Brian Powell was alone for Christmas, like always. When his coworkers at the pizza shop expressed concern about this, he told them that he wasn’t really going to be alone.
“I have my memories,” he explained.
It was true: He clung to an impossible-to-shake recollection of a girl he once knew.
“Her name was Emily and she sat next to me in homeroom during my ninth grade year. One time she was late getting to class and as she was walking to her seat she brushed up against my elbow. I hadn’t thought much about her before that, because it’s not like she was extremely pretty or anything, but afterwards I couldn’t get her out of my mind.
“I daydreamed about us falling in love and rushing off to get married. We wouldn’t have much at first, but we’d get by and gradually things would improve. I’d get a job at a restaurant or the post office or somewhere.
“The funny thing was that I never even got around to talking to her. At our graduation, she was a few rows ahead of me. I remember staring at her crossed legs and thinking how nice they looked in those black nylon stockings.”
At a time when boys and girls were hurrying to unwrap their gifts, Brian Powell placed his thoughts about Emily under a tight seal. Her absence made him feel as if he had missed out on the rest of his life, a sentiment that was almost understandable.