Plump white feathers of snow drifted out of the early dark as I approached the house…the only one on the block not gaily lighted and decorated. The gate sagged; the last windstorm had scattered green shingles over the yard. A widow’s house.
Jeremy answered the door.
“Mom’s almost ready,” he said. “I’ll call her.”
“The folks will be by for your mom. I’m walking walking. Want to come?”
“Are you alone?”
“It’s nice of you.” He looked down at me. “You feel sorry for me, don’t you?”
“No,” I decided. “I don’t feel sorry for anybody tonight. There are Christmas lights all over town and it’s snowing. Our house smells of spices and greenery; it’s overflowing with presents and happy people. I’ve never had such a Christmas. I’m full up and need to share it with somebody, and I thought of you.”
Far off, I heard a thin shiver of silver sound.
“You thought of me,” Jeremy said. “I think of you a lot, too.”
His brown eyes, less guarded now, met mine. I looked away. Christmas spirit did not require a loss of decent pride.
“I wouldn’t have guessed it,” I said cheerfully. “Coming?”
He nodded, called to his mother, and found a ski coat. We stepped out into frosty silence; I must have imagined the silver sound.
“For a while, all I thought of was raising the devil,” Jeremy said.
“So I heard.”
“There wasn’t anybody special. If that’s anything.”
We passed the Wilkes house. Lights twinkled on a big blue spruce, reflecting pools of color on the new snow.
“I’ve wanted for a long time to come home,” he said.
“Well, you’re home now.”
“Not quite,” said Jeremy.
Dune McGlasson had spotlighted his hand-hewn crèche. Jeremy’s face was illuminated for a revealing instant. I had overcome my loneliness and longing; I had no defense against his.
“Jerry, I still love you,” I blurted. “If that’s anything.”
The bells began to ring at the Corinthian Cathedral.
Beneath the swelling sound I heard Jeremy breathe my name, on a half-sob. I felt his arms around me.
The bells chimed a shimmering crescendo that must have spoken peace and joy to men of goodwill for miles around.
Unless they were ringing only in my heart.
My sincere thanks to the author, whom I was unable to locate.