It's both a boon and a curse to the romantic writer that we see everything as being alive, in a sense. A boon, since it can flavor writing wonderfully--I went about in secret, slightly morbid glee for days after thinking that socks could be "doubled over in agony"--and a curse, since for the more sensitive of us, it can really cripple the spirit.

Mrs. Hudson had brightened up our sitting room with candy canes several days ago. Several mugs of them on tables, a few hung on nails in the wall (nails that had been driven in for reasons Holmes alone was privy to) and even a few of the red and green-striped confections laid gently on the mantelpiece. Once or twice I had paused, warming myself by the fire, and looked over the scene; the symbolism of the shepard's staffs laying betwixt cartridges and syringes was a slightly disturbing reminder of the conflict between good and evil.

Now, though, it was a crisp bright day, and as I crossed the room I mindlessly plucked a candy cane from the mug. I had really ought to get a little writing done, but I wasn't ready to quite yet. The watered-down light thrown in through the window like water from a pale; the patterns of frost bloomed on the glass, the deeply reassuring tick of the clock were far too pleasant to leave. I inhaled the minty arch of the candy's back, wrapped in the best of December.

A violent pop from the fireplace logs pried open my fingers, and the subsequent sickening crack made my heart sink.

I know candy is boiled sugar, utterly insentient and as dead as a poker. Intellectually I know this, but truthfully when I looked down at the candy cane broken in three pieces on the floor, the juxtaposition of the jagged edges and festive colors broke my heart. I gathered the pieces in my palms, and then I didn't really feel like standing back up, so I leaned against the table leg in the watery sunlight, feeling my hands growing sticky.

My behavior is usually simple and understandable; neither of which, I fancy, are words that came to Holmes's mind when he topped the stairs and entered the room, sniffing against the cold and rubbing his gloved hands together.

I gazed at the tips of his stocking feet for several moments; I didn't have the heart to even try to explain that I felt the same twinge and melancholy as if I had witnessed a little child with a broken leg, hopping along with a cast--the same agonized revolt one feels at seeing a smashed statue, the face still smiling, unable to express the horror, trapped in a frozen, false tranquility.

Some things one just can't explain.

"Would you like me to relieve you of that?" He bent slightly, enough that his pointing index finger came within my sight. "It seems to be causing you some distress."

"Thanks, but I'd rather..."

"That we share it?" He sat before me, doffing his top hat and laying it carefully on the floor beside him. "It's snapping cold out there, I could use a bit of mint to warm me up."

I held out my hand; he wiggled his hand out of the glove and accepted a sticky piece.

There are very few certainties in life. I do not know whether I'm better or worse off for my sensitivity; I don't know if my little stories will prove to be a really meaningful creation. But I am absolutely certain that there is no better way to eat a candy cane, than sitting in a quiet splash of watery sunlight with an intimate friend.