Believe

When you are child, there is nothing like the magic of Christmas. It seems like as soon as the calendar flips to December, there is a certain magic in their air. A pine tree becomes something more, flashing lights became wonderful decorations. All the little ones are on their best behaviour, hoping that Father Christmas will find them on Christmas Eve.

The snow beats down around you, but you really don't give it a second thought. There really is nothing like a white Christmas. Sadness doesn't know a friend on Christmas. Those who have lost their way, someone find themselves again on Christmas Day.

Everyone it seems expect me...

The snow beats around me as I stare at the large Christmas tree in the centre of town. Its lights shine against the passing cards. I don't move as the snow melts on my shoulder, chilling me to the bone. I don't even brush it out of my hair.

I dig my hands deeper into my coat pockets. It's not that I don't like Christmas-don't get me wrong. I used to love the magic of Christmas, but the magic has left me. No matter how hard I try, I just can't get it back.

I just can't put it all behind me. That awful Christmas Eve...That night my life changed...

I guess no one would be able to move on. It's not the kind of news anyone wants to hear.

I had went ahead of my parents to my grandparents' Christmas Eve party. My aunt and uncle had offered to take me and I took them up on their off. It had been a rather snowy Christmas Eve. We didn't even know if we were going to be able to make the twenty minute drive to my grandparents' farm. However, we decided to try it. If the roads were worse than we thought, we would just turn back and have our own little Christmas Eve party at our house.

The roads had been snow covered, but nothing that couldn't be down in a four wheel drive truck. We took it slow as the snow beat around us. While our truck did manage to make it to my grandparents' in one piece, my parents hadn't been so lucky.

That Christmas went from planning fun events to planning two funerals.

My family has tried to make the best of the situation, but there hasn't been much spirit in the past two Christmases.

I turn and walk away from the tree. My aunt, Carol, will probably be wondering where I'm at. I am grateful that she moved across the country to take care of me. I'm also glad that I didn't have to move, but going back to that house without my parents is just downright depressing.

We had put up the tree and all the decorations, but it just doesn't feel the same. The Christmas village just doesn't have the same touch without my mother. Though Carol and I follow her cookie recipe exactly, there is still something missing from it.

I walk along the enough of the road, trying to stay out of the slush that the salt trucks have left in their wake. Above me, the snow clings to the evergreen trees, making it look like I am in a Christmas card instead of real life.

Just ahead, I can see the faint glow of our log cabin style house. The Christmas lights flicker through the woods, while the wrapped mailbox alerts people to the fact that there is life here. The wooden fence leading up the house is also covered in blinking lights.

I stand at the end of the driveway, staring down it. The little lighted reindeer in the front yard stare back at me, almost as if they are asking why I'm not coming down to see them. I don't know which is worse: putting on an act that everything is okay or letting the world know how you feel.

I smash into the snowdrifts in the yard instead of staying in the freshly plowed driveway. At least, I knew there wouldn't be school tomorrow. There is simply no way that they are going to run the buses in this mess. Maybe if we got lucky, they won't make us go back until after the holidays are over. It probably won't happen, but it is a nice thought to have.

I wince as a bit of snow finds its way down into my boot. Maybe this isn't the best idea I've ever had. I pause, staring back at the house. It seems so far away, but, yet, ever so close. I shift my weight around, still looking at it. Maybe I could just stay our here and not go back in. No, that won't t be fair to Carla, who has given up her entire life for me.

The front porch light flips on and Carla steps out onto it, pulling her sweater close around her. "Kelsey, is that you?"
"Yeah, it's just me." I start walking again. The chill is finally starting to reach me. In the faint glow of the lights, I can see Carla's worried expression. I mentally kick myself; I hate making her worry for me.

She rushes down the steps, urging me forward. "Hurry up, you'll catch your death out here. School is already cancelled for tomorrow and I was afraid..."
Though she doesn't finish her thought, we both know what is thinking. I just pat her on the arm and allow her to sweep me inside. My mother was her big sister; sometimes people tend to forget that it's not just the child who has lost someone very dear, but the entire family.

Inside, the coffee table is covered with Christmas cards and Frosty the Snowman blares out from the television. I wince. I had forgotten that I had promised to help her get the Christmas cards ready, which should had been sent out a few weeks ago. I guess we are both falling behind on the Christmas season.

The Christmas tree lights shines brightly in the room. There is already a few presents proudly stacked under the tree. I look at them. They hadn't been there whenever I left.

Carla rubs her hands on her jeans. "I thought it looked rather lonely without having something under it."
I smile. "It does make it look a lot happier."

My mother always insisted on putting a few presents under the tree early. She claimed that it added to the beauty of the tree; it made the tree look happier. I hate to admit that she was right once again. I expected her to come rushing out of the kitchen, bragging about how she is always right and I'm just going to have to learn to listen to her.

Of course, she doesn't come out.

My shoulders start to sag. I thought as time went on, we are supposed to get better. I have yet to see it happen to me.

Carla sits down on the couch, picking up yet another Christmas card. "Josh called again."
"Oh," I mutter as I sit down next to her, watching as Frosty flew away with Father Christmas.

Carla sits the card back down on the coffee table. "You really should take to him. I don't think he's given up on you."

I stare down at the worn thread on the coach. We really should get another one. Whenever I look back up at Carla, she is staring right at me. I sigh. "Okay, I'll call him back."

I stomp out of the room. It's not that I don't like Josh. He had been my first boyfriend-the one who had been there for me while I had to come to terms with my parents' deaths. He still called every week to check up on me, even though we haven't spoken for years. Well, ever since I cut him out.

I stare down at my cell phone . I still have his number and he still has mine. He stopped calling my cell phone once he realized that I was not going to pick it up for him. I don't know why he has hung on for this long. I know he's had better offers, but he keeps turning them. I've seen him stare at me at school and I know he wants to speak to me. However, I always either rush away or don't answer him.

He really deserves to move on from me.

I scroll down to his name in my contacts. I really shouldn't do this. I could just text him a simple "Happy Christmas" and be done with this. My finger hovers right over his name. I don't have to do this...I shouldn't have this much fear over him...

Outside, the snow is picking up. The salt trucks' flashing lights are nearly blinding. I watch as one round the turn and disappears from sight. I wonder if it is Josh's dad.

I groan...Why did I even wonder that?

I grip the cell phone in my hand. It really is kind of simple to do. I don't even have to talk to him if he picks. Then, if I just hang up, it would be kind of awkward. He would probably call back or worse, decide he has to come over and check up on me.

I hover over his name for just a few more minutes before punching it.

