354 Days ’til Christmas

January 5, 2010

Photo by Pam Wells ©2010

Audrey unhooked a silver pine cone from the Christmas tree. She peered through the dry branches, found two, three more. She put them into the box marked “Santas.” Recharacterized Santas. The Santa family had dwindled over the years and now fit into the box marked “Angels.”

The tree stood at one end of the family room opposite TV, couch and Carl.

“Ohhhh, another fumble?” he moaned. Half a stadium of football fans moaned with him and the other half roared. The Bills were freezing out the Colts in the snow, and Carl was not a happy man.

Audrey picked up a stray angel and put it into a small tin. The nutcracker on the lid grimaced up at her.

“Does it matter?” she asked. “I mean, didn’t they already make the playoffs?”

“I can’t watch this.” Carl clicked the mute button for the commercials. He grabbed a handful of pretzels and turned to see Audrey high on the stepladder, reaching for the star. “Want a beer?” he asked on his way into the kitchen.

“No, thanks.” Audrey stretched. She could touch it but not get hold of it. As she stood thinking, the game came back on, still muted. She watched for a few moments. “Carl, interception.”

He came back in a hurry. “And a penalty,” he said, and went back into the kitchen.

Audrey smiled. She stepped off the ladder and studied the tree, now bare of ornaments, then stripped it of four light strings. She checked the well of the tree stand: dry. Reaching between the scratchy branches, she grabbed the trunk, tipped the tree to its side and propped it on the back of a chair. Plucked off the star.

“Think I’ll have that beer now.”

© 2010 Pam Wells


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