Art and the philosophy of life

Posts tagged ‘A short christmas story’

A Christmas story…

“What’s wrong, Mary?” asked her best friend, Catherine.

Mary rubbed her hands together and looked down.

“You know you can tell me anything.”

“I think I’m with child.”


Mary nodded.

“Birth control hasn’t been invented yet, so it’s understandable.”

“I’m not sure what to do,” said Mary, softly.

“Run away.  There is no other choice.  You will be shunned, destroy your family’s reputation, or be stoned to death.  Run.”

“That’s what Joe said.”

“He’s right.  Get a nice mule and flee.”

“Why won’t anything happen to him, if we stay?”

“Men don’t pay for what they do, we pay for what they do.”

“It’s not fair.”

“It’s deadly,” said Cathrine.  “Where will you go?”

Mary shrugged.  “Who knows?  As far as the mule can carry me, I guess.”

“Walking is good for pregnant women and it will give the mule a break from carrying you.”

“I suppose that’s true,” said Mary.

“If only you were born in the future.”

“I think it’s going to be a girl,” said Mary, rubbing her stomach, but who knows, without an ultrasound, it’s just a guess, but she feels like a girl.”

Cathrine, took Mary’s hand.  “Have you chosen any names?”

“Cleo for a girl and Hey Zeus for a boy.  Joe wanted to name her Elsbeth and him Tony, but they sound funny, don’t they?”

“In this time and place, yes,” said Cathrine.  “They sound funny.”

“We’re leaving tonight.”

“I’ll miss you, my dearest friend.  If only someone would invent computers, we could stay in touch.”

“I’ll try to let you know where I am, eventually,” said Mary.  “Joe’s going to tell everyone we never had sex and that some angel, or one of the gods miraculously impregnated me while I was reading in the courtyard.”

“Hmmm.  I don’t think anyone will believe you, but who knows, maybe in the future they’ll make a religion out of it.  You know, worship at your feet or something equally silly.”

“I’ll miss your sense of humor.”

“I told you not to have sex with him.”

“He said that if I loved him, I would do it.”

“That old line?  Oh, please.  I can’t believe you fell for that!”

“Neither can I.”

“Well,” sighed Cathrine, “best of luck.  I hope you find a nice place to live and that Joe gets over his fear of commitment and marries you.  Maybe he’ll finally get a job.”

“That would be nice,” she said.

“Do you have reservations where you can stay?”

Mary shook her head.  “Joe said they would be able to follow us if we did that, so we’re going to wing it.”

“Bad idea.  You could end up in a stable somewhere, if all the rooms are taken.”

“That’s what I said, but he said he knows what he’s doing and to just be quiet, now that I’ve ruined his life.”

“HIS life?  YOU ruined HIS life?”

“He said this is all my fault.”

“I never did like him,” said Cathrine, pulling a blade out of her pocket.  “I can get rid of him for you, if you like.”

“No.  But thank you.  He’s going to lead the mule.”


Mary nodded again.

“What if you have to deliver the baby by yourself?”

“Cave women did it, I guess.  I mean the first woman to ever get pregnant must have been horrified, but she probably lived through it.”

“I guess.  Joe won’t be any help, you know that, right?”

“I know.  He faints at the sight of blood.”

“And if he tells you there are men who are wise, just kick him in the shins, as hard as you can.  Be sure to feed and water the mule, he’s more important, and smarter, than Joe.”

“I think my mother knows what’s happening.”

“I don’t doubt it.”

“Well, I better get going,” said Mary, reaching for her friend.  “I’ll miss you so much.”

“I’ll come and visit, once you get settled.”

“I would love that.  You can be her Goddess Mother.”

“I would like that.  Thank you.  And it’s almost Yule, so have a nice pagan holiday and celebrate the earth, not the idiot men who are trying to steal everything from us.”

“Promise,” snickered Mary.  “Double-dog promise.”

And so Mary and Joe went on their way and ended up in a stable, where Mary delivered the baby by herself, while Joe waited outside and talked to the men at the Inn.  Same old same old.  The mule ran away and had a bad back for the rest of his life.  The so called wise men are still lost somewhere, trying to read the stars and Cleo was a sweet little girl who eventually ended up running the world.





A Short Christmas story…

“Are you from around here?” he asked, as they stood in line at the overly Christmased coffee shop?”

