It was that time of the year again. Daniel looked out of his office window to see children running around the Christmas trees, throwing snowballs at each other and laughing happily in the square downstairs.
A tinge of regret tugged at his heart. If his child had been alive, he or she would have been five years old this Christmas. Ironically, Christmas was supposed to be a season of love, joy and peace. But for the past five years, it has been a painful reminder of what could have been.
His knuckles whitened as he gripped the window sill. For the umpteenth time he wondered how Evangeline , his ex-wife could have had the heart to abort their child just because it was an unplanned pregnancy and potentially interrupted her modelling career.
She had the “procedure” done behind his back . He only found out by accident when the clinic tried to contact her on her mobile, which she had left behind .
He was devastated and felt betrayed. Evangeline pleaded for his forgiveness when he confronted her. But he couldn’t bear to even look at her, the one whom he thought was the love of his life, and the murderer who killed his unborn child.
“Even a tigress would not kill her child” was his parting shot as he moved out of their apartment.
His train of thought was broken by a knock on his door. It was Kathy with his usual morning cuppa .
“Thanks Kate” he gave her a small smile as he sipped the black coffee, brewed just the way he liked it
Kathy was his personal assistant. A petite woman, with shoulder length hair. Though homely in appearance, there was quiet warmth about her that made people feel comfortable, like a cup of hot cocoa on a dreary winter’s day.
It was this aura that made him select her out of the many who had interviewed for the position, though there were many applicants who were more qualified and younger than her.
She was diligent, and a keen learner, quietly working behind the scenes to support his work and often minded her own business, which he appreciated. They had a relaxed and open working relationship.
Today however, there seemed something different about her. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but she seemed preoccupied as she read him his agenda for the day. He stopped her as she excused herself from his office.
“Yes, Boss ?” she turned back.
“Something’s bothering you? Is your kid okay? ”
He asked, concerned as he knew she was a single mum.
“Oh no, nothing like that, Jason’s fine. It’s nothing, really” she brushed him off with an embarrassed smile.
“Then what is it? “ Daniel persisted, his curiousity piqued. She was like an open book. Something was definitely brewing.
“It’s a small thing really, you may even find it laughable” she shuffled her feet and looked down, face flushed.
“ Well” he leaned forward in his seat, “I happen to need some cheering today , so humour me ” only half joking.
She sighed. “ Well, since you insist. …I help out at the “Home of Hope” orphanage. Every year, during our annual Christmas party for the kids, our janitor Joe would dress up as Santa Claus to distribute presents to the children.
It is the highlight of the party. The kids really look forward to it. But this year, Joe had to go home for a family emergency. The party is this Saturday and we cannot find a replacement in time. Even the paid actors are fully booked by this time. The kids are going to be soooo disappointed.”
She looked up embarassed. “There! I told you it was nothing, so laugh away.”
“HO HO HO HO HO ?!!” He couldn’t resist.
She stared back at him for a while, nonplussed . Then the irony of his response made her crack up. It started as a gurgle then developed to a full throated laughter. Soon the whole room was filled with their mirth.
Daniel grinned. Somehow, his mood was also lifted for the rest of the day.
Friday evening , Kathy knocked at her boss’s door, beaming .
Daniel looked up from his papers and commented
“ Someone's looking really happy ! ”
“You won’t believe it! I just got a call from the orphanage. Sister Maria said some kind soul has volunteered to stand in as Santa. What luck! The kids won’t be disappointed afterall! “
Daniel smiled at that “Well, that’s wonderful news! Have a good time at the party tomorrow!”
“I’m sure we will! “she bobbed her head up and down enthusiastically. “Merry Christmas in advance Boss! See you after the holidays!”
“Merry Christmas Kate!” he replied and after she closed the door behind her, added softly “And I’ll see you tomorrow.”