My heart skips a beat as it rings. I stare back out the window, waiting. The road is empty and even more snow is sticking to it. It must be rather depressing to drive the salt trucks. Hardly anyone can tell that you've went through and, of course, people are always complaining about what a poor job you do.

It keeps ringing. I've lost count of how many times it has rang. Why hasn't it gone to voice mail already? I probably should just hang up.

"Hello?" His voice sound foggy as if he has just woken up. "Kelsey?" I can hear him moving around, the television playing faintly in the background.

I don't answer. It's like my throat has closed up, making speaking out of the question.

"Kelsey, I know you're there. I can hear you breathing." He pauses. "Are you just doing this to torture me? I know Carla told you that I called. If you're going to yell at me for checking up on you, you had best get it over with."
"I'm not going to yell at you, Josh," I say, finally finding my voice. "I'm not going to yell at you at all."

"Oh." There is no masking the surprise in his voice. "Then, why did you call?"
"Carla insisted." Well, I guess she kind of did. She didn't actually dial the phone for me and force me to talk to him.

"I see." Silence fills the background. He must have moved to another part of the house. "Was there something you wanted to talk about?"

That really is the question, I guess. Is there something I want to talk about? I don't know if we really have anything to talk about. I guess we could talk about how I cut him out of my life. He must not be too upset about it, since he is actually talking to me...Well, kind of...There's been a lot of silence time between us.

"Kelsey, are you still there?" Josh's low tenor jerks me out of my thoughts.

"Um, yeah, I was just thinking." I twirl a bit of hair around my finger. The salt truck is passing by again.

"About what?"

I sigh. "I don't know. Josh, look, I don't even know why I called you. I don't want to sound rude, but I'm the one who cut you off and, yet, you are still here."

"That's what friends do," he says after a moment's pause. "We have each other's backs no matter what."
"Yeah, I guess..."

"Look, Kelsey, I just want you to know that I'm always here for you, no matter what."

"I know." I flop down on my bed, letting the soft pillows gather around me as I close my eyes. "Josh, I really didn't mean to shut you out on propose."

I can almost feel his smile coming through the phone. "I know. That's why I still keep coming around. You can't get rid of me that easily."
"I guess." I pause. "Where did we go wrong? How did we even end up like this?"

"It just happened. Things like this happen all of the time."

"I guess." I pull my stuff dog close to me. "These things aren't supposed to happen to us though."

"Well, it did and there's nothing we can do about it. We can only move forward."
"I guess." Now, it's my turn to smile into my cell phone . "We could always just pretend like it never happened." The words come out of my mouth before I have the chance to stop them. I really do need to learn how to think before I speak. It's going to get me in trouble of these days.

"We could, but are you sure that this is what you want?" Though his voice comes out smooth, there is no denying the uncertainly in it. It's almost like he doesn't want to hurt me. He would actually be hurting me more if he didn't agree to it.

"Yes," I whisper as a beat passes. "This is what I want."

"Okay...Okay..."
!

The next morning a winter wonderland greets me. Carla keeps watching me out of the corner of her eyes; I know she wants to ask me about what Josh and I talked about last night. Neither one of us bring it up as we pick up the Christmas lights that the storm blew down.

It is actually a pretty calm day out. The snow has stopped and the wind isn't blowing at all. The cold still lingers though and the roads are still pretty much impassable. Still, there is some beauty in the mess. The birds are out singing their songs, making it seem more like a spring day instead of an early winter one. The snow covered landscape reminds me of an old novel or a Christmas card.

"So," Carla says breaking the silence.

I look at her, gripping a handful of Christmas lights. "So, what?"

"I know you talked to Josh last night." She pins up a strand of Christmas lights on the fence. "I was just wondering how that went."

I shrug. "It went."

She bends over, picking up, yet, another strand. Why did we even have to put up so many lights in the first place? "I was kind of surprised that you called him back. It's been almost two years since you've last spoken."

I shrug. "Maybe it's a new beginning."

She smiles at me. "Did I hear you correctly?"

I nod. "Yes, I think you did." I pin up my own strand. "Maybe we're both ready to start over."

Carla pauses in her work, looking at me, with a shocked expression on her face. "Did I hear you correctly?"

I just shrug. "I don't know. Maybe it's time for us to start over." I bite the inside of my mouth, hard, probably hard enough to draw blood.

A bit of wind picks up, blowing snow across the yard in beautiful little puffs. A few birds in the trees struggle to hold onto their limb. The chill reaches me, making me draw my coat up close. Then, just as quickly, as it had came up, it dies away, dying down into the embers of nothing.

Carla smiles. "Well, I'm glad to hear it, Kelsey. It will do you some good to get back out there."
I don't know what to do or say. I know she's trying to make me feel better and see the good in life, but it's almost like she's telling me to move on. I know my parents would not want me to live this half life that I have been living. They always said that life was meant to be enjoyed, not to be filled with death and dullness.

A salt truck whizzes past us; its blade scrapping against the road. The snow on the road is finally starting to melt a little. However, it is late afternoon and it really does make me wonder if we'll have school yet tomorrow. Though the sun is out, the weatherman is calling for more snow tonight.

"There," Carla says, wiping her gloves off. "I think that should do it."

We begin our walk back to the house, breaking through the newly fallen snow. There is no way we are going to be able to get the truck out in this. I should probably offer to clean out the driveway, but I know what Carla will say. We're not going anywhere for a few days, so why ruin the beauty of nature?
In the entrance way, we peel off our wet clothes, laying them with the hopes of them somehow drying. I stand there in front of the fire, letting it warm my soul. I didn't know I had been actually cold outside until now.

Carla comes back into the living room, carrying two cups of steamy hot chocolate in Christmas mugs. She shoves the Christmas cards to the side. "Well, I guess I won't be getting those out in time. I should have been working on them right after Thanksgiving."
I sit down next to her. "Well, Christmas really goes on until New Year's Day, so you still have time."

She took a drink of hot chocolate. "I guess."

I took the other cup of hot chocolate and just hold it for a few minutes, letting the warmth take the chill out of my body. "It's not a big deal. I'm sure everything is delayed because of the storm."
"I suppose you're right," Carla says with a sigh. "They are just for the neighbours. I guess we could always hand deliver them."

I stare at her. "Um, have you seen how much snow there is out there?"

She sighs. "I guess you're right." She stares out the window. "There's no way they're going to have the roads cleared off by tomorrow. I say it's safe to say that you're not having school again tomorrow."

I take a long drink of my hot chocolate. "Good."

She just shakes her head. "You're supposed to want to go to school the day before Christmas break. It's supposed to be fun."

