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Location: Orlando, Florida, United States

Friday, December 10, 2004

One Small Flame

Yep, yep, yep...a new short story. Anyone care to take a stab at who this one is about? :o)

Autumn moves into winter and a chill settles into the air. Darkness falls early and the shoppers rush in a mad dash to finish their lists and hurry home. The potential is high for this winter to be worse than the ones of the past. The weathermen predict that even in the Deep South the cold will set in and stay for a while.

The landscape is barren. Trees have lost their leaves months ago and the typical green surroundings have turned brown and cold. Long branches jut out from trunks like limbs of skeletons. It is more than uninviting; it is a premonition, a warning to stay away. To stay at home and not go out among the bustling crowds, even if it means being alone.

Although it is nearing the holiday season, the people seem unfriendly, as cold and harsh as the landscape that surrounds them. The hustle and bustle of shopping for their “loved ones” seems to have added to their bitterness as they all fight to be the most important customer.

Days pass and if possible, the landscape becomes more barren and deserted than ever. Weather reports warn people to stay home as a cold whiteness blows through the air. Brightly colored lights blink and twinkle and yet the entire atmosphere and environment of it all feels fake.

Another Christmas alone she thinks and then reminds herself that this is how it is supposed to be. There are the photos from home to comfort her, friends and family smiling back from years past. And then there are photos of the man she loves. The one who will never love me back she recalls because he doesn’t even know my name. The glossy images almost laugh back at her, mocking her stupidity. But it doesn’t matter to her, whether he knows her or not, he offers her a level of comfort that she cannot explain.

A few more days and she has added her own house to the growing amount of decorative ones gaily festooned for the season. Yet it doesn’t feel like Christmas to her. The cold outside chills her to the bone and she is once again reminded that she is alone.

There is one night that despite the coldness outside, she feels the desperate urge to breathe fresh air. Bundling up like a snowman, she leaves the house and begins to wander the barren streets. The air is bitter cold and yet she finds comfort in it. Almost every house is lit on this night and although she knows she should, she can feel no Christmas cheer.

For a reason that she can’t explain, one lone candle twinkling in the darkness catches her eye and she finds herself drawn to it. Wandering closer, she wonders at the warmth the small flame might provide. It lights a single window of an otherwise dark house and for a brief moment she is confused as to why the owner would choose to burn just the one small light.

She is unsure of how long she has been standing there staring in amazement at the fire or why it has captured her attention so completely when the door to the house opens and dark eyes peek out. For a long moment there is silence and the two study each other through the windows to their souls.

Although they have never met he offers one single word greeting, “Hi.” And the candle’s flame seems to burn just a little bit brighter.


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