The Sandbox Presents: Anything Goes Under the Mistletoe
Story Title: Five Hours of Christmas
Vamp or Human: Human
Number of Words (not including A/N or header/footer): 1,772
Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer only. Copyright infringement is not intended by this work's author or by the contest's creators.
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At first, everything was still. The sun began peeking out from behind a small, grassy hill, its rays falling on the snow, tinting it with red. The trees, in their winter nakedness, shuddered in the wind.
And then, noises. Children slowly waking, rubbing the sleep away from their eyes, jumping off their beds. Little feet pitter-pattered over hallways and down stairs, giggling. The entire town woke up to shrieks of joy at the event that had occurred during the night.
Alice Whitlock woke up to that same feeling of excitement, though she was the furthest thing from a child one's mind could conceive. With her rain-colored eyes and black hair that shone bright blue in the sun, Mrs. Whitlock was a true Southern beauty. She jumped off her rumpled bed and hurriedly straightened the sheets, her petite frame dwarfed by the large man's sweatshirt she used as her pajama.
Quick as a whip, Alice tore through her closet in search of the outfit she had saved, brand-new, for months, in preparation of such a special day. Upon finding it, she proceeded to set it gently on the toilet seat, and, with a mischievous laugh, jumped into the shower.
After some dawdling in the bathroom, Alice emerged rosy-faced and ready. Heart thumping excitedly, she snatched her keys and purse from their place in the hallway and took a deep breath before starting her car. The thirty-minute drive flew by in silence – something most people would agree was unusual for the talkative girl.
The airport was buzzing with life. People crowded around the gigantic Christmas-tree placed smack in the terminal's center, some marveling at the decorations, others taking pictures of their loved ones. Smells coming from the little cafeterias aligned in neat rows to tempt the travelers to them wafted in the air. Alice wrinkled her nose. She was not hungry.
The tiny woman slowly made her way to an empty seat in the waiting area for flight LH4234. She had come five hours ahead of the landing time, armed with a healthy amount of patience and a large stack of letters.
Alice opened the first one. They all began the same way, with the "Dear Alice," scribbled in her husband's straight handwriting. She was too distracted to read anything. What was the point, anyway, when she had them all memorized?
Jasper's coming home, Jasper's coming home. Alice told herself in a sing-song voice. Her happiness was understandable. She had waited for eighteen months – eighteen! – for her husband's arrival, praying.
Praying that she wouldn't get that horrible DECEASED letter, praying that she wouldn't see her husband's life slowly seep out of him in a hospital full of soldiers. Praying that she would see him come back home, with two legs, and two arms, perfect as he had always been, and whole.
Praying. Just praying. Because she knew there was nothing else she could do.
When he came back, he assured her, they could try to have a baby. And he would start looking for a job – his psychology degree would probably speed things up a bit. And they would be very happy together, like they had always been.
Alice looked at her clock. Barely ten minutes had gone by. And, because she could think of no better way to pass the time, she began remembering.
"Come on, baby. It'll be fun." Jasper pleaded "You'll see."
"Jasper! Is it really that hard for you to understand that I just can't slow dance?" She demanded, hands on her hips.
Her boyfriend scoffed "We've slow danced."
"Yeah, for like five minutes!" Alice crossed her arms "I'm not going to some weirdo dance hall."
"Well, then, I suppose Maria would be happy to come along…"
Needless to say, Alice had ended up going. And it had, she remembered, been quite enjoyable. Twirling and twirling and twirling in Jasper's arms, surrounded by the smell of his aftershave, her dress flying about in an attempt to keep up with her. And oh, how nice he looked in that tux! So devastatingly handsome. Alice had looked very pretty, too, with her long hair twisted up into a stylishly messy bun and her long, old-fashioned dress.
She had scolded him for mentioning Maria afterwards.
"I don't like hearing you talk about her."
"Jasper, I mean it. I hate it every time you mention her. I hate how jealous she makes me sound." She paused "I hate her."
"You know she's just a friend." Jasper wrapped his arms around the pretty brunette.
But that was just the problem. Jasper had always seen Maria as nothing more than a friend. And, Alice recalled, she was never particularly happy about that.
"You listen to me, you little whore." She had growled, one week after Alice had moved there "I've seen you looking at Jasper Whitlock. Oh, yes, midget, I saw you two talking. And if you don't stay away from him…"
"What are you gonna do? Bite me?" Alice scoffed at the popular girl's threats "Jasper likes me. Jasper likes spending time with me – a lot. And Jasper asked me to be his date for Homecoming."
Maria had gasped, reverting to her native tongue in shock "Pinche perra del mal."
