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Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart

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There was a big crowd at the party, and Simón didn't really know what he was doing there. He caught the invitation from Matteo who dropped the party with his girlfriend, Luna.

Simón felt that they had just invited him because they felt pity; he was far away from his hometown, and the planes didn't fly in these weather conditions.

The snow was falling heavily from the dark sky, as he looked out the window. In the house, there was a pleasant temperature, but when his eyes fixated on the white snow blanket, he felt a cool sensation run over him. He shivered and took a sip of his mulled wine. The taste of the cinnamon and orange traveled his taste buds and woke a memory up in him—those pink lips and a pair of blue eyes. He swept away the thought as quickly as it came and turned his head to the living room.

Now, he felt guilty for not being home with his family, but when he accepted the concert in Europe—exactly in Italy—, he never thought that it would mean that he wouldn't go home. Mostly, Italy was a very sunny country with a huge seaside. Then it turned out that the concert would be in the north part of the country, in the realm of the high mountains. As they have never been there—except Matteo, the Italian member of the band—they accepted the offer without thinking too much. Anyway, they can go home for Christmas. Yeah, that's what happened, exactly.

Every member of his band was enjoying the party, speaking with well-known and less-known people, but he was alone, sitting in the window. It was kind, for Matteo's family to put the whole band up till the weather gets better, but he felt so outsider. Like the fifth wheel on a car. His best friend, Luna was flirting with Matteo, Nico was talking with a red-haired young girl who almost drank every word of him, and Pedro, his last hope, was holding his girlfriend’s hand. He wasn’t necessary anywhere.

Matteo’s family dropped a party every year at Christmas time, but before they took place in Buenos Aires, and the young musician's grandparents visited them. Now, because of the concert, it was swapped.

"What's the problem, young gentleman?" Matteo's grandmother tore out Simón from his thoughts, as she sat down in front of him in the armchair. Her lips curled into a kind smile, and her gray hair was carefully combed into a braid on her head. She was wearing a pale red and white dirndl. In northern Italy, more exactly Alto Adige, it was common to wear, mostly on celebration days.

Simón put his mug to the little table between them and said, "I just miss my family. They are at home now, without me. My little brothers surely want me to be home with them."

Angelina lowered her eyes, and they filled with sadness. "I know how hard could be," she admitted. "When my son moved to Buenos Aires with her wife and my grandson, we felt so lonely with my husband. As if we had lost a part of ourselves. But when they visited us, the lost part came back, and we felt whole again."

Simón allowed his lips to form a half-smile. “I didn’t know that Matteo was living in such a cold place before.”

“He spent the winters with us, and you can’t believe how much he loved ice-skating. Maybe, due to that, he started roller skating too. Although, he spent the summer with Bernardo on the seaside, close to Naples.” She turned her head gingerly in the old man’s direction. “But I always know that Matteo loves the warm climate more.” A giggle escaped from her mouth, and Simón grinned too.

“Yeah, I know that Matteo isn’t that I-am-never-cold-type guy. When we were playing at our concert, his teeth almost clashed, he shuddered like that.”

They laughed up.

“Simón, there’s one thing I could advise you to do.” Angelina’s voice turned serious. “Don’t be sad and feel guilty for being far away from your family. It isn’t your fault to be stuck here. Life is too short to always blame ourselves, we need to take advantage of time. Search for someone and have fun!” A little spark was glittering in Angelina’s eyes as she spoke.

Simón nodded and stood up. “Thank you!” He hugged Angelina.

“If you haven’t found the perfect company, you could go back.” She winked.

Simón giggled and lost in the crowd.

---

He froze when he glanced at her. She was there. Her hair was tied up in a loose ponytail, and she was wearing a slim-fitting, dark pink dress, and a pair of long-legged boots. Her cheeks were slightly reddish as if she had been outside a couple of minutes ago.

For a moment, their gaze met, and Simón couldn’t move. His mouth opened, and his lips formed a fat o. She was still beautiful, in fact, she was nicer than last year.

Then Ámbar turned her head and started to laugh at something which somebody had said to her. He didn’t interest her, like last year.

Simón, with a sad expression on his face, went to the table where they kept the drinks and poured a new mug of mulled wine. As if her presence wasn’t enough, the melody of Last Christmas started to ring from the speaker.

“I love that song!” Luna exclaimed to Matteo, who left a smile on his face. Of course, Luna was so happy and cheerful as always. She didn’t know what this song meant for Simón.

“Hey, bro, what happened to you?” Nico appeared and stood next to Simón. “You look as if you saw a ghost.” Nico chuckled.

Simón shook his head and took a sip of his muddle wine. It wasn’t strong enough.

“Nothing,” he lied, but his eyes were still searching for her, who got lost in the crowd as if she wasn’t there at all. Maybe, he was imagining things.

“Oh,” it fell for Nico. “Last Christmas. Simón, I am really sorry! I know when you have listened to this song.”

Simón left a half-smile on his face and took another sip of his drink. “I saw her.”

A look of confusion got over Nico’s face. How could be here the-meanest-heartbreaker-of-all-time? He thought that the girl was in Buenos Aires with her grandfather as always. What was she doing here?