I just snort. "It is if you are into that kind of thing. If we're not going to do any actual learning, I would prefer to stay home."

"I fear you're not getting the full high school experience. You are supposed to have fun, not just be focused on the learning part," Carla points out.

"I thought the point of going to school was to get an education."
"That's not the only thing it's about." She pats my knee. "You need to be making memories, not just going through life without any joy."
I roll my eyes. "I do have joy in my life. What I see as joy and what others do are just completely different."

"Whatever you say."
!

Later that night, I stare at my ceiling, waiting for sleep to overtake me. The Christmas lights dance off my ceiling tonight instead of the salt truck. Outside, the wind beats against the house as the snow flies through the air. I'm not sure if there's any more new snow falling or if it's just blowing the old around. Carla had been right about school; it was cancelled a few hours again.

I pull my blankets up around me, letting their warmth into my core. I close my eyes, willing sleep to come to me. My alarm clock changes over to midnight. In seventy-two hours it will be Christmas Day.

I cannot stop thinking about those Christmas cards on the coffee table. I knew that some of our neighbours really didn't get much for Christmas. Old Mr. and Mrs. Riley don't have any family and I know they look forward to the warm greetings from their neighbours. Will they think that no one cares about them? I'm sure they will put up a front, but just how hurt will they really be?

I roll over onto my other side. It's just not right. Though it may be hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit, it didn't mean that other people have to suffer. There has to be a way to get the cards out there.

A rather harsh wind gust beats against my window, making me jump. It's really starting to pick up out there. I don't see how we still have power.

I get out of the bed and go over to my window. The Christmas lights are barely hanging on, though a lot of them are on the ground. The trees are bent so far that it will be a miracle if they don't snap in two.

It really is the perfect storm.

A little bit of the outside chill finds its way through my window. I put my hand in front of it, letting the chill trickle onto my hand. I really should fix that. I know Carla struggles to pay the heating bills. I jerk my hand away, holding it close.

Outside, the Christmas lights flicker one more time, before dying. I watch as my alarm clock flickers off. This just keeps getting better and better. First a storm, now no power.

The chill settles in around me, forcing me to go back into bed. I pull the blankets up over my head, letting their warmth take the chill away. Without the whizz of the electric, the house is oddly quite, almost as if the stillness of the house has taken a forced measure.

Eventually sleep does take me, because the next thing I know, a dull, grey morning greets me.

The moment I throw my covers back, I realize two very important things. The house is freezing and it is still quiet. I dress quickly. We are going to have to build a fire in the fireplace to get the temperature up.

I run downstairs. Carla is already up and dressed. She is standing in front of the living room white, looking out at the winter wonderland. If it hadn't caused so much trouble, I would say that it is beautiful, but there is only so much beauty that I can take.

She turns, looking at me as my feet hit the final step. "I've already got the fire going."

I look over at the fireplace, wondering how I haven't noticed it. The fire is actually warming the room up, slowly. There is even a few extra pieces of wood stacked near the door. It's not going to be nearly enough if the power is off all day. "Okay," is all I say though.

I go over the window and stand next to her. The snow drifts are piled so high. The one next to our small garage almost reaches the roof. I can't even tell where the main road is. There is no going anywhere. The salt trucks don't even seem to be running.

"Well, this is rather unexpected," Carla says as she turns away from the window. "At least, we have a gas stove."

"Wish the heaters were gas," I mutter as I pull my sweater up closer to me.

She smiles. "Well, we can't have everything."
The fire is actually doing a much better job now that I am sitting on in the easy chair. I can actually move without feeling like my body is going to break apart.

Carla disappears into the kitchen, leaving me alone to my thoughts. I pull a throw blanket over myself. The only thing is that I really don't have anything to think about. My mind is empty for some odd reason.

I bury myself further under the throw, allowing its warmth to race through my body. I close my eyes as I listen to the fire crackle. It is the only thing I can hear right now. I can't even hear Carla moving around in the kitchen or wherever she went.

Josh hasn't called or texted this morning. I don't know why all of a sudden it is concerning to me. How can one night change everything? It is just simply beyond me.

Someone is knocking at the room and it is very annoying...I wish they would just go away...I don't want to get up and go get it...Maybe if I just hide, they will not keep knocking and go back to wherever it is they came from.

"Kelsey, can you get the door?" Carla calls from within the house.

I open my eyes with a sign. Why can't people just leave me alone to my thoughts? I throw back my blanket and pad over to the door. This had better be good. I don't get out of my warm blanket for just anyone.

I open the door. "Josh."
Josh looks at me with a big smile. His four wheeler sits in what I guess is the driveway. "Is that all I get?"

I eye him. "You pulled me away from my nice warm blanket."
"Sorry." He doesn't look very sorry though. "I was just seeing how you two are fairing."
"Josh! What a lovely surprise!" Carla exclaims as she appears at my shoulder. "You must come in. Kelsey, how could you leave him standing out there in this weather?"
Josh just smiles as he walks pass me into the house. "There are power lines down all over the place."

"That's not good," Carla says, shaking her head. "I Just hope they don't have to work on Christmas."

"They should have everything up by then," I say, looking at James, who is taking off his many layers.

"I don't know. Dad said they're not going to be running the trucks today. They need heavy equipment to break everything first. The only way I even got over here was by staying where it was compacted and luck."

Carla's eyes narrow. "You shouldn't have risked it. You could have been killed."
Josh just shrugs. "But I wasn't."

"And what did your folks say about this little journey?"
"Um, they kind of don't know. They had to go out and check on the cows. They told me to see if anything else was wrong and I can over here." He looks like a child who has just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. It's actually kind of funny.

Carla rolls her eyes. "So, they have no idea where you are?"
Josh doesn't answer.

"Great! You could be dead for all they know!" she stomps off into the kitchen.

Josh watches her retreating back. "I probably should text them, huh?"

"If you can, it would probably be wise."
He pulls out his cell phone . "How have you been doing?"
I shrug. "I'm still hanging in there." I brush a piece of stray hair out of face. "How about you?"
"I guess I'm hanging in there as well."

Silence falls between us. I stare at the wall over his shoulder, while he just shifts around. I probably should invite him to sit, but the old Josh would not be waiting on my invitation. He would have already made himself at home.

"Well, I guess we could have a seat. There's no sense in us just standing here," I say, clearing my throat rather loudly.

He jumps at the sound of my voice, which he quickly changes into a smile. "That would be nice."

We sit down, staring at the fireplace, not saying anything. I fold my hands into my lap, staring into the dancing flames, while watching Josh out of the corner of my eye. He is going to be one of those people who doesn't change with age. He looks far more composed and elegant than he did two years ago. He seems, I don't know, a lot more happier. Maybe he really is better off without having me in his life. I really could be one of those people who sucks the life out of people.

