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Noteworthy

14 December 2010

Christmas Week #2--Excerpts

Welcome to the second week of Clash of the Titles
Most Touching Christmas Scene
This week's hostess: Lisa Lickel
Monday and Tuesday - vote for Excerpt A or B and don't forget to enter the drawing for a free book.

A
            Kyle stood next to Holly as they looked in wonder at the tree under the pagoda in the center of the park. It towered above them and the lights and colored baubles sparkled against the winter snow. Next to it sat a table with cards for Christmas wishes. Several children were making long lists of what they wanted Santa to bring them. Kyle had done the same every year since a small child. The feelings of nostalgia it provoked never changed. Would she think him silly, or would she fill one in, too? Holly shoved her hands into her pockets. "The tree's beautiful. It puts mine to shame."
Kyle raised an eyebrow. "I think your tree is awesome."
"Uh huh. Not compared with this."
"Compared to mine it is."
"That's because you don't have one."
He hesitated for a moment then pointed a gloved finger at her, his breath hanging on the frosty air. "That'd be it."
Holly tugged her hat down over her ears. "Probably."
Kyle picked up two of the cards and offered her one. "Make a Christmas wish."
"Wishes are for children." She refused to take the card.
Kyle's brow creased. "Then I guess I'm a child." He put his card on the table and picked up a pen, refusing to let her dampen his spirit. "Come on, what's the harm?"
"It's a waste. Not like I'm going to get anything I want. I told Stacey that Santa doesn't exist so there is no point."
"Maybe not. But it's Christmas, Holly. A time for miracles." He could see her wavering and persisted. "Do it for me. Please. It will shut me up."
"It will shut you up?"
"My niece uses that line all the time. It always works."
She raised an eyebrow. "Can you do puppy dog eyes, too?"
Kyle laughed and obliged, rewarded by a smile. He offered the card again. Holly took it and closed her eyes briefly, before she started writing. Kyle watched her for a moment and then wrote his own. He posted it into the box and looked at her. "So what did you wish for?"
"That'd be telling." Holly posted her card into the box.
He checked his watch. "I should be getting back. I've got a perm to do. What are you doing next?"
"I'm going home to put my feet up and watch a film on TV. The movie channel is showing Christmas movies all day long."
"May I walk you to your car?"
"Sure."
He walked next to her, his hand so close to hers it was almost touching. He longed to take hold of it, but didn't want to presume. After a moment, he slid hands into his jacket pockets. They reached her car.
"Thank you," she said smiling at him.
"You're welcome."
Holly got into the car and started to close the door. On impulse he reached out and caught hold of it. It was now or never. "Holly?"
She looked up at him. "Yes?"

B
            Gabriela's face flamed, and her hand shook. She didn't know if anyone could hear her voice, or her heart galloping away in her chest. If Peanut matched that stride, he'd win the Kentucky Derby. But then, that wasn't a race for donkeys. . .
            Her thoughts drifted as Miguel led her to the next house, where again they were turned away. Mole. She had to find a way to convince Pop to let her switch up the menu a little. He hadn't changed it in years. Maybe she'd follow Hector's suggestion to introduce molé verde.
            ". . .isn't that right, Mary?" Miguel asked.
            She froze and placed her left hand on Miguel's shoulder as Peanut sidestepped. Miguel slid his arm around her waist and stepped closer.
            "I've got you," he whispered. "Peanut's not going anywhere, either."
            "Thanks." She could hardly whisper back. "I messed up my line. Sorry."
            He released her and looked at the innkeeper. Their last stop. "Yes, I think the stable will be perfect for us." Then he glanced at Gabriela.
            "Yes, that will do nicely." She nodded.
            The stage lights went low, and only the luminaries lit the room as the stage shifted. Gabriela sat frozen on Peanut.
            "Don't leave me." Not only did the donkey make her nervous, but she also didn't like sitting on a donkey in the dark, either. She felt six, not twenty-six.
            "I won't." Miguel squeezed her hand.
            "Okay, here comes the baby," a familiar voice said in the dark. Mrs. Valdez.
            Gabriela managed to climb off the donkey and started unfastening the baby tummy from her waist.
            Someone shuffled her and Miguel into the stable backdrop. The straw made her sneeze.
            "Sit, m'ija." Mrs. Valdez guided her onto a cushioned chair. "You, too, Joseph."
            Then a soft gurgling sound came closer. "Careful, Gabriela."
            "Who's that?"
            "It's me, Judith Glassberg. I've got my little Joshy here, lending him to the play."
            A warm, soft bundle was placed in Gabriela's arms.
            "I'll take good care of him." Something stirred inside Gabriela when the soft spotlights came on.
            Judith's little Joshua had blond hair and blue eyes, which made the genetics improbable, but Gabriela didn't care, and neither did the audience, judging by the soft gasps that came up at the sight of a real baby portraying the Christ Child in Las Posadas.
            Then Miguel knelt next to them, and brushed her head with his hand, and then touched Joshua's head. "God has provided for us this warm stable, this place of peace for the birth of the Prince of Peace."
            She had a line but could barely breathe as she read the cue card taped to the manger. "In His wisdom, the Father has guided us to this moment. The journey has been hard, but we have been in the shadow of His unseen Hand."
            A tear fell onto the flannel baby blanket. Lord, the journey has been hard. Where are You guiding me this Christmas?
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Item Reviewed: Christmas Week #2--Excerpts Rating: 5 Reviewed By: April Gardner
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