The first morning she was home for Christmas, Lisa woke to the scent of waffles. God but she'd missed Mom's cooking. She and Tasha spent half the day playing in the snow. When her sister hit Jeff Rubin splat in the face with a snowball, Lisa teased her with, "Natasha and Jeffrey sitting in a tree." She hadn't realized she'd been right until Tasha yelled at her to shut up.
After dinner, Mom told her to put on her new holiday sweater, white with embroidered Christmas trees. She grumbled all the way up the stairs but came tripping down not three minutes later, excited and ready to go. There'd been rounds of "Deck the Halls", "Jingle Bells", and "Joy to the World" by the time they'd gotten to the Miller's house.
A stranger opened the door. Dark hair flowed down over the prettiest black lace dress Lisa had ever seen. The family glanced at each other, unsure until Dad sang out, leading them into "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas." Lisa, peering around, looking for the Millers, thought the song sounded a bit hollow but the woman clapped her hands in response, calling out, "Oh goody."
"Dru, pet, aren't you going to invite them in?" As platinum blonde hair stepped out of the shadows, Lisa wondered how he'd been able to hide there with such bright hair. Turning to the doorway, he added, "There's spiced cider warming on the stove."
As Mom asked how they knew the Millers, her hand on Lisa's shoulder, holding her back, Tasha ran in, calling out for Jane. Lisa could feel Mom and Dad glance at each other, and then they followed Tasha into the house, as if afraid to leave her alone.
And the door closed behind, shutting them off from the silent night.