Slippery Slope

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Christmas Eve

It was Christmas Eve. Ordinarily, she and Derrick would have been enjoying each other in front of her Christmas tree. But this year, Kristy’s bear skin rug remained packed in its box, up on the highest shelf of her closet. She had the roaring fire, the mulled wine, the dimmed lights…and no one to share it with. Kristy thought about last year’s Christmas. She and Derrick had gone to church together, an hour away in Merrick, to the closest Presbyterian Church in the area. He had insisted – she was reminiscing about the Christmas services when she had been a girl, when she knew all the traditional holiday songs by heart and the church was lit with so many candles there was no need for electricity. She was so moved by his consideration and thoughtfulness. Then outside in the cold, as gentle snowflakes began to fall, he kissed her so slowly and deeply. The snowflakes fell around their faces and she could feel his warm breath on her skin. Driving back she tingled with anticipation as by turns they held hands intertwining their fingers and he stroked her thigh as they sped along, her head resting on his shoulder. Back at her apartment they had stripped each other’s clothes off quickly and fell to the rug, rising and falling with the flickering light.

It seemed longer ago than a year. Kristy slowly sipped her wine and laid her head back on the couch pillows and watched the fireplace crackle and spark. She stared at the tree in the corner. She always bought a live, tall, tree and decorated it with white twinkling lights, and ornaments that had been passed on to her by her mother and grandmother. They usually gave her comfort with fond memories but now she just felt cold. Beneath the tree lay presents from co-workers, a few that her mom had sent along from Florida. The largest, she knew was from her: a crate of oranges that she sent every year since relocating there. The smallest, a little black bag with gold paper from Brent. She stood up and stretched, her long arms almost reaching the low ceiling. Kristy walked over to the tree and stooped to pick up the little package. Brent was working this evening and she would not see him until late in the day tomorrow, Christmas. He had asked that she open it Christmas morning but she felt like she needed something to bolster her spirits now. They usually exchanged simple, fun gifts – this year she had bought him a shot glass on a spinner and a small bottle of Jack. She knew whatever he got for her would be equally fun. She pulled out the gold paper to reveal a small black box. When she opened it, she gasped. It was a delicate snowflake necklace with small sparkling diamonds scattered across it. She held it up to the light of the fireplace to watch it glitter for a moment and then held it to her chest. Brent had never before given her anything like this. She pulled out the small card from the bag and read his message to her written in his nearly illegible hand, “Kristy - Like a snowflake, you are one of the most unique things on Earth - you have fallen from Heaven (Did it hurt? – hahaha.) Merry Christmas, Brent”

Kristy read his note over and over before she sat back again, holding the pendant before her eyes and watching as it turned slowly in the light. Brent. He would soon be finishing up his shift at the lodge. Maybe she should go and surprise him, suggest that they have a swim, hang out at the old lodge hot tub, have a drink together. She stood up and went into her bedroom. She threw a long v-neck sweater over her black leggings. She threw her bathing suit into her bag and ran a comb through her long, dark hair. She put the snowflake necklace on and closed the clasp. It sat snuggled between her breasts and she touched it gingerly. She had never spent Christmas Eve with Brent. She contemplated for a moment to text him first but she didn’t want to hear that he had plans. She felt if she could see him, if just for a few minutes, she could figure out what she was feeling right now. She looked at herself in the mirror. This Christmas Eve might not suck after all. She grabbed her keys and coat, shut out the light, and headed out.

The streets were quiet. The local church had their last early service at 8:00 o’clock and it was well underway. The twelve o’clock mass at the Catholic Church would bring out even more, but for now all was silent. The weather seemed to wax cold and then wane warmly every couple of days. There was not much snow on the street, but the streets were wet and glistened in the street lights. As Kristy drove her optimism and confidence grew. She had every reason to believe that Brent liked her, liked her more than friends, more than she wanted to believe he did at that moment. Although they had never talked about it, she remembered she had kissed him that night she had been so drunk and, she had to admit had he not stopped it, much more, oh, so much more, would have happened. With this hope and optimism, and with her hand to her heart, covering the pendant, she pulled into the employee lot at the lodge.

As she approached the door, Denise and Asher were approaching from the other side. Asher swung the door open.

“Merry Christmas!” he said and caught her up in a huge hug. Kristy laughed and hugged him back and turned to hug Denise, too.

“What are you doing here?” Denise asked her and then Kristy could tell she immediately regretted the question and stammered at bit.

“I mean – I guess you…” Everyone knew that she had spent the past six Christmas Eves with Derrick but Kristy was happy to find it did not annoy her.

“Have you seen Brent?” she asked them.

“Sure,” Asher answered. “He was just in my office putting his transceivers back. He should still be there.”

“Hey, Kristy –“ Denise started to say but Kristy bounced away quickly.

She strode across the lobby and down the hallway that led to the office. Giving a quick rap on the door she swung it open. Brent was there, all right, his lips locked on Hilda’s, the two in a tight embrace.

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