“Don’t I look like I’m from around here?” she snapped, pulling an earbud out of her ear.  “What’s your problem?  Looking for a small town girl in the big city, one you can show around and watch her eyes get big, while fall head over heals for you?  Only happens in sappy romance novels, so back off.”

“So you’re in publishing,” he laughed.

“Yes,” she sighed.  “You?”

He nodded.

“I’m so sick of those stupid stories.  You know what’s going to happen from the first sentence. I’ve come to hate small towns and wide eyed innocent females who run a bakery, bookstore, or find letters in their grandmother’s attic from a hundred years ago. All of them looking to change their live through men, or a move to somewhere else, especially a big city or Paris.  It’s like no one can write anything else any longer.  Now they sell Christmas trees and wreaths, while they help their father save the farm, or the resort, or hotel, or B and B.  Either that or they are decorating the main street that has one stoplight that hardly ever works.”

“I feel the same way,” he said.  “They’re all the same, with slight changes of place, names and reasons for running away.  And don’t forget the women who run from the big city to small towns where they make friends and finally realize that farms and a slower pace is all that’s been missing in their lives, other than the guy who pulls up to the general store in a beat up pickup truck getting hundred pound bags of feed, carrying ten at a time.”

“Why don’t men ever run away?” she asked.  “Why don’t they sit around having scones and weeping to their male friends about their broken hearts or the bookstore their grandmother left them in her will?  Men are never looking for anything, or running from anything.  Romance and women just seem to FIND them.”

“Men don’t know how to find anything,” he said, seriously.  “I mean the three wise men were a joke.  They got lost in the desert and were never found.  Car keys, directions…men spend their time trying to figure out where everything is.”

She stared at him.  “That’s true for some of them.”

“Plus they don’t think about what they want, or whether or not anything is missing in their lives, not until someone points it out.”

“I wish women were like that.”

“You’re kidding,” he said, horrified  “How would men ever managed without women?”

“You guys inherit money and estates, while women inherit businesses that are doomed, or in horrible condition, so they can worry, be short of money, and hire handsome, strong, beautiful men to make repairs, then fall in love with them.”

“Pathetic,” he said.  “I couldn’t agree more.”

She looked at him.  “Wait…is that what’s happening to us?”

“I doubt it.  We’re both from the city, both…uh, I don’t know…is it?”

“What’s your name?”

“Danny.  What’s yours?”


“What’s going on?” he asked.

“Not sure.”

“Should we discuss it over our coffee?”

“I guess, but let’s not turn this into one of those icky books.”


“Let’s sit over there, where it’s quiet.”



Mabel and Hugo…a short Christmas story

Guinea Pig, Rodent, Mammal, Smooth Hair

“What’s with this whole Christmas thing?” asked Hugo.

“You know humans,” said Mabel.  “They always have to be doing something.”

“Have you ever seen a manger?”

“What’s a manger?”

“It’s where they put their kids when they’re born.”

“You mean a playpen?” asked Mabel.

“Maybe.  I’m not sure.”

“I’ve seen a playpen,” said Mabel.  “They have them so that their kids don’t run away.”

“Humans like to cage things.”

“They even cage themselves.”

“I do like the tree and the lights,” said Hugo.

“So do I.”

“What about the guy in the red suit?” said Hugo.

“What about him?”

“He’s kind of creepy, don’t you think?  He keeps saying HO HO HO, whatever that means.”

“And he wears the same thing every year,” said Mabel.

“Styles change, but he’s always wearing that red suit.”

“I’m glad I’m not a human.  It must be exhausting,” said Mabel, softly.

“They don’t eat enough seeds or grass,” said Hugo, knowingly.

“Do you want to run through some tubes for awhile?”

“Sure.  Then we can take a nap and dream of sunflower seeds.”

“I love you,” said Mable.

“I love you too,” said Hugo. “I’ll give you a head start.”

“In your dreams big boy,” squeaked Mabel, taking off at a run.




A Christmas story…

Man in Brown Coat Smoking Cigarette

“My mom said smoking is bad for people.”

The man looked down and saw a young girl.  “How old are you?” he asked.

“I’ll be seven.  How old are you?”

“A lot older than that,” he laughed.  “And you’re mother is right.  Smoking is bad for people.”

“If you know that, then why are you smoking?”

“It’s a bad habit.”

