occasions seemed to be booby-trapped in her life. Any happiness was always snuffed out it seemed. Christmas was meant to be the perfect family occasion but she always seemed to get it wrong, so wrong, even though she planned it obsessively.

This Christmas they had decided that they were on a budget so she was careful, careful to spend exactly the same on his parents as hers and for it to be obvious that she had, well to him anyway. She had to buy his brothers presents of less value than the parents and they had to be general gifts not too much thought into them and nothing to personal like socks because if it looked as though she had put too much thought into it…. That would be wrong; she wouldn’t make that mistake again. She had to put thought into his present though it was evidence of her love and he would examine it for clues, for proof, she couldn’t afford to get it wrong and being on this budget he insisted on made it harder. The right sort and amount of food had to be bought, remembering that they were on a budget saving for a fantastic summer vacation. The right tree, the right Christmas dinner, the right way to celebrate, so much that could go wrong. She had organised everything down to the last detail, but she already saw her mistake, there had to be a mistake, if she achieved perfection it would be a mistake.

She listed everything she had to do, everything that could go wrong, she checked it twice. It would be fine she had a plan, she was going to mess the gravy up, it was going to be lumpy, he was going to rescue it, he would laugh at her and he would feel good about it, it was going to be fine, not a big enough mistake to enrage him but enough to make him feel important and needed. It all had to look accidental, she just mustn’t let her nerves show, but she could already feel that knot of fear growing and her agitation beginning to show in tiny ways that she was afraid he could see, he was always watching her it seemed. She had started having nightmares again, she wasn’t sure what she was doing in her sleep but he kept waking her up angrily accusing her of masturbating, all she remembered were dreams of dread that turned into wakeful fury and accusations of nothing because he wouldn’t tell her what she was doing that had supposedly woken him up, he would always insist that she knew and get angrier accusing her of lying. How many times had she lain awake anxious and afraid of sleep and his unpredictable criticism and anger?

Finally Christmas Day had arrived and the house was immaculate, tastefully decorated and beautiful. Both sets of parents came round for Christmas dinner and everything went really well, but of course something she hadn’t managed to foresee went wrong and it went wrong at eleven in the morning as they unwrapped their gifts, she saw her mistake when she unwrapped the very expensive camera that he had bought her in front of their parents, as she opened the box she had to fight her frustrated tears pretending to be tearfully happy. He preened and enjoyed the admiration he received at his extravagant gift, what a wonderful son and son-in-law, what a lucky woman she was to be married to such a generous man, look how much he loved his wife. Then he unwrapped her gifts to him, they were thoughtful lovely gifts and of course she had stuck to the budget that he had insisted on, the budget that no-one else knew about. He valiantly tried to (yet not quite managing to) hide his disappointment at her now seemingly miserly gifts and she knew that he was angry but he was also happy like he had won some cruel game. He was angry even though it was him that had broken the rules, she could see how unfair it all was, but what could she do? No one said anything but she could see that their parents were equally disappointed in their daughter, daughter-in-law. Later she made the most perfect gravy  and the most perfect dinner she didn’t want him to win again that day.

She drank cautiously during the day though she was tempted to get drunk,  but    too  much drink could lead to more mistakes on her part and inevitably to  being accused of being disgusting or a slag and if she didn’t drink she would be accused of being miserable or a spoil sport or    worst  still  would to be accused of trying to pick an argument in front of his parents. She spent all day running confusing and  terrifying scenarios through her head, tonight they would be alone and that camera was going to cost her dear. She had one last opportunity to make it ok and that was seduction, if she could successfully seduce and please him everything would be ok until New years Eve anyway.

The seduction went well, subtle and spontaneous,there were moments when she forgot the fear and enjoyed pure sensation and no other thoughts. Afterwards she finally began to relax as they lay there enjoying the glow. “I know why you did that you know, you did it just to shut me up didn’t you?”. “No! I felt horny, I wanted you” She felt her throat begin to tightened up. “You were faking it”. “No I wasn’t” she whispered as she felt her panic rising. “Your nipples didn’t go as hard as normal, so I know you were faking” his voice now cold and hard and purposeful, there was no point in arguing, she didn’t know how her nipples felt to him, he had simply decided that Christmas day was going to end like this, it was always going to end like this, it always ended like this. She lay there in silence wishing it could engulf her, as she waited she listed her mistakes over and over again.


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Caroline Criado-Perez

A Pox on the Patriarchy


Lady things, explained.


"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

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