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An Aurora Skies Christmas Romance Tale

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I was in the mood to write out a short Christmas story for the season. :blush:
(Because I LOVE Christmas! <3 )

I hope you'll enjoy it as I try to get it all written and posted before Christmas arrives. :)



Introduction

It was the year 2013 in Aurora Skies, Simsland during the coldest holiday season the town had ever experienced.

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With inversion setting in a few days at a time.

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The many glistening waterfalls that showered into the great lake from the hills above were frozen solid, resting upon the frozen lake itself.

However this bitter cold year wasn't enough to dispel the warmth that came from the spirit of the season. That brightly burning spirit found its way into each and every resident's heart from the ever kind, caring, and influential personality of one named Miriam Day.

One resident's heart in particular was forever changed that Christmas for the better.

No one ever expected such a timeless Christmas tale to actually happen in real life. In the 21st century even! But it did...and the heartwarming story continues to be told each and every Christmas in Aurora Skies to this very day.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 1

Miriam Day was one of the happiest women around, coming from the most humble of families, and certainly the most festive person around when it came to Christmas the town residents seem to notice. In fact ever since her arrival to Aurora Skies almost 2 years ago, she teamed up with city council to make her first Christmas in the area a joyous one. (Because Christmas was her favorite holiday of them all!) That meant encouraging the city to lavishly decorate public buildings and the parks, with strings of multi-colored lights and tinsel garland dressing the trees. Soon the local businesses followed suit, turning their buildings into glowing shops you'd be sure to find in Christmas Town itself. The spirit carried on to a few residents as well who started hanging up holiday house lights and wreaths in the windows for the first time in years.

No one really knows what caused the spirit of Christmas to dwindle in Aurora Skies over the years, but it seemed the lovely Miriam Day was the one destined to bring it back. Many were grateful for her spirit, others didn't seem to care. Either way, Miriam continued to strive to make a difference in this town that had become her new home.

Desiring to start a new chapter in her life after graduating from college, Miriam moved from Appaloosa Plains to the mysterious small town of Aurora Skies. Something about the place drew her to it and she hadn't quite figured out why. She figured she would've found out by now.

At the time she'd met up with three roommates looking for another roommate to help pay the rent and they all instantly fell in love with Miriam. One of the male roommates in particular, Ciro Perry, was smitten with her at first sight, but in the past almost 2 years he was always too nervous to pursue a relationship, fearing Miriam only viewed him as a friend. Which...was partly true. The two were comfortable in their friendship and didn't want anything to threaten it, especially if they pursued a courtship at the wrong time. This mutual feeling hadn't been talked about one to the other yet. As for their other roommate friends, Angelica Diamond and Pedro Herrerra, Miriam and Ciro couldn't be sure if they had stronger feelings for each other too or not. All that mattered is that every one of them were good friends, who clicked instantly, and rarely did they ever fight or disagree on much; which is a lot to say about four people all coming from different backgrounds living under the same roof! They were just having the time of their lives being single, 20 year olds, each trying to figure out their own individual destinies.

****

The day after Thanksgiving was the day Miriam pulled out all her Christmas boxes, overflowing with decorations, down from the attic. One box included a few items Ciro, Angelica, and Pedro collected over the years and she was sure to bring that one down as well.

"Oh boy," Pedro sighed, addressing Angelica, "and so the Christmas season officially begins in our house."
Angelica laughed. "And next thing we know the whole TOWN will be just as decorated as our place!"

As much as her roommates liked to tease Miriam about her obsession with decorating for the Holidays, Miriam knew they loved and appreciated her decorations. It brought a special love and warmth to the house that every person needs this time of year.

It only took 2 hours for her to get two decorated Christmas trees put up, one in the dining room and of course the main one in the living room, and all the other decorations. Including stringing a few lights around the outside pine trees.

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"That's a new record!" Miriam whispered joyfully to herself. When all was said and done she blew a kiss toward the tree. "It is finished. Oh Christmas tree, you are indeed beautiful!"

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And within seconds she was on the phone with one of the city council members making plans for the decorating of the Festival Grounds.

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****

That evening, the house was out of some essential food items so Miriam offered to run to the grocery store to pick them up. Normally she would've gotten a ride there from Ciro, the only one who owned a car, but since he was working she called for a taxi. She rushed out so quickly when the taxi arrived that she forgot about grabbing her coat. She'd been known to forget small things like that.

Once she finished shopping, the sun had gone down a few minutes prior so the temperature outside dropped significantly. As she waited outside for the taxi, which was supposed to have arrived already, shivering, she said to herself, "Man, I really should've brought my coat."

"Ya think!?" a gruff voice grumbled from behind her. "How stupid do you have to be to forget your coat in this weather? Especially when wearing a shirt like that!"
Miriam rolled her eyes. That voice could only have come from one person.

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"Shut up!" another woman from behind her curtly responded to the man. But the man ignored her, continuing to grumble as he went on his way. "Don't let what that je'rk said bother you Miriam. It isn't always possible to 'dodge the Hodge.'"

Miriam smiled back at the woman appreciatively just as the taxi arrived.

Once inside she let out a giant sigh and thought about that gruff man whom everyone in town knew very well and dubbed during this time of year, "Scrooge McHodge."

No one knew his first name, and no one cared to, but it seemed obvious to Miriam that his last name was Hodge based on the names the locals had given him. He resided in the old abandoned warehouse in the woods near the lake, alone, after single-handedly evicting the town criminals from their hideout. She heard he'd been living there for at least a decade, living off the land and by the sweat of his brow, and then being a "scrooge" to every person he came in contact with whenever he had to go to the town for something.

It seemed so cliché to have an actual Mr. Scrooge in town, but this guy was the epitome of the fictional character if there ever was one. He certainly earned the Scrooge name over the years and was clearly proud of it. With so many rumors flying around about him it was hard to tell which ones were true and most likely no one would ever find out the real truth. A definite truth was that he hated Christmas and everything about it! He never hesitated to make that known to the public this time of year and Miriam witnessed it a few times last year.

On a couple of occasions some carolers from the local church would sing outside a few businesses and at the Festival Grounds. Once "Scrooge McHodge" appeared on the scene he'd start yelling at them to "Shut up" and then proceed to say terrible things about the songs. Another time he was caught ripping off some of the lights and garland from the trees in the park, to which Miriam gladly volunteered to put back up. One morning he got out his megaphone, stood in front of City Hall on a wooden box, and began protesting against Christmas and everything about it. It became quite obvious that he was dead drunk and was soon removed from the premises. He was just an all around grumpy guy who obviously hated the world and everyone in it. It's like he was on a mission to make everyone's life just as miserable as his own.

It just didn't any make sense...especially to someone as sweet and caring about others as Miriam. Truly, no one is born that heartless!

What could possibly have gone wrong in that man's life to make him hate everyone and everything? Especially...Christmas! she thought. There had to be a reason.

She couldn't figure out why it was suddenly eating at her, but...she was determined to find out.

****

The last day of November brought with it a great snowfall, which blanketed the town in a bright and glittering white powder.

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A winter wonderland it had quickly become.

Inside, Miriam and her roommates stayed cozy and warm, conversing on the sofas that sat not too far from the Christmas tree. It was so toasty inside, and so cold outside, that the windows fogged up a bit.

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For the most part Miriam sat quietly, lost in her thoughts and nibbling at her index fingernail, while the others carried on in pleasant conversation about past vacations they went on with their families.

When there was an open opportunity to speak, Miriam finally did.

"So what's the deal with 'Scrooge McHodge?'" she frankly asked them.

Her three friends instantly met her gaze with bugged out eyes.

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"Whaaaat about him?" Pedro bravely asked.
"Do any of you have any thoughts as to why he's such a grouch?" she asked.
The three friends shot questioning glances at each other, before Angelica replied. "Honestly, I've never entertained any thoughts about that man because he's an awful human being and I don't need that kind of negativity in my life!"
The two boys nodded their heads in strong agreement.
"I get that," Miriam said, "but...why does he live alone in the abandoned warehouse again? I mean, how did he end up there?"

"I heard," Ciro chimed in, "that his wife left him, took the kids, and everything else in the divorce so that's why he was left poor and destitute to where the only shelter for him was the warehouse."
Miriam raised an eyebrow. That certainly seemed like a realistic happening and reason for his behavior. Definitely one that would drive a man to hate people and not trust them anymore.
"No," Pedro countered, "I heard that his family died in a house fire while he was out of town...and it happened just a few days before Christmas! That's why he hates Christmas!"
Miriam nodded at that possibility too.

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"No way!" Angelica countered. "Who spread that rumor because I've never heard it and I know ALL of the town gossip!" She grinned with pride.
Miriam and Ciro just shook their heads with a chuckle.
"I have heard Ciro's story," she went on, "but...I think the real thing that happened is he caught his wife cheating on him so he left her."
"Who in town is his ex-wife then?" Ciro asked, resting his arm on the back of the sofa.
"It didn't happen here you punk. He's not originally from around here. He arrived here after leaving her and decided to settle in the warehouse because he had no money to stay elsewhere."
"Yeah right," Pedro muttered under his breath.

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"Ok!" Miriam stopped them abruptly. "So...no one in this town has gone out of their way to get to know this guy and find out what really happened?"
"H*** no Miriam!" Angelica cried. "You've seen how he treats everyone! He clearly doesn't want any friends. And everyone knows he owns a few shotguns and wouldn't hesitate using them if someone came onto his 'precious' property!" She said with a look of disgust.
"Yeah I think he said as much once," Pedro added.

"You know," Miriam paused. "It sounds to me like this man's story has made its way so many times through the grapevine that nothing about him can be deemed as fact anymore." Her friends sat in silence, not knowing what to say as that truth sank in. "And it also seems to me," she went on, "that the people in this town have been going about in the wrong way dealing with this grouchy man who continually disturbs the peace." Now she had her friend's undivided attention, curious as to what she was getting at.

"It's Christmastime," she said, "if anyone needs some light and positivity in their life, some Christmas cheer in their life, it's him! No matter how much he shuns it. Heck, I think he just needs someone to actually care about him. It's the only way to cure his attitude and turn him into a decent human being again."
"Like the whole 'kill 'em with kindness' thing?" Pedro asked.
"Kind of, but it goes deeper than that."
Ciro looked away, having a sneaking suspicion of what his crush had in mind to do.
"So...what are you saying Miriam?" Angelica asked with reservation.

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Miriam smiled brightly.

"I'm going to show him what's been missing in his life and will use the Christmas season to do it!"

* * * * * * * * * * * *


:blush:

So, what do y'all think so far? :grin:

I know it sounds like one of those typical Christmas stories, but trust me, it turns into so much more. <3

Comments

  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member
    Chapter 2

    The next day was December 1st. The beginning day of Miriam's plan.

    Ciro anxiously paced around the room as he waited for Miriam to finished getting dressed upstairs. This is insane, he thought to himself. I can't let her do this. But she's always so determined when she sets her mind on something. How can I persuade her that this is a CRAZY idea and is a lost cause?

    His head jolted up toward her direction when he heard light footsteps coming down the stairs. He blushed a little as she came towards him with that ever glowing smile of hers and wearing the attire that she was. She was dressed in a rather flattering Santa dress, wearing high green and white striped stockings. The black boots even added a nice, sexy touch. Why is she dressing like this again to see Scrooge McHodge?

    It's as if Miriam read his mind. "I know, I know what you're thinking," she said. "It's a bit much, but I've gotta wear something festive and...a little appealing so that it gets his attention and he's willing to chat with me a bit you know?" She winked.

    "I understand," Ciro expressed, wanting desperately to pull her in close so he could rub his hands up and down those perfectly formed curves. "But," he stopped himself, "I'm really worried about you doing this Miriam. This guy is dangerous and if anything should happen to you--"

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    Miriam placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "This is why I asked you to come with me," she assured. "And not just because I need your car," she chuckled. But when Ciro didn't smile back, she continued more seriously. "I know Hodge has the potential to be dangerous, I'm not stupid, but...something within me keeps nagging at me to do this. I feel like I need to do this. I want to do this. I feel so bad for him."
    "Your caring heart is admirable Miriam," Ciro said, "but--"
    "Besides, how can anyone get angry at someone for giving them a gift?" she asked, pulling out the small gift from her dress pocket to show.
    "Someone like him!" Ciro stressed.

    Once again Miriam ran a comforting hand down his shoulder. "Don't worry Ciro, it's going to be ok. I can feel it. The man needs this and you know it."

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    She continued. "And I'll be so charming he won't even be able to resist me."

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    Upon hearing that, Ciro couldn't help but agree and smile as he found his eyes beginning to wander below her face onto something else.

    "No doubt you will," he said, admiringly, then added sternly, "but if he so much as tries to hit you or worse, pulls out a gun on you, then you run and yell out for me and I'll be there in a flash!"

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    Miriam smiled with a blush. "I love how sweet and protective you are Ciro."
    "I mean it Miriam."
    "I know, come here," she said, enveloping him in her arms. "Thank you. And thank you for helping me with this."

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    Ciro still felt uneasy sending her off to do this, even if he wouldn't be too far behind her.

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    Earlier he strongly suggested going to the door with her, but Miriam felt that might be a little too intimidating for Mr. Hodge, so she figured it best that Ciro hide a few feet behind the trees with his car.

    As they released each other from the hug, Ciro continued to hold Miriam for a bit. His heart was nearly pounding out of his chest and he couldn't help but say it. "You know I love you right?" he said while gazing into her eyes. "You're my best friend Miriam and I'd never want to lose you."

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    Miriam didn't look as surprised as he'd hoped from his declaration, but she did blush. "Aww, of course I do," she sweetly replied. "And I love you too. But really Ciro don't worry. Everything will be fine. Let's just go and do this!" She grinned, shaking excitedly.
    Ciro nodded, and with that Miriam bolt out the door for the truck.

    "You really should've kissed her," Angelica said from the desk, while scrolling through her Facebook page. "It was the perfect moment."

    Ciro glanced over at her while expressing a deeply disappointed sigh.

    ****

    It was about a 15 minute drive to Mr. Hodge's old abandoned warehouse of a home; the two friends probably would've arrived quicker if the roads hadn't been so slushy.

    Once Ciro parked the truck beside the road, he and Miriam just sat and stared at the ramshackled old place in silence for a few seconds. He couldn't tell just how nervous Miriam was and how quickly she was debating with herself whether she really wanted to do this.

    "We can always turn back," Ciro suggested.
    "I know," Miriam nodded, releasing a deep breath. "But I know that if I do that I will forever ask myself, 'What if?'"
    Ciro looked down, not knowing what to say.
    "No. I'll do it. I'm just giving him a simple gift. Easy enough right?"
    "I hope so."
    "You've got my back?"
    "Of course! I won't take my eyes off you!"
    "Good."