“I’m trying to stop chewing gum.  My mom said that’s a bad habit.”

“We have a lot of bad habits, don’t we,” he said, taking a long drag.

“My mom said her bad habit is eating all day long.  She said she’s a grazer, whatever that means.  And my dog has a bad habit too.  He likes to sit at the table with us at dinner time.  On a chair.”

“That sounds pretty cute, if you ask me.”

“I’m the one who taught him to do it.”

The man laughed.  “Are you excited about Christmas?”

She shrugged.  “Everything is kind of strange. A lot of people are sick, or hungry.  They’re afraid they won’t have a place to live soon, so the feeling on the air is trembly.”


“Yes.  It’s like this,” she said, moving her arms up and down.”

He nodded.  “I feel it too.”

“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”

“You shouldn’t talk to them.”

“You look like you’re nice, though.”

“You can’t tell what people are like by looking at them.”

“That’s what my mom said.”

“You’re mom sounds pretty smart.”

“I guess.  She knows stuff because she’s lived a long time.”

He laughed again.  “Did she say that?”


“I thought so.”

“Don’t you think it’s weird that you can hold fire in your hand?” she asked.

“You mean the match?”


“I suppose it is.”

“I think we take a lot for granted.”

“I think you’re right,” he said, smiling at her.

“You aren’t homeless are you?”

“No,” he said.  “Do I look homeless?”

“Not really.  I just wanted to know so I could bring food to you, if you were hungry.”

“Well, it’s always nice to think of others.”

“I have a cat named Phylis.”

“I have a dog named, Cat.”

“Really?” she asked, her eyes wide.

“Really,” he said.

“Yesterday was Winter solstice,” she said, staring at him.  “It’s going to stay lighter longer, everyday.”

He nodded.  “Longer days are always nice.”

“If you could have one wish, what would it be?”

“One wish?”

“Yes,” she said, seriously.

“Let’s see. One wish.  What would I ask for,” he muttered.

“It’s a hard question,” she said solemnly.  “When you have to whittle your wishes down to one thing.”

“It is,” he agreed

“So?  What would you wish for?”

“Can I change history?”

She laughed.  “How far back?”

“Pretty far,” he said.

“I think the wish is for right now,” she said, her eyes sparkling.

“Then I’d wish for an end to suffering.”

She looked at him.  “People are kind of sloppy with their wishes.  They aren’t very specific.  So, all I can give you is an end to suffering for yourself.  You didn’t say an end to suffering for everyone.  Therefore, your wish was limited to you.  But I promise that you will never suffer another minute in this lifetime.”  Then she touched his hand and was gone.

“I guess I was right,” he sighed. “You really can’t tell what anyone is like, just by looking at them.”


Photo:  Plato Terentev






A Short Christmas Story…

“Are your ready?”


“I can’t hear you!”


“It’s just about time.”

The reindeer shuffled back and forth, their frozen breath, misting on the cold afternoon air.

“Harnesses cleaned and in place?”


“You look beautiful. I like the red tassels.”


“The toys are in the sack.  The GPS is…”

“GPS?” said Cupid.

“I thought we’d try it.  We almost missed Indiana last year, so Alfred hooked up a GPS to keep us on the right arc.”

“Don’t you trust us?” asked Dasher.

“Of course I trust you,” said Santa.  “I just thought we would try something new.”

The reindeer stood silent, staring at him.

“Fine.  We won’t use the GPS.”

The reindeer, smiled.

“Are you feeling jolly?” asked Vixen.

“Not really,” sighed Santa, shaking his head.   “But you know I always feel better once we’re in the air.”

“Christmas eve night is the best night of the year,” said Dasher.  “You have to be jolly.  People will notice.”

“I’ve been practicing my Ho, Ho, Ho’s all morning, so there’s nothing to worry about.”

“I hope not,” she said, pawing the ground.  “Because wondering eyes are going to be looking at you.”

“I know, my dear.  I’m fine.”

“Same route as last year?” asked Vixen.

“We’re going to do the United States first.  They have fallen apart and I want to get their presents to them before their civil war begins.”

“Didn’t they already have one of those?”

“They did,” said Santa unhappily.

“But I thought the US was the home of the free and the brave,” said Dasher.

“Not anymore,” whispered Santa.

“That’s too bad.  I liked flying there.  Well, it used to be fun before all the dishes and aerials.”