"So, what have you been up to?" he says.

"Not much of anything." I pause, letting a beat pass before speaking. "What about you? What have you been up to?"
"The same old, same old."

"Are you still playing basketball?" It really is a stupid questions. Even though we haven't been speaking, I know the answer. It's really hard not to know all about the leading scorer and how all the university scouts are watching him.

He nods. "I think we're going to win our division and I've been offered scholarships."

I smile. "That's good...That's really good, Josh." At least, he is going places, places that he fully deserves to go.

He nudges my knee. "What about you? Are you still doing art?"
"Yeah, but not as much as I used to."
He just nods as he looks at the Christmas cards on the coffee table. He picks up one of the extras, studying it with a smile. "So, you're still painting all the Christmas cards."

I stare at the country landscape of the card. It's supposed to be the pine tree grove beside the house. "Yeah." I nod toward the stack. "Yours is probably in there. We haven't gotten all of the local ones mailed out and it doesn't look like we are."

Josh digs through the stack. "It would be such a shame to let these cards to go waste."

"We were just going to mail them out as soon as the roads cleared."
He shook his head. "You shouldn't get a Christmas card after Christmas. All the magic will be gone and it'll just be a card."
I point outside. "There's no way the mail is going to run in this!"

He picks up a card. "I'm not talking about the regular mail."
I frown at him. "Please, tell me you're not thinking what I think you're thinking."
He wiggles his eyebrows at me. "I think it will work, if you just have some faith in me."

"In case, you haven't noticed, there's a ton of snow out there. Not to mention, the fact that Carla wouldn't even dream of letting us do it." I pause. "It's just not going to work."
He smiles. "Kelsey, I love how negative you are being right now. It's making me want to do this even more. You have no idea how much I enjoy seeing you get all fired up about something." He leans close to me. "Thing is, you are really struggling with saying no. Even you have to admit that your reasons are pretty weak."
I eye him, not saying a word. I know everything that he is saying. I know my words are weak, but it doesn't matter. We can't go out there, not in this. Without radar, we don't even know if there are any more storms coming. It's just a good way to get killed...

My gaze flickers over the window. Sure, it is sunny right now, but how are we supposed to know how long that will last? How are we supposed to know what is out there?

Josh moves around in his seat. "Come on...Just take a chance for once..."
I eye him. "You aren't going to let this go, are you?"

He shakes his head. "No, I'm not. I think you really want to do it too, but you just will not admit it."

I stare back down at the Christmas cards. It really would be a shame to leave them undelivered. I know a lot of people look forward to them, but I am sure they will understand with the storm and everything. They will have to understand. They would probably rather wait instead of us having to take such a big risk.

"Don't you believe in the magic of the holidays?" Josh asks, breaking the silence. "I know that somewhere deep down, you still have some of that Christmas magic within your soul?"

I look back at him, but don't say anything. He just watches with an increasing smile, like he knows he has me beat. I've got news for him, he doesn't and he never will. I am not about to let someone like him get under my skin.

I blink; it makes it seem like he has won. His smirk only widens at the sight of my blinking. This is just great...This just keeps getting better and better.

"Well?" Josh pushes. He moves even closer, so close that I can now almost touch his arm with mine. Why? Why? Why does this keep happening?

"Well what?" I fire back, now looking fully at him.

"Well, do you agree to come with me? You know it's the proper thing to do."

I just sigh.

"Does that mean yes?"

I don't say anything, but only makes his smile widen. He picks up the stack of Christmas cards and places them on my lap, still looking at me with that big goofy smile. I really cannot believe what I have gotten myself into. He cannot make me go this.

Oh, but he is! He pulls me up and puts his hands on my shoulders, steering me toward the door. We pause in front of our winter clothes. He starts pulling his on rather quickly, all while keeping an eye on me. I don't move; I just stand there holding the Christmas cards, looking rather lost.

"Are you coming, Kelsey, or are you going to make me do this all on my own?" Josh asks. "You yelled at me for coming over here without anyone knowing where I'm at. Didn't you say I could be dead and no one would know where to look? Wasn't that you?"

I just sigh as I put the Christmas cards down on the floor as I start to pull on my own heavy layers. "What about Carla? I feel like we should at least tell her that we are leaving."
"I'll just tell her we're going outside to have a look around."

Before I can open my mouth to say anything more, he's already trotting toward the kitchen.

I keep pulling on my heavy layers, ignoring the sinking feeling in my gut. I probably should have gone with him. It's hard to tell just what he is telling her. Carla loves Josh, so anything that he says to her, she will take with face value. Why does he have to be such a charmer?
I roll my eyes. Why am I even thinking of him as being an charmer? Sure, we had a thing, but it is all in the past. Right now, he's just Josh, someone who I have just recently let back into my life.

"Are you ready?"

The sound of his voice makes me jump. I hadn't even noticed him coming back into the room, let alone stopping right in front of me.

I pull on my last boot. "Yeah."

He starts toward the door as I bend down to pick up the Christmas cards. "We've got most of the afternoon to get these delivered. I don't want to be out after dark."

We step out onto the porch, the cold takes the breath right out of my lungs. The snow beneath my boots is soft; it's not even the good kind of snow. There's no hope of throwing a snowball at Josh.

We push through the snow toward his four wheeler. His path from earlier has already been covered over by the wind. Out further in the yard, the snow blows around, looking like dancers dancing a waltz. The snow blows down from the tree limbs, making an even bigger snow drift around the trees.

"It's not that bad," Josh says. "Once we get moving, you probably will not even notice it so much."

I don't say anything as I climb onto the four wheeler behind him. I check it over. It does seem to be in good condition and it does look like he does take pretty care of it. I can hardly see any marks on it and there is a full tank of gas. Plus, I know that Josh is a good driver. He is one of the few boys in the class who has yet to be in a wreck. Maybe we will be okay.

He starts it up. "Ready?" he asks, looking over his shoulder.

I nod.

"Hold on."

I grab onto the back rack; there is no way that I'm going to put my arms around his waist. I don't want to give him the wrong idea.

As we drive, the house grows smaller and smaller. The snow kicks up behind us. At first, the wind bites at my face. I move around until I am directly behind Josh, which does help. My fingers are starting to numb, but as we drive, the warmth begins to return to them somehow. After awhile, I don't even notice the cold.

We are the only ones out here. Even most of the animals seem to have went into hiding. It is rather peaceful, just being out here with no one around to bother you.

