Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse.
"We are recording record highs today ..."
That was an understatement. Humidity and temperature were racing neck and neck, both edging towards the triple digit mark with definite determination.
"Residents are advised to keep hydrated ..."
Popsicles were in abundance. Little kids carried around rainbow coloured ice sticks in sticky hands, grinning all the while about being home from school. Bottled water became another accessory in the hands of the middle class – like a Blackberry or their car keys; just another necessity in this hectic adult world with so many errands to run.
"... Happy Holidays."
It was Christmas Eve.
The idea of Christmas in Heatherfield without snow was ludicrous. This is where Hallmark came to get inspiration for their warm, fuzzy, snow filled Christmas cards. This is what Bing Crosby had been singing about. Endless miles of white snow, dotted ever so often with chimneys and warm coloured windows with snowmen standing guard in the front yard.
This year was a distinct first as well as a hopeful last.
Even as endless blue skies paraded over stunned North Carolina residents, there were still those who had the audacity to envision a white Christmas. Perhaps it was the jolliness these residents were currently overdosing on through Holiday Specials, but it was popular town belief that by Christmas day, some sort of snowfall would chill the souls of the Heatherfield masses.
"You know, I personally don't mind the heat." Irma Lair, her thick honey blond curls wrapped at the top of her head in a knot, "I had to work all summer and I never got to enjoy it."
She was sitting in a booth at the Silver Dragon, which had closed early because of the holiday, in a much coveted seat beneath the air conditioning vent.
Hay Lin, on the other hand, was frantic. "Are you crazy!" Her long hair hung past her slim shoulders in identical braids, "have you looked outside! My Christmas lights look terrible with no snow behind them! I just bought this life sized Frosty the snowman and where am I gonna put it now?"
They were waiting for the others to come for the first annual Guardians gift exchange and holiday party and general good time. It had been Hay Lin's brain child, sometime last month when she'd still had Christmas spirit.
"Hay Lin are you freaking serious? It's just snow. In Puerto Rico it doesn't snow and we still manage to have Christmas."
"I-I can't live like this ... We need to fix this."
"Hay Lin," Irma spoke slowly, she wasn't used to being the rational one. "How do you expect to fix it? What? Are we gonna head off to the North Pole and beg Santa? Gee, I hope we can get Charlie Brown and Winnie the Pooh to help us at this late hour."
"And Santa!" Hay Lin looked a step closer to tears, "Santa won't come to my house if he can't see the smoke from the chimney ... He'll get lost! He'll die!"
"Hay Lin," It had been funny, maybe four hours ago when she'd started, but now – not so much. "Look, let's just finish getting your tree decorated."
"I can't," The Asian collapsed fast first on the plastic table cloth, "I'm depressed."
"No," Irma got to her feet, collecting an empty bowl which had once held ice cream, "You're just weird."
Hay Lin didn't budge. She just sat there, face-down on the table making noises that reminded Irma of a cat in heat.
Irma walked to the kitchen, intending to collect the box of Christmas decorations herself. The others were coming over soon; maybe they could deal with Hay Lin. Talk some sense into her.
"Is she better yet?" Caleb was hiding out in the kitchen, wearing his usual attire of thick wool shirt and thicker canvas pants.
"What do you do anyways ..." Irma paused in mock thoughtfulness, "Stand around propping on things, waiting on one of us to show up so you can ask some vague question?"
He remained silent.
Irma sighed, "I dunno, she's taking this really seriously. If I give her a few minutes I'm sure she might try to defrost the deep freeze on the lawn and make a snowman."
He remained silent.
"She's not good."
Caleb nodded seriously, "Cornelia told me that she was feeling blue." He reached into his pocket and produced a vial, "Blueness is a common ailment in Meridian. If Hay Lin takes this twice a day for a week, she'll be back to her normal colour ..."
"Hay Lin!" The door outside chimed, interrupting the deep laughter that was edging past Irma's throat. "Merry Christmas ... Eve!"
Will and Taranee. Great. One to deal with Caleb and the other one to deal with Hay Lin.
Taranee sauntered into the kitchen first, wearing a "death to global warming" t-shirt and carrying pamphlets. Her gifts were in a cotton handbag with an identical slogan. "Do you know that people still aren't receptive to my ideas? I spent all day the Mall trying to tell people to stop driving their SUVs and to buy energy saving lightbulbs and nothing!" She waved one particularly colourful pamphlet in Irma's face, "If they keep this up, next year we might have a hurricane for the holidays!"
She didn't seem completely against the idea.
A wail came from outside, followed by the sound of rapid footsteps running upstairs.
Will came inside the kitchen next, looking skittish. "So ... I bought Hay Lin a snow globe for Christmas."
Both Irma and Taranee groaned, Caleb continued to look blank. "I thought it would help!"
"Does everybody get crazy around the holidays?" Irma looked at her friends, "We're here to exchange gifts and to hang out but you're all making this into the upheaval of the century!"
"I brought gifts," Will put in.
"Yeah, we've seen the power of your gifts," Taranee said, "what did you get me? A Hummer?"
"Why would I get you a Hummer?"
"All right, all right!" Irma climbed on top of a stool and addressed the trio, "Will, you and Caleb decorate the house. Taranee you do the tree and I'll do the outside."