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    Taking in another deep breath, Miriam released it as she said, "Okay. Let's do this!" and stepped out of the truck.

    Deciding not to waste anymore time debating, she bolted towards the warehouse. Maybe saying a tiny little prayer as she did.

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    Once she stood before the door, preparing to knock, she couldn't help noticing just how much this place reminded her of a creepy warehouse straight from a Simis King novel. She tried to control her shivers of fear, but at least they could be masked by the fact that it's cold outside.

    Bravely she knocked on the slivering wood door.

    It felt like the longest 30 seconds of her life, paired with light rustling sounds coming from within.

    "Scrooge McHodge" flung the door open without any reservation and once he set eyes upon this rare guest, Miriam could see them widen a bit.

    "What do you want?" he gruffed at her.
    "Umm, Hi!" Miriam greeted cheerfully, throwing out the biggest grin she could muster. "My name is Miriam Day and you are...?"
    Mr. Hodge just stared at her with a glare.

    "Anyway," she went on, clasping her hands together behind her back to hide both shivers. "I'm here because it's officially the first day of the Holiday Season and," she shuddered as Mr. Hodge stepped out of his home to stand before her while shutting the door. "And...I was thinking of you and wanted to give you a gift." She reached for her dress pocket.

    Suddenly, Mr. Hodge chuckled and said in a somewhat mocking tone, while pointing a finger, "Ha ha that's a good one girlie!"

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    "You must be new in town right?" he asked.
    "Uhh...no. I've lived here for almost two years."
    That seemed to surprise Mr. Hodge a tad, but he shrugged it off and went on to say, "Then you very well know that I don't do Christmas so move along young lady..." and he turned for the door.
    "But Mr. Hodge," she beckoned. "You're forgetting my gift to you."
    "I don't do gifts either."
    "Oh come on...I know you'll really like it," she said in a babying tone of voice.

    "I said I don't want your gift!" Mr. Hodge snapped. "Now leave!"

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    "Ok," Miriam nonchalantly said while scratching her head. "But you see I feel like you're the kind of person who needs a little kindness in their life so...you may not like me stopping by, but I'm going to keep coming by, every single day until Christmas with a special gift for you."
    "What!?"
    "To show you that I care Mr. Hodge. Just think of me as your own personal Advent Calendar!" She smiled.

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    "I don't want your Christmas related gifts, or your care, and I don't want you stopping by here every day. Just leave me alone!"
    "Ok then," Miriam concluded, bending down towards the ground with the gift, "I'm just going to leave this right here and see you in the morning tomorrow."
    "No!" he cried in anger. "Don't you get it missy? I want you off my property and never come back! And if you do I'll call the police."

    There was a quick pause as the two stared each other down.

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    "Then call them," Miriam said with a mischievous grin and ran off towards the truck. "Have a lovely December 1st Mr. Hodge," she called back. "See you tomorrow."

    "Urrrgghh!" Mr. Hodge grumbled loudly, hoping she would hear, as he kicked her small present clear across the yard.

    As he watched the gift fall into a deep drift of snow, he suddenly realized that once the snow melted he would have to see it again and...he didn't want that. He rolled his eyes as he headed over to fetch it. Better to just throw it away so it's gone for good, he thought.

    Once he entered his warehouse home and stood before the trash bin, he stopped and studied the present a bit; pressing it every which way, trying to make a guess as to what it could be. Maybe I'll take a quick peek at what it is before I throw it away. His curiosity got the better of him. As he ripped off the paper, falling into the bin as he did, he discovered a nice cigar now resting between his fingers.

    With pursed lips he stared at the gift and tried to remember the last time he had a good smoke with a cigar. He really couldn't recall.

    With a shrug he thought, Guess I could use a smoke, but ONLY to help me remember the good old days...

    ****


    Gotta stop the chapter here as I need to go back in game and get a few more pictures for the next part. :blush:

    Hope you enjoyed! :smiley:
  • lanlynlanlyn Posts: 4,206 Member
    @emorrill How fun that you've written a Christmas story! ...2013? Hmm, I wonder why you chose that year to begin your story? So, it was a special year of magic that's still being talked about. ...Pretty Aurora Skies snow scenery. ...Miriam Day was a woman on a Good Will Christmas mission! ...I love how you decorated the house. Very festive. ...Scrooge McHodge! It looks like Miriam has found her Grinch. ...So no one really knows the truth about his past.

    ...Ciro could be right. What if McHodge is a serial killer who eats people! :o Nah, this is a Christmas story, not a Supernatural Halloween show. ;) ...I'm glad Ciro is going with her though. And it's good that he's willing to support her. Miriam is a brave lady, but I also think she's willing to listen to her heart too. ...Well, that first encounter didn't go perfectly, but Mr Hodge did open that present! :)

    ...Great dialog, as usual. I like the relationship between Ciro and Miriam. And McHodge is definitely an interesting character with his mysterious past. I want to learn more!
  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member
    A proper reply to your sweet comments later @lanlyn :kissing_heart:
    (It's SUPER late at night while I'm posting this! :flushed: )



    An Aurora Skies Christmas Romance Tale

    Chapter 2 continued...

    The next morning there was a knock at Mr. Hodge's door. He was afraid the odd woman would return and he wasn't happy about it. At all!

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    However, he decided to keep quiet and pray - which he never did anymore - that she'd think him not home and leave. Maybe I should do this every time she comes over and maybe she'll get the hint, he thought gleefully. It had to work.

    "Happy December 2nd Mr. Hodge!" the ever cheerful Miriam greeted from the other side of the door. When there was still no answer she said, "I don't know if you're in there or not, but," she paused, "I'm sorry to have missed you." Then she sighed. "I'll leave this right here for you again. Merry Christmas!" And with that she ran back to Ciro's truck, her footsteps crunching in the snow to Mr. Hodge's ears.

    He bolted for the door, swung it open, fully intending to yell something out at her, but she was gone.

    Sighing in frustration he glanced down at the present, picked it up, wanting to just chuck it into the fire, but his curiosity kept getting the better of him.

    ****

    The third day Miriam returned again. And the fourth. And the fifth. Still bringing presents while he continued to ignore the door.

    On the sixth day, he stepped outside for a moment to take the trash out...

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    ...when he turned to find Miriam magically present by his door, startling him. "Hey!" he sharply addressed while throwing his coat to the ground and stomping towards her, fully intending to chew her out. No longer would he stand for this anymore!

    "Hello there Mr. Hodge!" she greeted with that ever annoying bright smile of hers. "Happy December --"
    "Save it missy!" he ordered. "I don't want you coming around here anymore and I especially don't want your presents!"
    "But--"

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    "I warned you that if you ever came back onto my property I would call the police so here it goes." He whipped out his prepaid phone and started dialing.
    "Please Mr. Hodge," Miriam begged, "I don't mean to be a bother, or trespass--"
    "Well you are!"
    "I'm sorry I...I just want you to be happy..."
    "I'M JUST FINE THE WAY I AM!" He shouted, throwing the phone up to his ear.
    "Alright," Miriam surrendered, holding her hands up which dropped her gift onto the snow. "I'll go." And then she ran a little more quickly than usual back to Ciro's truck.
    "HEY!" he cursed under his breath. "You get back here!"

    "911, what's your emergency?"

    Mr. Hodge lowered his phone continuing to curse, as he sharply pressed the End Call button.

    ****

    Five minutes later, the police arrived on the scene. One of them was quite familiar with Mr. Hodge, having dealt with his shenanigans before. Once it was determined there was no emergency, the veteran officer dismissed his rookie to return to the vehicle while he stayed behind to chat with "Mr. Scrooge."

    The two shot a few glances at each other for a moment, pretty much knowing how this was going to end, while the officer adjusted his duty belt and asked, "What is the disturbance this time Mr. Hodge?"
    "A woman," he promptly replied. "A crazy woman named Mary-something who keeps coming onto my property and driving me crazy!"
    "How exactly is she driving you crazy?"
    "She's been coming by here every day since the first of the month, saying she's my 'human advent calendar' or something, and bringing me gifts that I don't WANT!"

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    The officer peered at him for a moment with a suppressed laugh while resting one hand on his hip. "So you're saying," he reiterated with his hands, "that a woman is coming over to your house giving you...gifts? What kind of gifts?"

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    "Christmas gifts, what else!? And she's always dressed like an elf when she comes. She's a crazy woman Officer I'm telling ya!"

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    The officer's eyes brightened with realization setting in. "Ohh, are you talking about Miriam Day?"
    He shrugged. "I guess so."
    "Oh pfft," he dismissed with a wave of his hand, "she's harmless Hodge! A real sweet lady that one. She's on the city council and an especially chipper and festive person this time of year. She's just trying to spread a little Christmas cheer, although I can't imagine why she'd head over here into your neck of the woods," he muttered that last statement.
    "Exactly! She's annoying and I want her off my property, but she won't leave! She insists on bringing me gifts every day until Christmas!" He shook his head in frustration. "You gotta get rid of her Officer!"

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    "Now hold on there Hodge," the officer calmed. "Has she done you any real harm?"
    "No, but she's trespassing and I want you to do something about it!"
    "I get that's she's somewhat trespassing and I'll talk to her, but you know," he paused, curling his lip a bit, "I would think that you'd find it quite flattering that someone in this town actually cares about you."

    At that Mr. Hodge met the Officer's gaze with a heavy-hearted look in his eyes.

    Instantly the officer's face fell with remorse. He wasn't expecting that reaction. "Uh... that didn't come out right."
    Mr. Hodge lowered his eyes to hide his agreement.
    "What I mean to say is Hodge...be grateful for this angel that's miraculously appeared in your life. You may not like it, but...just humor the girl alright? Swallow your pride and allow her the opportunity to serve. To spread her overflowing Christmas cheer."
    Mr. Hodge just rolled his eyes and let out a light huff.
    The officer didn't really have much else to say. "So...I guess we're done here?"
    There was a slight, surrendering nod.

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    "Ok then," the officer said, heading for the door. "Oh and by the way Hodge," he turned, "It's a $500 fine to call 911 when there isn't a legit emergency going on. However," he paused, "I'm willing to let that slide for the sake of Miriam Day's Christmas spirit. That woman sure has blown my mind with this one," he shook his head with a chuckle. "Besides, the last thing you have is $500 to fork over am I right Hodge?"

    Mr. Hodge grit his teeth as he closed his eyes and shook his head in annoyed defeat. Eventually he managed to get out, "Good day officer."

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    ****

    The next day, the seventh, Miriam didn't arrive in the morning.

    Mr. Hodge found himself continually glancing out his foggy windows, rubbing at them each time to see better, fully expecting to find her trudging through the snow toward his front door in that skimpy outfit of hers. He couldn't figure out why he kept looking especially since...this is exactly what he wanted. For her to disappear.

    He felt a tiny hint of disappointment, perhaps more than a tiny hint, poke at his shriveled heart, but he shrugged it off and simply said, "Good riddance." He then headed over to the couch to relax and read the morning paper, relishing in the pleasurable heat from the fire.

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    Later that afternoon as he prepared to head out and split some firewood, a familiar knock rang through the air.

    Freezing in his tracks, Mr. Hodge released a giant breath while gazing up at the ceiling. He was instantly reminded of the Officer's words.

    Opening up the door, still refusing to smile, Miriam stepped back a little to allow him out.

    "Happy December 7th Mr. Hodge," she greeted, somewhat less cheerfully than before.
    There was a sigh. "There's just no avoiding you is there?" he frankly asked.

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    A smile drew across her lips. "Nope. Not this Christmas season Mr. Hodge."
    He tried not to roll his eyes at her.
    "I promised you a gift every day until Christmas and...I intend to keep that promise. Of course," she paused, digging the tip of her shoe into the snow, "if you'll allow me the opportunity to keep my promise?"

    Gosh this woman certainly has a way with words...and with people, he couldn't help thinking. She was really something. And he still couldn't figure out why of ALL people she'd give a darn about him, but...

    "I guess so," he replied with a deep sigh.
    Miriam's eyes lit up like a diamond in the sun. "Oh thank you Mr. Hodge! You won't regret--"

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    "Alright, alright I get it, just," he deeply sighed again, "leave me with your gift and be on your way."
    Eyes still glistening, Miriam handed over a box of assorted chocolates, nicely wrapped with a red ribbon. "Hope you can eat these..."
    "Of course I can!" he expressed while harshly grabbing the box. "Why wouldn't I!?"
    Miriam froze. "Oh uhh...I dunno," she replied awkwardly. "I guess because some people are diabetic or...they're trying to watch their weight..."
    His eyes pierced hers sharply at that comment.
    "NOT saying that you're trying to lose weight! I mean...you look great," she complimented, quickly studying his physique. "I just--"
    "You can go now."
    "Okay!" She spun on her heel and did just that.


    :mrgreen:

    More to come soon!
  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member
    So yeah, hey there @lanlyn :smiley: It was so sweet to see you pop in here and make some lovely comments on my new short story. :blush: It's been very fun to write so far! :grin:

    I chose the year 2013 since that was the year Aurora Skies was released to download. At least that's what I read online. :p
    Yeah I was already told by Charlottesmom ;) that it sounded a little like Jim Carrey's Grinch story from the start, but it becomes so much better than that movie! :lol: (Please don't hate me for not liking it, JC is just a little too hyper and annoying in that movie for my taste. :confused: )

    Hee hee! :lol: I love this comment:
    What if McHodge is a serial killer who eats people! :o Nah, this is a Christmas story, not a Supernatural Halloween show. ;)
    I can't wait for you to learn more in the story. :blush:
    Enjoy the newest chapter and thanks for the comments! :kissing_heart:
  • lanlynlanlyn Posts: 4,206 Member
    edited December 2018
    @emorrill His "prepaid" phone. Nice touch, that! I take it he didn't use it very often. Or is it like a burner phone that can't be traced? ...Interesting conversation with the police officer. So Mr Hodge has a tender spot after all. ...And he's beginning to soften towards Miriam too--getting used to having her come around. ...Great conversation between the two. ...LOL at Hodge noticing Miriam's "skimpy" outfit and Miriam noticing Hodge's physique. ...Another fun update!

