He fell back against the chair back and stared at her, his palms flat against the pristine cream covers she had so carefully washed and replaced to hide the wear and tear.

Just for a moment she remembered him the Christmas he sat there for the first time clutching a diamond cut whisky glass as if he might faint from the effort of speaking. Until that night the intervening years didn’t seem to have touched him. Until that night she thought she knew him well enough to trust him without question. Now everything was distorted; his eyes once radiant blue, darkly unfamiliar, tracing her outline with terrifying cynicism as she stood impotent and barefoot on the rug they had knelt on to wrap presents only a few short days before.

“Why do you fill your house with all this stuff?” His eyes left her, shooting wildly from the holly garland draped on the mantelpiece, to the table centrepiece of red candles, the sprig of mistletoe hanging above her door and settling on the tree they had spent so long adorning with tinsel and ribbons and the smiling angel perched on the top. “You don’t know what all this means – You don’t have the first idea of what you’re doing.” His mouth lurched as if he had been stricken by palsy, his eyes as dark as the night beyond the window, holding her where she stood and defying her to move.