On Christmas Eve Laura drew Danny towards the Christmas tree which was now decorated and twinkling. Kneeling down, she presented him with a parcel from the base of the tree in crinkly foil, all red and ribboned and snowflaky and with his name attached on a little card carrying a picture of berried holly.
‘It’s a Christmas present but it’s also really a belated birthday present for my Independence Day Danny.’
‘An Armani shirt,’ Danny said opening the parcel.
‘Try it on for the arm length.’
‘Of course.’ She held her face up angling for a kiss.
‘Thank you,’ he said kissing her briefly.
‘In America there are two arm lengths with a lot of the shirts. I got the longer one. See the cuffs, they should come down to your wrist.’
It’s like she’s claiming me, he thought. But it was not an unwelcome feeling. He wanted to be claimed now. He felt it as she glowed and beamed at him in her figure-hugging skirt and seasonal red sweater under the Christmas tree lights. But what did he get for her? He felt embarrassed, not just embarrassed for all their hospitality; more of a panic seized him that Christmas would be over and he would have nothing for her and her father.
ʻI have to go out,’ he said.
‘Out?ʼ She looked surprised. ʻWhere to Danny?’
‘I’ll be back soon.’ He had seen a jewellers’ shop last time returning with Laura in 62nd Street just around the corner from the Calane home. He remembered remarking to himself on its one L and the absence of a third E in Jewelry Plus.
The shop, to his relief, was still open and he decided quickly, looking at the glass case of jewels got from whatever source, something which his mind prodded but which he wasn’t prepared to go into on Christmas Eve. All those diamonds in Africa from the diamond mines; how many lives for a rough cut diamond? No no, he would not buy a diamond but a watch, set with a garnet stone. Oh, what was her birthstone? It didn’t matter; he just liked the garnet, when the smiling sales assistant (smiling because of his accent which she thought was cute) showed it to him, its deep fruity red set off by the light in the watch.
‘And I’ll take that as well,’ he said pointing at a silver cigar cutter sitting in a velvet box under the glass counter.
‘So now,’ he said fastening the watch with its slender crocodile strap on Laura’s wrist when he returned, ‘you won’t be outa time.’
‘I forgot the mistletoe,’ Laura said shortening the embrace.
‘We don’t need mistletoe. What stage?’
‘What’s the kissing stage? Your scale? Where are we at now?’
‘Advanced.’ She smiled.
‘Have we arrived, then?’ he said squeezing her close to him, aroused by the delectable springiness of her breasts.
‘No Danny, not here,’ she said pulling away from him. ‘Not with Dad prowling around.
That night Danny couldn’t sleep. His head was full of too many things. Things not worked out yet. Unfinished things or things in their making. Things requiring a resolution. He spent a long time looking out from his bedroom window, its sill bearded with frozen snow, towards the skyscrapers so close and their prostituting of light, stealing the sky from its source.