This is the third Christmas without my sister. A stack of presents sits on a table draped in red and green, guarded by an angel still in her wrapping. There’s no Christmas tree. No lights strung up to combat the shortening days’ gloom. Instead of decorating, I hit the pavement. Why bother to deck the halls of my tiny apartment with tinsel and pine sprigs when no one except me will see it? I’m gone 15 hours a day working, walking, commuting—empty things leaving me drained and ready for a snack of frozen bananas and squares of super dark chocolate.
My flashlight plays weak light over ice-crusted snow and headlights paint my coat as holiday shoppers and commuters alike pass me by en route to their families or stores for last minute gifts. I trudge on, ignoring the cold seeping through three layers of cotton. Above the stars shine, and we are alone with the darkness and the shadows reaching past my flashlight.
At the top of the hill, I pause. I want to walk down the other side away from the streetlights, under the black boughs scratching at the sky each time the wind blows. I’m listening to a thriller and my eyes scan every patch of darkness seeking threats.
Characters from the many, many stories sitting on my Google Drive account peer out. Some wave. Some scold me with their eyes. Silly author, why aren’t you pounding away at your computer’s keys?
I laugh at their impatience. Oh, you’ll get your turn. Don’t you worry. I never forget a story, but sometimes I change it.
The wind stills and night holds its breath. Distant cars turn down other streets leaving my little slice of hill undisturbed. At the bottom, lights wink out. It’s time to turn back. The deeper dark ahead offers no mysteries in need of solving, but there’s an idea I can’t get out of my head. A character is calling me, and I want to answer. My feet spin me about before I’ve made a conscious decision and I’m facing the long slope back to my street. Pools of golden lamplight and twinkling Christmas decorations beckon me thither.
Shadows rise full of friendly faces, and an army of characters from stories I’ve published, and many I have not, surround me. We’re a solemn procession, and I’m at its center, carried back to where I belong—the flickering screen of my laptop. I plug it in just before the battery dies and lay my fingers upon its keys, letting the words flow.
Somewhere far above, my sister is smiling. I pause every now and again to listen for a bell’s chime. Someday I’ll hear it and know—Carolyn got her wings. On that day, there’ll be a tree decked with love and a family surrounding me ala It’s a Wonderful Life, my late sister’s favorite movie.
Until then, I wish you all a happy holiday and a bright shiny New Year.
My gift to you—meet some of my characters. Download the first 12 chapters of Curse Breaker: Enchanted for FREE.