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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Wishes by Sharon McGregor

Abby Hudson pressed her nose against the brightly decorated store window. There it was- the Tamsin doll, the toy her daughter Emily had talked about for weeks and number one on her Santa list for this Christmas. She stared until she could make out the price tag and gulped in dismay. For once, she wished she had a credit card. She knew there would not be enough left from her paycheck after rent and utilities to cover the expensive toy. Ricky had been a wonderful husband and father, but a terrible financial manager. Abby hadn’t realized the extent of their money problems until after he died when she had to start picking up the pieces. First thing on that list had been to cut up all credit cards. Her job at the bank just covered essentials and she knew the Tamsin doll wasn’t one of those.

She sighed deeply, only to hear a familiar voice at her left elbow. “It can’t be that bad , surely?”

She looked up to see Darren Harding, her neighbor from down the street and father of Emily’s best friend, Jennifer. More than once those startling blue eyes and the slightly off-center grin had passed through her dreams. She pulled herself together to say. “Just window shopping. Have you finished your Christmas list for Jennifer?"

“Almost. It seems Jennifer and your Emily are now BFF’s. They haven’t reached the texting stage yet but the terminology seems to fit.”

“I’m glad they’re friends. It’s been a tough move for us, to start everything from scratch. Jennifer has really helped Emily. She even has her asking to sign up for figure skating lessons.”

“Are you visiting family for Christmas?”

“It will just be Emily and I. And Santa, of course. How about you?”

“My sister and her husband are coming to stay; we take turns. This year I get to mangle the turkey.”

Abby saw the time reflected on the store clock. “I’ve got to run, can’t be late for work.” With a last lingering glance at the doll and another lingering thought of those blue eyes, she dashed down the street and turned the corner to the bank.

Her boss was waiting for her. "Can I have a word?”

She froze for a moment, wondering if she was going to be let go or her hours reduced. She never expected the card held out to her by her boss. “I just wanted to let you know how much I’ve appreciated your good work,” he said. “There’s a little Christmas bonus in here as my way of saying thanks.”

Abby peeked into the envelope after stammering out a surprised thanks, and a blurted request for five minutes to run an errand. Now she had enough to buy the Tamsin doll for Emily.

She rushed down the street but her heart sank as she saw the doll missing from its place in the window. Then she turned to see Darren exiting the store with a shopping bag. She knew without looking what was in his package.

“Thought I’d better get it while I could.” He lifted his bag. “These dolls are a hot item and Jennifer has been talking about nothing else.”

“Emily too,” said Abby, unable to disguise the dismay in her voice. Somehow, the magic of the blue eyes failed to work for her. She stuffed the bonus money deep into her pocket and turned for work, hoping Darren didn’t see the moisture in her eyes. It was silly to be so worked up over a doll, but she couldn’t help the disappointment.

She checked the internet, googling all the major toy stores, with the same news everywhere. Sold out. Not available.

She busied herself with the tree and decorations, working herself into a holiday mood, almost forgetting about the doll.

Then the doorbell rang the Saturday morning before Christmas. She looked out to see Darren standing with a shopping bag held tightly. “I know Emily is skating with Jennifer,” he said, “so I thought this would be a good time to stop by.” He held out the package. “I could tell how disappointed you were when I beat you to the punch with the Tamsin doll, so I asked my sister to check for me in her town. Miracle of all miracles, she found one.”

He looked at her open mouth. “You do still want one? Or did I misread? I do that sometimes.”

“No; that’s perfect. How can I ever thank you?” She also thanked her stars she still had the bonus money tucked away. How embarrassing it would be if she didn’t have the money to repay him. “Emily will be so thrilled on Christmas morning. She’ll be on the phone to Jennifer first thing.”

“I think we’re going to be subjected to a few tea parties together in the near future.” The blue eyes emanated megawatts.

“I think I can just handle that,” thought Abby.

About the Author: Sharon McGregor has had stories and articles appear in Lake Country Journal, Fifty Something, Great Mystery and Suspense Magazine, Horizon, and Stories That Lift.

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