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“So what do you want for Christmas?”
“I’m being serious, sis.”
“So am I.” Standing against the kitchen’s island, Eve idly twirled her spoon in the melted remains of her ice cream. “I haven’t gotten laid since June. Which, looking back, was a warning sign I completely missed. I should have known the bastard was getting some on the side.”
She could hear an exasperated sigh from her sister on the other end of her phone. “Eve, I keep telling you, you couldn’t have known. No one knew! You know Mom would have been the first person to crow ‘I told you so’ if she had seen ANY indication that he was cheating on you.”
The tip of the spoon scraped along the bottom of the ceramic bowl as Eve gathered up a runny mess of ice cream, chocolate syrup, and the remnants of a dollop of whipped cream. “The one time I could have used Mom criticizing me is the one time she completely dropped the ball. So,” she said as she swallowed the mixture of sweetness, “what’s your Christmas wish?”
“For you to stop beating yourself up.”
“I’ll make it a New Year’s Resolution. Fair enough?”
“You HATE New Year’s Resolutions.”
“That’s my point.”
“OK. It’s getting late and I have to finish wrapping presents. You ARE still coming for Christmas dinner tomorrow, right?”
It was Eve’s turn to sigh. “I’ll be there,” she told her sister.
“Just do me a favor and dress up. Mom’s still giving me an earful because you showed up for Thanksgiving in a ponytail and sweatpants.”
“I wore lip gloss!”
“Seriously, Eve. Promise me?”
With a weary groan, Eve nodded even though her sister couldn’t see her. “I will make an effort to look presentable. I promise.”
“Thank you.” After a moment, her sister asked quietly, “you’re OK tonight, right?”
“I think I am.” Eve turned away from the kitchen island. Due to the lights being off, she could see the snow gently falling outside the window above the sink. “This is the first Christmas Eve in five years that we’re not together.” Reaching behind her, she grabbed the empty bowl of ice cream and stepped over to the sink. “Fortunately ice cream is a great distraction. Go wrap your presents, sis. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“6 PM. Love you, Eve.”
“I love you too.”
Eve set her smartphone on the counter before washing out the ceramic bowl and putting it in the rack to dry. The dish sat alone, joined only by a single spoon. She couldn’t help but feel the dissonance rolling over her at the sight. The kitchen was spotless, having been mopped and scrubbed earlier that day in a frenzied burst of cleaning. But several feet away, just outside the back door, was a garbage can overflowing with microwave dinner boxes and takeout containers. Even tonight’s dinner had been delivered – sushi and wonton soup from A Taste of Taipei, with an entire quart of Reese’s peanut butter ice cream for dessert. Eve knew that she’d regret it in the morning, but for the moment the ice cream coated and soothed the ache in her soul.
As she watched the snowfall through the window, Eve debated heating up a cup of hot chocolate but ultimately decided against it. A cold front had blown in over Emerald Pines that evening. Two, perhaps three inches of snow had fallen onto the windowsill, enough to cover the current snowfall with a fresh layer and guarantee central Colorado a gleaming white Christmas.
After a few minutes of watching the swirling flakes as they gently drifted towards the ground, Eve found herself stifling a yawn. With a final glance at the snow, Eve left the kitchen, heading for the front steps. Her house, which thankfully had been purchased in her name, was an A-frame. The open-plan first floor consisted of a kitchen and dining area on one side and a living room on the other, separated by the staircase leading to the full bathroom/bedroom that comprised the second floor. The whole thing sat atop a two-car garage. It was meant to be a starter house for her and her former fiance, but now it looked like it would be Eve’s home for the foreseeable future.
She switched off the front porch lights and walked into the living room area where a small writing desk sat in the corner. The brass lamp on the top shelf shone down upon a stack of unfinished…actually, Eve admitted, a stack of never-started…Christmas cards. Eve had set them down the previous weekend, intent on fulfilling her yearly tradition of keeping in touch with distant family and friends via a handwritten note. The cards were in a neat pile, as were the envelopes stacked next to them.
Eve’s shoulders slumped as she stared at the pile of incomplete correspondence. “Looks like you guys will be New Year’s cards,” she muttered, already knowing that promise was unlikely to come to pass. She reached out to turn off the lamp and head upstairs to bed. Before she could, however, her smartphone buzzed in the pocket of her sweatpants.
