“In the pale echo of light, vague outlines moved through Bertie’s field of vision, but their details were lost to the dark. Her bedroom walls took flight in a soaring arc before…”
You trail off, holding your place on the page.
He’s not awake anymore.
His breathing has slowed significantly, his arms limp and his heartbeat now a slow, steadily-beating drum.
What’s more is that he has stopped interrupting you to ask a question or make a snide comment every few lines of the story.
After sharing in that kiss, you had thrown away the wrapping paper—all except the stuff that covered Jack’s—and tidied the room up a little. Somewhere in there, Jack revealed that he was in fact the one who brought and decorated the gorgeous tree sitting in your living room. In helping you clean, Jack had taken interest in another book, one of your absolute favorites. Blushing slightly, he had asked you to read it aloud to him. You had poked fun at him, asking him why he couldn’t just sit and read it by himself. You knew he was perfectly capable of doing so.
“Because I like your voice,” he had replied, heavily embarrassed, holding the book tightly in both hands.
You couldn’t help but oblige.
So the two of you took to your couch. He sat down first, back against the armrest with one leg on the couch and the foot of the other dangling lazily off the side. He had opened his arms and smirked.
“Bring it here, m’dear.”
You had smiled and rolled your eyes sarcastically at how ridiculous that command had sounded.
You took your seat with him, your back against his chest, both legs resting on the small couch alongside his. He had wrapped his arms around your waist, holding you gently, enveloping you in his natural coldness. He rested his chin on your shoulder, the fluff of the Santa hat brushing against the side of your face.
And you had begun to read.
Not seeing the point in reading aloud to someone who is asleep, you shut the book, folding over the corner of the page as a makeshift bookmark.
You sit there for a few more seconds, rising and falling slightly along with his chest as he breathes.
Then, slowly and carefully, you get up from your place. He stirs slightly just as you’re about to stand, mumbling something incomprehensible, but quickly falls back asleep. You successfully stand, placing the book on the couch cushion beside his bare foot.
It’s time that you went to find him a Christmas present.
Quickly and quietly, you prepare yourself for your outing. You check on Jack just before you leave.
He’s still sound asleep, head to the side, his hat slightly askew, arms lying lightly across his stomach.
He must have spent ages preparing all of this for me. You walk up to him, gently smiling.
You kiss his cheek softly. The corner of his mouth twitches momentarily into a dream-inspired smile. “I’ll be back soon,” you whisper.
And you leave the house.
You’re smiling wide to yourself, though you can’t quite say why. You begin to walk through the neighborhood, not one hundred percent sure on where you’re going.
But therein lies the avenue for adventure.
The beautiful snowy scenery only makes you happier. You can hear children laughing as they open and play with new toys. Christmas decorations adorn every house, brightening up the streets with vibrant and joyous colors. The smell of delicious food permeates the winter air as people begin to prepare Christmas dinner.
You trek onward, lost in the Christmas spirit and thoughts of Jack.
You have no idea how far you’ve walked when it finally hits you, stopping you in your tracks.
All the stores are closed for Christmas.
You begin to panic. For one, where have you wandered off to? You turn in every direction. You don’t recognize anything around you. And then there’s the issue of finding a gift for Jack. You don’t want to give him a belated present. Besides, who knows when you’ll have an opportunity like this again?
Just ahead of you, you see a little store no larger than the size of a gas station shack. The lights are on. You see a little LED “Open” sign flashing in the corner of the window.
Heart elevated and curious, you make your way over to it.
A small bell jingles as you push open the old wooden door, staying in the doorway. You notice that elaborate carvings of trees and birds embroider it.
“Hello?” you call out into the store. There’s no reply. But something pulls you in.
You close the door behind you and step inside.
It has everything. From knickknacks and souvenirs to food essentials. There’s even a small selection of winter clothes. The store has a warm, home-y atmosphere, and you quickly take to it. It’s magical…
You begin to browse around, now faced with the question of what to get the spirit of winter.
What can I possibly get him that he can’t just conjure up? Or leave behind? Or get bored with? You notice a selection of magic tricks and practical joke props.
He IS a prankster…mischievous…maybe… You reach out to take one of the palm shockers. Something pulls your hand back. You shake your head. There’s something better out there.
You turn around and scan the store for something else. You touch your snowflake pendant.
Something that he doesn’t have already, or doesn’t have ready access to. Something he will use every day. Something that will always remind him of you…
Your eyes stop, resting on an item. You smile, eyes shining.