I look over my shoulder. Our tracks are still behind us as we drive down what I'm guessing is the main road. It really is hard to tell just where we are. Plus, our county doesn't believe in road signs, so there's no kind of marker or anything like that.

"The Rileys should just be around this turn!" Josh says, his words coming out so muffled that I can barely make them out.

"Okay!" I say as we slide around the turn, making me grab onto him, who, if I didn't know any better, is laughing. Well, I'm glad to see that someone is enjoying my suffering.

The Riley house comes into sight. The snow around the small house is undisturbed and the few Christmas lights they put out are laying on the ground. A few birds have gathered around the birdfeeders in the front yard, hoping to find some kind of food. At least, Mr. and Mrs. Riley haven't tried to come out in this.

We stop in front of the house. He doesn't even try to pull completely into their driveway, which is nothing more than a giant snowdrift.

We wade through the snowdrift, sinking up to our knees more than once. I make Josh go first, so I can step into his tracks. It takes us about five minutes to make it up the short driveway and onto the porch.

"Do you have it?" Josh asks.

I pull their card out of my inner layer. "Yeah."

He nods as he raises his fist and nods on the door. We step back and wait, which doesn't take long. A few seconds later, we hear movement on the other side.

"Yes?" The door opens and Mrs. Riley's face appears on the other side. She looks at us with a confused expression that quickly turns to delight. "Josh! Kelsey!" She opens the door wider. "Come on in! Gerald, we have company!"
She shuts the door behind us as we step further into the room, peeling off our wet clothes in the process. I cannot help but notice how small and bent over Mrs. Riley looks. It's almost like she is slowly melting away from the world.

"Come one, come on. You two must be freezing. What were you thinking coming out in this weather? You two are going to catch your deaths if you aren't careful." She says all of this so quickly that I can barely catch what she is saying.

She leads us into the living, where Mr. Riley is reading a western by the sunlight. Their Christmas tree stands in front of the large picture window that dominates their living room. Holly and stockings line their fireplace.

"Well, look what the storm brought in," Mr. Riley says as he lowers his book. "What are you two doing out on a day like this?"
I hand them their Christmas card. "Well, since the mail probably isn't going to run in this, we thought we would personally deliver this to you."
Their faces light up as they look at the card, taking in every detail, every word. My eyes shift over to the doorway and that's whenever I see them. Lining the wall next to the doorway is every Christmas card that I had ever made and sent to them. The ones I made whenever I was a child are just downright awful, but, yet, there they are in all of their glory.

Mrs. Riley looks up from her card. "I don't know how you do this, Kelsey. You have such fine detail and I don't see how you get everything to be so prefect."
I just shrug. "It just takes a lot of practice."

"Well, you most certainly do have a gift," Mr. Riley says. "You two still shouldn't have taken the risk of coming over here. You never know when another storm could pop up."

I smile. "We'll be fine. Don't you worry about us."

The fire crackles behind us. I didn't realize how warm the room actually is until now. These two are probably more prepared for an event like this than most people. I know they have a basement full of preserves and canned goods from their garden this year. They actually have more food in the house than we do. Plus, they look quiet calm, unlike so many other people that I can think of.

Josh looks over at their wood box. "Do you need some more wood carried in?"
I look at their wood box. It does look pretty full, but if this goes on for days, it will not last for very long.

Mr. Riley shakes his head. "We're okay."

Josh is already moving toward the door though and pulling on his clothes. I highly doubt he even hears Mr. Riley. The door shuts behind him.

"Well, I suppose that he didn't hear you."

I stand up. "I probably should go see what he's up to."
I go outside. Josh is knocking what seems to be a mountain of snow off a rather large looking wood pile. I hope it's the wood pile and not all snow.

"I don't know why they insist on stacking their wood so far away from the house," Josh says as he starts to load up his arms. "They have no business carrying wood in this mess."
I start to load up my own arms. "It's funny. They think they should be the ones out here, not us." The wind blow some more snow across the yard. The sun shines down us, making me actually feel kind of hot.
He shakes his head. "It's funny how old people think like that." He pauses. "We probably should get this in there before they think they have to help us."
I nod as we start up through our little path. Now, I thought it was hard walking through the snow earlier, now this is nothing compared to walking through it with a large armful of heavy wood. As we walk, the house just seems to get further and further away. Both my arms and legs are burning, feeling as if they are going to fall off at any given second.

After what seems like a lifetime, we reach the porch. Josh stands in front of me. "I wonder if we should just stack some on the porch. I think, it would really hurt Mr. Riley's pride if we actually took it inside."

"I think out here would be best." I pause. "Besides, I'm sure Mrs. Riley would not like it if we brought it into her house covered in snow."

So, the porch it is. We both manage to carry about six big loads of wood from the wood pile before Mr. Riley comes out. He looks at the medium sized pile on his porch, then back at us. He just shakes his head with a smile as he turns and disappears back into the house. We both carry two more loads before stopping.

"That should hold them for awhile now," Josh says. His cheeks are pink from the cold. He looks back up at the sky. "We probably need to get the other places. I don't like the way that wind is coming in."
I nod. The wind did seem to be actually picking up and there is a dampness in the air. I don't know if that means snow or not, but it is enough to make you want to finish whatever it is you are doing and get back home.

We open the door and step in.

Mrs. Riley stands on the other side, holding a tray of fresh cookies and hot chocolate. "I love gas."

Josh stares at her as she goes red in the face. "That's not what I mean..." She looks around at us. "I was talking about the shove...Not whatever you are thinking." Behind her, Mr. Riley is trying and failing at not laughing. It's just probably a good thing that she didn't see him.

Josh just smiles at he takes at cookie. "We never doubted you for a minute."

She nods. "That's what I thought. I bagged you two up each a bag. We don't want to kick you out, but that weather is making us nervous. You really should stay here until they get the roads open or, at least, until that wind lets up." Her eyes flicker out the window. The blowing snow is really starting to pick up.

I really think that she is right. We really shouldn't risk it, but, then, there's Josh, whose family is probably worried about him and I don't think about Carla. I look down at my cell phone . There's no service. The towers must be knocked down. I can see Josh peering at his own cell phone with a frown. This is not good, not good at all.

Mr. Riley nods. "We really can't let you go out there."

The sky is greying up, almost completely blocking out the sun. Carla is probably worried out of her mind, but surely she would figure on us staying somewhere safe until the storm passes. She wouldn't think we would risk riding out in this. Granted, we did go out to give away some Christmas cards.

Mrs. Riley looks at us with her tray of cookies. The worry just litters her face. She thinks we are going to try it. She's not going to insist that we stay here, but she really wants us to. Her speech a few minutes ago made that very clear.