Unlocking her phone rewarded Eve with a picture of her big sister. Her sis was surrounded by rolls casino siteleri of gift paper, several ribbon bows, and boxes of kids’ toys waiting to be wrapped up. An exaggeratedly exasperated look was on her face as she gestured towards what Eve assumed was a pile of presents, all wrapped neatly in what appeared to be aluminum foil. The photo came complete with a caption – “MY HUSBAND USED AN ENTIRE ROLL OF FOIL TO WRAP PRESENTS!!! IT LOOKS LIKE WE’RE GIVING BLOCKS OF UNCUT HEROIN FOR XMAS!!!”
Imaging her sister bellowing those words in frustration brought about a tight smile and a quiet chuckle from Eve. She placed her phone on the writing desk as she slid into the chair. Pen in one hand and a fresh sheet of paper from the drawer in the other, Eve began to write. The pen painted black ink across the paper with smooth, bold, looping strokes. Once she was finished Eve blew on the paper to ensure it was dry before laying it out flat on the green blotter and giving her work a nod of approval.
“Dear Santa,” she read out loud, “this year for Christmas all I want is laid. Sincerely, Eve.”
She took her phone and held it over the paper, taking a few seconds to get the best angle and lighting before snapping a picture and sending it to her sister. Once she heard the confirmation tone, Eve turned off the lamp and headed for the stars, leaving her comic missive to Santa behind on the desk.
X X X X X
After spitting her mouthwash into the sink, Eve leaned against the counter with both hands. In what had become an all-too-familiar addition to her nighttime ritual, she sighed regretfully as she looked at herself in the mirror. “Eve,” she told her reflection for the umpteenth time, “you’ve got to stop letting yourself go.”
Once upon a time, a slender, athletic, curly-haired 5’8″ blonde woman in her late 20’s with a great rack and a fantastic butt would have been staring back at her. That version of her had come on sabbatical in mid-August. Now, her curls lay limp along her scalp. A body that once hovered around 150 pounds now sat just north of 170, with the extra twenty pounds spread out across her hips and midsection. The lean muscle she had worked so hard to pack on was melting away due to not having stepped foot in a gym since a half-hearted attempt Labor Day weekend. Worst of all, her posture was wrecked. Instead of standing tall and proud, Eve slumped when she stood up. Her shoulders hung forward and she could feel the hunch forming along her spine.
The deep breath she blew out caused her to slouch even further. “Tomorrow,” she lied to herself, also for the umpteenth time. “I’ll start fixing things tomorrow.” She snapped the bathroom lights off, plunging the house into absolute darkness. She stripped down to her pink panties as she walked towards the king-sized bed, leaving her socks, sweatpants, and t-shirt scattered on the floor behind her. By the time she crawled under her thick quilt, Eve could barely keep her eyes open. Within a minute of her head hitting the pillow, she was out. The sound of her light snoring filled the A-frame as Eve fell asleep alone on Christmas Eve for the first time in five years.
X X X X X
The clouds smothered the brightness of the full moon. The only illumination in the A-frame came from the glow of the street lamps reflecting off of the falling snowflakes. The light pushed its way through the living room window, drawing faint lines of orange on the edges of the furniture as well as along the corners of the fireplace. The gentle breeze accompanying the snowstorm shook the branches of the pine trees lining the opposite side of the road from Eve’s house. The thin, spindly shadows cast into the living room shimmied and shook like an employee at an office’s Christmas party after their third drink.
The shadows fell over Eve’s mock letter to Santa, mixing the lines of shadow and ink. If one were to be standing in the living room at that particular moment and looming over the writing desk in that precise instant, they would have seen the shadows…bend somewhat. The wind outside the A-frame picked up, causing the pine trees to rattle from the abrupt onslaught. But while the shadows across the rest of the living room danced wildly, the shadows on the note continued to pull inward. When the shadows’ tines touched the edges of the paper, the note crinkled. The shadows, now woven into a snaking series of five distinct lines, drew together until the edges of the paper were caught in their grip.
Then the paper lifted off from the desk.
The shadows stood frozen and unmoving across the surface of the note as it hung in the air before drifting across the room. Turning end over end and side over side like a beanbag, the note coasted towards the fireplace and came to rest on the brick stoop. For a moment, nothing was stirring, not even a mouse. Then the wind intensified, enveloping the A-frame in its harsh embrace, and the piece of paper dashed into the fireplace and shot up the chimney.
Only to drop down into the ashes slot oyna as it crushed itself against the closed flue.
