My Gift

December 24, 1991, 11:25 PM. eastern standard time. Balloons float all around the loft and tinsel is strung about nearly anywhere it can be put. It's Mimi's way of making up for not having a tree. It's surprisingly warm for the season and the old illegal wood burning stove is actually enough to heat the entire place.

Mimi comes home from work in about an hour. Until then, I have the entire place to myself, which is just how I want it.

I position the camera on the metal table and turn a chair around to face it. Then I quickly lean over, wind it up, and sit in front of it with my legs folded up onto the chair. I stare into the lens.

"Um...hey, Mark. Merry Christmas. It's been, uh...9 months. Yeah. Look, I, uh...I made something for you. It's not much, and god knows it's crap compared to what you could have done, but I hope you like it anyway. So..." I stare at the floor. There's so much I want to say, but I have no idea where to start. Why is this so hard?

I almost reluctantly look back up at the camera, trying to collect myself. But this time, I don't see the lens or the lever moving in a slow circle. I see Mark standing in front of me patiently, just listening. And suddenly the words come.

"I just wanted to were always there for me. You put up with more shit than any person should rightfully have to. You gave me hope when I had none. You made me laugh when I thought I'd never smile again. When my body was a mess and shaking cause it missed that fucking poison I'd been pumping into it, you held fucking held me. I mean, who else would do something like that?" I wipe my eyes. I can't believe I'm crying already.

I take a deep breathe and continue. "I always told myself 'someday, I'm going to pay him back for all this.' That was always it; 'someday'. 'Someday, I'll make it up to him'. I guess I forgot that 'someday's don't really exist. So while I was waiting for 'someday', one day I turned around were gone. I'd always assumed there would be tomorrow, or the next day. I mean, it felt like you'd always been here...and that you always would be."

His face becomes blurry and I wipe my eyes again. "I'm sorry...fuck, I'm so sorry I was never there for you. That I never said "screw someday, I'm doing it all today'. And I know you, being'd just smile and forgive me without me even asking you to...but making it up to myself is a completely different story. So I made you a Christmas present. Say 'hi' to April and Angel for me, okay? I love you."

As if it somehow knew it was time, the crank stops turning, ending the clip. I carefully open up the small machine and take out the film. Then I set up the projector and set to work editing the clip to the beginning of another reel. After that, I simply sit back and watch all the clips I've gathered together.

For the past 9 months I've spent as much time as I could capturing little moments, usually when everyone wasn't paying enough attention to me to even notice.

Mimi dancing around the loft, Collins sitting quietly on the couch with a cup of coffee, reading a book. Maureen feeding a slice of pizza to Joanne. Benny singing Old Time Rock and Roll, using a rusty spoon as a microphone. Dinners at the Life Cafe. Days lazily spent on the loft couch, passing a bottle of Stoli around. Afternoons in Tompkins Square Park, throwing balls of crushed up flowers at each other.

Then the final scenes: each memeber of our little family waving at the camera. I simply told them 'say hi to Mark!' They never really caught on what I was doing. To be honest, I don't really want them to ever know.

The reel ends. I turn the projector off and place the film in a canister. I take a piece of paper, write a single word in the center, and fold it in half, writing 'to Mark' on the outside. I place the paper on top of the canister and tie them together securely with balloon string. Then I set to work tying balloon after balloon to the entire package. I'm almost afraid I'm going to run out of room for them when it finally seems there are enough to support the weight of the metal, film, and paper. It's perfect.

I sit on the window ledge and open one of the windows, feeling a cold rush of air in my face. I hold the package outside and look down at my watch.

11:59 and 57 seconds...58...59...

I let go of the balloons and watch as the only existing copy of the first and only film I'll ever create slowly disappears into the sky. I take note that the sky appears to be a dark navy blue, but in my mind's eye I can see red, yellow, green...every color I've ever beheld.

I smile softly and speak aloud that single word written in the note.


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AN: Well, that's it, everyone. The end of yet another story. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you all so so much for all your reviews! I hope you keep reading! I don't really have any other ideas for stories right now, so it might be a while before I start a new one, but there will be more, I assure you! Anyway, bye bye for now!