"Well, I guess we could wait it out," James says, just as the snowflakes to fall.

Mrs. Riley nods. "That would be good."

Mr. Riley takes a cookie from the tray as the house gets darker and darker. "Well, I guess it's a good thing you carried all that wood to the porch." A blast of wind shook the house. "Sometime tells me that we are going to need it. I hope your good at cards. Ruth cheats too much."
Mrs. Riley frowns at him. "You keep score and always win."

He shrugs. "If the score keeper doesn't win, then you aren't doing it right."

Josh smiles as he takes another cookie. "That's what my sister says as well."

We start to take off our winter clothes again, just as the storm picks up. I peer out the window. The four wheeler is going to be buried soon, if it's not already. However, there is no way we can go out and move it. The world around us is nothing more than a whirl of white. I can't even seen past the end of the porch.

The storm passes over us rather quickly. However, by the time it does actually pass by, it is dark out and Mrs. and Mr. Riley will not even think about letting us go out in the dark. They thought we wouldn't be able to see anything and I hate to admit it, but they are probably right.

Josh walked down the empty street with his hands in his pockets and his head bowed to the ground. Everyone else was making merry and whatever else they did on Christmas Eve. Josh himself was supposed to be at the Flint Estate with his own family.

But not this year.

He paused outside Saint Michael's. He stared up at the daunting building. His girlfriend was here. He didn't like to think about what had happened to her. He didn't like to think of her laying up there when she should be out here enjoying life.

He shook some newly fallen snow out of his dark hair. He wanted to kill whoever had put her in here. Who would want to harm her?

He entered the hospital and went past the main desk. Between coming here for Kelsey and himself for basketball accidents, he pretty much had the place memorized. He walked slowly into the ward where she was.

The place was empty. There was an odd stillness. It was odd, but, yet ever so peaceful. Josh swallowed when he saw her. Kelsey was the only one in a bed. She looked so young and peaceful that it was heart breaking. He wished that her bed was empty too.

Josh pulled a chair next to her bed and sat down. He reached under the covers and took her pale hand into his. He held her hand up to his lips and kissed it. He stayed like that for several minutes just holding her hand and watching her chest raise and fall.

He knew that he should be relieved that she had come this far, but it wasn't good enough. It never would be good enough until she was back with him.

Josh looked out the window and watched the snow fall. Kelsey always loved the snow and she always loved Christmas. Tonight would've been the prefect night for her. Tonight they would've gone out and done something together.

He held her hand on his heart, hoping she could feel its strong, heavy beating letting her now that he was here. He felt her heat through his shirt and coat. It warmed the winter chill right out of him.

"Kelsey ," he whispered. "It's Christmas Eve and it's snowing pretty hard right now. The lake below my house is frozen. You would probably like to ice skating on it." He paused. "No, you probably make fun of my lack of ice skating skills. You did the last time we went. Do you remember that?"
Josh smiled down at her angel-like figure. She looked so pretty there. He knew that if would be so much better if she was up and leaving this place. He put her hand back under the covers.

"Do you remember two years ago when we went to Homecoming?" Josh muttered. "You were so worried that I wouldn't show up." He paused and smiled down at her. "You probably do. You seem to remember everything about our relationship."

Josh stared out the window and watched the snow fall. Memories came back to him about a happier Christmas.

I wake up gasping. I stare over at Josh, who is sleeping on the floor next to the fireplace. Not only had it been a strange dream, but I could not figure out why I had been dreaming from Josh's point of view and why I had been in a hospital.

I kick off the blankets and go over the window. The storm has died down, leaving just the black of night. I look up at the sky, expecting to see stars, but only darkness greets me. I pull my loaned sweater up around me as a bit of cold air finds its way in around the window.

The night is actually pretty peaceful. The snow stands out against the black, making it seem as if we are in the middle of a giant marshmallow. It is a warm blanket against the rather harshness of a normal night.

Behind me, the fire crackles and Josh snorts in his sleep, reminding me for a brief moment in time that I am not alone. I look over at Josh, whose face looks so young and innocent in the fire's light. He didn't deserve what I did to him. I still don't understand why he even kept me in his life. A normal person would had cut me out and hung me out to dry, but not him. He wouldn't even think of it. He's just too good for me.

I sit down on the sofa, pulling my blanket up around my lap. Mr. and Mrs. Riley had offered up their room-well, to me anyway. I couldn't take it. It had taken awhile to convince them that I really was okay with the sofa.

I want to go back to sleep, but there is something holding me back. I don't understand my dream at all. I don't remember ever being in a hospital nor have I ever dreamed about being in a hospital. Why would I even think about being in such an awful place on Christmas Eve? Where is my mind trying to take me?
I stare right at the Rileys' Christmas tree. It looks like nothing more than in a shadow; it's almost as if its Christmas magic has been sucked away and is never going to return. It's quite sad, really, now that I actually think about it.

I pull my blanket up further around me as I force myself to lay down. There is always a logical explanation for these kinds of things. The mind is a very complex thing.

We head out early the next morning. As we pass below the electric lines, we can see crews working at getting the lights back on. With tomorrow being Christmas Eve, I hope they do. Heavy equipment plows at the roads with salt trucks right behind them. At least now, you can actually see where the road is.

We deliver the cads house to house. Most people think we are crazy for being out in this weather. At some houses, no one is home. I know the McDonalds are probably are work. Mrs. McDonald works at the hospital and probably hadn't left. Mr. McDonald works for the electric company.

We loop around through town. There are only a few people out and in about. The Christmas decorations barely hang on to their area. More than a few of them litter the ground. People are picking them up and examining them. Those that are too far gone are just simply thrown into a rubbish bag.

We pass more than one four wheeler. It seems like no one really wants to risk a car or truck yet. I really don't blame them either. We've had to get off the four wheeler more than once and either push it out of a ditch or snow drift.

By the time my house actually comes in sight, I am more than just a little bit of relieved. It looks like Carla has been out. The sidewalk up the cabin has been shoved and the porches are cleaned off. Someone has also attempted to clean up the Christmas lights and put them back into their proper spots.

Josh stops the four wheeler right in the centre of a large snow drift. "This is as good as any place," he says as he hops off of the bike.

I slid slowly off behind him. "I have a question."

He turns and looks at me. "What is it?"

I stare down at the snow around my feet. He's not going to know anything about dreams. "Have you ever dreamed that you were seeing the world from another person's point of view?"

He frowns. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, last night I had a dream that I was in the hospital, but I wasn't seeing what was going on from my point of view, but yours." I pause and look at him. He looks confused. "It was strange. I've never had to stay in the hospital like that."