“Did you see well? Was she sure?”

“Yes, I think,” his voice turned into a whisper. He wasn’t even sure that he saw her. Maybe he was just tired, and his brain was playing with him, or there was too much alcohol in the muddle wine. How could he get drunk with muddle wine? It was nonsense, but to see her as well.

“Well, Simón. Good luck with that!” He patted on his shoulder and left the confused musician alone.

“Thank you,” he said sarcastically to the back of Nico, who hadn’t heard that.

---

Simón tried to hide somewhere where they wouldn’t meet, while Last Christmas was heard everywhere.

“A crowded room, friends with tired eyes

I'm hiding from you, and your soul of ice.”

How ironic? he thought.

He found a calm hide-out in the barn. No one would come here during the party.

Simón sat down to the soft straw and listened to the cows' consistent chewing. They were so peacefully eating their Christmas lunch.

Unfortunately, the melody still filtered through the wall.

“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart

But the very next day, you gave it away (you gave it away)

This year, to save me from tears

I'll give it to someone special (special)”

Yeah, that completely fitted him, except the last part. He wouldn’t give his heart to anyone this year, there wasn’t anyone special on the horizon and he didn’t want his heart to break into a million pieces again. He had to forget her, he had to go beyond her.

“I was so naive,” he whispered to one of the cows while stroking its head. The hairs of the cow were so soft and warm, they filled him with calmness. “How could I think that the number one girl, the most beautiful of all, would choose me? I am just a guy with a band, and last year we weren’t as famous as now.”

The cow looked at him curiously and shook its head.

“What not?”

The cow shook its head again.

“I am a fool, nothing else. I left myself to fall for her with all my heart. I haven’t known her long, only for a week. How could I fall in love during a week? It’s nonsense.”

The cow stopped chewing and looked at him with wide-opened eyes. It blinked some and then continued chewing.

“Take it!” He lifted his hand with a handful of hay to the cow. It took it and started to lick Simón’s palm with its rough tongue. A sad smile appeared on his face, as he felt the tickling sensation on his hand.

“Can I join you?” broke a well-known voice  the peaceful atmosphere.

Simón froze one more time during the day. It was her.

She stepped closer to him, bent down, and took a handful of hay. She handed it to the cow who took it from her too.

Traitor, Simón thought.

“I know that you can’t go home because of the storm. I am really sorry about it!” She left a smile on her face, which hypnotized Simón.

The butterflies in his stomach came to life, and with their big wings heavily fluttered inside. Stop it!

“I am sorry about last year too.” He heard Ámbar’s voice. “I was selfish and I didn’t think for a minute. I didn’t know what it meant to you. I thought you were joking,” she admitted.

“How could I be joking? I stood in front of everyone and sang you a song which I wrote about you. Your friends said you would like the idea, and then you just acted as if nothing had happened. And laughed at me when I confessed to you my feelings.” Simón’s voice was full of suffocated anger, which ate him for a whole year.

Ámbar lowered her blue eyes. “I am sorry. I don’t know how I could apologize to you to forgive me. I know what I did was terrible, but I have changed.”

“Oh, really?” Anger was burning in Simón’s eyes as he looked at the blonde girl. “So, why did you turn your gaze, when you saw me today? Why didn’t you go then and apologize to me?” Simón turned his head and looked at the cow. “Ámbar, I can’t believe you now.”

She nodded. “I understand. But please, think about it again.” And she left him like that.

Simón stayed with the cows, while her voice was rolling in his mind. Should he have forgiven her? He was too offended to do it. He needed time.

---

Simón fell asleep in the barn with cows and woke up in the morning to have something tickle his face.

“Good morning! Did you sleep well?” It was Luna’s voice.

He opened his eyes slowly and faced her bright smile. “What did you do here?” She asked, chuckling.

Simón looked around and realized where he was lying, precisely half-sitting. A big yawn left his mouth and made Luna laugh more.

“I wanted some peace,” he said.

“Yes, I see that.” She sat down next to him and pulled her legs to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. “I know Ámbar was here yesterday. How are you?”

“Miserable.”

“She talked to me.” Luna lifted up a straw and started to play with it. “She told me how she regrets the whole thing.” The words flew in the air, and Simón’s stomach squeezed.

“She said that to me too.”

“Why don’t you give her a chance?” Luna looked at him, with her green eyes wide open.

“To break my heart again?”

“No.” She shook her head. “I spoke to her yesterday. She really changed.”

“You couldn’t stand her.”

“Yeah, I know. But yesterday, she was different. She wasn’t that chic, I-stand-above-everyone girl. She was kind and simple.”

Simón looked straight and blinked some. Luna’s words moved something in his mind, but he didn’t want to get injured again.

“Give her a chance.” Luna placed her hand on Simón’s arm. It was cold, Simón could feel it, despite his jumper. “If she hurts you, I will hurt her. I promise. And I will buy you a puppy.”

A smile got over Simón’s face and put his head on Luna’s shoulder. “Maybe one day,” he said.