“Yes, landing is a little more tricky now.”

“Did you pack our snacks?”

“I did,” said Santa.

“And you have enough water for all of us?”

“I do.”

“Did you remember your hot chocolate?”

“Yes, thank you.  The sleigh is almost ready to go.”

“I don’t think we should give presents to government officials anywhere in the world,” said Prancer.

“I agree,” said Dancer.

“Me too,” said Cupid and Vixen.

“Don’t worry, my beauties,” said Santa.  “They’re all still on the Naughty List.”

A cheer arose from the reindeer.

“It’s almost time, Santa,” said a small elf, handing him a large red pill.  Several other elves were feeding pills to the reindeer.  “Safe flight,” sang the elves.

“TO THE SLEIGH,” shouted Santa.

“TO THE SLEIGH,” said the reindeer,  their hooves barely touching the ground.

“I love to fly,” whispered Vixen.

“Oh, so do I,” said Cupid. “Christmas eve really is the best night of the year.”





A Short Christmas Story…

“My mom said christmas is just one more Pagan holiday that men stole.”

“My mom said that too.  She won’t let me capitalize the word christmas, even in school.  She said she’d rather have me fail than to do it.”

“Did you fail?”

“No, my teacher doesn’t think it should be capitalized either, so I got the best grade I ever got on a story.”

“That’s great.”

“My teacher’s having lunch with my mom before we go back to school.”

“Maiden, Mother, Crone was turned into someone’s father, his son and some kind of ghost.”

“We have a Yule Log.”

“My mom said that if she and two of her girlfriends had to find a baby they wouldn’t need camels and a star, they would just know where to go.  Besides, she said following a star would be like telling someone you’d meet them under the moon.  She said all that stuff is just made up to help men feel important.  She said Mary was probably exhausted and without ice cream. She said the goats and lambs were a nice touch but the men probably killed and ate them because that’s what a lot of men do.”

“Wow, my mom never said any of that.”

“Well, you’ve met my mom, right?”

“Right.  Are you hanging up stockings?”

“Sure.  Aren’t you?”

“Yes.  We empty them on christmas morning, before the fancy pancakes.”

“What’s fancy about pancakes?”

“My dad makes them into the shape of trees and The Green Man.  He’s tried reindeer but he wasn’t happy with the way the antlers turned out.  I think his snowpeople are the best.”

“That’s so nice.  We don’t have a special holiday breakfast at my house, but maybe we should start one.”

“I look forward to ours.  He puts chocolate chips in the pancakes.”

“At midnight, on christmas eve, we have a bonfire in the yard.  My mom draws stuff on the patio, with chalk, and lights candles.  She puts food out for the animals, calls on the Four Directions and does a bunch of other stuff..”

“Is your mom a witch?”

“She said all women are witches, some of them just don’t know it.”

“My mom cleans a lot.  She doesn’t like it when I get dirty.”

“You’re always getting dirty.”

“I know.”

“Are you having company?”

“Definitely.  Are you?”

“No, we’re going out.  No one likes to come to our house because we’re vegetarians.  My mom tried making a tofu turkey one year, but we had to throw it away.  It’s everyone’s favorite holiday story and someone tells it every year.”

“Why do they do that?  That happens at our house too.  One year my aunt made dessert, put it in the oven, but left the plastic lids on the dishes and they melted into the pudding.  People ate the dessert anyway, but they are still laughing about it.  They have one about gravy too.”

“Grown-ups are weird.”

“I think so too.  Maybe when we grow up we’ll be different than they are.”

“I’d like to think so, but we’ll probably forget to stay like we are now.”

“Maybe we should write it down.”

“Good idea.”

“What’s wrong?

“My parents want to move.”


“I know, right?”

“You can’t go.”

“I don’t want to go.”

“I won’t let you go.  We’ll run away.”

“How will we live?”

“We’ll think of something but you can’t go.”

“Maybe you could come with us.”

“I don’t think my parents would like that.”

“It would be better than running away.”

“I think so too, but they won’t agree.”

“Would you miss them?”

“Not as much as I’d miss you.”

“Then we don’t have a choice.”

“No, we don’t.”


“They want to leave the country because it’s turning into Germany in the forties.”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know, but they don’t like it.  They said there are no superheroes, like in the movies, and no one will come to save us and that we have to get out while we can, before the borders are closed and we won’t be able to escape.”