Will laughed uncomfortably, "You know Irma, not to be rude ... but Caleb ... doesn't need my help to decorate the house! We don't need to decorate anything together! No ... In fact I'll go cheer up Hay Lin!"
"Wilhelmina Vandom, you stay right where you are!" Irma pointed a warning finger, "do us all a favour and stay as far away from Hay Lin as possible!"
Will made a noise and bowed her head, but didn't make any more protests.
"What will Cornelia do?" Taranee asked.
"Cornelia will cheer up Hay Lin." Irma paused, "Hopefully."
"Why is she so late?" Caleb looked bored.
"Forever 21 is have a 50% off pre-holiday sale." Taranee explained and when Will looked at her funny, "I said I was at the Mall all day."
"I have a better idea!" Will perked up, "we can use our Guardian powers to make it snow! That would cheer up Hay Lin way better than decorations ever could."
"Yeah," Irma smiled slowly, "Yeah, we've done it before."
"Last time Hay Lin was there using wind," Caleb put in.
"Well ..." Will's face faltered, "Maybe we can trick her into ..."
"Back to Plan A!" Irma bossed.
Since when had Irma been so bossy anyways? Christmas had a way of bringing out the worse in people. That explained why she had nearly been trampled at the mall yesterday by last minute shoppers. Why couldn't everyone just relax on Christmas like what she was planning? That was a good idea.
Just made everything so stressful and it distracted from the real meaning of Christmas. Peace and love and sharing and kindness.
Worse now was that Caleb was here. Her stomach still jolted at the thought of his face. She stared at the tinsel in her hands and frowned. Why did she have to feel this way? This was wrong, she knew it was wrong and still –
"We need to talk." He was right behind her. She could smell him. His aroma of soap and fields and man. He was warm, even though it was hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk. She could see him already, the way his shirt would cling to his chest, his hair would be tousled in every which way. Cornelia would complain about it, but Will didn't mind.
"No, we don't." She didn't dare look around.
"Yes, we do." His hands were on her shoulders in the next second. She jumped at the contact. "Caleb!" She turned around in a rush and found herself whispering, "There's nothing to talk about. It was a mistake. It won't happen again."
"I'm leaving Cornelia." His face was so serious; there was no sort of tenderness when he spoke. Will shook her head. "Why?"
"We don't suit. I've always known. You just made it so much more obvious."
"Caleb, its Christmas Eve!" She threw the tinsel back into the box and walked past Caleb, heading right into the living room. "Nobody dumps their girlfriend the day before the happiest time of the year!"
"I just wanted you to know," He had caught up to her, grabbed her hand and pulled her back towards him. Too close, much too close. "So that ..." His eyes faltered, fell and searched. Her heart twisted when she saw. "If that was what was stopping you ... it didn't have to anymore."
"She's my friend. She's my best friend. I can't."
But she was falling. Much too fast. He was drawing her into him; moving into that warmth and strength. She couldn't stop herself. "I want you." He whispered it. Words like steel that trapped her in his embrace. Will couldn't move. Even if she wanted to.
He had kissed her. She had kissed him. It didn't matter. They'd kissed. Two weeks ago and now she couldn't forget it. Will shook her head, begging that volcano building in her chest to just go away. "I can't."
"Just ..." His hands reached out and held her face. "Tell me that it's not just me. Tell me something, Will. I'm going crazy."
Will edged closer, against her better judgment. Found herself wrapped in his arms. She looked up, wanting to peer into his eyes and find something in there that bordered on the realm of logic. But saw instead something glued to the ceiling. Her heart skipped. "Mistletoe," She pointed.
His eyes followed hers and came crashing down suddenly, "What?"
No questions followed that. Just simple, warm lips pressing against hers. His hands in her hair, hers on his shoulders. The gentle sucking of lips, the sweet nibbling of teeth and warm greeting of tongues. He kissed her until she felt dizzy and weak. Until the world around her faded away and her heart felt willing to explode.
Footsteps thundered above her and she pulled away immediately. Her face blood red. His; much, much too white. "It's snowing!" Hay Lin screamed.
Irma was right behind her laughing as though she was five years old. "I can't believe it!"
Taranee ran in from out of the back, "Are you guys serious?" She began to jump up and down too. "A white Christmas after all!"
The three of them rushed past Will and Caleb as if they weren't there, finally bundling up around the door, clamouring at the doorknob.
Suddenly, the door pushed open. Cornelia walked in, laden with shopping bags, shivering visibly in her tank top and shorts. "D-Do you see ... it's snowing. God, I'm freezing!"
If the threesome heard her, they didn't indicate. They simple moved forward, screaming and whooping the entire time.
Cornelia jumped aside to let them pass, a small smile covering her face, she laughed slightly when she asked, "did I miss something?"
"No!" Will grinned awkwardly and then dropped her gaze to her shoes. "Not a thing ..."
Caleb, as he often did, remained quiet.
"Whatever," Cornelia shook her long golden hair and raised her bags, "Baby, come help me."
Will walked away then. Muttered something about getting a glass of water. Instead, she slinked into the back of the restaurant to sit somewhere and watch the snow fall.
"Merry Christmas, Will."
Author: So, I've neglected you. These things are true. But if it's one thing I'm good for is updating around Christmas time Happy Holidays all! This story was not as happy as I had hoped, but it was something. Enjoy the holidays and have a happy, safe and blessed new year!