He shifts his weight around. "We probably should go inside before we give Carla anymore reason to worry."

I gently grab onto his arm. "Is there something that you're not telling me? I'm pretty sure that I would remember being in a hospital."
He smiles. "It was just a dream, wasn't it?"

I nod. "Yes, it was just a dream." I follow him up the cabin. Is it just me or does his smile seem more than just a little sad? Why do I get the feeling that there is something going on here that I don't know about?

We got into the cabin. I can't get the out of me that he knows more than what he is letting on. How could I not remember being in the hospital and on Christmas for that matter? What I am missing here?

It is all a dream...

It is all a dream...

I just know that everything is all in my head. It just has to be all in my head. I don't see how I could have forgotten something like that.

I can hear Josh and Carla talking in the kitchen. I finish pulling off my heavy clothes and make my way in that directions. As I get closer, I can't help but to frown. I know they are talking about me. I just have this feeling in my gut.

"She's starting to regain her memories," Josh says. "She said she had a dream and I was there. She was in the hospital."

Carla sighs. "The doctors did say that something like this could happen. I mean, we've been hoping for this, but now that it's actually happening, I don't know." She pauses. "I thought her letting you back into her life would help."

"She really doesn't anything, does she?" Josh asks.

"No, she doesn't. I wonder if the storm is bringing back her memories."
"She just thinks it's all in her head," he mutters. "How do you tell her that it's not?"
I gasp, not loud enough for them to hear me. I slid down onto the floor. So, it's real, but what is it? What is so real about it? What am I missing in my head? I just find it hard to believe that I am missing such large gaps that I didn't even know about.

Are they talking about the night my parents died? I would remember being in the car with them, but I was in the truck with my aunt and uncle...I'm not even sure what happened to them. Carla is the only one who is always in my life. I mean, I see the rest of my family, but not like Carla. So, I know without a doubt that she's not family that I have..I think...I don't know. Since when did everything have to get so complicated?

I got to my feet. Sitting here and wondering what have happened did not get me anyway.

I walk into the kitchen. Both of them stop speaking the moment they see me. I pretend not to notice their guilty expressions as I nab a cookie out of the counter, still feeling their eyes on me. We don't say anything, as if we are pretending that we don't know what the other has said, pretending that we don't know about the secrets the other one hides.

"At least, it's not snowing anymore," Carla says, acting like that is what they have been talking about the entire time.

Josh nods. "Yeah, I probably should start home before it start again." He smiles as he walks past, looking at me as if he wants to say something more, but can't make himself.

I don't say anything until the door is safely shut behind him. "So, what happened?"

Carla just sighs as she looks at me. "I don't suppose pretending not to know what you are talking about is going to be good enough?"

I shake my head as I cross my arms over my chest. "No, it's not. I want to know the truth and I want to know it now. I know there's something that everyone is keeping from me. I just don't understand why I didn't see it until now."

Carla sighs again. "Kelsey, you have to understand. We were told it would be best to wait until you were ready. The doctors all said you were suppressing the memory and it was best to wait until you decided to let your walls down. We didn't want to force until you were ready." She moved closer to me, as if she wants to comfort me. Then, just as quickly, she moves away.

"Tell me," I say, trying to make my voice as sure as I can. Just by the way she is acting, I'm not even sure if I want to know what she is hiding.

"That dream wasn't just a dream," Carla says, slowly, as if she is testing her words. "It was a memory, although I'm not sure why you saw it through Josh's point of view."

I frown. "What do you mean? I would remember something like that." I pause. "You said doctors, I've never been to a doctor about any of this. I only go to talk to the shrink because you make me." I freeze at those words, staring at her. "There's more to it than that, isn't there?" I run my hands through my hair. "Why hasn't anyone told me? Why haven't I seen what's going on?"

Carla moves closer to me as I lower myself down onto the floor. I'm shaking so hard that I can't even speak. We just sit there side by side, not saying a word, as if either one of us is afraid to say something.

The shaking is now clouding my vision. I can't even seem to bring myself to even focus on something as simple as the wall. What is wrong with me? It's not normal to have whole patches of your life missing. It's just simply not normal to not even realize that you are missing parts of your life. Why am I so stupid, so weak...So much less than that. Why didn't I see what everyone had been keeping from me?

Why? Why? Why?

I don't even know how much has passed. Carla doesn't move either. She just sits next to me, as if that alone will make me feel better. She doesn't really do anything, which is maybe for the best. Maybe this is how it is supposed to be.

I gulp. What has happened to me? Why can't I even remember what has happened to me? Why is everything just so difficult?

Carla puts her arms around me, pulling me in close. "I know it's hard to wrap your head around, but you are going to be okay. I promise you that I am going to help you to understand what is going one."
I stare at her. "Just tell me something," I whisper.

She nods, looking at me with rather big eyes. "I'll do my best."

I gulp, my heads shake harder than they ever have. "Was I in the car?"

She doesn't have to say anything. The look on her face tells me all that I need to know.

I get to my feet and walk up to my room, mostly because I don't her to see the tears.

!

Something was wrong. She felt strange. She did not know what it was, but she really did not fell like herself. She felt her feet being lifted off the ground and heard the scream escape her mouth.

"KELSEY!" Mom screamed from the front seat.

Kelsey felt the wind circle around her. A few minutes later, she slammed back down onto the ground. Darkness took over her. The world was gone. It was just her and nothing else. Nothing hurt. It was as if she was in someone kind of paradise. It felt amazing. It felt as if she was floating. Deep down she knew the truth. She may had been in paradise, but she was also lost in paradise.

The light flashed in front of her face or rather she thought it was a light. She just couldn't be sure what it was.

There was something salty filling her nose. She could feel something sticky pouring out of her body, but she wasn't sure. Everything was so wrong, like it was a messed up paradise.

This was Christmas Eve though, this was supposed to be the night of magic. Nothing was supposed to go wrong on Christmas Eve, but things were going oh so wrong.

She looked down at her parents. Both were staring at her with unseeing and unblinking eyes. She tried to scream.

I jerk awake. I hadn't even realized that I had fallen asleep. How is that even possible?
I pry myself up off my floor as I try to make sense of time. How could my entire world just had changed again? The house is silent as I walk around my room. I don't know how I could not have seen it earlier. How could I have missed the signs?
I blink, feeling the tears burning behind my eyes. How could everyone had let me believe a lie? How could they have done this to me? I need to know what happened. I need to actually know if I did see my parents actually die or if that is just in my head. I just need and deserve to know the truth.