    ...That's a neat detail about 2013 and when Aurora Skies came out. ...Jim Carrey is like a lot of comedians for me. Sometimes I enjoy their performances; sometimes not at all! I don't like slapstick or too much dopey behavior. I wasn't a big fan of Lucille Ball or Jerry Lewis for the same reasons.
  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member
    edited December 2018
    @lanlyn Thanks for the sweet comments again. <3
    It's funny you should mention the Prepaid Phone because that was something that instantly hit me when I was typing that I needed to make sure was accurate. He's poor...so having a cell phone "Plan" wouldn't be realistic. So Prepaid it was. :p And...I would imagine he has the kind of prepaid where it can't be traced. ;)
    But yeah, I love how you notice the little details I've thrown in. :smirk: It must be something we notice as fellow writers. :kissing_heart:

    I don't like slapstick humor either... (The Three Stooges...oh gosh kill me! :unamused: )
    The only thing Jim Carrey I like is "Dumb and Dumber." :lol: And Bruce Almighty, but everything else...just...no. :grimace:

    Here's the next chapter for you. :blush: (And any others who may be reading. ;) )


    Chapter 3

    December 8th

    Miriam (and Ciro) had just returned from visiting with Mr. Hodge and she was so filled with joy that she couldn't keep herself still. She squealed, her hands clasped and raised to her breast, as Ciro began closing the door behind them.

    "Oh Ciro!" she happily cried. "Did you see him actually accept my gift this time around? I mean, he totally almost smiled!"
    Ciro cracked one himself, trying to share her same enthusiasm. "No...it's kinda hard to see from my distance, but yeah...," he faced her, "that's wonderful Miriam. You're magic is working."
    She blushed. "Well, I was just following my heart. I mean gosh," she breathed, placing her hand upon her chest. "My heart feels so full. I don't think I've ever felt this happy in a LONG time Ciro! It's just...such a great feeling to know I'm helping someone like this." She gazed into his eyes. "Helping someone find the light in their life again you know?"
    "Yeah..."
    "I say we should have some of our friends over tonight! Call it a little celebration!" she declared. "What do you think?"

    Ciro shrugged, not feeling like there was a whole lot to celebrate, but, "Yeah. That sounds like a good idea." I guess...

    ****

    Miriam, her roommates, and a few of their friends all got together at 5pm, eating pizza for dinner in front of the cozy fire while listening to various Christmas tunes in the background.

    After dinner, Miriam and Ciro had a moment while chatting together where they both decided within themselves that tonight...they were going to share their true feelings for each other.

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    Ciro couldn't wait! He'd anticipated this moment for years and finally mustered up the strength to do it. He didn't want to miss out on a perfect moment either, like he did the other day.

    One could only imagine his enthusiasm when a few of their friends started casually sharing kisses under the mistletoe and Miriam invited him to come join her underneath.
    He tried to hide his burning, blushing cheeks as he approached her.

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    This wasn't exactly how he planned their first kiss to be, but who was he to complain?

    "I feel a little silly doing this," he expressed to Miriam. He always thought the kissing under the mistletoe thing was super silly and cliché.
    She chuckled. "Oh it's cute! Now c'mon...humor me for a bit." She winked.
    Alright. "With pleasure."

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    Miriam took his arm, and he hers, each gently pulling the other in for a tender, very first kiss together.

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    They both grinned brightly at each other after the kiss ended, while resting their forehead's against the other's giggling.

    Ciro had every intention of leaning in and kissing her again, but Miriam stepped back a little and said, "Sorry. I hope you'll excuse me Ciro, I...I need to step into the bathroom. I'll be right back." As he watched her go he hoped that meant she actually had to go and not that she was avoiding him.

    When Miriam exited the bathroom she was approached by a few of her friends who started asking her about her recent visits with "Scrooge McHodge." It turned into a long conversation and while waiting for her Ciro somehow got plum into playing a board game with Pedro, Angelica, and one of their close friends.

    As the evening came to a close, the friends chatting with Miriam told her goodbye, and to the others, as they headed out the door for home. Miriam joined the other four in their board game and once it ended, the last friend bid them goodbye and Pedro and Angelica informed they were tired and headed upstairs to bed.

    Finally it was just Miriam and Ciro alone in the room, with the Christmas tree as a sparkling backdrop, and as the clock was about to strike midnight.

    "This was a really fun evening," Ciro spoke.
    "Yeah," Miriam concurred. "It was."

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    "I take it you're ready for bed too?" he asked, hoping not.
    "Not exactly," she replied, as she got up from the couch to join Ciro on his. "Look Ciro I'm," she started, growing nervous, "I'm sorry I took off like that...after our kiss."
    Ciro nodded. "It's ok..."
    "And...about that kiss..."
    "Yes, let's talk about that kiss," he expressed anxiously.

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    Miriam inched in closer beside him. "It was wonderful," she breathed, gazing deeply into his eyes, with the deepest of sincerity written upon them.
    Ciro gazed lovingly back into them. "Was it?" he playfully asked, putting his arm around her. "Because...I think I need a reminder." And with that he pulled her in for another deep, yet tender, kiss.

    "Ciro..." Miriam whispered between breaths.
    "Miriam," he whispered in return, as he leaned her back a bit, pressing his lips harder upon hers and gently starting to pull down the sleeve of her shirt with his other hand.

    "Ciro," Miriam addressed louder this time, causing him to pull back as she slid her shirt sleeve back up. "We," she corrected, "there's something...I need to tell you."
    Ciro felt his heart sink for a bit as he sat up fully now. "What is it?" he gently asked.

    "Oh G**," she expressed, burying her face into her hands. "I don't know what's wrong Ciro. I don't understand it."
    "Don't understand what?" he hated to encourage.
    "You are this amazing guy!" she said, gazing back at him now. "Always so sweet and the most wonderful friend, and I've wanted us to be together. I've wanted it for a long time."
    "Me too."
    "But...when I made the decision to ask you for a kiss under the mistletoe, which please don't feel like I was using you for an experiment, I was just...hoping the kiss would help confirm my feelings for you. You know? Be the kiss to seal the deal."
    Ciro looked down at his hands now. "And...it didn't?"
    Miriam frowned. "No," she sadly replied. "Like I said...I just don't understand it."
    "So when we kissed just now," Ciro said, glancing back at her, "did you feel the spark? The confirmation? Because I sure did."
    "I know," Miriam whispered, shaking her head and trying to hold back tears. "But I didn't. I am SO sorry Ciro!" She hated witnessing the disappointed look upon his face.

    "I guess," she continued, "you're just too much of a good friend to me that...it just doesn't feel right to take it to the next level because if our relationship were to not work out I'd feel like I'd lose your friendship forever and honestly Ciro," she held her hand to her aching heart, "I would die if that ever happened!"
    "What makes you think our relationship would not work out?"
    "Ciro...it's taken us two years to finally start pursuing the idea," she paused. "Don't you think if we were really meant to be together, we would've known long before now? And acted upon it?"
    Ciro released a big sigh. "I guess it's my fault then. If I hadn't been so nervous to ask you out earlier than maybe we'd be..." he stopped, unable to finish.
    "Aww, come here," Miriam beckoned, putting her arm around him and pulling him in for a snuggle. "Don't blame yourself. I was nervous to ask you out too. I guess," she sighed, "we were just always meant to be really good friends instead of being in a relationship."
    "I guess so," he said, still gazing into her beautiful eyes with a longing expression. "But it sure felt nice to explore the next step with you...even just for a little bit."
    "Yeah," she smiled. "It did...

    32332379868_9d4221c88c_c.jpg

    ...but when you started pulling down my sleeve I was like, 'Oh my gosh Ciro is trying to make love to me,'" she chuckled, "and...it made me feel a little uncomfortable."
    Ciro looked down with a cracked smile.
    "I don't mean that offensively!" Miriam assured. "It's just...it's like what we talked about, you're my best friend and it felt a little weird to go there..."
    "I understand," he said. "And honestly, as much as I wanted to, and boy did I really want to!" They both chuckled. "I was feeling nervous as heck," he continued, "like I wouldn't measure up to your expectations or something."

    Miriam gazed upon him with a look of love again. "I'm sure you would've measured up," she said to comfort, "it just...isn't meant to be."
    "Yeeeah," he really hated to say.
    "So," she deeply sighed, "are we ok? You'll still always be my best friend forever?"
    Figuring they'd have to be and because he respected her feelings, Ciro replied sincerely, "Yeah. We're ok. And of course I'll be your best friend forever."

    Miriam smiled in relief as they then cuddled in silence for a bit.

    "So...should we head up to bed now?" Ciro asked, breaking it.
    "No," she whispered. "Let's just stay like this...for a few more minutes."
    "Okay," he agreed.

    32332379698_3a25a6c413_c.jpg

    "You know I love you too right?" Miriam almost forgot to tell him.
    "Yes. I do."

    ****

    December 12th

    The past four days went by pleasurably for Miriam when visiting Mr. Hodge, although a twinge of heartbreak was still shared between her and Ciro. Nevertheless they carried on like the best friends they've always been and he continued to keep a watchful eye on her as she visited daily with the ever bitter man, who surprisingly...was turning more into a decent man throughout each day inching closer to Christmas.

    In fact the townsfolk began noticing less of "Scrooge McHodge's" negative feelings about Christmas whenever he made an appearance in town and that was a miracle in and of itself.

    One afternoon as he stepped into the grocery store just as a woman was going out, he took notice of her bug eyed look towards him; as if she were surprised to see him.
    "Yes! I'm still around!" he said with a little less gruff then he normally would.
    "I didn't say anything!" the woman muttered as she looked away and kept walking.

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    Miriam's daily conversations with Mr. Hodge grew longer, to her excitement, as he was really starting to open up to her a little. Honestly, for him, it was beginning to feel quite nice talking one and one with someone again.

    He talked about how life wasn't always easy living in a run down, abandoned warehouse. How he had to repair it from the ground up the best he cold, having very little money, but thankfully being blessed with the gift of handiness.

    32327235448_41b27fe233_c.jpg

    He talked about his intense poverty...how his job as the night shift graveyard grounds keeper was barely paying the utility bills...

    32327234728_2202e10c86_c.jpg

    Electricity became too much so he switched to only lighting his home with candles for about three years. Then when he found an easy to fix flat screen TV at the dump, he went back to having electricity again. He longed to watch TV again...anything his satellite antenna would pick up. It was a modern amenity he'd missed greatly and was definitely worth the cost - even if it meant hunting for food instead of buying groceries and selling the pelts.

    His story about finding and fixing up the TV reminded Miriam that it wasn't a rare sight to see him dumpster diving around town in the past...

    32327235308_9e089d0249_c.jpg

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    One thing Mr. Hodge mentioned that made Miriam chuckle was him calling laundry the most detestable chore out of them all...(and he had many!) especially when trying to run his clothes through the world's cra'pp'iest washing machine...

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    ...and then forgetting to bring the clothes in from hanging out to dry on the line before the rain or snow started falling.

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    Her heart especially went out to him as he talked about spending TEN winters in his run down warehouse home...

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    ...and how some years it was so bitter cold that the single fireplace wasn't enough to heat every area of the ground floor that he needed it to.

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    So often he had to spend the night sleeping on the cold, hard floor, instead of in his bed, in front of the fire to keep himself from freezing to death.

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    How no one ever noticed this man's poverty and reached out to him in all these years is beyond me, Miriam thought. She'd be the first to admit that SHE certainly could've reached out to him sooner and she also knew of plenty of other good and caring people in town who should have as well, but then again...Mr. Hodge didn't exactly allow anyone in to help.

    On the days leading up to today Miriam was very happy to learn all of these things about Mr. Hodge and his life, but it disappointed her that he still hadn't revealed how he ended up in the warehouse, alone, and why he hates Christmas so much. Perhaps it wouldn't matter anymore if his heart was really beginning to change, but...she couldn't help thinking how he wouldn't fully be able to change and heal if he didn't talk about it. She had a sneaking suspicion that he never talked to anyone about what caused the hatred...and that's why he was so full of pain, anger, and resentment. There is still time, she thought in conclusion. I'll casually ask him about it when the moment feels right. She could only hope that moment would present itself before Christmas.

    But for now things were beginning to look up, miraculously, and she didn't want to rush inquiring into his personal life for fear of pushing him away just as he's barely started to open up to someone since a decade's time.

    The ice was still thin and she had to continually tread lightly. However, she HAD to help Mr. Hodge have a happier, wonderful, and memorable Christmas this year. He needed that...more than anyone else in the world it seemed.


    *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


    :blush:
    Post edited by emorrill on
  • lanlynlanlyn Posts: 4,206 Member
    edited December 2018
    @emorrill I liked Carrey in The Truman Show and The Majestic. ...Well, I can't say I'm surprised about Ciro and Miriam not feeling a romantic connection after all. They'd been friends for years, but nothing romantic had ever happened between them. I know couples can be like that and then finally realize they love each other romantically, but Miriam and Ciro had even been living in the same house together. ...Loved the mistletoe scene and the conversation afterwards. Really nice dialog. ...Meanwhile, Miriam and Hodge are getting along better. Now THERE'S an interesting relationship. Some sort of "magical" connection between those two, I think. ;) ...Hodge has been living a hand-to-mouth existence for a long time. ...I wonder if his clothes froze hanging outdoors during those snow storms! ...Ten winters and no one checked on him. That can happen, though, when someone is a true recluse, refusing company. I guess it's a pride of sorts not to accept "charity." ...I think Miriam's plan to go slow and easy with Hodge is a good way to befriend him.
    Post edited by lanlyn on
  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member

    Chapter 4

    "Happy December 14th Mr. Hodge," Miriam greeted, like she always did, holding her gift out to him.

    This time the man sighed, a faint smile creeping across his lips. "Thank you," he said, taking the gift. It was the first time he said that.
    Miriam tried to control herself from bursting with excitement.

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    "Go ahead," she encouraged, "open it."
    Mr. Hodge froze his look at her. "Now?"
    "Yes!"
    "Umm...ok." This felt awkward.

    As he pulled the ribbon off and tore off the paper, Miriam took the trash from him and threw it away in the trash can. Looking inside the box and discovering a various array of contents, tilting the box this way and that, Mr. Hodge asked as she returned to him, "What is this stuff?"

    Recognizing he didn't feel like digging through it, Miriam took the box from him and pulled out a squished black hat and a long, fluffy scarf that rested on top of the other things. "See?" she said, holding out the box closer so he could see. There were a few pieces of coal and a carrot at the bottom. He looked up and said, "I don't get it."
    She chuckled. "We're going to build a snowman!"
    "Whaaat?"
    "Yeah! You need something to liven up your place out here."
    He wanted to contest, but he knew she'd have some convincing reason for doing it that would make him change his mind.

