Thursday, December 11, 2008

Keeping Warm

Her hands were cold. Even the expensive, white leather gloves she kept perfectly clean couldn't keep the chill from settling into her fingers.

"Where is that man?" she muttered to no one in particular. "I've been waiting long enough."

After another moment, a cream colored luxury sedan pulled up and a man in a black suit and cap quickly jumped out to open the door for Rebecca. As usual, he remained silent, performing his duty. And as usual, his thoughts were 7 miles away. With his 3 daughters, huddled under the covers together in one bed, doing their best to stay warm while they waited for their Daddy to come home on Christmas Eve.

Under his breath, he said, "It's already been such a long day. Please God, let her be done with her shopping."

"Just take me home. I am done for the day," Rebecca called out from the back seat, much to the driver's relief.

But there was a problem. Even though she was tired from a day of lunching and shopping, she didn't actually want to go home. She knew that the loneliness would still be with her. It never went away. Not since her husband died last January.

Now, there home just seemed lonely, and cold. Rebecca had tried filling it with her country-club friends and society parties, but all seemed so hollow without someone to share it with.

"Christopher just had a way," she remembered to herself as a smile almost crept to her lips. "He knew how to make anyone feel welcome in our home. How I miss his warmth." Memories of him cavorting around the house with his nieces played over and over in her own mind. They never had children of their own and he cherished those nieces as if they were his own. It was rare for them to come around these days. Memories of their favorite uncle were too strong.

"Ma'am. We're here."

Rebecca came out of her reverie and realized they were sitting in her driveway and it was time to get out. For a split second, she contemplated inviting her driver and his three daughter's over for hot cocoa. She had never met the girls, but they looked happy in the glimpse of a Christmas picture she had seen on the front seat recently. But that would never do. They probably already had plans and she barely knew them.

Once in the house, the sound of her own keys dropping onto the marble entry table finally brought her back to reality. She took the rest of her packages upstairs and laid down on her empty, king-sized bed. The hours passed by and she drifted off to sleep.

Suddenly, she was jarred awake by her own alarm clock. It was Christmas day. And she was still cold and alone. Her morning was spent like any other. There was no family to go and see. All of her friends had families of their own.

As Rebecca wandered around her house, she recalled her life with Christopher. The stories he could tell. The games they played with his nieces. It was too much and she fell asleep on the couch as the snow started to fall in the dusky outdoors.

When she woke up this time, it wasn't to her alarm clock, but the door bell. Rebecca had no idea who it could be. No company was expected on this decidedly family holiday. As she opened the door, she was surprised to see three young girls standing there to greet her, each holding a package. Behind them stood her driver, holding a plate of home-baked cookies.

"Come in. You must be freezing!" she exclaimed once she collected her thoughts and smoothed her hair. Before she could say anything else, three very excited girls dressed in their best Sunday clothes rushed in, all talking at once.

"I brought you a scarf I made!"
"And a hat to match!"
"We all made you a card too!"

Their dad grinned sheepishly behind them and offered the plate of warm, chocolate-chip cookies to Rebecca. "They sure are happy to meet you. They've been planning this visit since Thanksgiving day and couldn't wait to come over."

Rebecca hardly knew what to say. She hadn't seem smiling children in her house for a year now and it was almost too much to bear. The girls and their dad stayed for a little while and shared their treats with her while they all drank the hot chocolate she made for them.

Finally though, it was time for them to leave. As she watched their car pull down her driveway, Rebecca wrapped her new scarf around her neck and held the card to her chest. She couldn't remember feeling this warm in very a long time.

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An original work of fiction submitted to Scribbit's December Write-Away contest.

3 comments:

  1. Jenn - Thats really good. Really. Take it from someone who also scribbles. - John

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  2. are you looking to make me cry somemore (see my post today)? great story and a great way to remind us about the importance of this time of year and everyday... spend it with the ones you love and make the most of the time you have together.

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  3. What a sweet Christmas story--you did such a good job in this genre!

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