#153 Of Christmases Past

by D Lee Warren

Colored lights twinkled through the window, striking its delicate cracks, creating prisms in the girl’s eyes. Outside, she could hear the sounds of people hurrying by, no doubt laden with their holiday shopping. Christmas had always been her favorite. Even now, she could almost smell the familiar scents of her mother’s cooking. The cinnamony sweet smell of pies and cookies and the rich aroma of the roasting turkey. Her mother smiling as the family gathered around the table. But the best had always been the colorful Christmas trees. Oh, how many times she’d lain under them, looking up through their branches at the dangling decorations and thick garland, the lights reflecting off it in golden hues.

A bead of condensation ran down the inside of the window. She reached up, shivering delightedly at the chill of the cold glass against her fingertips, and ran her fingers through the moisture. Then, she smiled, a sweet smile, closed her eyes, and drifted away.

They found her the next morning during a sweep of the abandoned buildings in their district, frozen, a needle still dangling from one arm. One of the policemen looked at the window. The Christmas lights from the homeless shelter, dim now with the daylight, backlit shaky letters that had been left in the grime of the glass. “I love you, Mom,” they read. He looked back down at the girl, barely out of childhood, and thought of his own children. That night, he hugged them and wept over them.

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