    "At least it's not Christmas lights and wreaths," she pointed out, practically reading his mind. She was good at that. "It's just building a snowman. Everyone does it. Even if they don't celebrate Christmas. It's true." She winked.
    Shaking his head with a sigh he gave in and said, "Fine." I can't argue with this woman anymore and besides, I can always destroy it when she's not around and say it was the wind...

    As Miriam squealed with glee she knelt down and began rapidly pulling a bunch of snow into a pile to form the base of the snowman. Mr. Hodge just stood and watched for a moment.

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    "This is silly," he said. "I haven't built a snowman since I was like...8."
    "Really!?"
    "It's a childish thing to do."
    "It is not!" she retorted. "I've seen many adults build snowmen in my day. And you know Mr. Hodge, sometimes you need to do things that seem a little childish at times to take your mind off all of your adult responsibilities and stresses. It does wonders for your mental health. Reliving simpler times you know?"
    He shrugged.
    "I think you do...now come on!"
    With a slight roll of his eyes, he finally joined in.

    Together they worked to form a perfectly round ball, patting down each side until they both reached for one side at the same time and their hands inadvertently rested upon each other's...

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    Glancing up into the other's eyes for a moment, feeling a sudden surge of unknown energy penetrating into their hearts, they both removed their hands in unison. "Sorry," they said.
    Miriam brushed her hair behind her ears, oddly trying to hide a blush when she found herself curiously asking the question, "Is that a wedding ring I felt on your finger?" It was his left hand that she touched and she was pretty sure it was on the ring finger.

    Mr. Hodge instantly froze, his arms gradually dropping to his side as he shot a glowering look at her. Miriam gulped for a moment as her heart suddenly began to pound. She immediately regretted asking such a question and feared she may have just ruined everything. Quickly, she had to save this.

    "I'm so sorry," she said. "That's really none of my business."

    Mr. Hodge didn't nod, or even say a word as he finally released his intense gaze upon her and turned to start forming another ball for the midsection. Miriam let out a breath of relief.

    For the next several minutes they worked in silence to finish up the body.

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    When they were done, Miriam took a long look at it and declared, "It's perfect! Now we just gotta dress it up."

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    She turned back to the present box. "Why don't you go fetch some sticks to be the arms and I'll get started on this stuff."
    "I'm not a married man who ran out on his wife if that's what you're thinking," Mr. Hodge blurted out.
    She froze, mid bend toward the box on the ground. "I...wasn't," she said, grabbing the coal and standing up.
    "Good."

    While placing the coal on the midsection to create the "buttons," Miriam grew thoughtful; trying to figure out a non-direct way to get him to open up. "It's funny," she started, "I didn't think you cared about what other people thought of you."
    At that, Mr. Hodge shot a nasty look at her again as he turned away to go find some sticks.
    Little did he know just how much she was smiling at him from behind.

    When he returned with the sticks, he sighed before saying, "I usually don't care what other's think about me ok!"
    "Ok," she accepted.
    "It's just," he began, shoving the sticks into the snowman as if they were daggers, "you start coming along and talking to me and," he paused, "perhaps I'm starting to care about what you think."
    Miriam smiled. Warmth filling up her heart. "Look Mr. Hodge," she said. "We all have a past...and some of it's too hard to talk about so, I get it. You don't have to explain anything to me if you don't want to."

    Mr. Hodge was rather impressed by that comment. "Well alright then," he simply said.
    "Yup!" she pretended to accept, even though she was crazy curious. "Now let's finish decorating this snowman because it's COLD out here!"

    After Mr. Hodge brought out a broom to give it a final touch, Miriam clapped happily as she looked upon the finished snowman. "Aww, it's so cute! It turned out much better than I thought it would!"
    "Yeah," he agreed, admiring it too.

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    "Well," Miriam sighed, rubbing her hands together and blowing her breath into them. "I best be on my way. My friend is waiting for me in his truck."
    "Oh?" Mr. Hodge asked, glancing toward the road.
    "Yeah. He's my ride over here every day."
    "He?" he inquired. "Why hasn't he ever come to my door with you?"
    "Well," she hesitated, "it was my idea to visit you like this and...I didn't want you to feel intimidated by me showing up with a guy."
    "I wouldn't have felt intimidated."
    "But...would you have been accepting of the two of us instead of it just being me?" she winked.
    Thinking on that for a second, Mr. Hodge replied, "Probably not." Gosh she's good!
    They both chuckled.

    For a brief moment the two just stood there looking at each other, both lost in each other's deepest thoughts about the other. Mostly they studied each other's physical features, thinking that by so doing they could somehow dig up some more information about the other. They'd only just met and there was still a lot they didn't know, a lot they wished to know, but one thing was for certain, they'd begun to like each other and cherished their newly developed friendship.

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    "I guess this is goodbye then," Miriam spoke. "Until tomorrow...Mr. Hodge."

    Even though the sun had fully set and there wasn't much light now, Miriam's beauty had shone out to the man's eyes like the sun on a hot Summer day.

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    "Yes," he whispered. "Until tomorrow...Miriam."

    And with that, Miriam threw her coat back on which she hung onto a tree branch and ran back towards the road, while Mr. Hodge stepped back into the warmth of his home.

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    ****

    As the hours passed into the early evening, Mr. Hodge stepped outside to gather more firewood. It was still snowing and he gazed up at the sky, wondering if it would ever stop.

    His eyes lowered taking notice of the snowman, it's hat and scarf now sprinkled with snowflakes, and he smiled. He couldn't find it in his heart to destroy it after all.

    He headed over to the side of the house where the firewood was placed and before he started gathering a few logs, an interesting thought entered into his mind. There was a lovely blanket of untouched snow a few feet away, no footprints of any kind in it. It was calling to him, especially as he thought of Miriam's wise suggestion from before. Since her first daily visit he'd been feeling much different than he had in years and...it felt good. He wasn't sure how long it would last...

    He wanted to taste some more of that goodness. He wanted to feel like a child again.

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    And amazingly, it really was quite therapeutic.

    ****

    During that same time, back at Miriam's residence, Angelica pulled her friend to the side, away from the guys to share some new juicy gossip with her.

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    They giggled like teenagers after the revelation.

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    Then Miriam got serious and said, "You know...I've got some information you might find interesting."
    "Oh?" Angelica anxiously inquired.
    "Yeah. It's about Mr. Hodge."
    "Oh really? Did you finally find out why he acts like the Grinch during this time of year?"
    "No, but," she paused, "you know how we've always thought of him as this grumpy, old man?"
    Angelica nodded.
    "Well...after getting to know him a little better I don't think...he's really that old at all! Like...he's maybe only 10 years older than we are."
    Angelica's brow furrowed. "Get out!"
    "I'm serious!"
    "How'd you come up with that conclusion?"

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    "Well," Miriam began, "we had a moment today where we were staring at each other and I noticed he doesn't have any facial wrinkles or any strands of white in his hair. He just looked...younger than I expected."
    "Hold up," Angelica stopped. "You two were staring at each other?"
    "Yeeeahh."
    "And why was that?" she smirked.
    Blushing she replied, "It's not what you think ok! It was one of those awkward moments...you know the kind."
    "Mmm hmm," Angelica mumbled, observing. "Then why are your cheeks as bright as cherries right now?"
    "Oh they are so not!!"
    "Guuurrl they SO are!" she cried, playfully slapping her friend's shoulder. "Are you finally starting to indulge in some Chocolate?" She winked.

    45475239984_0b5fa66224_c.jpg

    "Oh my gosh Angelica!" she cried with a gaping smile. "I'm not indulging in ANYTHING! I was just making an observation! Besides, I barely even know Mr. Hodge. He hasn't even told me his first name! And he's still a grump...which personality is totally not my type! So how is it even possible for me to be attracted to him? Especially with that hair!" she grimaced.

    "Honey," Angelica began, "one does not need those kind of details to be attracted to someone. You know that! I mean, how many men have we picked up in the past at parties and bars who we didn't know from Adam and we still made out with them?"
    Miriam lowered her head in slight shame over that reminder. "Ok, I see your point," she reluctantly said.
    "Mmm hmm. So I don't care what you say girl! With you going around showing kindness to young Scrooge, apparently, and warming him up you are SO becoming the smitten kitten!"
    "I am not!" Miriam declared, leaving the foyer.
    "Yeah you just keep telling yourself that," Angelica called back to her.
    "I don't need to..."

    Whatever, Angelica thought with a snicker. She sure enjoyed teasing her bestie about guys. But then she thought deeper on the situation. Wait, WHY am I encouraging this? This IS Scrooge McHodge we're talking about. And him with Miriam? No way! In his DREAMS! I guess Miriam ISN'T smitten.

    But then again why did it sure seem like in that moment she was?

    *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


    And because I have to be silly. :mrgreen:

    I think Mr. Hodge is thinking something like this right now...
    (Even if you don't like country music, give this a listen. :smirk: One of my favorite songs by these guys!)
  • lanlynlanlyn Posts: 4,206 Member
    @emorrill Yay! Hodge accepted Miriam's present. Things to make a snow man! What a cute idea. ...Loved the scenes of them building the snowman. ...So, Hodge is wearing a ring? ...He admitted he cared about what SHE thought of him! ...The whole conversation between them was great. ...And the close-up shot of Miriam is lovely. ...He felt happy and free enough to make a snow angel. ...Ah ha! Hodge isn't that old after all. Only 10 years older, eh? ...LOL at Angelica calling Hodge "young Scrooge." ...I liked the song you shared too. There's a lot of country music I enjoy.
  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member
    edited December 2018
    Thank you for the comments @lanlyn :kissing_heart:
    I always look forward to getting them. <3
    90's country is the BEST! :mrgreen:



    Chapter 5

    December 19th

    On this particular morning in Aurora Skies it was a clear and sunny winter day. However it was also accompanied by wind, that seemed to reduce the current low temperature outside to about 15 degrees lower! It was a biting cold and Miriam figured she better dress a bit more warmly when visiting Mr. Hodge today.

    Before leaving she assured Ciro that she could go without him now as there wasn't anymore hostility coming from Mr. Hodge. Ciro expressed his uneasiness about letting her go alone, but when all was said and done he trusted her. Besides it wasn't like she didn't have a phone to call for help or that she wasn't one of the fastest runners around.

    After arriving on Mr. Hodge's property and knocking on the door, it took a bit longer for him to answer. Miriam prayed he would soon as the freezing wind was already started to penetrate through her coat and pants. She gripped the center of her coat and squeezed the seam together to help keep in the warmth better.

    Mr. Hodge finally opened the door with a smile on his face and stepped out to greet,
    "Good morning to you Miriam."
    "Good Morning Mr. Hodge," she replied, shivering a bit. Her nose felt frozen.
    "Whew!" he breathed, "this wind is terrible! I'm glad you wore something warmer this time around."

    46226979891_85f60e340f_c.jpg

    "Indeed," she agreed. "Happy December 19th Mr. Hodge," she said, holding the gift out to him."
    "Thank you again," he said, with an even brighter smile.
    She smiled, blushing in return.

    46226979581_6f3d03d75d_c.jpg

    "Well," she began, unable to handle the cold any longer. "I better be going. This wind is nasty! I really hope you like the gift."

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    "Wait!" Mr. Hodge stopped her. She looked upon him curiously. "I," he started, scratching at the back of his head. "I...uh...sorta have something for you too." And he went back inside his house.

    What!? Miriam tried desperately to keep her mouth from falling! This was quite...surprising! For a moment she thought this was a dream!

    Mr. Hodge quickly returned before her with a very nicely wrapped present. Miriam held her hand to her heart, unable to believe it.
    "Here," he said, placing it into her hand for her. "It's not much but..."
    "Oh Mr. Hodge," she happily said, "I know I'll love it no matter what! Thank you!"

    46226979201_5fe0f4e1cd_c.jpg

    She gently shook it a bit. It was always the natural thing for her to do when trying to guess what's inside a present.

    31288229747_368a95c7af_c.jpg

    "Careful," Mr. Hodge cautioned. "It's quite fragile."
    "Oops! Sorry..."

    Carefully she tore off all the wrapping - to which Mr. Hodge threw away in the trash can like she always did for him - and removed the lid. When she beheld what was inside, her heart skipped a beat and for a moment, she was breathless.

    Inside held a piece of ice, shaped like a snowflake, resting on a bed of cotton balls. She glanced up at the man with glistening eyes as if to ask, Where did you get this?

    "It's from the lake," Mr. Hodge answered, motioning with his head toward the falls. "I found it on the bank's edge all shaped like that when I went ice fishing yesterday. Thankfully I was able to break it off without it shattering into pieces, but it was such a unique and beautiful formation that," he paused nervously, "it made me think of you."

    Any chill Miriam felt from the biting wind was long gone now, as Mr. Hodge's thoughtful gift and sweet words created a deep warmth within her. Her blushing cheeks certainly thawed out her face. "It is beautiful," she expressed. "I love it! Thank you!" She wanted to hug him, but it was too soon for that.

    Giving off a gratified smile, Mr. Hodge then folded his arms as a burst of wind slammed upon them both. "Brrrr!" he shivered. "Would you like to come inside for a bit? We need to get out of this cold!"
    Eyes widened, Miriam replied, "Sure. I mean...Yes! That would be wonderful!" He's actually inviting me inside! That's a double miracle in one day! She tried not to squeal. I guess it's a good thing Ciro didn't come with me...

    The inside of Mr. Hodge's home looked about as Miriam always expected it would. Very open like a warehouse, a single fireplace in the center, a metal floor, a tiny bathroom, and furnishings that clearly came from large trash cans and the dump over the years. But even so, it felt humble. Nothing dangerous or worrisome stood out in the open so that was good. It seemed there was more normal in Mr. Hodge than everyone thought.

    He beckoned her to take a seat on the sofa with him as he offered her a cup of coffee.
    "Thank you," she expressed, taking a light sip as she sat down.

    For the next several minutes they made small talk, sipping down every last bit of coffee in between, then resting the empty cups on the floor beside the couch.

    Then there ensued an awkward silence if there ever was one, Mr. Hodge kicking himself for inviting such a lovely woman into a dump like this especially at a time when it reeked of freshly gutted fish!

    31288233457_417e3f1f78_c.jpg

    He couldn't hold it back any longer...but not first without saying, "Please forgive the smell. I'd open a window but..."
    "It's alright," Miriam assured. "I understand."
    He nodded, but then shook his head. "Gosh I never thought I'd end up like this..."
    Carefully Miriam glanced over at him, hoping her gaze would encourage him to go on. There was just so much more she wanted to know about him.

    "It all happened 13 years ago," he began, "this Christmas Eve."
    "When what happened?" Miriam gently encouraged.
    There was a pause. "The beginning of the end of my life."

