wrapping paper

For Christmas someone gave me the perfect girl, in the form of one of those little things you put in hot water and it turns into something. I didn't know what it was at first, so I put it in the water and took a nap.

When she woke me up I understood what she was with a sort of disturbing clarity. It was like I had known her for years--and she knew all of my secrets, my hopes, my dreams. I knew everything: the way she said things or didn't say them conveyed volumes more than anyone else could possibly detect. And she had the cutest smile and the softest hair and perfect skin, and she knew me like no one did.

The card that was associated with the box she came in got lost, so I didn't know who to write a thank you letter to. I wasn't sure if it was necessary. She said I shouldn't worry about it, so I didn't. It felt like a weird thing to ask.

By morning on the 26th I was starting to feel a little guilty. She was so perfect and she seemed so happy with me, but she deserved better, didn't she? I was sullen. She asked what was wrong and I lied and made something up. I could tell she didn't believe me, and I knew that I was the only person who'd be able to tell. I felt sick.

She was sullen and aloof all day, and spent most of time cleaning up. She tended to slam drawers and cabinets, and she threw garbage. She said she wasn't angry. By that evening we were fighting our own little cold war, and she eventually shouted at me. She trusted me implicitly. She lived to please me, literally. She deserved honesty. She deserved to be treated better.

I said some things I had no right to say to anyone, least of all her. I didn't really mean most of them, except that I knew they'd hurt her. She cried and fled the house. It was snowing.

A half hour later I went outside. Her footsteps barely reached the sidewalk, where there was now a spongy piece of red foam perhaps three inches in length, cut vaguely in the shape of a woman, covered in the fresh snow. I picked it up and left it on the mantelpiece above the fireplace. I made hot chocolate and sat down to write thank you letters for the rest of my gifts.

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