Karen Halloway

The Gift

   Rita Monroe turned the corner of her block and put her truck in “park” in the middle of the street.   She put on her flashers and turned off the engine.     The line of houses, adorned in multi colored lights, blow up reindeers, elves, and Nativity scenes, lifted her spirit.  It had been a long day at the ‘Read and Relax’ and her feet ached from standing and serving coffee since 7 am.  She looked at her cell phone and shook her head at the time, 8:00 pm.  She looked back at the Christmas Lights and let her mind get lost in their twinkle.  There was something soothing about the on and off red, green and white lights.  Her memory flashed to a more innocent time, before bills, her divorce and unpredictable truck.
   When she was six, it was the best Christmas ever.  She remembered waking up so early, that it was so dark, she couldn’t see her hand in front of her face.  But then she heard a noise on the roof, and felt her little heart beat so fast.  She knew that it was Santa.  And she could hear him come down the chimney and come out of the fireplace, moving aside the wood logs.
“Ho!  Ho! Ho!”  She heard him chuckle.
 She heard him rustle out gifts from his bag and place them under the tree.  She laughed to herself with glee and then took her comfy blanket and stuffed it in her mouth so he wouldn’t hear her.  She couldn’t let him hear her cause then he might get scared and leave.  She wrapped herself tightly in her blanket and buried her head in her pillow.  He’d never hear her now.  Right before she fell back to sleep, she could hear Santa unwrap the chocolate chip cookies she had baked with her mom, and sip some of the hot cocoa they had left for him.  She dreamed of flying reindeer, elves and large flakes of falling snow.
When she woke up that morning, she rushed downstairs and stopped short before the tree.  She’s never seen so many presents in her whole life.  Boxes wrapped in red paper with white bows, and green boxes with red bows, and so many, many other colors,  and “merry Christmas” paper and the silver strings and tinsel and colored Christmas balls hanging from the tree.  It was the most wonderful, most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.
As she stood there taking it all in, her mom and dad came down the stairs.  They hugged her and dad said, “Merry Christmas, Rita!”  He picked her up, wrapped his arms around her and spun her around.  He laughed and laughed and so did she as she spun in his arms.  Her mom joined them, and hugged her too, and she never felt so loved as she did then.  Her dad put her down gently and asked,
“Which one first?”  He looked at the presents.
Rita ran to the biggest one, the one with the two bows and red and blue paper.
“This one, daddy!”  She said as she began to unwrap it.

“BEEP!! “  She tore the paper…
“Beep!  BEEP!”   
Rita opened her eyes and flashing red and blue light blinked around her.  ‘Those are strange Christmas lights’, she thought as she looked into her rear-view.  The policeman slowly got out of his car and approached her window.  He tapped on it gently.
“You o.k.,Miss?”  He asked as she rolled down her window.
She looked up at him; his looks made her catch her breath; clear blue eyes, strong chin and chiseled good looks.
“Oh.I...I’m...Sorry..Just stopped to look at the lights,” she stammered.
He smiled and the Christmas lights reflected in his eyes. He scanned the street and nodded.
“They are beautiful, but you really need to move your truck,” he said as he looked at her.
“It’s been a long day and I’m tired and I just wanted to stop…everything…and look.”  She said.  Suddenly she wanted to cry.  She just wanted to break down and let herself …cry.
He looked at her and she knew he could tell what she needed.
“There’s a coffee house around the corner…looks like you could use a cup.  Want to join me?”
A tear rolled down her cheek, “I’d love to “she said.
“Park at the curb and I’ll give you a lift, “he said.
“O.K.” she said.
He walked back to his car and she rolled up her window.   She turned on her engine and drove to the curb.   As she parked, she could hear the distinct ripping of gift wrapping paper.
She closed her eyes.   “This one, daddy!”  She said as she turned off the engine and got out of her car. 

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Karen Halloway.
Published on e-Stories.org on 12/09/2012.

 

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