The Candle in the Window (Part 3)


Each Friday during this holiday season I am unfolding one part of a five-part Christmas story I wrote. Today is Part 3. (You can find Parts 1 & 2 here and here if you missed them.)

     Marge tapped her fingers impatiently on her kitchen counter as she waited for Helen to pick up the phone. Marge and Helen had been friends for a long time, but they couldn’t be more opposite. Helen, quiet and frail, was often eclipsed by blustery, outspoken Marge who was thin as a rail, healthy as a horse, and still sharp as a tack.
     “Hello?” Helen had finally answered.
     “Helen? Are you okay? It took you awhile to get to the phone,” shouted Marge into the receiver.
     “I’m fine, Marge. The phone was on the other side of the room and I don’t move as quickly these days,” Helen reminded her.
     “Yeah, yeah, I know what you mean,” Marge said, even though she really didn’t have any idea what she meant. She continued, “So I am calling to find out if you want to come along to Brenda’s this Christmas Eve? We’d really like you to come.”
     Brenda, Marge’s daughter, had the entire family at her home every Christmas Eve. It was full of laughter and fun and joy. And Helen hated it.
     Several years ago, she had finally told Marge she would go along with her. A few minutes into the evening she knew she would never go again. As she had sat there alone watching the children play together and listening to the conversations around her it was just a fresh reminder that she didn’t really belong anywhere.
     “Helen! You still there?” asked Marge, a little impatiently.
     Marge’s question brought Helen’s mind back to the present. She quickly came up with an excuse, just as she did every year, “Aw, Marge, thanks so much for asking me. Unfortunately, with this damp weather, my arthritis has been really acting up lately. I’d better just stay home.”
     “Okay, Helen Rose Morgan, if that is the way you want it,” Marge always used Helen’s full name when she was a bit perturbed with her. But, while she was a little irritated, she certainly wasn’t surprised at Helen’s refusal to join them. Lame excuses were what she had come to expect. It still saddened her that her friend would be all alone on Christmas Eve and so Marge decided that this year she wouldn’t let that happen. She continued after a brief moment, “How about I eat dinner with my family and then come to your house afterward? It might be kind of nice to have a quiet Christmas Eve for a change,” Marge spoke the words even though she didn’t mean them.
     “Are you sure, Marge? I wouldn’t want to…”
     “Of course, I’m sure.”
     Helen responded with a grateful sigh, “thank you, Marge. I would like that.”
     The two friends spent the next few moments on the phone talking about what Christmas movie they would watch that night. Marge liked What a Wonderful Life and Helen’s favorite was Christmas in Connecticut. Finally, Marge laughed and said, “Let’s watch both!”
     And so the plans were made. A little smile tugged at the corners of Helen’s mouth as she hung up the phone.
     She sat down at her Formica kitchen table for a few moments and basked in the warm glow that came at the thought of not having to spend Christmas Eve alone this year. It was a very odd thing–this being without any living relatives. Her husband had been an only child and so there were no relatives on that side of the family except for a few scattered cousins. Helen had had a sister, Ida Jane, but she had never married and had died from a fast-moving cancer in her 40s. It all seemed so long ago now. Time had passed and gradually dulled the emptiness of it all and Helen had grown quite used to not having a family. In fact, most times it didn’t bother her. Except for this time of year. What was it about having family around at Christmas?
     The lurking shadow of loneliness dissipated as she shook her head to clear the old memories away and determined to have a good attitude. After all, this year she didn’t have to spend Christmas Eve alone! She tuned the radio to a station playing Christmas carols and hummed along as she washed the dishes.

4 thoughts on “The Candle in the Window (Part 3)”

  1. I like that you used your Grandmas name for a character. She’d be pleased. Loving the story but it is too short! More, more, more! It is enjoyable.

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