rick & 1j13
Sunday, December 22, 2002
He just wanted to sit down, at home, in his chair.

The rain had been falling all day. The chill in the air begged for a fireplace, a thick quilt, a cup of hazelnut coffee and a thick book. But Michael couldn't read, not tonight. His mind was a million miles away, and right hear screaming at him at the same time. The loneliness was more pronounced, the silence more deafening.

It was Christmas Eve.

Last year, the holiday season was filled with laughter and joy. Last year, the family had all gotten together at Mom and Dad's, filling it with children and grandchildren, the pitter-patter of little and not-so-little feet everywhere. Last year, they reminisced and ate and sang and ate and chuckled and ate and on and on. Last year, Christmas was great. This year, it sucked. This year, Mom died in July, a lump that had gone unnoticed going out of control. This year, Dad just wasn't the same, dealing with his own demons of loneliness and grief. This year, Michael hadn't talked to his brother since the funeral, never knowing what to say anyway. This year, his sister and her family had been transferred to California, packing up the kids and the dog in September for a better position in the company. This year...

The phone rang. "Hello?"
"Yeah. Um, doing anything?"
"Not really."
"I wanted to go to church tonight. Just... seems right somehow. Could you, um... come give me a lift?"
"Sure, Dad. No problem. I'll be by in fifteen minutes or so."
"We're not in a hurry, so take your time, ok?"
"Oh, no bother, Dad. I've been wanting to come over today anyway, you know?"
"Yeah... I know. See you in a bit."

Michael closed the glass doors on the fireplace as he stood, his knees cracking from his bad posture. He stretched, and headed for the closet by the door. He reached for his coat, the long coat... given to him last Christmas... from his Mom and Dad. He stepped outside, a sudden gust of wind and cold drizzle hitting his face as he turned to make sure the door was locked. He smiled, and was thankful for the warmth of his coat.

Merry Christmas.
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