“That’s what they said.”

“Maybe they’ll change their mind.”

“Maybe.  I mean my allergist is here and so is Ming-Ming’s vet, and my grandma.”

“Look, it hasn’t happened yet, so we have time to plan.  Let’s just go ice skating?”

“It’s true, you know.”

“What’s true?”

“There are no Superheroes except in the movies.”




A Short Christmas Story…

“What does your mom want for Christmas?”

“More books. That’s all she ever wants.  She said when she was born she looked at her mother and asked why she hadn’t sent any books and a flashlight down, so she could have been reading all those months before she got here.”

“But even if her mother could have eaten a flashlight…”

“Don’t try and make sense of it.  When it comes to books my mother doesn’t care about things making sense.  My dad told her that if a person reads a book a week from the age of five to one hundred, they would only read about three and a half thousand books.  She reads more than one book a week, but not every week, because she said that she has to make room for life, at least once in awhile. Then she glared at my dad and he laughed because she can’t stop buying books.”

“What does your dad want?”

“I don’t know, underwear, I guess.”

“That’s probably what my dad’s getting.  Maybe a shirt, too.”

“What does your mom want?”

“My mom wants a vacation by herself for two years.  My dad said that was too long but maybe she could go see a movie.  She threw a piece of bread at him.”

“What did he do?”

“He ate it.”

“My grandma’s getting a new tattoo for Christmas.”

“My grandma’s going to swim with the dolphins.”

“That sounds wonderful.”

“She’s done it before.  She said dolphin’s are a lot nicer than anyone she knows, except for me.”

“My teacher started crying Friday.  She begged us not to get her any more mugs, or anything with apples on it.  She said she would be happy if we just said, ‘Have a nice holiday,’ but some kids said that their parents already got her mugs.”

“Well, that’s not good.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“What do you think you’ll get?”

“Probably pajamas and a book. My mom always gives ma at least one book.  Maybe socks, or a bracelet, and drawing paper.”

“I’ll probably get new boots and and a couple of video games.”

“If you could have anything in the world, what would you want?”

“I’d want people to stop killing animals and each other.”

“That’s what I would want too but the grown ups don’t care what we want.  They don’t think about the world they are making us growing up in.  They talk about keeping kids safe but they make the world a violent and unsafe place.  They’ve forgotten what it’s like to be kids.  When we do grow up, I don’t know what will be left.”

“Maybe we won’t even have a chance to grow up.”

“I’ve thought about that too. Maybe we won’t.”



A Short Christmas Story…

“We baked cookies yesterday.”

“Were they good?”

“Yes, but we baked them so we could give them away.”


“I don’t think the people who get them want to eat them because my mom said that a lot of people are afraid of food nowadays.”


“Who knows?  She said they’re afraid of sugar, carbs, anything they eat, actually.”

“I like cookies.”

“So do I and I’m not afraid to eat them either.  People think not eating anything that tastes good will keep them healthy and they’ll live longer.  That doesn’t work, because if you fall off of something, or get hit by a car, giving up sugar isn’t going to save you and then you died and didn’t have any fun while you were alive.”

“You’re really smart.”

“Well, I’m a girl…so.”

“So why did you make the cookies if no one wants to eat them?”

“Oh, they’ll eat them.  They ask for them every year.   They can eat stuff that tastes good, as long as it’a a special time of the year.  I don’t know why people don’t enjoy life.  I think the government, who owns the media, makes people feel afraid to live and enjoy themselves.  They do it to distract them, so people are busy worrying about stupid things and not paying attention to what the government is doing to them.  I’m never going to be like that.  No one knows how much time they have and to not have a cookie once in awhile, isn’t something I’m interested in doing.”

“Me neither.”

“I’m not going to be afraid of anything.  My mom said that’s the only way to live, otherwise you just waste your life living careful and you miss all the good things.”

“You’re mom is smart too.”

“Thanks.  She is.  She’s a girl.  My dad is smart too, but we’re still trying to find out what he’s smart about.  He can tell you baseball scores from 1943 and he can…uh, make grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“Well, that’s something.”

“Definitely.  He said guys don’t talk about things.”

“I do.”

“I know, that’s why I like you.”

“You like me?”