"So you better stay away from him, Maria." She had gone on "Because Jasper Whitlock is – and will always be – mine. Only mine."
Alice shook her head. At least Maria was gone. She had finished high school and gone away to some foreign university. And she would stay there, if she knew what was good for her. It was widely known that young Mrs. Whitlock, nice as she was, wished her anything but the best, as she was nowhere near foolish enough to believe that husbands were always faithful to their wives.
With a sigh, Alice looked at her clock again. And smiled. Did she really have only an hour to go? One hour to wait?
She jumped a little in her seat from excitement. It was shameful to admit, but she could no longer remember Jasper's voice. So she took out another letter.
It's been about 500 hours since I last slept. Every time I close my eyes I remember our last mission. We were instructed to attack a village, baby – one where civilians lived.
It was horrible. Oh, Alice, you really cannot imagine how sick and dirty I feel, knowing that I used my hands to kill little children. They were playing tag, Alice!
How can I forget this? I wish I could. At least I have that picture you sent me – it's a small comfort, a hug would've been better, but I'll make do. Some of the guys make fun of the way I keep it in my uniform. Baby, I just can't make myself care. I miss you.
Alice blinked away the tears in her eyes. There was no use in crying. Of course Jasper had seen terrible things! She knew that. Life couldn't always be happy for him, no matter how much she wished for it.
But, still. Those poor, poor children…
It hadn't taken Alice too long to decide that she hated war every bit as much as she hated Maria. Both had tried to take Jasper away from her.
Only one had succeeded.
Jasper's coming, Jasper's coming, Jasper's coming. She chanted, twisting her wedding ring around her finger nervously. It doesn't matter. Be happy.
What else did she hate? War and Maria, because they wanted to take him away. Thunderstorms because he had always been a little scared of them. She hated things that made Jasper mad, and the things that made them fight.
"What do you mean, you're enrolling?" Alice had demanded in a low, dangerous voice "You can't leave me."
"I need to fight for my country, Alice. I'm doing this to protect you." Jasper had explained wearily. "I love you."
"If you did, you wouldn't leave me."
"Baby, you know that's not–"
"Don't call me baby!" Alice had sobbed "You – you – liar! You said you loved me!"
"I do." Jasper protested "I love you so much."
But Alice was too hurt and scared to listen "I – I'm your wife! You promised! You swore before God…"
"Honey, I would never leave you." Her husband soothed.
"Then don't go!" She wailed, heartbroken "Don't go! It's horrible, there. So much death – you'll be killed. Oh my God. This can't be happening to me."
"Alice. I. Have. To. Go." Jasper said slowly.
"No, you don't!"
"Listen to me, darling." He pleaded "Listen, I promise I'll be fi–"
"You'll come back," She ignored him "With a bullet through the heart. Or maybe they won't find your body. You'll be blown up by a bomb."
"No, no, no, no, no." Alice slid to the floor, shaking "No!"
"I've made my choice, honey."
It had been a horrible fight, and not one Alice was anxious to remember. In the end, she had gone to Rosalie and begged her to convince her cousin to stay. She had been devastated, crying for days and days. Alice – lovely, optimistic Alice – was sure she would lose her husband in the war.
"Attention, ladies and gentlemen. The passengers from flight LH4234 are now leaving the plane…" Alice immediately jumped up. A crowd had formed by the gates, and she was too small to see over the people's heads.
She climbed onto her seat, scanning the crowd, desperate to find him.
With a high-pitched shriek, Mrs. Whitlock jumped into her husband's waiting arms. Tears ran down her cheeks and she took a deep breath. He smelled just the same as he always had – that odd, musky scent that reminded her of woods and wet soil and life. Alice pushed her husband away to look at him.
"Oh, baby, don't cry." She only sobbed harder.
"Thank God, Jasper." Alice began kissing his forehead, his eyes… "Oh, I thought I'd never see you again, and here you are!"
"Alice." Jasper breathed
Her face hardened "Don't you ever think of doing that to me again!"
"Shh, baby, it's OK." He smiled impishly "I love you."
"Oh, you jerk." Alice laughed shakily "You had me so worried."
He took her hand. "Come on, sweetheart. Let's go home. I've been dying to take this uniform off for God knows how long…"
"Wait!" She dug around her purse desperately "I know it's here somewhere… oh!"
Jasper raised an eyebrow at the plant in his wife's hand "Mistletoe?"
She smiled "I knew it'd take you forever to kiss me without some."
He put his lips to hers "Merry Christmas, baby."
"Merry Christmas, Jazz."
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