The wind immediately subsided, becoming a gentle, muttering breeze for a moment before picking up again with a furious intensity that ripped through the air. The hatch to the flue dropped open with a deluge of gray soot. The crumpled letter to Santa began floating, hovering in the air several inches above the stoop before, with a final gust of wind, it flew up the chimney out of sight. The gentle clang of the flue closing echoed softly through the dark house.
X X X X X
A soft popping sound caused Eve to shift in her bed.
The sound of bottles and containers moving around saw her slowly opening one eye.
The loud clatter that arose from the kitchen made her shoot up in bed.
Sleep was quickly replaced by alarm. As she slowly regained her senses, Eve noticed a pale light shining up from the first floor. The sound of glass knocking against glass accompanied the light, along with what sounded like humming.
She glanced over at the alarm clock on her nightstand. Bright green numbers told her that it was 12:01 AM. As Eve slowly got out of bed, careful not to make any noise, the bright, cheerful humming continued from downstairs. Grabbing her t-shirt from the floor, Eve threw it on and tread softly down the stairs. She reached the bottom without incident. Looping around to the other side of the steps, Eve crouched down and peered around the corner. The light was coming from the open refrigerator and the humming was coming from whoever was going through her fridge.
Eve stood up, ready to go confront the intruder, before realizing she was wearing nothing more than a t-shirt and pink panties. A sense of exposure and vulnerability attempted to latch onto her, but it was quickly thwarted by the iron poker Eve grabbed from the fireplace. She gripped the poker in both hands as she noiselessly eased her way towards the kitchen. The intruder was still humming merrily while they rifled through her fridge. As she approached Eve recognized the tune as ‘Carol of the Bells.’
She managed to make it all the way to the edge of the kitchen island, putting her within swinging reach of the intruder. The intruder made no sign that they noticed Eve. They were bent over at the waist, wearing a green dress with red trim that showed off a stunning pair of legs clad in red-and-white thigh-high striped stockings, topped off with a pair of shiny black leather ankle-height boots complete with three-inch heels. The intruder bounced slightly as they hummed the Christmas tune. Their hips swayed slightly, showing Eve a side-view of a firm, round, thick butt. If the intruder was wearing underwear, she couldn’t tell from where she was standing.
Bringing the fireplace poker to the ready, Eve took a deep breath to screw up her courage before calling out. “What the hell are you doing,” she challenged boldly.
“Grabbing the milk,” a high-pitched feminine voice answered casually. “Here, take this, would you?” An arm reached out towards Eve, holding a half-gallon of whole milk that Eve had purchased the day before. “Just put this down on the counter for now.” The request was accompanied by a gentle shake of the plastic jug, causing the milk inside to splash back and forth.
Eve blinked in surprise at the blatant display. The arm shook the container of milk with more vigor. “Would you take this, please,” the voice politely asked again. “I still have to find the butter.” When Eve didn’t respond, the intruder sighed and tossed the milk behind her. The container landed perfectly on the island, barely wobbling as it settled.
Of all the questions Eve had in that particular moment, it was the most unlikely one that she managed to ask. “Why…why are you looking for the butter?”
“To bake cookies,” the intruder answered brightly. “You didn’t put up a tree this year, so the least you could have done was have some milk and cookies out for Santa. I found the milk but no cookies, so I’m just going to have to bake…there’s the butter! Oooooooooh, salted…”
“I…yeah, I prefer salted…wait! Who are you and why the hell are you in my house!”
The intruder stood up. They closed the refrigerator and turned to look at Eve, holding the box of salted butter in one hand and waving in greeting with the other. “Hello, Eve! I’m Holly, and I’m your Christmas present from Santa!”
The fireplace poker came to rest against Eve’s shoulder as she got her first real look at the intruder. They stood 5’1″, maybe 5’2,” and weighed around 110 pounds if Eve had to estimate. The green dress she wore came complete with a black leather belt sporting a gleaming brass buckle and three peppermint-striped buttons leading up from the belt to the open red collar. Her lips were fire-engine red. Chocolate brown hair spilled out from underneath a tall green hat topped with a red fabric curl. The skirt showed off Holly’s wide hips, while the shirt accentuated a pair of what Eve guessed canlı casino siteleri was a firm pair of 36D’s.
“You’re…you’re my what?”
“Your Christmas present!”
