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Lisa Weller was not pathetic. She knew this because she told herself so, and lying to oneself would just be silly, so therefore she must be telling the truth. It was absolutely not pathetic that she was sitting in her freezing cold Honda Civic at eleven p.m. on Christmas Eve, dressed in her gym wear and staring at the double doors leading into her local 24/7 Fitness.
Surely lots of people worked out on Christmas Eve! People who wanted to give themselves the gift of rockin' abs, or pull a hundred kilos before the year was up. People wanting to stave off that holiday fat. People who were Jewish, or Muslim, or Buddhist or Hindu or nothing at all!
Or maybe, she thought, looking at the only other two cars in the parking lot, people whose crazy mother got drunk and flew to Bolivia for a plate of frog legs from Lake Titicaca and whose father is too busy with his other family to bother calling and whose boyfriend dumped them yesterday so he could spend Christmas in Chicago with that cute blonde from accounting. Not that she was bitter. She hoped Rick and Shirley were very happy together. Maybe they'd eat mustard-slathered hot dogs and go to a museum and take a romantic walk along Lake Michigan, and maybe they'd fall in and drown.
She'd even send flowers to the funeral. That's how magnanimous and un-pathetic she was. A spirit too great and generous to be broken by Rick's stupid wandering hands and roving eye, and he had a tiny dick anyway, so there.
Now that the pool of potential Christmas Eve gym rats had dwindled to pretty much just her, Lisa allowed herself to slump forward and bang her head on the steering wheel a couple of times. Just how little dignity did one have to have to even show up at the gym at this time of night on Christmas Eve? Apparently she'd hit the threshold because a few seconds later, she heaved a sigh, wrenched at the car door handle, and popped out into the freezing night air.
The cold hit her in the face like a slap, but riding on the air was the scent of the smoke from burning hearth fires. The soft, delicious smell curled gently in her head. The contrast between the sharp night and the languid smoke seemed cruel, because it was the smell of someone, somewhere, having a cosy, loving yuletide night. Her heart ached.