A Vision of Christmas
P R O L O G U E
Do you hear her crying?
Lifeless eyes betray the pain.
Christmas chimes play hauntingly,
It's cold out in the rain.
A vision of Christmas,
A prayer, a dream, a spark.
Through the tears, may she find,
Christmas in her heart.
The tiny apartment was dingy, dulled in all colors of brown. Chipped paint, furniture fit for a garbage dump, and void of all warmth. Not even a hint of Christmas, she acknowledged, feeling empty but for the shade of sadness. She walked over the warped wooden floor, her face expressionless as she stood in the middle, staring down at a crashed beer bottle. Silently, she squatted down and began picking up the pieces of glass. The floor creaked behind her, but she wouldn't look up, ignoring the twist in her stomach.
"Where'd you put it, Serena?" a woman's slurred voice demanded, soft in its warning.
Serena kept her gaze on her task. "I don't know what you're talking about," she murmured.
"The hell you don't!" the woman spat.
Serena yelped as her aunt came up behind her and jerked her head back by her long blonde hair. The thirty-seven-year old flaunted beauty under an ugly mask; makeup smeared onto her face, her hair bleached into starchy strands, a slutty ensemble hugged her thin body. "Tell me where the damn box is!"
"You mean the illegal drugs?" Serena inquired. Her aunt shook her and Serena cried out as her head hit one of the overhanging cabinets. Fingernails bit deep into her shoulders as they forced her back flat onto the kitchen counter. Serena shut her eyes as her chest heaved, heart pounding in her head.
A wave of nausea encompassed her as her aunt leaned over, breath bitter with alcohol. "Answer me." The woman twisted Serena's arm, bringing tears to the girl's eyes.
"It's not here," she choked out.
"Don't lie to me!"
"I'm not!" Serena screamed over a burst of pain. "I threw it out…" she murmured, wary of being heard. She squeezed her eyes shut, her body tense. Nothing happened. Her aunt pushed her away. She scrambled off balance before catching the edge of the counter to keep from falling. Her aunt moved away.
"Get your things and get the hell out."
Serena's blue eyes stared unfocused out a broken and clouded window, her body trembling.
"You're 'eighteen' now," her aunt mocked. "An adult. And when you find out how hard it is on your own, don't come crawling to me like you did when my damn brother died."
I'd be better off anyway, Serena thought. Her body jerked to life. She strode down the tiny hallway and into a cramped room. Bringing out a duffel bag, she threw clothes and whatever few possessions she had into it. She zipped it and slung it over her shoulder. Squatting down, she stuck her hand underneath the mattress of her bed. Her lips parted, her brow creasing as her eyes darkened with worry. She dropped her bag and searched more before finally just tearing the mattress away.
It wasn't there…
"Looking for something?" a voice taunted from her doorway. Serena whipped her head towards her aunt.
"I had two hundred dollars under here," she said, voice strained with an accusing note.
Her aunt shrugged with an amused smile. "I needed something."
Serena stilled, her voice locked within her throat as she stared at the last person she could call family. How could she? Her face hardened. It shouldn't have been much of a surprise. Without a word, she got up with her duffel bag and left.
The freezing air outside stung her face as she stepped out. She hugged her arms around her, almost in denial as she wandered through a few streets. After ten minutes, she leaned against a graffiti covered wall and slid down. She took in a breath, embracing herself for a minute before extracting something from her jean's pocket. She clenched her hands before uncurling her fingers and looking what at what laid within her palm. She restrained a cry. Hardly thirteen dollars including change.
It started to rain, each drop a pellet of ice against her skin. The tears slid down her cheeks, a sob escaping her as she cried in the dark alleyway. Loneliness dragged at her heart. Such a terrible feeling. A Santa for the salvation army ho-hoed not far away. Christmas was locked within a display window around her, so close, yet impossible to reach…
The old chapters to this story can still be find on my web site until all
existing chapters are replaced.