Son of a bitch! How could he break up with me two days before Christmas? I lit the disgusting cigarette and took my very first puff. Choking, I walked to the sink and poured water over it, watching it fizz out. Couldn’t imagine why I even bought the repulsive things. It wasn’t like I ever smoked. More anger built in me. With unbridled frustrations, I broke every cigarette in the package, throwing them in the garbage.
Standing in the middle of the kitchen, I wondered how to keep my mind busy, because inevitably, it drifted back to Brian, the jerk who made me fall in love with him just to break my heart.
It was Christmas Eve and I stared at the decorated tree, sitting in the corner of my den.
Images flashed in my mind. Rushing to my study, I grabbed my sketchbook and settled at the drawing table. My hand moved the pencil across the blank page, creating a black and white portrait of Kevin, the boy next door I had a crush on since the third grade. It didn’t matter to me he was a few years older. When he graduated from high school, though, he joined the armed forces. I only saw him once after that.
In college Brian walked into my life so I tried to forget the feelings my heart held for Kevin. Big mistake! Brian turned out to be a complete jackass.
The black and white image of Kevin looked perfect in his naval uniform. I’d only seen him once in it, but could never forget how handsome it made him look.
Christmas Eve turned into Christmas Day.
Happy Birthday Jesus.
I took the sketch with me, placing it under the pillow. “Jesus, I know it’s your birthday and I’m supposed to give you a present, but if you find it in your heart to give me one, bring Kevin to my door step.”
I fell asleep with wonderful thoughts.
Morning arrived all too soon. I rushed to get ready for church, where I joined my family.
After church we all went to my parents home and I helped with the dinner preparations.
“Who’s coming over?” I asked Mom.
“All the usual people, dear.”
How the hell was I supposed to remember all the people she had over last Christmas?
Besides my sister, her husband, my two aunts with their husbands, four cousins, she always invited a large crowd of friends, some I had never even met. Like I knew them all.
I rolled my eyes.
The doorbell rang none stop. I preferred hiding in the kitchen where I didn’t have to put up with all the kissing and hugging that went on during the holidays.
Mother stepped back in the kitchen. “Ani, dear, would you be so kind and go set the two tables your dad set up in the great room?”
“Sure.” I walked in the room for the first time that day. The usual furniture had been pushed to the sides to make room for the two long tables covered in festive tablecloths. Back in the kitchen, I asked, “Mom, how many people are coming?”
“All together we are thirty three.”
Where did she find all these people? I always thought the holidays should be spent with family. But then, what did I know?
Later, I stepped back to admire my handy work. Sure it took a little more time, but I was proud of the paper napkins turned into swans, sitting on the dishes. As I turned to head back into the sanctuary of the kitchen, I smashed into a solid shoulder.
“Ouch!” I glanced up to meet a surprised expression in the amazing green eyes I remembered so well.
“Wow! You’ve changed since I’ve been gone.” Kevin gawked. “What happened to the scrawny kid with braces and freckles I left behind?”
What a reaction. I basked in it. Damn! Why is my mouth not functioning?
“What a change? You’ve never been speechless before.” He smiled.
“Dinner is served.” Mother’s voice could be heard for miles, saving me from myawkward silence.
We all grabbed our dishes and lined up to file through the kitchen where Mother set up the buffet. Kevin was right behind me.
“So, you gonna sit by me the way you always did when we were kids?”
“Are you going to pull my hair?” I said without turning.
He leaned real close to my ear. “I promise to behave.” The warmth of his breath sent an exhilarating shiver down my spine.
At the table, he focused all his attention on me.
For the first time, in a long while, I felt like a princess.
“What are you up to lately?”
“Well, I still have one last semester before I graduate with a degree in architecture.”
“Where are you going to school?”
“Right here at Virginia Commonwealth University.”
“So, you’re living at home?”
“No, I have an apartment on campus.”
“Shall we go hide there after dinner, I hate crowds. It will give us a better chance to catch up.”
My heart missed a beat. Serene warmth spread through me and I nodded for fear my voice would crack with the emotions coursing in my veins.
Kevin wrapped his arms around my waist. “You’re the best thing a Christmas wish has ever brought me.”
I turned around in his arm, tilting my head with expectation.
His warm lips brushed mine. I smiled. “Merry Christmas, Kevin.”
Annamaria Bazzi spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.