Holly bounced on her feet as she answered. Eve’s eyes were briefly drawn to her breasts as they jiggled on her chest, before reality set back in. She tightened her grip on the iron poker and brandished it towards Holly. “I don’t know who you are…”
“…but I want you to get the hell out of my house, right now!”
Holly set the butter down on the island next to the milk. Her hands went to her hips and a pout crossed her face as she looked at Holly. “Why?”
“…why? You broke into my house!”
“No I didn’t! I came down your chimney!”
“That’s…that’s still breaking in!”
“Well, how else was I supposed to get inside?” She gestured towards the back door. “All your doors and windows were locked. I wasn’t going to smash the glass when there was a perfectly good chimney to hurry down!”
“I…” Eve leaned in close to study the intruder’s green dress. “If you came down the chimney, why aren’t you covered in soot?”
“I cleaned myself off! I wasn’t about to walk through your house leaving ash everywhere! That would be rude!”
“Look, I don’t care how you got in here, but you have until I get upstairs and grab my phone to get out before I call the cops!”
“Why would you do that?” Holly motioned to her voluptuous body. “I’m your Christmas present!”
“Why do you keep saying that!”
“Because that’s what I am! You wrote a letter to Santa asking him to get laid for Christmas, so he sent me!” Holly tilted her head and offered Eve a frown. “And let me tell you, you got in JUST under the wire. We were actually about to shut down the mailbox for the year when your letter came ZOOMING past. I’m talking 11:59 and 55 seconds.” Holly cocked her hip to one side and gently tapped a finger against her lips. “Maybe that was for the best though,” she hummed softly. “If it had come earlier, you might have ended up with Noel. He’s a little rough and usually gets sent to those on the naughty list.”
While Holly spoke, Eve’s brain finished processing her initial statement. “My…my letter to Santa? The one I wrote before I went to bed? How do you know about that! Were you watching me through the window or something! It was a joke between me and my sister! Besides, I haven’t written a letter to Santa since I was a kid!”
“Hey,” Holly answered, still wearing that bright, friendly smile, “rules are rules, no matter how old you are. You wrote a letter to Santa and since you were on the nice list this year, you get your present!” Once again bouncing on her feet, Holly ran her hands over her shapely curves. “Tada!”
“You’re my present. From Santa.” Eve let the poker fall from her shoulder before pressing her palm against her face. “I’m dreaming,” she mumbled. “I ate an entire quart of peanut butter ice cream before bed and now I’m having a weird dream because of it.”
“You’re not dreaming.” Holly stuck out her arm. She turned it over and lightly pinched the skin of her elbow. “Ow! See? I pinched myself and you’re still awake.”
“I said I’M the one who’s dreaming…OW!”
Holly grinned as she pulled her hand back while Eve rubbed at the red spot forming on the back of her hand. “See? That time I pinched YOU and YOU’RE still awake…hey!” The intruder jumped back as Eve suddenly lashed out with the fire poker. “OK, look, you’re being a VERY naughty host right now!”
“Get out!” Eve swung again with the fire poker despite Holly being well out of reach. “I don’t care who you are or how you got in here, but I want you out of my house, right now!”
“I told you, I shimmied down the chimney!” Holly held up both her hands. “I can prove it! There aren’t any footprints on your back deck, your front porch, or outside your garage. If you check the alarm app on your smartphone it’ll show that none of the door breaks were tripped. There’s a pair of footprints in the ash on the log grille in your fireplace, and the letter from Santa isn’t wherever you left it because it’s currently at the North Pole!”
“That doesn’t prove anything!”
“Um, it proves EVERYTHING,” Holly said with the definitive tone of someone who spoke the absolute truth.
“Look, all I know is that I come downstairs at midnight because someone’s raiding my fridge dressed like one of Santa’s elves! Do you understand how that could be a bit unbelievable?”
“First, it wasn’t midnight, it was 12:01 AM. Second, I’m dressed like one of Santa’s elves because I AM one of Santa’s elves.” She ran her fingers along the side of her head, pushing back her chocolate brown hair to reveal pointed ears. Eve inhaled sharply at the sight. A hint larger than normal ears, they tapered to a fine point against her scalp. With an eager grin, Holly knocked her fingers against the tips of her ears. “See? Elf.”
After staring for a moment, Eve gently set the fireplace poker on the counter. “You’re…you’re completely serious,” she said quietly. “You believe you’re an actual elf. From the North Pole and everything.”
“Yes I am!” Holly’s proud exclamation was accompanied by another joyful bounce.
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