General Fiction posted November 23, 2015

This work has reached the exceptional level
a contest entry

Christmas candles

by judester

Emma lived alone. The kids in the neighborhood called her crabby and she never quite knew why.

Yes, she would yell at them when they played too loud on the street, but that was because she was taking her nap in the afternoon.
Never buying the cookies little girls tried to sell door to door, but that was because she was diabetic. They couldn't know this, and took her refusal as just being mean.

Pulling the curtain aside, she smiled sadly at the falling snow.
"It looks like a white Christmas," she sighed, turning on the kettle for her morning tea.

There was a light tap at the door that surprised her. Pulling her nightgown tight, she made her way down the dark hallway. Through the glass, she recognized a young boy from the neighborhood, standing there with a thin coat and a big shovel.

"Merry Christmas, do you want me to shovel your walk? I don't charge much."

Suddenly, a wave of sadness enveloped Emma, taking her back to a time when life made sense. Before her son was killed by a hit and run driver while playing with his new sled, exactly 20 years to the day.

'My mom is gone and Daddy is still sleeping," the boy said in a voice barely a whisper.
"I just need enough to buy something special for dinner, a surprise for my little brother." He finished this statement by wiping his nose on his sleeve and looking up at her.

Emma's heart broke as she looked down on this little boy.
"Okay, that would be great, just let me know when you are done." She closed the door quickly, before he could see her tears.

Slowly walking up the stairs to her son's bedroom, she knew that it was time.
In the closet there were wrapped boxes of all sizes, gifts that she had bought every year for her dead son, just because it seemed right. She had never understood why she had done that. It had just prolonged the pain and loss.

Through the bedroom window she could see the young boy, struggling with the big shovel as he cleared her path.

Packing all the gifts into a bag, she made her way downstairs.

An hour later, they were drinking hot chocolate and talking about their lives.
Tommy's mother had died two years ago and his father had never stopped drinking. He recalled the holidays his Mother would always make so special for him and his brother. His soft voice breaking, he stared into his cup sadly.

Emma suddenly felt such a connection with this young boy. They were both hurting and missing love in their lives. Christmas was not a time of joy, but a matter of just getting through the day.

She gave him the bag of gifts and her heart filled with happiness to see his smile. She felt an old, heavy burden lifted, by freeing that closet of the colorful, yet dismal reminders of Christmas past. She needed that closet for her knitting supplies and now it was finally empty.

That afternoon Tommy returned and gave her a little present. Two beautiful green candles, wrapped in crumpled paper from one of the gifts she had given him.

Alone in the parlor that night, she lit them and felt the warmth of this simple gift. Like her and Tommy, these candles lit together, made life just a little brighter.

Smiling in the glow, she began to knit a warm sweater for her new little friend..

Christmas Story contest entry

Thanks cleo85 for the perfect illustration.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by cleo85 at

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