So much for a happy Christmas...

The weather outside is actually shaping up. I can see the power company out, working on the lines. I hope we have lights again soon. It will make everything all that much more better, at least it will in my mind.

The main thing is not knowing what I know is true or not. I hate being forced to rely on others for things that I know I should know. I should remember what happened to me that night. I should remember what really went down that night my parents died.

How could I let this happen to me? I know they say that things happen for a reason, but something like this just does not happen. I know I'm being a little dramatic, but still.

My parents died looking at me. I should have done more to save them, but I didn't. I didn't do anything but sit there and bleed. Most importantly, I forgot what happened. I forgot completely about our last moments together as a family.

What kind of a daughter am I?

!

The day pasts by in a blur. I can't make sense of anything. Carla keeps watching me, but she doesn't say anything. However, we both do a little cheer when the lights come back on. It kind of scared us for a minute. One minute we were sitting in silence and, the next, Santa Claus is Coming to Town starts blasting out of the television.

It does make the world seem a little better with the Christmas lights back on and the world does seem a little bit more promising.

Though the snow is no longer falling, it really doesn't look that inviting out. Snow drifts cover everything, but the road is at least open enough to get a truck through it. I don't think my little car would have a chance, even if I want to go out.

In the kitchen, Carla is banging around, getting ready for our Christmas Eve party at my grandparents. It's the same party that my parents lost their lives going to, the same one where I guess I watched them die.

I don't know if I can go along that same path, knowing what happened, knowing the awful truth now. I know where it happened...I've seen the marker before but now it just feels so different. I don't know how to explain it, but it feels like the worst kind of illness I've ever had, only worse.

It feels like I will never get better.

I start pulling on my heavy clothes. Maybe going outside and picking up the Christmas lights will make me feel better. The weather app on my phone says it's not supposed to snow within the next ten days. It is really depressing to see the lights hanging out there, looking dead, when they should be bringing happiness to someone.

Outside, the cold air takes the breath right out of my lungs. I stand there on the porch, waiting for myself to adjust. After a few minutes, I step off the porch and start to work on the Christmas lights. I never knew what kind of damage the wind could to do them.

I kept pulling the lights out of the snow. The knots seem to be everywhere and I'm not even sure if they will still work once I put them back up. They are supposed to be able to withstand snow and wind, but I'm not even that they could withstand all that we have been through.

I tie the first strand back onto the fence, staring down at the driveway, which seems longer somehow. I shake my head as I untangle the next strand. A snowplow bangs as it makes its way up the road. I pause, holding the strand of lights until it is out of sight. At this rate, they are going to have the roads cleared off and, then, Carla will want to go to my grandparents'.

It's strange how knowing the truth can change your view on the entire world.

Sighing, I go back to my work. It is slow going, because I keep sinking into the snow. More than once, it goes down over my boots, sending its cold blast into my socks. By the time I mange to pull myself out, I realize that there is no point in going back to the house to get another pair of socks. I'm just going to keep sinking. Besides, I can still feel my feet, which is a good sign...Or at least, I think it is.

I keep on going, moving slowly, and putting the lights back up on the fence. When I reach the end of the driveway, I turn and look back at my work. While it doesn't look like much, it will make Carla feel a little bit better and it did get me out of the house.

I look down the road. It does look a lot clearer than it did on that night. The slush gathers around my feet as I step right into the road. I know-it's not the brightest move on my part, but I don't think anyone will be out driving in this.

I close my eyes. What had it actually been like? I had seen the scenes, but didn't really feel any emotion about it. I still really don't either. Why have I become so numb? Why can't I feel anything anymore?

I open my eyes, sighing. This is probably how my life is going to be, not really knowing what is going on.

I step back into the driveway and begin my carefully stepping walk back to the house. Carla will be wondering where I'm at if I stay out here for much longer. I look at the Christmas light as I pass them. They had better work-that's all I have to say to them. I didn't do all of that work for nothing.

I step into the house and start to pull off my wet clothes.

Carla smiles at me as I step into the kitchen. "What do you think?" she asks as she hands me a cookie.

I bit into it. "It's good."

She nods. "Good." A brief moment passes before she speaks again. "Are you going to be okay?"

I shrug. "I don't know."

And that is the truth.

!

Christmas Eve...This is perfect. It really is amazing how quickly things can change. I smooth down my outfit one final time. It's not the outfit I'm worried about; it's everything else. I give myself one final look over before turning and going downstairs. If I take much longer, Carla is going to start to wonder where I am.

She sits in front of the television watching The Polar Express. However, she isn't alone. Josh is sitting in the easy chair, looking quite at home. Carla just gives me a knowing smile as she gets to her feet and disappears into the kitchen.

Josh looks me over with a big smile. "Well, I thought I would come over and give this to you know."
I step closer to him. "Give what to me?"
He pulls out a bag from beside his chair as he gets to his feet. "This."

I look at the bag. "I don't have anything for you."

"I've had this for awhile and I've just never gotten around to actually giving you."

"Well, thank you." I take the bag from him. Something rolls as I move it.

"Um, I would be careful if I were you. It's breakable and I'm not very good at wrapping breakable things." He looks so cute, being bashful and all. He looks more like a little lost puppy or kid than a teenager.

I peer into the bag and start to take out the newspaper. In the bottom of the bag, there is something. I take the snow globe out and look at Santa Claus and his reindeer. It even has Rudolph lighting the way for them. I smile at that. Josh has listened to me complain about Rudolph always being left off of Santa's sleigh. I give it a shake, letting the snow coat the entire thing.

I look back at Josh. "I love it. Thanks!"
He smiles. "You're welcome."

I look down at my snow globe, noticing that there is something written in the background. I peer closer. "Believe," I mutter.

"Huh?" Josh asks.

I show him the snowy background. "It says believe."

He looks at it. "Well, I guess it does. I didn't even notice it until you said something."
I look closer at the snow globe. Santa and his team are driving right toward the words. I know it's supposed to encourage kids to believe in Santa and all of that, but I can't help but feel like there is something more than that-like maybe someone is talking to me.

Like it is meant for me.

I look back up at Josh. "Thank again."
"No problem. It's not anything new. I've had it for awhile."

I shrug. "It really doesn't matter." I wrap my arms around his waist, pulling him in closer. We just embrace, nothing more, nothing less, but it is a start.

"I should let you get to your party," he mutters.

I nod as we break apart. Giving me one final smile, he turns and walks away from me, but I know he will be back. That's just the way Josh works, he always comes back.

I give my snow globe final shake. I may not have all of the answers, but I am at least on the right path.

Happy Holidays!