    ****

    "It's okay," Miriam assured, sensing his great hesitation. "You can tell me. I promise what you say will be safe with me Mr. Hodge."
    The man glanced over at her appreciatively and then, with a deep sigh, began his story.

    "We were so young back then, my wife and I. So deeply in love and ever so naive to the realities of life; the sorrow and disasters it can throw out at you without any warning that change everything. The kind of pain and tragedies everybody is aware of, but no one believes will actually happen to them."
    Miriam's brow furrowed.
    "Her name was Ayana," he continued, "the kindest most elegant woman to ever grace this Earth. My dear Ayana...we met during her first year of college. I never attended college...but I worked in the cafeteria there and...that's how we met." He smiled. "Neither of our parents approved of our courtship, but we eloped anyway. They practically disowned us, Ayana's parents especially when she decided to not finish school to run away with me."
    Miriam frowned.

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    "We settled here in Aurora Skies, hundreds of miles away from our parents, ready to take on the world together. Oh it was the most joyous of times. We couldn't get enough of each other. And we were the homebody type, didn't get out much, basically because we were introverts, but mostly because we felt that all we ever needed was right there in each other and...in many ways it was true."
    Miriam smiled.
    Mr. Hodge then lowered his head, studying his fingers tightly woven together upon his lap. "It took a while for her to secure a good job as she was the main breadwinner," he chuckled. "That woman didn't want it any other way. I just did home repairs on the side to stay busy. Then one day, after trying for two years, she tells me she's pregnant. It was the happiest day of my life since we married," he said with a choke.

    "Aww. This is such a beautiful story," Miriam finally spoke, "but Mr. Hodge, what does this have to do with--"
    "Just," he addressed her sharply, "let me finish."
    Miriam consented.

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    "Months passed...we found out we were having twins."
    "Oh wow!"
    "Yeah! We had no clue how we were going to support and take care of two kids without help from family, but...we knew we could do anything...together."
    Miriam smiled. What a joy it was to see this side of Mr. Hodge that she never could've imagined was there.
    "The doctor's had her due date set for February 25th. But," he stopped, gulping. Hesitating again. "She began bleeding heavily just two months prior."
    Heart sinking, Miriam didn't like where this was going.

    Now Mr. Hodge was really struggling to get the words out. "I...ran her to the ER. Once we arrived...there were so many...complications...and it all happened so fast." He squeezed his eyes shut.
    "Mr. Hodge..."
    "They had to deliver the babies immediately so she had an emergency c-section, there was no time for pain killers. I'll never forget...her screams..." His eyes welled up with tears.
    Miriam lowered her head.
    "Our babies were taken to whatever that place is called upstairs as I did my best to comfort my dear Ayana. But she started bleeding out and the surgeons kicked me out of the room! The last thing I said to her was...'It'll be ok.'" He wiped at his eyes. "About a half hour later they came out to tell me they did everything they could, but...she was gone." He shook his head.
    "Oh Mr. Hodge..."
    "So instantly I ran upstairs to find our babies." He spoke with an angered look of determination in his eyes. "They were a boy and a girl. Tate and Tia we named them. The most beautiful little babies you ever did see...struggling to hold onto life."
    You gotta be kidding me, Miriam thought. Don't tell me they didn't...
    "I don't remember the complications they had," Mr. Hodge went on, "but Tate died an hour after his mother and...Tia followed another hour after."
    Miriam held her hand to her mouth.
    "So there it happened...everyone in my life, my whole entire world, taken away from me in a matter of hours...on Christmas Eve night."

    Miriam lowered her hand from her mouth and gently placed it on his leg. "I am so so sorry Mr. Hodge! I," she choked, "I can't...I can't even imagine!" Tears welled up in her eyes.
    "CHRISTMAS EVE NIGHT of ALL nights!" Mr. Hodge shouted, throwing his hands into the air. "God is a cruel one Miriam! And I've cursed Him ever since!"
    Miriam certainly couldn't blame him for that.
    "I thought," he said, the tears rolling down his cheeks, "that I would be going home the next day, with my beautiful wife, both of us carrying the greatest gifts one could ever receive on Christmas, but NO! I lost EVERYTHING that Christmas!"

    31288232717_c5ba165363_c.jpg

    "So that's why you hate Christmas," Miriam silently uttered. "It's totally understandable now Mr. Hodge!"

    31288233957_e2aa939ab9_c.jpg

    "But it goes DEEPER than that!" he stressed. "It's not Christmas itself that I hate, it's just that it reminds me of my painful and ultimate loss!" He sniffed, holding his hand to his heart. "It reminds me of what could have been..."

    And with that, Mr. Hodge buried his face deep into the palms of his hands and sobbed. Sobbing harder than he ever had since that fateful day. Miriam never witnessed such a breakdown from a man, especially...a man like him.
    "That's why I can't celebrate it," he spluttered to Miriam, "I never want anything to do with it. It's just too painful!"
    "Oh Mr. Hodge," Miriam cried, instinctively reaching out to him and pulling him in for a tight hug. She allowed him to drift down and lay upon her lap as he continued to sob and she stoked his arm. "It'll all be ok," was the only think she could think to say. "Just let it all out. That's right. You'll feel much better...I promise."

    But all the while she just shook her head, unable to fathom such a tragedy. It was clearly the saddest story she'd ever heard in her life.

    ****

    Many minutes passed as the two friends held each other close on the couch, Mr. Hodge finally able to find his breath again. Miriam's festive dress was soaked in his tears.

    "So what happened after that?" she asked, breaking the silence. "What happened to where you ended up here in this warehouse?"

    31288232427_8ef94d90a9_c.jpg

    Mr. Hodge hoped she wouldn't ask, but since he already told her everything else. "Well," he started, "As I mentioned earlier Ayana and I were young, and stupid really, and didn't have much money. It never even crossed our minds that...well...you know. So we didn't have any life insurance plans."
    "Oh..."
    "So," he sighed. "Between hospital bills and funeral expenses...I had to sell everything I owned to pay for it all. Even our house..."
    Miriam shook her head.
    "After that I left for the big city. Tried to find a job, but didn't have any luck so I just lived and begged on the streets."
    "That must've been rough."
    "It was. And finally I got fed up with it. So, I decided to return back here, expecting a 'welcome back' or some help from at least ONE person in this place, but...nope."

    Miriam sat up to look at him. "Seriously?"
    "Yup. No one was there for me when Ayana and the twins died, except her doctor, so I don't know why I expected anyone to notice that I'd returned. I was just hoping..."
    Miriam was awestruck.

    31288233707_ee6de029a7_c.jpg

    "That created a bitterness towards the people in this town that's stayed with me to this very day, as you well know. I figured that since none of them seemed to care about me, I wasn't going to care about them." He shrugged. "So I did what I had to do to survive. Alone. Contemplated suicide even, until I found my way into this warehouse and...here I am," he said, almost with a hint of regret it seemed to Miriam.

    "Look Mr. Hodge," she said, turning to fully face him now. "It may not be my place to say anything because I certainly could never, ever be able to fully understand what you've endured, but," she paused, "you sure allowed all that pain and hatred to consume you. So much to the point that it turned you into someone you never wanted to become."
    Mr. Hodge struggled to meet her gaze.
    "And I totally get it, I'd be upset with the people in this town too for not giving a darn about me when my family died and the world came crashing down, but...even you yourself said that you and your wife were pretty much homebody's and didn't get out much right?"
    There was a slight nod.
    "So...did it ever occur to you that maybe people thought they weren't close enough to you to offer help? Or felt comfortable enough to be there for you in such an hour of need?"
    There was a hesitant shake of his head.
    "Now granted," she went on, "that doesn't excuse the fact that someone should've tried to show some care and reached out to you, but...you sure quickly made up your mind about them upon returning, when it could've just all been a giant misunderstanding, and...that negativity didn't do you any favors. Do you see what I'm trying to say?"
    "Yeah," he nodded, honestly wishing she'd stop.
    Miriam then put her arm around him again. "I just think that now is the time to look past all that Mr. Hodge," she said, "it's been too long. It's time to move on. To be that version of yourself again that you introduced me to today."

    With that conclusion he gave her the most appreciative smile he'd ever given anyone. "It's Jaron," he said.
    "What?"
    "My name is Jaron."
    Miriam grinned brightly. "Well...it's nice to meet you...Jaron." They both chuckled.

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    "Thank you for listening to my story Miriam," he went on to say. "I needed to talk about it more than I realized."

    Miriam's heart began filling up with the greatest of joys. A real life Christmas miracle was beginning to happen and it seemed so...unreal.

    "You're very welcome...Jaron."

    ****

    The evening, not too long after Miriam left, Jaron threw himself into the freezing lake water in his backyard. He swam many strokes under the light of the Northern Lights.

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    Mostly it was to cool himself off from feeling so flushed from revealing what he did to Miriam...

    ...or perhaps it was more of a baptism from his former self.

    Either way, he sure felt great afterward!

    46295247261_f945117b9e_c.jpg

    She's right. It's high time for a change!



    :mrgreen:

    ----

    I don't know what influence Brooks & Dunn has had on me lately, but...here's another accurate song to end this chapter off with. :p
    Post edited by emorrill on
  • meerkattimemeerkattime Posts: 1,006 Member
    @emorrill He's got a gift for her this time?
    That's beautiful...
    And it's beautiful that seeing it on the lake made him think of her.
    And he invited her in...
    I think Miriam is finally going to find out why he hates Christmas so much.
    Ayana... Such a beautiful name.
    Mr. Hodge's story is heartbreaking :'(.
    So sad that he lost all three of them... And ended up begging in the streets :(.
    Yeah, it is very understandable now why he hates Christmas.
    It's sad how he got closed out of the community and felt like no one cared, but Miriam's got a point too...
    I hope this will be the beginning of a healing process for Jaron.
  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member
    Thanks @meerkattime <3

    Yeah, I was totally getting teary-eyed writing his story...... :cry: I had to step away from the computer for a bit to compose myself. Plus I don't like crying unless I really need to let something out because it bothers my eyes! :p
    But the really sad thing is...this could totally be something that's happened to a real life person and...it just breaks my heart. :pensive:

    There's a family in my church that named their daughter Ayana and I've loved it ever since. <3

    I've been waiting for someone to comment on Mr. Hodge's Jaron's sexy man chest I threw in at the end of the chapter there. :lol: :p ;)
  • meerkattimemeerkattime Posts: 1,006 Member
    @emorrill It is a lovely man chest indeed :p . Imagine that I was so sad about his story that I didn't even think about it - normally I always notice sexy man chests ;) .

    True, it could really happen to someone... :( I hope life starts getting better for him... He's lucky Miriam made the effort to get to know him.
  • lanlynlanlyn Posts: 4,206 Member
    @emorrill Well, this update was sure emotionally charged. Hodge finally opened up to Miriam, really bared his soul. ...This time Miriam felt comfortable enough to go to Hodge's place without Ciro. That allowed her time to listen to his story. ...Hodge had a gift for Miriam this time too! How sweet of him to share the beauty he found in nature. ...What a tragic story! I can understand Hodge's bitterness. It was a shield against his pain and grief. ...Then the financial problems along with his personal loss! ...I'm glad Miriam was able to be there for Hodge, to let him finally express his sorrow to someone. ...Jaron is a great name. ...I liked the baptism/rebirth symbolism you used for Jaron's swim under the Northern Lights. The song fits in too.
  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member
    Chapter 6

    Later that night, Miriam stirred in her sleep. She was having the most interesting dream. Somehow she found herself inside Jaron's warehouse home, snuggling with him...on his bed.

    Jaron: Oh Miriam, I've wanted you ever since that first day you visited me.

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    Miriam: Oh Mr. Hodge...I mean...Jaron! I...I don't know what to say. I mean, you've turned out to be a much nicer man than I could've ever imagined, but...you always seemed so...old to me.
    Jaron: Nonsense. Allow me to show you just how young I still am.
    Miriam: Ooh...


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    The moans in her sleep began to increase, especially as she felt Jaron's lips stroke hers and as he pressed his body harder against hers.

    It felt so weird! So strange! But at the same time...pleasurable. She found herself willfully kissing him back.

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    The heat was rising, her brow perspiring, and she began to feel a great deal of ecstasy. Boots were kept on and everything!

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    Then suddenly her greater subconscious snapped her awake as she bolted upward from her pillow, gasping for breath. Her heart pounded with pleasure and anxiety all at once. The dream had felt so real! It weirded her out for a bit, but soon she was able to bring herself back to reality and only hope she could erase the whole dream from her mind.

    And even though she didn't find Jaron particularly attractive, she couldn't deny how much she was really becoming attracted to his change of heart.

    ****

    The next morning she found it a bit...awkward when visiting with Jaron.

    At least the weather was much nicer this time around so they could carry on another nice conversation outside as usual. If he had invited her inside again, she most likely would've declined.

    Stupid dream! she thought with gritted teeth, but oh...WHAT a dream!

    ****

    Early in the morning on December 21st, Jaron studied himself in the mirror a bit.

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    Hmm, he thought. I think it's time now to let these go...

    ****

    Right at 10 o'clock was the time that Miriam usually arrived and Jaron greatly anticipated it.

    He was really beginning to wonder how he was going to move on in this new chapter of his life without seeing her every day once Christmas came and went. The thought caused his heart to ache greatly. Would they stay friends? Would she want to keep seeing him, even if not every day? She'd become so special to him. He had a plan, but didn't want to scare her away while instituting it.

    The tables had now turned, where it was he who had to tread lightly.

    Outside, Miriam raised her head to the sky, eyes closed, longing for the light kiss of each and every snowflake upon her cheeks. She felt it necessary to thank God for this greatest of miracles. Never did she believe just how much Jaron would change through her small - it seemed to her - gesture of kindness.

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    Christmas Day was coming soon and she wondered...how things would be between her and Jaron afterward. She felt an ache in her heart at the thought of not coming to see him as often anymore.

    Back inside Jaron's home, once that firm, yet gentle, knock on the door rang through his ears, he took in a deep breath and opened the door.

    As Miriam's eyes met his she was quite taken aback.

    "Uhh," she stammered, leaning in to take a peek inside the house. "I'm looking for Mr. Hodge...I mean...Jaron?" Who's this guy?
    Jaron chuckled for a moment and said, "Miriam...it's me."

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    Miriam's eyes bugged out, recognizing the voice, but in awe at the face. Was this REALLY Jaron Hodge!?
    "Oh wow!" she whispered, her feeble fingers dropping her gift into the snow.

