Not that she didn't miss him, precisely. She did. Really. But she didn't. Miss him, that is.
Laurel wandered through the cluttered living room, lightly stepping over her nephew's Legos, switching off each light. She grabbed her glass of wine from the coffee table and settled on the sofa, idly flipping through channels until she gave up and left it on The Food Network. She could do worse than Jamie Oliver.
God, she thought, is this what my life has been reduced to? Sleeping on the sofa, watching chefs preparing really odd food that I'd never eat, baby-sitting at the ripe age of 32, on New Year's Eve?
She remembered when the night would have included dazzling gowns and excellent champagne -- and parties full of light and noise. Remembered when she'd been surrounded by friends and laughter, secure in her place in the world, secure in his arms.
Funny that she missed the champagne more than him.
She really should miss him, shouldn't she? After all, she could remember, with vivid clarity, a time when he'd been her entire world, a time when she'd lived for his smile, when simply saying his name out loud had sent a thrill through her body like an electric shock.
She tried it now, testing the weight of syllables and vowels on her tongue. Nothing. Just an echo of a dull pain. When had that bright fire faded? When had love turned to nostalgia? Once, long ago, she pinned her life around his, been part of a 'we', had luxuriated in the knowledge that she wasn't alone, that there was someone else who got her.
There was no such someone now. And maybe there never had been. Maybe it had been only an illusion. Maybe the love that had defined her very existence once upon a time had been nothing except an illusion. But it had been her illusion, and it had felt real enough to her.
On the TV, Jamie was creating some simple appetizer made out of things 'you'd find in your own kitchen'. Lauren didn't know about her friends, but she very rarely had fresh cardamom and basil just lying in her refrigerator. Perhaps that's why she didn't entertain anymore. Not that she missed it.
How very sad that she could have so easily left that life, left all that she was, left him, and the only time she missed any of it was on a random, throw-away holiday.
She brought her glass up, saluted the images onscreen. "Happy New Year's," she murmured, and drank.