‹ Prequel: I Don't Do Lonely Well
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Inside Your Heaven

damn rough night.

Cody comes home from his band’s Christmas party about the time Virginia and I are waking up, which unfortunately is much earlier than we planned. So, we just lie still tangled up in last night’s sheets. I flip on the TV to the morning news, like I usually do, and leave the volume low. We don’t say anything, just lay here. I can feel her chest rise and fall with every breath she takes.
We stay like this for a good forty-five minutes before Virginia sits up and rubs her eyes, matting down some of her hair. She finds one of my hands and intertwines our fingers, pulling me up from the bed silently, across the hall, and into the bathroom. I turn on the shower as she brushes her teeth, and then I brush my teeth while she climbs in.
I love moments like this with her. The simple ones like getting ready in the morning or actually only taking a shower with her.
After the shower, she pulls on leggings and my favorite Raven’s sweatshirt. “Let’s open presents.” She looks as excited as a ten-year-old as she kisses my lips and skips out into the living room. Our small little Christmas tree is adorned with presents that we’d been stacking up for the past week, including a rather large one with my name on it that I’ve been extremely curious about. “So, there’s on that I want you to open last,” she begins, “and I bet you any money it’s the one you’re staring at now.”
“The really big one?” I look at her, and she nods.
“Cody!” she hollers down the hallway.
“Fuck. I’m coming,” he shouts back. He’s in the room in a matter of seconds.
“You look like shit.”
“I feel like shit, but I don’t even care. It’s Christmas.” He looks just as excited as she is. At that, we exchange our gifts, all saving each other our biggest gift for last.
After opening a new watch, a pair of shoes I’ve been dying for, and a few new flannels from Virginia; I open up the gift from Cody. He only got one present for each of us, and as a member of a previously struggling band, I definitely understand.
“Dude, no way!” I grin excitedly at the tickets to the last Raven’s home game. “How did you get these? I’ve been trying to for months!”
“I pulled a few strings,” he replies with a smile.
“Thanks, man.”
Virginia opens up her gifts from me—a few pairs of GK skinnies that I really just got for free from Marky, two movie tickets for tomorrow night to see Les Miserables (because she won’t shut up about the movie), and a special made All Time Low crewneck sweatshirt to fit her current obsession with them (the sweatshirts, not the band…or, maybe the band). Cody got her a pair of Ray Ban Wayfarers, and she’s already wearing them.
Virginia and I teamed up for Cody’s gifts and got him everything he’ll ever need for touring including new hard shell suitcases, some standard clothes, and all the other things I’ve come to learn that I needed but never had.
“So, this is the big present, but it’s from Alex and I,” Virginia tells her brother, pushing a box wrapped in green paper with little red Santa hats.
He tears the paper and finds his top of the line electric drum set. “Because I know it’s a pain in the fucking ass to play your instrument quietly when it’s late and you just want to play it,” I add.
Cody laughs and thanks us. He looks genuinely excited. “We only have our concert drum set. This is awesome, guys. Thank you so much.”
I pick up Virginia’s gift and set it in her lap. “Open the bigger box first,” I instruct. She nods and pulls the two little presents apart. I watch her stare at her gift. A brand new iPhone 5.
“Alex, you didn’t!” She flings her arms around me and hugs me tightly. “I love it.”
“We can go in later and get it activated.” She smiles and nods excitedly. She opens the other gift attached to it, which is just a phone case in her favorite color.
“Now your turn.” Virginia and Cody bring the large box over to me and set it in my lap. It’s actually slightly heavy. I tear away the paper, and all I find is a brown box. Virginia’s bouncing with excitement on the other end of the couch.
“Thanks, babe! A box! I love it!” I watch her roll her eyes, and I just laugh and pull away the tape holding it together. And there aren’t any words to describe it.
It’s my favorite brand of guitar—Paul Reed Smith MIRA—with a compilation of every album cover of ours as the body art. The pick guard is the green monster from Don’t Panic, and up the frets in white are the birds off of So Wrong, It’s Right and Nothing Personal. The entire body itself is the same backdrop of Put Up or Shut UP, and right at the base of the guitar are the silhouettes of the two girls. Across the top cut out is the torn paper from Nothing Personal, and the skull and crossbones from Dirty Work half sticks out from the pickups.
It sounds like a mess described, I get it, but it’s fucking perfect.
“I combined your anniversary and Christmas present.” She’s biting her lip when I look up at her.
“Babe…I actually have no words.”
“Do you like it?”
“Like it? I absolutely adore it.”

“No, shut up, take a look at what she got me,” I cut Jack off. I bring him out to the car. “I want to show everyone, but there’s no way in hell I want to chance it getting trashed at the party.” I pop the trunk and open up the guitar case.
“Holy fuck! That’s sick! Virginia got that for you?”
“Yeah, she had it custom made, and I guess she even got a discount because I use Paul Reed guitars all the time.”
“Dude, you have the best fucking girlfriend ever. Mine got me tickets to the Raven’s game, which is still pretty sick.”
“Wait, you got tickets, too?”
He nods. “Three of them.”
“Me, too.”
“And Rian said that’s what Cass got him.” Things start falling into place. “We’re all going to the Raven’s game!” Jack and I high five each other.
“Best Christmas ever!” I close and lock the car, and we retreat back into the house.
Virginia and Grace are sitting on the couch talking with half-full glasses of white wine. I collapse between the two of them. “Well, hello,” Virginia laughs in response to my sudden interruption.
“Hi,” I greet happily. The buzz of the whiskey is starting to hit me hard. “You aren’t drunk. Why not?”
“Grace and I are the responsible ones tonight. Go have fun with the guys, babe.”
“Really?!” I kiss her lips and bound off of the couch shouting, “shots!”

My hangover hits me like a fucking freight train, and I spend the entire ride back to our house with my head between my knees and the cold air blasting on me. Virginia lends me her sunglasses to lessen my headache, and she can’t stop giggling over how ridiculous I look in women’s glasses. "Shush," I whine.
"You were a trainwreck last night. It was hilarious."
The ten minute car ride seems to take a century, but we finally arrive home. I immediately crawl back into bed, pull the blinds, and tug the covers over my head. “I’m going to run out and grab you some food. Call me if you need me, okay?” Virginia calls softly from the bedroom door.
I just hum a response, and the door closes quietly.
♠ ♠ ♠
i heard i was a big, chaotic
mess at the occasion--
was a total disaster,
and now i'm fading faster.