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    "Oh gosh!" she instantly cried, picking it up from the ground and rapidly dusting it off. "I am SO sorry!" Oh my GOSH!
    Still chuckling while watching her, Jaron said, "It's alright," as he took the present. "Happy December 21st Miriam," he said for her.
    "Uh huh," she spoke, like a love-struck school girl. Pull yourself together Miriam...geez!
    "Forgive me for startling you," Jaron went on to say. "I just decided this morning that it was finally time to change my look of 12 years..."

    Miriam's heart pounded from this brand new array of feelings suddenly encompassing her soul. "No," she assured, "you didn't startle me. I mean, you DID, but in a good way." She quickly brushed a lock of hair behind her ear.
    Jaron smiled.
    "But yeah, I mean, wow! No more dreadlocks and facial hair...you look like a completely different person!"

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    "I feel like a completely different person."
    "Uh huh," she breathed, staring at his shockingly beautiful self again, almost drooling. No WAY this is the old 'Scrooge McHodge!' "So, uh," she started again, in a more composed tone, "what prompted this sudden change in your looks...and yourself?"
    "Well, I should think it'd be quite obvious," he smiled, lowering his head a bit to fully gaze into her eyes.
    Hearing that Miriam's cheeks grew a beat red. "Oh Mr., I mean, Jaron! Geez, that's gonna take some getting used to!"
    He laughed. "I understand. And you really don't have to say anything Miriam. I'm just...so grateful to you."
    His words and beautiful smile warmed her soul. "You're very welcome," she said, her heart still fluttering.

    "You know what I feel like doing?" Jaron asked, changing the subject.
    Miriam studied him questionably. "What is that?" she asked, still fidgeting with her hair.
    "I feel like doing something...silly. Something one would almost call...childish." He winked.

    45608328864_dafb600e78_c.jpg

    "What?" she grinned. Wow, he really HAS changed!
    "You just wait right here while I grab my coat," he said, stepping back inside.
    "Should I go grab mine from the truck?" she curiously asked the doorway.
    "Nah...you don't need it." He let off a little snicker out of earshot.

    Once he returned to the door, he lightly took Miriam's hand and led her to a wide opening in the front yard. "Were you ever any good at playing dodge ball?" he asked, stepping a few feet away from her.
    "Pfft!" Miriam expressed. "I was one of the PROS at dodge ball!"
    "Same here," Jaron smirked. "But how about dodging snowballs?"
    "The undefeated champ!" she smirked back.
    "You sure about that?"
    "Yes I'm sure! You're talking to the biggest lover of winter and everything about it in the world here!"
    "I guess I knew that," he said, squatting down to create a snowball.
    Miriam did the same and then positioned herself. "Bring it Hodge!"

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    Jaron couldn't believe how much the giant grin on his face wouldn't fade. He'd never smiled this much since his family passed away. Nor had he bonded with anyone like this since then. More and more he found himself falling for this woman.

    With every bit of strength he could muster, for he knew Miriam could take it, and feeling his competitive side take over, he chucked the baseball sized snowball straight toward her midsection.

    Miriam dodged it effortlessly. "Too slow!" she teased.

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    "Now it's my turn!" Her snowball was even larger than his!

    Ohhhh boy! Jaron thought, watching that ball come at him at sonic speed with no time to react.

    45608328504_e8eacc5b94_c.jpg

    SMACK!

    "Holy cow!" he cried, gripping his stomach.
    Miriam snickered. "See! You're too slow! You gotta hustle it Hodge!"

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    Many more snowballs were thrown and each time Miriam dodged Jaron's, except for one time where he almost got her. Jaron dodged hers about 50 percent of the time.

    "That's it woman!" he cried out, rushing towards her and lunging himself onto her.
    "Ah!" Miriam playfully cried as she fell and became impacted into the freezing, powdery snow.

    For a moment the two wrestled with each other, trying to bury the other's face into the snow, but neither being successful. Joyous laughs and squeals filled the wintery air. And a victory cheer from Jaron as Miriam declared that she surrendered.

    They continued to laugh as they both stood up and helped brush the snow off each other.

    "Brr, my chest is freezing!" Miriam declared while rubbing at it, not really thinking about how that would appeal to Jaron.
    He raised an eyebrow to it. "Would you like my coat?" he offered.
    "Oh no thanks. I'll just grab mine from the truck." She stopped to catch her breath a bit before saying, "That was...really fun."
    "Yeah," he agreed. "More fun than I remember. I sure used to be better at dodging snowballs, but...I'm just getting too darn old!"
    "Yeah right! You SO aren't as old as everyone in town thought you were."
    "Oh really?" he teased.
    "Totally! My friends and I thought you had to have been at least 50!"
    "Whaaaaat?" he playfully cried, but thinking about how much of a grouch he was, and how most 'Scrooges' are old men, he couldn't blame them. "I guess I can understand that."

    "Seriously though, how old are you?" Miriam frankly asked.
    "...Thirty-eight."
    Fifteen years older than me... "Wow," she said. "So yeah, you really aren't that old..."

    For a moment the two shot little smiles at each other, while digging the tips of their boots into the snow.

    Jaron wasn't sure if this would be appropriate yet, but he couldn't hold himself back any longer. Nor his feelings. He yearned so badly for her touch.
    He took her hands and humbly asked, "Would you like to go out and have lunch with me?"

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    It took Miriam by surprise, but not in a bad way. "Sure," she replied with a blush. "I would like that."
    "It's been so long since I've been out to eat," Jaron admitted. "I hope the Diner will be fine for you?" It was the cheapest place.
    "Definitely! They have the best burgers around!" Then she gasped. "Ooh! I bet they're serving their signature egg nog! Ohhhh yes we HAVE to go! You gotta try it if you haven't!"
    He chuckled. "I haven't, so yeah let's go."

    ****

    Miriam hoped Ciro wouldn't mind her taking his truck to go out on a "date" - if that's what this really was- with Jaron Hodge. She wanted to text him and ask, but this was all just too much to explain over a text. He'll understand, she thought.

    Upon arriving at the Diner, tons of people were hanging out by the entrance. No doubt to drink their delicious egg nog, Miriam thought. However, Jaron was trying to hide his face without showing how obviously he was. Miriam wasn't sure why...these people certainly wouldn't notice him now after such a drastic change in his appearance! However any more thoughts on that vanished quickly, as his gentlemanly gesture of opening the door for her impressed her.

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    Lunch was lovely. Miriam casually sipped on the famous egg nog, as she listened to Jaron tell her a little more about himself and his life before the tragedy. She even told him a bit about her younger days too.

    It seemed interesting to the both of them how much they already felt like best friends, even though they'd only known each other for 21 days and...really hadn't engaged in much conversation for most of it.

    Every now and then Jaron would find many people in the Diner take notice and stare at him. He was running out of ways to hide his face. His reaction to their stares made things a little uncomfortable for Miriam, but she tried to understand his point of view. He really had been a recluse for over a decade! And besides, she thought, they're probably just wondering who this mystery man is that I'm sitting with. She blushed. But despite her assumption, Jaron knew they were staring for reasons other than that. Unable to handle it any longer, he told Miriam, "Excuse me," and abruptly left the place just as they were about to order dessert.

    It took Miriam a few minutes to find him, after first paying the bill which she didn't mind. He sat on the picnic bench off to the side of the Diner, staring into nothingness, while the giant falling snowflakes swayed all around him.

    He heard Miriam's light footsteps crunching in the snow as she approached him. Somehow he didn't have to look to know that it was her.

    "I'm sorry," he spoke, turning his head to the side a bit. "I guess I wasn't ready to make an appearance in public like I thought I was. I'll pay you back for the meal."
    "No...it's ok," Miriam assured, as she sat down on the other side of the table, respecting that he needed some breathing space. "You took a big step today," she felt the need to compliment, "and I'm proud of you!"

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    After a bit of silence... "Was it because some people were staring at you?" she asked. "I don't condone staring, but in this case I really can't blame them! You look so different!" Handsomely different. "They were probably just wondering who this new guy in town is."
    "No," Jaron rebutted. "Most of the stares were from older folks. They had that look in their eyes like they'd seen me before, but just couldn't remember. Oh they've seen me Miriam," he sighed, "many, many years ago. That young man that abruptly vanished and now suddenly reappeared...as if nothing ever happened." He hung his head low in sorrow.

    Miriam understood, especially thinking about how much pain that would bring back to him. She stood up and headed over to his side of the bench. "Come here," she beckoned to him, her arms outstretched. She didn't know of any other way to comfort him.

    For a moment he stared at her inviting arms then gazed up at her with glistening eyes. She nodded in reassurance. Then in a matter of seconds he stood and entered into them, as she wrapped them gently around his back.

    While holding him, Miriam said, "Look Jaron, don't worry about what the people in this town think anymore. To h*** with what they think!" That surprised Jaron a bit, but he loved how adamant she felt about it. "What matters now is you," she continued. "How do you want to make your life better? How do you want to mold your future into everything you ever wanted it to be? Let the past go...don't allow it or the thoughts of others affect your desire to begin anew like this. You're stronger than you think and you got this. I believe in you!"

    46281391252_e939a2f07a_c.jpg

    Jaron couldn't help holding her a little tighter while sniffing in the aroma of her hair. The only thing he could think to say in return was, "Thank you Miriam. Thank you for everything."

    ****

    "Guuuurll! You should hear the words on the street!" Angelica happily expressed to Miriam that evening, in front of Pedro.
    "Here we go again," Pedro mumbled, resting his forehead into his hand.
    Miriam stared at them both with a puzzled look. "What word on the street?"
    Angelica playfully smacked her friend's shoulder. "Like you don't know!" she answered. "It's about YOU girl! And this mystery man you've been spotted with at the Diner today."
    Oh no, Miriam thought, eyes shut.
    "Apparently he is quite the hottie," she went on with a smirk. "A succulent sight for Chocolate lovers everywhere."
    Pedro rolled his eyes.

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    "I guess your crush on 'Scrooge McHodge' rubbed off onto another, more attractive man, eh?" she asked Miriam with a wink. "Go on girlfriend, SPILL!"

    Miriam hesitated, scratching at the back of her neck, trying to figure out how to say it. "It's not...another man," she nervously revealed. Angelica and Pedro stared at her intently. "It was Mr. Hodge...his first name is Jaron."
    The two friend's mouths dropped. "Get outta here!" Angelica cried. "He didn't look nothing like Mr. Hodge!"
    "Look?"
    "Yeah! One of my friends snapped a picture!" She instantly whipped out her phone and once she found the photo, held it out for Miriam to see.
    Pedro leaned in first though. "No way that's 'Scrooge McHodge!' He looks so...young...and normal!"
    "WHY are people snapping pictures!?" Miriam cried out, throwing her hands in the air. "It's none of their business! But seriously, you two," she reiterated, "that's Mr. Hodge! He cut his hair and shaved off his beard."
    "Dayum!" Angelica expressed, looking at the picture again. "He cleans up well! Mmm hmm!"
    "Wow," Pedro said, unable to believe it.
    "So, what are you like...dating him now?" Angelica asked, her eyebrows bouncing.
    "No," Miriam casually responded. "We just went out for lunch, that's all."
    "Mmm, hmm. You know girl, it's ok to admit you like him even more now with this new look."
    Miriam rolled her eyes and leaned into Angelica's ear whispering, "I'll talk to you more about this later." Angelica squealed, liking that idea.

    In that moment, Ciro entered the house, returning from work. He put his coat away and greeted Angelica and Ciro, while saying to Miriam, "Hey, can I talk to you alone for a minute?"
    The two ladies shot each other some wide eyed glances as Miriam walked past and joined Ciro in the foyer.

    "Is everything ok Ciro?" she asked him.
    Ciro seemed nervous, yet disturbed at the same time. "Look Miriam," he began, "I've accepted that you don't have any romantic feelings for me and I'm going to have to live with that." Miriam frowned. "But," he paused, "I just can't help asking you about this other guy..."
    So he heard too. Figures. "Ciro" she began, "it's not what you think. We were just having lunch together."

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    Ignoring that, Ciro asked, "So, who is he? How did you guys meet?"
    Miriam opened her mouth to speak, but the words just wouldn't come out. She huffed a bit as she tried to find the courage to tell him the truth. She had a good feeling he wouldn't like it. "He's not new in town," she replied, "It's...Mr. Hodge."

    Ciro didn't react the way she'd expected. He simply just stood there with a confused expression on his face, thinking. "How was it Mr. Hodge?" he asked. "People were saying he was some new guy."
    Does this town have to be so gossipy? "Well...he appears new because he cut his hair and shaved."
    "Ok...so," he struggled to say, "now he's turned into this new man and you're suddenly finding yourself attracted to him and are dating him?"
    "I didn't say that..."
    "You didn't have to!" Ciro snapped. "I mean, Mr. Hodge? Really Miriam!? Are you out of your mind? He's like what, TWICE your age?"

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    "He is not TWICE my age!" she snapped back. "More like 15 years older, but that doesn't really matter when you get to be our age Ciro! And why is that your business anyway?"

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    "Because I'm your friend! I worry about you!"
    "No, as a friend you're supposed to be supportive! Trust my judgment. But right now you're acting like my Dad!"

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    Ciro dropped his head towards the ground, sulking. He really couldn't argue with that and he honestly didn't mean for the conversation to get so heated like this. His jealousy had gotten the better of him.
    "Miriam, I'm sorry," he sincerely said, clasping his hands together as if asking for forgiveness. Miriam gave him a nod of acceptance. She'd admit she allowed her frustration from all the gossip in town to affect her reaction to him as well.

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    "But I have to know," Ciro went on, "Did you blow me off for him?"

    Upon hearing that, Miriam's face immediately fell. "No," she replied in a whisper, taking his hand. "Not at all Ciro. In fact, I hadn't developed any kind of feelings for him when I shared my honest feelings for you."
    He nodded, feeling a sense of relief. "So...you have feelings for him now?" he couldn't help asking.

    There was a long pause, as Miriam lowered her head for a few seconds, biting at her bottom lip. When she looked up again she replied, "Yes."

    Ciro nodded again, doing his best to accept her feelings and be that supportive friend he'd always strived to be. Next thing he knew he found Miriam wrapping her arms around him. "I'm so sorry Ciro," she said, "I never meant to hurt you...especially with this." She sniffed. "I care about you so much and I really am sorry that things can't be the way you want them to be with us."
    "It's okay," Ciro said, releasing her and looking into her eyes. "Really. I'll be ok. I just don't want to lose what we already have."
    "We won't. I promise you that."
    "I just...hope you know what you're doing when it comes to Mr. Hodge."
    She smiled, appreciating his concern. It was to be expected. "I do. He's really changed Ciro...it still blows my mind just how much he's changed!"
    "Well," he blushed, "You certainly have that kind of affect on people."
    Aww. Gripping both his hands now, she said, "You're sweet. Thank you Ciro."
    "You're welcome."

