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It's the most wonderful time of the year, sings Melpomene absently to herself, avoiding eye contact with the sky, which threatens to sleet on her at any moment. Afterwards she immediately wants to hit herself over the head with something heavy. She's feeling a distinct lack of cheer, and every Santa-hatted elf flashing her a quick smile grates on her nerves.

The windows she passes are filled with colorful lights and laughing families, putting ornaments on the Christmas tree together or cleaning up after their pot roast dinner, as if posing for a portrait. Outside, Melpomene shivers under her trenchcoat, hurrying home with a pack of cotton candy bubble gum from the drug store around the corner.

They don't remember, she thinks. It should be a smug thought, but it's mostly desperation. It's just gift certificates and satin ribbons to them, isn't it?

She's about to turn down the dark street which, after a few more twists and turns, will lead her home, when she decides instead to go to the bar. It's not a pastime she's particularly ashamed of, and a tequila might sooth the sharp sound of laughter echoing out onto the street...

So, tucking the pack of gum into her pocket, Melpomene reaches the door, which jangles with overflowing holiday cheer, and pulls it open. Inside is something she's not expecting - Ho, ho, ho.

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November 2009

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