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For those of you who have not been reading my Christmas Story’s (normally on a Thursday) up to now, each year I write a special holiday story, and have done since 1999. I will share them each week until finally just before Christmas I will publish this seasons story.

Today’s is from 2007, and one of my own favourites a narrated version (will be added later) for those who like to listen rather than read.

SHADOWS ON THE WALL (2007)

He took the last photo frame from the wall, and added it to several others in a small box on the table. He looked around the room, then back at the box.

Was that it?

Three years of living with Jane, fitting into one small cardboard box, and a few shadows on the wall where the pictures had hung. His eyes wondered to a small dent in the wall near the kitchen door… No quite all!

He shook his hand remembering how in his rage he’d punched the wall.

It was three months ago, since that day he’d come home early to find the woman whom he had thought was the love of his life, in bed with a complete stranger. She had not even tried to disguise what she was doing, just laid there with a smirk on her face.

“Now you know.” Was all she’d said.

He’d turned and walked out, but not before hitting the wall so hard with his fist, he’d broken several bones in his hand.

After a night lost in various bars, he’d arrived home to find Jane gone.

Over the next few weeks several friends, or at least a people he’d thought as a being friends, had told him, that Jane had been “playing around” some time. Like a jigsaw puzzle, small items from the previous months had fallen into place, and he realized just what an idiot he’d been.

Weeks turned into months and the shops started to fill with the glittering sights and sounds that can only belong to Christmas. His house still remained empty, except for memories.

One night he was sitting in the chair sipping a drink, looking at the shadows left from where the pictures used to be.

Had he ever known love, true love?

His mind went back five years to the summer he’d spent in France after graduating from college. Yes he had known love, known it and lost it.

It had been a wonderful time, the cares of studying over, the pressure of a job not yet begun. Six months lazing about in the sun in the south of France. Then there had been Pascal.

He’d been sitting in a bar next to the beach when she’d walked in, the sun had been setting seemingly surrounding her with a red glow, that matched the copper tinge of her hair, making her look almost on fire. Like in all good romance movies there eyes had met across the crowded floor… But in his case, she’d looked at him, then turned and walked back out the bar.

That brief moment of eye contact had though, left a message written across his heart, setting him a challenge, which over the next couple weeks he’d taken up.

Ten days from the moment their eyes first met, they’d laid in each others arms, bodies, hearts and minds joined as one.

For the rest of the summer they had been together, until he’d had to leave, even then phone calls and emails had kept their romance alive.

Then one day she’d told him on the phone that she would not be contacting him any more, she did not give her reasons, and her last words of “I will always love you.” had just left him confused, as well as heart broken.

Yes he thought, his eyes once more straying to the shadows on the wall, he had known love.

His thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the front door bell. When he opened the door, there stood a woman perhaps a little younger than him, with dark hair. She handed him a letter, written on the top envelope was his name.

“Please,” the woman said, with a slight hint of a French accent “you have to read the letter.”

He went to open the letter then noticed a small face peering from behind the woman, her curly red hair only half hidden by her hat. Something about her seemed familiar.

“Please,” he said opening the door, “come inside.”

He led the pair into the living room, where they sat while he opened the letter.

“Peter,” he read “if you receive this letter, I will no longer be with you. I have been very ill, and I know my time in this world is not much longer.”

He looked up at the woman, and noticed the dark rings under her eyes.

He read on.

“My love, I have never forgotten you, and saying goodbye to you over the phone like I did was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say.”

A shock of reality hit him. He looked up at the woman, his lips mouthing one word… “Pascal?”

The woman nodded.

“Oui… I mean yes she sadly passed away two weeks ago, but made me promise to bring you the letter before she died. I am Joelle, Pascal’s sister.” He could see the tears starting to swell in Joelle’s eyes. Not knowing what to say he want back to the letter.

“I had to say what I did, I know now perhaps it was wrong, but at the time, I did not want you to hate me.”

How could he ever have hated her?

“I was confused, embarrassed and scared.
Later I realized that I’d done was wrong and that you, of all people would have understood, but by then it was too late. The words had been said, the deed had been done. Peter, a few months after you left I found I was pregnant.”

