Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Christmas Kindess
I walk across town, knowing my presence will be ignored by any who are actually outside on this beautiful Christmas morning. A morning that feels just like any other day. With no parents to care for me, no siblings to argue with, I’m a lonely island. I’ve been living in my car, hidden in an abandoned barn near the rail station. The townsfolk generally leave me be, afterall, I’m eighteen and no longer a ward of the state.
The trek to the Kum and Go is a short walk away from where I live. Today, since I’m the only employee without any plans, gets to pull a double shift. The store is about the only thing open on Christmas, so I imagine I’ll be seeing plenty of haggard husbands stumbling in, reeking like wine and desperation that our little convenience store has their missing ingredient for their perfect family dinner. Mine will consist of a ninety-nine cent hotdog and a cherry slushie, a big feast indeed. Usually I just have water from the fountain, but today I’m splurging.
Merry Christmas to me.
The bell above the door announces my entrance and I flip on the lights and begin to open the store up, getting ready for business. I change the station from the annoying Christmas music that must have been playing the night before to the usual pop rock happy music Mister Jamison likes. While I know my job isn’t the best, most glamourous or upwardly mobile, it plays those few bills I have and will eventually help me get out of this small-ass town.
The day and night go by quickly, with only a handful of customers all day, I close up shop at eleven on the dot and trudge towards home. I can’t shake the feeling that something is off, and quicken my pace towards the rail yard.
As soon as I approach, I can see light coming from under the barn, which is odd since it hasn’t had electricity running to it the whole time I’ve lived there. I proceed cautiously, hoping if there is a new owner, they haven’t had my car towed, along with all my worldly possessions. When I creak the door back slowly, my eyes can’t contain the difference in the place since I left.
I step inside to see, what seems to be the entire town, bustling about. Jenny Morris finally notices me, and saunters over to where I’m still standing by the door, mouth agape.
“Merry Christmas, Abby,” she whispers, tugging me inside and closing the heavy door behind her. The clank of the door must alert everyone that I’ve arrived since they all turn at once, the din suddenly becoming silent.
The barn has been converted into a cozy house. My car has been moved outside and the large space has been partitioned off into little rooms. What looks like a bathroom is still being finished by Jenny’s husband, Steve and the owner of the hardware story, Tim Walker.
“What is all this,” I mumble being dragged around to the various areas by Jenny.
“The town wanted you to have a real place to live, so we decided to surprise you. We got the electricity restored, and the plumbing installed so you can call it home.”
My mind was reeling at the kindness of the town, but couldn’t figure out how I was going to get to stay on a property I’d been squatting on. “How is this possible? Who even owns this land?”
“Jim’s been meaning to knock it down and turn it into a parking lot, but the town council thought it was better served for you to have it.”
As if he knew he was being talked about, Jim wandered over and handed me an envelope. “Merry Christmas. This is the deed to the barn and the surrounding land. It’s all yours. Paid in full. You’ll only need to pay the electric and water bill.” His smile was so warm and inviting it brought tears to my eyes.
“Why did you do this for me? I mean, you bought me a bed, a table and a refrigerator? Who does that for someone they barely know?” I tried hard to keep the skepticism from my voice, but knew I failed based on their looks.
Jenny slung her arm around my shoulders in an effort to provide comfort. “The whole town knows you. We’ve seen you grow up and knew your parents long ago. Everyone chipped in. Tom was remodeling his kitchen and was going to get rid of the fridge anyway. The table was in Emily’s attic and while the bed frame was my Granny’s, the mattress is brand new, purchased by the donations made at the library in your honor. Everyone wanted to help you out. They know how hard you work and we wanted to give you a little something to be happy about this year.”
I had no words and could only give this older woman a fierce hug to tell her how much I appreciated all of their efforts. “Thank you,” I whispered, tears flowing down my cheeks. “We still need to finish a few things over the next day or two, but hopefully this will be much more comfortable than sleeping in that old Chevy.” Jim muttered, his gruffness still showing through the soft squishy center he was letting show through his watery eyes.
I looked up to the heavens and whispered a prayer of thanks to my parents and all those in this town who I’d never spent much time appreciating, but would now vow to pay their generosity forward in any way I could.
“Merry Christmas, indeed.” I shouted, wandering off to personally thank every person who stood around my amazingly refurbished home.
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Michela Walters is a wife, mother and book enthusiast. She is currently attempting her hand at writing her first romantic fiction novella. You can read her other stories on her blog: michelawalters.wordpress.com