    With everything feeling right again in the world, Miriam perked up with a bright grin and said, "Now c'mon! We're going to bake some Christmas treats tonight and eat them while watching 'A Snowflake Day Story' remember?"
    "I remember," Ciro said, slightly rolling his eyes. He never cared much for that movie. "But you guys go ahead," he politely declined. "Right now I just need...some time...alone."

    Miriam met his gaze with one of understanding and said, "Okay." Her heart still ached, feeling terrible for revealing everything she had to him. But she'd rather be in an honest and sincere relationship, than a one sided one. She couldn't help thinking that this way was a less painful one for him, even though she wished she'd never caused him any pain at all.
    "We'll miss you," she concluded with.

    Nodding, Ciro simply headed up the stairs for his bedroom.
  • meerkattimemeerkattime Posts: 1,006 Member
    @emorrill That's a sweet dream...
    Oh no, boots in bed - but it's still a hot dream ;).
    I can imagine she'd feel a bit strange meeting Jaron after having the dream :smirk: .
    Poor Jaron - I hope Miriam won't disappear from his life after Christmas... But something tells me she won't :p.
    Aww, Miriam feels the same way as he does <3.
    She didn't recognize him! Granted he looks quite different with the new hairstyle and without the beard. He looks much younger too.
    Nice to see them playing in the snow. Jaron needed this!
    He's asking her for a lunch... That's sweet.
    I wonder if anyone else in the town will recognize him with his new style either. Miriam is thinking the same ;).
    He felt uncomfortable and left :(. I kind of understand him. I'm glad she went after him and made him feel better....
    Wow, someone took a picture of Miriam and Jaron... :o Those townies are curious folk ;).
    Angelica is right - Jaron cleaned up well :p .
    Ciro will hate hearing who the man is... :s
    Yeah, that conversation is not going well...
    I'm glad they made up :). Ciro will probably need some time to accept the facts in his heart but looks like their friendship will last.
  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member
    Thank you for your sweet and wonderful comments @meerkattime . :heart: And you too @lanlyn . I appreciate them so much and they were a joy to read! :blush: It's so fun to see how readers react to everything. ;)
  • CharlottesmomCharlottesmom Posts: 6,981 Member
    @emorrill ...LOL!! I pretty much already texted you all my feedback :D

    I’m going to sum it up by saying I really love this story, I was a bit iffy about Miriam breaking poor Ciro’s heart but the heart wants what the heart wants..it seems to be working out very nicely for Miriam and Jaron, I see a happy future for them on the horizon. :heart:

    I very much look forward to seeing how this wraps up. (Though you did give me a huge hint when I expressed concern for a character.. :wink: ).

    :smiley:
    32702978598_c6d88ab6db_c.jpg
    *Jared AND Connor*

  • cocococo Posts: 1,995 Member
    @emorrill I love how in the other thread you said that pictures may be deceiving so read first. You were so right! I saw the picture and I was like WOW they're moving really fast :lol:
    Miriam's dreams sound nice! I love how she was still speaking formally to him even though they were in bed together. She's been thinking about Mr. Hodge every day for almost a month so it's inevitable that she would begin to see him in another light. She must have felt really nervous about seeing him for real that day. I know I would. It's like when you have a dream about someone unexpected and you don't want them to know.
    Wowza what a change in appearance! It's kind of funny how stunned Miriam was at seeing him. So much for now being physically attracted to him :lol:
    Jaron spends a lot more time smiling these days, mostly at Miriam. Building that snowman was just the beginning and now he wants to have a snowball fight. He's really making up for all that time he spent being bitter!
    Yeah I wonder what Jaron thinks about Miriam complaining that her chest is cold lol. Yay finally she found out his age. Gahh now I feel old knowing that Miriam is younger than me :lol:
    Oh this is so a date! How rude of other people to stare at them. It's totally understandable that he would want to leave. I just don't know how they will all react once they find out that the handsome "mystery man" is the same Mr. Hodge that they all detest.
    It's very considerate of Miriam to give him a bit of personal space to calm down. It will be uphill struggle for Jaron to begin socialising in public without his memories of the past popping up.
    Those are some bold words coming from Miriam's mouth but she's right. Sometimes you can't change how other people think but what's most important is Jaron happiness. He sniffed her hair :lol:
    Gosh those townsfolk are nosy people. It's a very stark contrast how Angelica and Pedro talk about "Scrooge" like he's not even a real person, and how surprised they are to find out that he actually is normal underneath his big reputation. I think Angelica will come around once Miriam talks one on one with her. I'm most worried about poor Ciro.
    It must be hard for him to learn that not long after they shared their kiss and had their talk, that she developed feelings for Jaron. So I can understand that he would want to convince her to stop seeing him, 15 years is a big age gap... But his feelings are getting in the way. I suppose he can't be 100% trusting when he has never properly spoken to Jaron and only heard the town gossip about him. He seems to want his friendship with Miriam to stay normal above all else. He will get over it eventually but ouch it's gotta hurt in the meantime :heartbreak:
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  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member
    @Charlottesmom Hey lady! :smiley: Nice to see you pop in. :kissing_heart:
    You DID pretty much post all your feedback in texts. :lol:
    I was worried about how iffy you felt about the story :cry: but I'm glad you're happy with the way things are going and love it. :blush: <3

    You're going to LOVE the ending! :smiley: :star:

    @coco BIG comments! :mrgreen: <3
    I'm glad I threw in that "disclaimer" at the beginning. :lol: I mostly did it because I know there are certain simmers out there on the main thread who only look at the pictures and comment on them, without reading (not you lovely ladies of course, but y'all know who I'm referring to. :lol: Can't believe I just said that, but ANYWAY! :joy: )
    I almost didn't add in the dream sequence... ;) However I was thinking along the same lines you are: If she'd been seeing and interacting with this guy for the past 20 days, she was bound to have some kind of dream about him! Why not make it a pleasant one? :smirk: (Cause yeah when I first started binge watching Quantum Leap and Supernatural, I had dreams with those characters in it ALL the time! <3 Scott! :love: )
    Yup! She's physically attracted to Jaron now! :lol: :smirk:
    Yeah I wonder what Jaron thinks about Miriam complaining that her chest is cold lol.
    ^I imagine he was thinking, "I can warm that right up for ya." :smirk:
    :lol:
    Oh my gosh, if I'd found out nosy folks in town were snapping pictures of me on a date with a mystery man I would be FURIOUS! :angry: I can't even imagine how hard it is for celebrities that are just trying to go out and have a nice dinner, alone. :confused: We're such a nosy, picture taking, gossipy society! :grimace:
    I think we've learned that Miriam is definitely a bold one! ;)
    I almost wasn't going to add in Ciro's upset with Miriam either :p (was concerned it would take away the spirit of the story) but then felt it would've taken something away from the story that really needed to be there. Because yeah, we needed to know his reaction to Miriam developing feelings for Jaron! No one can blame Ciro for being hurt and upset!
    He'll be ok...just wait and see. ;)

    Thank you both so much for the comments. <3 {{{Hugs}}}

    I'll be a little sad to wrap this story up, but at the same time it will be good because I REALLY need to get back to Sam and Emma! <3 <3
  • CharlottesmomCharlottesmom Posts: 6,981 Member
    @emorrill , Now wait I feel ripped off...I've been literally binge watching Supernatural (and Supernatural Cons on youtube) for months now and have only had one dream with a character. He was way in the background, and wait it wasn't even a character it was Jared, when do I get my Misha dream??? *taps foot impatiently* :(
    32702978598_c6d88ab6db_c.jpg
    *Jared AND Connor*

  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member
    @emorrill , Now wait I feel ripped off...I've been literally binge watching Supernatural (and Supernatural Cons on youtube) for months now and have only had one dream with a character. He was way in the background, and wait it wasn't even a character it was Jared, when do I get my Misha dream??? *taps foot impatiently* :(

    @Charlottesmom Oh it'll come...just wait for it. :smirk:

    If it makes you feel any better, none of my dreams about those guys were...sexy. :disappointed: They were all like background characters in my weird dreams! :p If I recall there was one dream where I was hanging out with Sam and Dean as one of their buddies, but other than that, that's it. :)

    <3
  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member

    Chapter 7
    (Part 1)

    December 22nd

    "Ice skates?" Jaron asked Miriam inquisitively as he opened up his newest gift from her that morning.
    "Yes!" she replied excitedly. "I wasn't sure if you had any so I totally saved the receipt in case you do OR if you don't like ice skating you can return them." She winked. "I just thought it would be fun if we went out and ice skated at the park! The pond is frozen SOLID this year!"
    "How would you know my shoe size?" he asked, studying the box.
    "Well," she began, rocking on her heels. "I sorta asked the guy at the shoe store, you know, the one that's worked there forever, if he happened to know your shoe size from a previous purchase and...he did."
    "Size 12," he read on the box. "Yup, you guys got it right."
    Miriam grinned.
    "You're sneaky..."
    "I know!"

    ****

    The temperature was colder than usual compared to the past few days, which Jaron didn't particularly care for. Nor did he feel like freezing his bu'tt off being outside for a good portion of the day, ice skating of all things, but...he just couldn't say no to Miriam's cheery face upon gifting him the skates. No he didn't own any, but he had skated before...years ago. He hoped he wouldn't fall and embarrass himself in front of her.

    "Alrighty!" Miriam began as they "stepped" out onto the ice. "You ready? It's been a long time for the both of us so...if we help each other along at first we should get the hang of it."

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    "I guess so," Jaron sighed, staring off into the distance.
    Miriam's face fell upon hearing his reaction. "Oh...uh...did I put you in a position where you felt like you couldn't say No?"
    Well... He cracked a smile to help her feel better. "Maybe a little," he admitted, "but it's ok. Really. It was a very generous gift and honestly, I don't ever remember the pond being frozen enough to skate on so, this is kind of cool."
    Miriam cracked a smile in return. "Ok, now take my hand," she said, outstretching them, "and together we can figure this out again."
    Yeah...together.

    In no time at all the two got the hang of ice skating again and before Jaron knew it, Miriam was cheering with joy again at her success. He was really beginning to love that sound.

    He certainly didn't mind the view as he trailed behind her a bit to make sure he'd be there to catch her if she fell.

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    Then he let her go off on her own.

    A couple of minutes later... "Woah, woah, WOAH!" Miriam cried, barely keeping her balance.
    "Careful!" Jaron cried. Whew...

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    Before they knew it they'd been skating in circles, creating hundreds of skate marks in the ice, conversing for about two hours. The cold didn't even seem to phase them. However as the sun began to set, they were really starting to feel it.

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    As they stopped to catch their breaths on the ice for a bit, Jaron said, "This was really fun Miriam. Once again I regret ever regretting doing something fun with you." He winked.
    She blushed. "Why Mr. Hodge I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me," she winked back.
    "Please...call me Jaron," he said. "You make me feel like an old man when you call me Mister."
    "It was an honest slip of the tongue," she said, skating closer to him. "You know how old habits die hard."
    "Yeeeahh..."
    "You're doing great," she assured, reading his thoughts. "I'm honestly very surprised at the way you just flipped the switch and have gone back to the," she paused, "kind man you used to be."
    He took her hands into his and looked down at them. "Well...it's still a struggle, but," he hesitated a bit, "with you coming around every day...it sure makes it easier to be a better person."

    Miriam's eyes glistened a bit as she smiled at him. "That's really sweet of you to say," she said, looking down at their hands too. "But really I'm just...being me. You make it sound like I have some inner magic or something."
    "Well I think you do," he expressed. "Anyone who is willing to spread care and kindness toward someone who's heart was as cold and stone- hearted as mine, well...that's a gift Miriam."
    She gazed into his eyes with a blushing smile.
    "Everyone was afraid to do what you did and honestly...I can't say I blame them." He lowered his head again. "I just never expected the hate and pain to consume me the way it did..."
    At that, Miriam gently lifted his chin with her finger. "Don't think about that ok?" she encouraged. "We've all made mistakes. Big ones that we aren't proud of, but...we learn from them and we move on. Don't allow yourself to wallow away in your regrets from the past. I've done that before and I felt it destroying me. Just always try to focus on the gift of each new day, that's why they call it the present," she chuckled. "And never look back."

    In that moment Jaron desperately wanted to pull her in close to him and...

    ...but then they heard a violin begin playing. They both glanced over at the fountain to see one of the homeless men in town, playing his violin at the park like he so often did. Miriam's heart always broke for him, which is why she never hesitated to tip him when she happened to be around his playing.

    "Dance with me?" Jaron asked her in a whisper.
    "On the ice!?"
    "Don't worry...I won't let you fall."
    Miriam blushed as they carefully took each other's hands and danced, the best one could on ice, to the sweet tune of the violin. Jaron even twirled her a couple of times, which made her heart flutter.

    Spinning among the faint light of the Christmas lights, it all felt so...romantic. Both of them loved every second of it.

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    Once the cold had really started to become unbearable, the two went over and tipped the homeless man. Then they offered to buy him some dinner and hot chocolate from the Diner, to which he gladly accepted.

    That small act of service made Jaron realize just how selfish he'd been in wallowing away in his own pain and sorrow for the past decade. He could've been out doing good...forgetting his pain, and healing it in the process. The cure was there all along, he'd just forgotten where to look for it.

    ****

    December 23rd

    On this day before Christmas Eve, Miriam and Jaron spent the whole day together.

    After Miriam arrived with her gift, and Jaron gifting her with something too, they headed off to the movie theater to watch a classic Christmas film. Then they had a picnic lunch in the park...well...it was more like "a grill something in the warmth of the coals and eat it standing" kind of lunch. Snow was everywhere!

    Then Miriam took Jaron to her home, to show off her humble abode and introduce him properly to her friends. Ciro was at work by then and Miriam figured that was probably for the best. Angelica was of course quite taken by this new Mr. Hodge, you could hear it in her giggles, and he and Pedro even talked about sports and shared some laughs. It warmed Miriam's heart how well they all got along and she hoped that Jaron just made a couple of new friends today.

    As the afternoon came to an end, Miriam took Jaron home. He asked her if she'd like to stay a bit longer and join him for dinner as he was going to cook up his famous wild caught fish. She agreed and couldn't wait to try it! She didn't particularly like fish, but when she took a bite of one, coated in Jaron's secret spices, she was in awe over how delicious it tasted! I sure could get used to this kind of cooking...