“Sure, that’s why I spend time with you.  That’s why I bought you a Christmas present.”

“You bought me a present?”

“Of course. You’re my best friend.”

“I am?”

“Well, what did you think you were?”

“Uh, I don’t know.  I guess I didn’t think about it at all.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know.”

“You might want to find out why you never thought about us being friends.”

“Is it important?”



“You need to think about that as well.”

“I feel like I’m in school.”

“No, you’re in life and that’s way harder than school.  If you ever want girls to like you, you better start thinking about what they want and what they mean to you.”

“I’m just a kid, why would I want to think about girls?”

“Aren’t you going to grow up?”

“At some point, I guess.”

“Well, you need to be prepared.”

“What did you get me for Christmas?”

“It won’t be a surprise, if I tell you.”

“I have something for you too.”

“You probably don’t, but that’s okay.  I just saw something I thought you would like, so I bought it for you.”

“Do I love you, or are we too young for that?”

“Too young, but we can still be good friends and then, when we’re big, we can decide if we love each other.”

“Okay.  How old do we have to be before we decide?”


“So I have time then.”

“Yes, years.”

“I really do have a present for you.”


“Yes, and I picked it out myself.”

“That makes it special.”

“It does?”

“Yes, it means that you thought about me,” she said, leaning over and kissing him on the cheek.

“Are you sure we have to wait until we’re twelve?”

“I am.”



A Short Christmas Story…

“Maybe trees should wear lights all the time.”

“My dad said we would get tired of them, if we saw them every night.”

“I don’t think I would get tired of them.”

“Me neither.”

“They might look funny in the summer, though.”

“I didn’t think of that.  You’re probably right.”

“Snow makes them look pretty.”

“It does.”

“Your dad could be right.”

“I’ll tell him you said that because he’s wrong a lot.”

“My dad’s wrong a lot too.”

“My mom said he can’t help it.”

“That’s what my mom said.”

“What do you want for christmas?”

“I asked for a horse but my mom said we aren’t zoned for horses.”

“Maybe you should ask for a farm, then you could have a horse.”

“I’ll tell her that when I get home.  What do you want?”

“I want the days to be longer and the sun to always be out.”

“I don’t know if you’ll get that.”

“I asked for slippers with cats on the toes, just in case.”

“I asked for a new jacket.  I don’t think my family would want to live on a farm.”

“I think farms are a lot of work.”

“I told her I could keep the horse in my room but she said that wouldn’t be fair to the horse and that horses don’t like to sleep in twin beds with boys.”

“I can understand that.  My cat sleeps with me but she’s small and she bends.  Horses don’t really bend and they don’t use a litter box.”

“That’s true, so it’s probably good that I’m not getting a horse.”


“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Happy.  What do you want to be?”


“You will be taller, so you’ll definitely be what you want to be, when you grow up.”

“That’s true.  I don’t know how to measure happy, but I’m sure you will be.”

“I made my mom potholders for christmas and my dad a collage.”

“I made my mom pieces of 3 pieces of paper that said I would clean my room when she wanted me to and I made my dad three pieces of paper that said I would take the garbage out when he asked, without falling on the floor, or making excuses.”

“Wow, those are great presents.  They’ll love them.”

“My dad’s baking cookies, wanna come over and have some?”

“Sure, that way I can tell him he was right about the tree lights.”

“He’ll really like that.”




A Short Christmas Story…

It was Christmas Eve, just before midnight, and they were sitting together, in a stalled car, on the side of a country road.  Silence enfolded them, as inches of heavy snow piled up.

“We are so perfect for each other.”

“I know,” he said, moving closer.

“Why is that?”

“All the pieces just fit.”

“They do,” she smiled.  “From the first moment.”

“From the first moment.”

“I never even looked at anyone else, after I saw you.”

He laughed.

“Well, maybe, but you know what I mean.”

“I do know what you mean.”

“It’s always been you.”

“I know.”

“It always will be you.”

“I know.”

“How long can you stay?”

“For awhile.”

“I’m cold,” she said, rubbing her arms.

“It’s winter.”

“Why did you die?”

“I had to.”


“It’s hard to explain.”

“I hope no one finds me.”

“No one will.  Not in time, anyway.”

“Is that why you’re here?”

“It is.”

She smiled and closed her eyes.  “Best present ever,” she said softly. “Merry Christmas, my love.”


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