Christmas has already run its course but the tree is still decorated.
With no one else around Joel sits in front of the tree and begins to cry.
He looks at a gold star.
He looks at a silver snowflake.
He looks at a red angel.
Each ornament glitters.
Each ornament is suspended from a paperclip hook.
Joel digs for the strongest fan in the closet. He plugs it in and turns it on high.
The tree starts to rustle. The ornaments start to sway.
Tiny bells dangling from a nativity scene begin to jingle.
Joel faces the fan. Joel crawls closer to it, as close as he can get.
His tears streak at gravity-defying angles across his face.
Joel thinks, “This is what my crying face looks like on a roller coaster.”
A puppy dog wags his tail uncontrollably all the way across the living room to where Joel sits and cries.
Joel says, “Hi Lenny.”
Lenny yawns. Lenny rests a front paw on Joel’s thigh. Joel pats Lenny’s head. Lenny yawns again.
A cat sidles along Joel’s other thigh, arches its back, meows and then hisses menacingly at Lenny.
Lenny’s droopy ears tuck back.
Joel says, “Honeyed Cat, Lenny didn’t do anything to you.”
Honeyed Cat turns on a dime and sidles along Joel’s thigh with the other side of her body.
Joel pets her until she starts to purr. She collapses onto the floor and slaps her tail at Lenny.
The fan continues to move the tree, now barren of gifts.
Joel sees the emptiness and whimpers.
Honeyed Cat and Lenny look at Joel. They worry for him.
Joel says, “Why does he care if I pronounce my name Jo-el? Just because we spell our names the same doesn’t mean we have to say them the same. Joel and Jo-el are both correct.”
Joel leans as close as he can toward the fan and says his name the way it has always been said.
The fan cuts up his name into thin parts.
The parts make the ornaments sway in new ways.
The nativity scene falls from its branch and jingles for the last time until next Christmas.
Joel stands up and goes over to the window where there is a cigarette boat making all kinds of noise in Biscayne Bay.
There are three girls and two guys on the cigarette boat.
One of the girls is fat.
The other two girls are skinny.
Both guys are muscular with completely shaved heads.
Joel says, “Why do I cry so much? Why does everything seem so sad to me?”
This is the 11,680th consecutive day that Joel has cried.
Lenny stands by Joel and noshes on the nativity scene.
Joel says, ‘Drop. Drop it Lenny.’
Lenny doesn’t drop the nativity scene. He noshes more.
A bell sort of jingles.