    After dinner they thought it would be fun to lay out in the snow and watch the stars. But quickly they realized what an awful idea that was!

    "Should we just call this making snow angels instead?" Miriam asked while shivering. "I guess...they'll be 'Siamese twin' angels?" She chuckled.
    Jaron laughed too. "Sounds good to me!"

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    The two hurried back inside for some warm cocoa and then Jaron expressed how he wanted to go back out and look at the stars with her. There was an old Christmas story he heard regarding a star that he wanted to find and tell her about.
    "Umm...the star of Bethlehem?" she asked, looking at him in a funny way.
    "Not that star," he said, "a different one."
    Feeling warmed up enough they headed back out into the still, cold night.

    For a time they sat huddled together, gazing up at the stars and taking in the beauty of the wintry scene surrounding them.

    32489086868_4632e731f7_c.jpg

    Sharing a few whispers and giggles as they made small talk.

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    Then Jaron finally found the star and pointed it out to her.

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    "...and it was that star," he concluded the story with, "that shone down and encouraged the cold and weary Christmas carolers to the home of old Marjorie Pay, making her very last Christmas a special one. Answering her prayer that she wouldn't take her last breath that night alone."
    "Aww," Miriam expressed. "That's a beautiful story, but kind of sad at the same time."
    Jaron didn't respond to that, but simply turned his head toward her and said, "I was so sure I didn't care if I spent Christmas alone for the rest of my life, but now," he paused, Miriam meeting his gaze, "I'm beginning to feel the same as Marjorie; I never want to spend it alone again."
    Smiling brightly at him, Miriam gazed back up at the stars. He didn't have to say anything else, nor did she, they knew what the other was feeling.

    When it came time to go their separate ways, they struggled to say goodbye.

    Jaron held her in close, and longer, when she gave him a parting hug. "I'm going to miss seeing you every day after Christmas," he finally admitted to her. "I can't believe the day is almost here."

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    "Yeah," Miriam sighed, her heart sinking at the thought. "But we'll still see each other and get together," she said looking into his eyes. "I promise. I could never stop seeing you now."
    That made Jaron very happy and filled his soul with relief.

    "Before I go," Miriam said, brushing a lock of hair behind her ear. "Tomorrow is the Christmas Eve Ball, at the Ballroom next to City Hall. I wanted to," she paused, her heart fluttering, "invite you to it."
    Jaron smiled. "I appreciate the invite," he said, "but...I'm not so sure." He scratched the back of his head. "I haven't attended anything like that in years and honestly--"
    She knew he felt nervous and why. "Just think about it ok," she asked, gently touching his arm. "It was wonderful last year and there's always delicious food and...I'll be there so...I'd really love it if you could be there too." For a moment she held her hands behind her back, rocking on her heels and Jaron couldn't help thinking how adorable she looked.

    "I'll think about it," he assured, lightly stroking her cheek. "Until tomorrow then."
    "Yes."
    "Goodnight...Miriam."
    "Goodnight."

    ****

    December 24th

    That morning when Miriam arrived with Jaron's gift she found a note posted on his door. Curiously, she set the present down, ripped it off, and began reading:

    My dearest Miriam,
    Sorry to miss you this morning. I am out doing some soul searching. I need this time to sort a few things out and...I hope you'll understand. Please, do leave your gift by the door and I'm still not sure about attending the Ball, but no matter what...I'll find a way to see you.
    Sincerely,
    Jaron


    Holding her hand to her heart, Miriam turned the note around, hoping there was more, but wondering what this could mean. What were these things exactly that he needed to sort out? Getting out in public more? Learning to ignore people's gossip? Figuring out what to do next in his life? It's gotta be that, she thought, but really it could be anything.

    She left the gift right where she set it down and slowly walked away, hoping with all her heart that he'd come to see her at the Ball that night.

    ****


    Part two coming as soon as I can get it written perfectly! :mrgreen:

    Thank you so much for your patience. :kissing_heart:
  • emorrillemorrill Posts: 4,887 Member

    Chapter 7
    (Part 2)


    The Ballroom was a gloriously festive sight! Floor to ceiling trees adorned each corner of the room decorated with hundreds of colored lights. Beautifully wrapped presents rested underneath, that shimmered in the lights from certain angles. Garland with red ribbons draped the walls, a few wreaths nestled in between. One side of the room was where the mistletoe hung, to those who wished to steal a kiss underneath. The other side was where the food was being served, with tables and chairs to sit at. Miriam admired it all breathlessly. After all, she's the one who started the whole Christmas Eve Ball idea, last year, and loved helping out with the decorating. This Ball looked even better than the last!

    Still, she sighed...greatly hoping that the man her heart was most longing for this Christmas would be there.

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    The Ball started at 6pm and many people arrived at the doors early. Pretty much to get some dinner into their bellies so they could spend most of the evening dancing, conversing, and basking in the spirit of Christmas. Holiday tunes instantly filled the room upon their entry, with snowflake lights dancing all around.

    Miriam happily greeted all her friends and co-workers, even those she didn't know. Every time the door opened her heart skipped a beat, longing for the person behind it to be Jaron. She knew she should eat, but didn't have the appetite.

    Eventually she told herself there was a great possibility that Jaron would not come so instead of feeling disappointed about it, she should have fun and not let his absence ruin her evening. It was Christmas Eve! And this was her Ball! Now was not the time to feel sad.

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    But why then did she continually find her eyes drifting towards the door?

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    Angelica approached her friend from behind and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
    "He's not coming," Miriam sighed, shaking her head. "I just know it."
    "Oh sweetie, don't think like that. There's no WAY he'd not be here! He totally adores you too much now not to come." She winked.
    "Maybe, but I know it's being around all these people that's holding him back."
    "Well...he's just gonna have to get used to that!"
    True. "Or maybe his soul searching made him change his mind about everything. Maybe...he finds this change of character too hard or maybe he's not willing to move on..." she looked down at the floor sadly.
    "Nonsense!" Angelica declared. "He'd be a fool if he's thinking that! Oh hey, excuse me sweetie I need to talk to Richard." And off she went.
    "Oh...uh...see ya."

    Next Ciro approached Miriam from behind and said, "Hey."
    "Hey," she turned with a smile.
    "You look beautiful tonight," he said, thrusting his hands in his pockets. "I hope...Jaron will come to see you."
    "Thank you," she said with an appreciative smile. She meant that in more ways than one.
    "I'm sure he'll be here," he comforted. "In the meantime, just be sure to have some fun ok? This is your Ball...it always will be." He winked. And with that he headed for the food table.

    Sighing, she turned her back away from the door, trying to hold back the tears. She had to believe Jaron would be there. Surely everything she did for him, all the time she spent becoming his friend, wasn't all in vain! I promise he wasn't just a project to me God, she thought, staring up at the ceiling. My care and love for him was real! It is truly, truly real! She held her hand to her heart as a tear streamed down her cheek.




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    Sniffing and wiping away the tear, she turned around and suddenly gasped. Frozen in place as her eyes instantly met with the newest person's who entered the Ballroom.

    45637966264_ab4ac724be_c.jpg

    He smiled, that brand new man dressed in an old, white tux, and shrugged for a second. As if to say, "Sorry I'm late."

    Miriam smiled brightly in return, forgiving him instantly.

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    Then she shot him a flirting, beckoning look.

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    Jaron happily obliged. Weaving himself through the crowd.

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    Gosh he looks so handsome! Miriam couldn't help thinking as her heart fluttered, even more wildly the closer he approached her.

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    "Good evening Miriam," he greeted, stopping to take her hands and look upon her. "Wow!" he whispered, spinning her around lightly and then stopping. "You look...stunning tonight. Beautiful." He corrected.
    For some reason this time his touch sent an intense electrical surge throughout her entire body, cranking up the heat. "You look great too," she said breathlessly. "Very handsome. Oh...I was so afraid you wouldn't come."
    "I was too," he admitted with a sigh, "but...when have I ever been able to resist an invitation from you?" He bashfully smiled.
    Miriam did the same.

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    In the distance, Angelica, Pedro, and Ciro lightly threw some cheers in her direction from the mistletoe side of the room. She just shot a smile at them while shaking her head. She couldn't have asked for sweeter, more supportive friends.

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    A slow Christmas song began playing and then the lights dimmed a bit.

    "May I have this dance?" Jaron asked Miriam with his hand to his heart.

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    Miriam closed her eyes dreamily for a second and playfully answered, "Why Mr. Hodge, I thought you would never ask me."

    32489083068_19ee08022d_c.jpg

    As they took each others hands and began swaying to the tune, Jaron said, "I guess the whole 'Why Mr. Hodge' thing is going to be a permanent joke between us now?"
    Miriam chuckled. "Yeah, I think so."
    However Jaron couldn't seem to chuckle back. He was just so taken by her beauty and found himself getting suc'ked into those dazzling blue eyes that shimmered like a galaxy in deep space.
    "I never realized just how gorgeous your eyes are," he said, then remembered. "You aren't wearing your glasses."
    "No," she smirked. "I decided on contacts for tonight. I guess," she paused, biting her lower lip, "I was thinking that since you made such a big change in your appearance...I would make a little change too."
    "You really didn't have to," he sincerely said. "You're beautiful...no matter how you look."
    Now Miriam was really blushing.

    45448385245_d528aaf8ce_c.jpg

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the dance floor, Ciro swayed hand in hand with a woman Angelica encouraged him to ask to dance.

    They didn't say much to each other for the first half of the song, but soon the woman spoke up by asking, "So Ciro...Angelica tells me you're an ice hockey fan?"
    That got Ciro's attention. "Yes," he replied. "I am. My dad and I used to play every winter when I was growing up so...It's kind of a special sport to me."
    "Oh my gosh my dad and I used to play together too!" she revealed. "That's why I love it so much."
    "No kidding? That's awesome!"
    "Yeah!"

    45637966684_fea5849bb2_c.jpg

    "So, I'm sorry...uh...what was your name again?" Ciro felt silly asking. He was horrible with names.
    She chuckled. "Tanya."
    "Oh...that's a pretty name."
    "Thank you."
    "So Tanya," he asked, while twirling her. "Which team is your favorite?"
    "Well..." she began...

    32489086258_9019594ed5_c.jpg

    "...You might give me grief about this, but...I've always been a Llamas fan, even though everyone thinks they su'ck!"
    Ciro froze, dropping her hands and gaping at her. "Are you serious? The Llamas are...the BEST TEAM EVER!"
    Tanya smiled brightly. "I KNOW! Oh my gosh I can't believe you're a fan too! Wow...what a small world." They returned to dancing.
    "It sure is," Ciro said, feeling his heart flutter.

    His eyes suddenly met with Angelica's gaze in the distance and she winked at him. He nodded in return as he and Tanya continued talking all about their love for the Llamas and their greatest wins.

    The slow Christmas song ended and the next one was more fast paced, but to Jaron and Miriam, it didn't even register. They just kept on swaying, carrying on a tune of their own.

    For they were so lost in the moment, that nothing else in the world mattered. No one else even existed.

    45448384865_dae30ccef1_c.jpg

    It was just the two of them. The only people left on Earth.

    32489082288_7ca2e7aa74_c.jpg

    Jaron couldn't contain himself any longer. There'd been so much he wanted to say to her and he always held back, but now was the perfect moment to do it.

    "Miriam," he began, "I don't think I ever properly thanked you for everything you've done for me. These past 24 days have been...the happiest days of my life and...I thank you. From the bottom of my heart thank you."

    45448384505_a3f80e68ed_c.jpg

    "Oh Jaron," she said, "I was happy to do it. I'm so glad I listened to my heart, despite what everyone else thought. And indeed, these past 24 days have been happiest of my life too."
    He was pleased to hear that. "I don't think you realize...just how much you've done for me. The impact you've had on me."
    "I think I do Jaron. I've seen it."
    "Yeah, but I mean," he paused, "you've practically saved my life Miriam. Saved my soul."
    "Oh I dunno about--"
    "You did," he pressed. "I was so lost before you came along. Stuck in the darkest abyss of sorrow and hate. I'd given up hope of ever seeing the light again. Hope of ever being...truly happy again."
    Miriam's eyes began to glisten.
    "But then...this jubilant ball of sunshine suddenly appeared at my door," they chuckled, "and little by little she gave me a whole new perspective on life. Taught me that kindness still exists and is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. And showed me that happiness and love are still possible for anyone who's lost everything in their life. I never believed I'd have any of those things again. You restored my faith in people and in the Spirit of Christmas," they chuckled again. "You helped bring me back to the man I used to be...the man who I thought was lost forever. My life has irrevocably changed because of you. I owe everything to you Miriam...and I don't want to imagine my life without you."

    45448384535_dd1c7dcd6e_c.jpg

    Miriam wiped at the tears from her eyes, feeling so touched.
    "My wish this Christmas," he went on, "is that your last gift to me will be your heart. Because every day since we met I've fallen even more in love with you. And now I must tell you," he paused, mustering up all his courage, "I love you Miriam Day. I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

    Grinning brightly, Miriam joyously declared, "You already have my heart Jaron Hodge... because I love you too!"

    In that moment Jaron leaned in, deeply pressing his lips upon hers and engaging the most passionate of kisses as he ran his fingers through her hair. Miriam giggled at the end of it and even more as he twirled her and then dipped her backward, planting another kiss on her lips again.

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    Soon the guests began to take notice of the two lovebirds in the middle of the dance floor and held their attention onto them; Oohing and Ahhing over how romantic the whole scene was.

    Gazing at each other with the happiest of eyes Jaron asked, "Miriam Day, will you be mine this Christmas, and from every day hereafter?"
    "Yes!" she emphatically exclaimed, beaming. "YES!"

    The guests cheered and clapped as the two kissed again. Witnessing one of the most unexpected love stories and the greatest Christmas miracle their little town had ever known.

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    The new year never felt brighter for the kind-hearted Miriam Day and Jaron - the former "Scrooge" - Hodge.

    *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

    And so Miriam and Jaron's story became immortalized. Told every Christmas Season in Aurora Skies to this day, not only because a real life "Christmas Carol" happened in their small town, but because it displayed the truth behind the saying that, "Where there is kindness, there is hope." And it applies to ALL people...no matter how mean or cold they seem. For one can never truly know what cross someone has been called to bear and that...was something every single person in the town needed to be reminded of.

    Christmas is all about the kindness of giving...and the hope that each of us can become a better person and start anew with the ever coming new year.

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    *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* The End *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


    <3
  • AlleenmensAlleenmens Posts: 15,608 Member
    "Do more of what makes you happy..." :smiley:
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