The Christmas Gift by Anabelle Lael.

Ada sat all alone at the diningroom table, where she and her father had shared many a meal and pleasant conversation. She had just put down her knife and fork knowing that the ham she had eaten was the last of the meat in the house. At these times the feelings of dread always overtook her.

Not a sound could be heard except that of the bitter wind whistling thru the empty fields. Being alone had become a part of her existence whether she had wanted it or not.

Inman had been the first to leave later to be followed by her father. Even though Inman was still alive, as far as she could tell, it felt as if she had lost him forever too.

In the seven months since his departure not one letter had arrived for her. Could it be that she had forgotten her already. Maybe what she had felt for him was all the emotion that existed between them yet deep down in her heart she knew differently. Though Inman was not a man of many words, his lips had spoken for him. The passion she had felt in his arms could not have been imagined.

How she wished this stupid , senseless war had not begun. Men were killing each other for the sake of ideals that were not fair to all concerned.

If things had been different Inman would have been seated by her side and sharing the warmth of the fireplace on this Christmas Day. God only knew where he was and in what condition. Was he hurt or was he hungry? The thought of either of these two being true caused her to lay awake in her bed at night.

She had written to Inman faithfully every single day hoping and praying that at least one of her letters might find their way to him. With the passing of the weeks her heart ached mire and more. She had tried to be strong, for her father had not raised a weak daughter, but the strain was finally creeping into her very soul.

All her life she had been taken care of by others and pampered. Learning tasks that in these hard times were of no worth. Father had taught her about books yet not about life. This war was fast becoming her most unyielding teacher, showing her that life was not for the weak.

Rising from the table Ada went to peer out of the window. Snowflakes were beginning to fall making at least this part of the country look fresh and clean again. Sighing from deep within Ada decided that the best thing to do was to go to her room and read for a while, maybe that would help her to find some solace.

After washing the dinner dishes she slowly walked up the stairs. When she had gone halfway she felt a peculiar feeling come over her. Instead of heading to her room she went into her father's instead. The bed and dresser were still as he had left them. The only things she had stayed with had been his coat, his bible and his watch. All of his clothes she had given to those in more need than herself for father would have expected no less from her.

Now standing in the middle of the room she wondered what was going on. What inside this room called to her even though she had come in here a thousand times after the funeral. Never had her senses been so heightened and of their own accord her feet went directly to the chest of drawers. Opening it slowly she inhaled for it still held a hint of his cologne even after all this time.

How silly of her to be opening it for she knew exactly what was inside, her mother's wedding dress, letters written during their courtship and the suit her father had worn when he had preached his first sermon.

This was the only thing she had not touched for inside were their precious memories and not her own. Noticing that something seemed to be sticking out of the corner Ada carefully pushed aside the cloth covering it. To her great surprise underneath was a package covered in brown paper with a letter placed between the folds of it's ribbon.

How had this gotten here and why did it have her name on it , she wondered. With

her curiosity throughly peeked Ada sat on the floor. Setting aside the letter she opened the package. She could not believe her eyes for inside was a cream colored shawl of the softest and most delicate yarn she had ever felt. In all her days she had never seen anything so beautiful. Placing it on her lap Ada opened the letter and began to read............

To my dearest Ada

I hope as you are reading these few lines that you find yourself in good health. I had given your father this letter and package a few days before I left for the war. I am not a man of many words but I will rely on my heart to speak the words for me. I want you to have a gift from me to open on Christmas Day for I fear that I may not be there. Your father had kindly promised to keep it a secret until then for he knew my intentions towards you were honorable. Ada when I saw the shawl in the general store I knew it could only belong to you. Many a time I imagined how the color would blend with the creaminess of your skin. No one but no one has ever captured my heart as you have. I find it so difficult to concentrate and can only wonder how sweet a kiss would be from your lips. Hopefully the war will not last for I wish to only be by your side. Will you do me the honor of accepting this simple gift and when you place it upon your shoulders think of it as my embrace. May it keep you warm and comfort you until my return. Ada love I will always love only you and if I over stepped my bounds forgive me for the shortness of time has made me speak. Take care of yourself and may you find it in your heart to wait for me for I will count the very seconds until I return to you.

With my deepest devotion,

Inman

Ada lovingly folded the letter and pressed it against her lips. Unfolding the shawl she placed it upon her shoulders, immediately feeling the warmth and love of Inman for he had given her such joy with his gift. A Christmas gift to match no other for now she knew her Inman truly loved her.

She would wait even if it took an eternity, for at the end of that very long road would be her life, her love and her very soul........ Her Inman.

The End.