“What do you want for Christmas?” she whispers, her white blonde hair tickling my face as she leans in.
“I want a pony.”
She gasps. “Me too! Can we get a pony together? And name it Sparkles?”
“Or, we get two ponies, then we can ride together.”
“Oooo, Sparkles and Sprinkles.”
“Sure.” I hug her close. We sit and stare at our Christmas tree, soaking in the glow of the lights.
“I love Christmas,” she whispers.
“Me too Madeleine.” I rest my head against hers, wishing I could absorb all her joy, all her childhood trust. “Do you think Santa’s on his way?” I feel her tense in excitement at the littlest of sounds around us.
“He’s probably over Manhattan right now.”
“We should probably go to bed.”
“No, no,” I say pulling her back to me. “Just stay here. Santa will come when we’re asleep, but for now we can just rest and enjoy the tree.”
“I do like our tree.”
“Will you two shut up?” the gnarly voice from behind the concrete pillar rasps at us.
“Sorry Longbeard,” I call.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he responds.
“Everyone keep it down.” Carla is also huddled in a corner of the parking garage. She’s the grumpiest of them all. Longbeard’s pretty grumpy too, but he means well.
“Santa’s coming guys,” Madeleine reassures them. I try to shush her.
“There’s no such thing you little brat. No presents, no Santa, nope, nada, nothin’.”
“Carla!” booms Longbeard’s voice. The garage goes silent. I silently thank him. I am hugging Madeleine close and I feel a tear drop on my hand. “We have a tree. He’ll see the lights, and Santa, he’ll come,” I whisper.
Eventually I feel her body heavy in sleep. I sit and stare at our tree. It’s fashioned out of the clippings off of the trees sold on North Ave. They were tossed in a bin behind the display. We gathered armfuls of the fragrant branches before they yelled at us to scram. I told Madeleine that we had given the discarded branches a purpose, that no one recognized their beauty, but we had let them become a beautiful tree. I wanted to believe it too. Somehow we had also found a string of lights that still had half of them working. We wrapped them around the branches and plugged it in in the garage. I wish I liked the tree as much as Madeleine. As I sit in contemplation the half lit strand flickers and dies out.
This story I wrote a few days before Christmas. I wanted to write something set during Christmas, and I wanted it to result in a surprise for the writer. I hope it to be a simple, but touching story.