The room seemed to spin, a myriad of emotions swept through him like a tidal wave. The rest of the words seemed to swim before his eyes until he got to the last line.

“Please don’t be mad at me, and remember I will always love you.”

He put down the letter his hands trembling, a thousand questions springing to his lips each remaining un-asked.

Joelle, ushered the small girl towards him, a package clasped in her hands.

“This,” she said, her eyes now filled with tears. “Is Pascal’s daughter, her name is Angela. She has a gift for you.”

“Me.r..r..y Christ..mas..” Angela said, her face breaking into a smile of pleasure that she had managed to say the words correctly.

“Thank you, Angela. Bonne Noelle to you” he said taking the package from the small hands, now noticing how much she looked like her mother.

The child gave him a small smile, her fingers just touching his for a moment.

Slowly he opened the package; there were two pictures, one of Pascal and one of Angela. Written on the bottom of Pascal’s picture were the words.
“To the Man I will always love.”
He looked up at Joelle a film of tears across his own eyes.

“She made me promise to bring you the pictures,” Joelle said, a small smile touching her lips.

She reached across and took the pictures from his shaking hands, moving across the room, she hung them over the shadows left by the images of a previous life.

“And every father should have a picture of their daughter on display…”

Click the microphone to hear the story narrated by the author

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book
“Across the Pond”

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Today’s Christmas Story is from 2005, and as requested have added a narrated version, so if you want to hear that just click the microphone at the end of the story.

Laura finished typing the last part of her report, sat back and looked around the office. Snow covered the pavements, and with Christmas being just around the corner, most of the people in her department had already left for the day. She would be here for a little while yet, Daniel her boyfriend worked nights as a ground technician for Air Canada. She preferred to let him sleep, rather than, by her arrival home wake him early. Staying late also enable her to start that bit later so she had a brief time with him in the morning at the end of his shift.

Her thoughts of Daniel were interrupted by the phone ringing. She picked it up, wondering who would be calling her at this time.

“Hey, girlfriend,” came the voice of her friend Patti, “Merry Christmas.”

“Same to you Patti.”

Patti always managed to bring a smile to Laura’s face, something she felt in need of at the moment.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?”

“Oh you know me, dashing here and there all the time, and right now I’m there. Well not quite, but will be soon.”

“What are you talking about girl?”

“I’m on my way downtown, and wondered if you’d like to stop for a coffee with me before you head home?”

Sure sounds good to me.” Laura answered; glad to have a something to do before she headed home.

“I hear the coffee shop near you is doing a special coffee and snow or something. I think they are calling it “Christmas Coffee. Whatever I’m sure it’ll be worth a try.”

“Sounds interesting, I’ll meet you in what, twenty minutes?”

The other end of the phone went quiet.

“Patti, Patti, you there?”

“Oh yes, sorry, sure twenty minutes will be just fine.”

Laura put the phone down, and started to clear her desk. She was looking forward to a good girls chat with Patti.

Packing up her laptop, and checking her desk she headed out the door. Noticing the light still on in her manager’s office, she peeped in the door. “Goodnight Carolyn, I’m off now.”

“Night Laura, I’m wading through the month end figures so I’ll be here for a while yet.”

Laura caught the lift to the ground floor and wrapping her scarf round her headed into the snow covered night.

The lights sparkled from shops full of Christmas goodies, and she wondered just what Daniel might give her for a Christmas present, it was always hard for him to get to the shops. Not that she had really decided what to give him either, but then she was always a “last minute” shopper.

A small time later, Laura entered the warmth of the coffee shop and looked around for Patti, not able to see her, she was just about the leave when somebody touched her on the shoulder.

“Fancy meeting you here.” Came a voice she knew so well.
“Daniel!” she exclaimed turning into the arms of her boyfriend. “What are you doing awake, let alone here?”

“Oh,” Daniel casually remarked “I couldn’t sleep. Anyway I had a few errands to do, and thought I’d stop for one of the “Christmas Coffee’s that I’ve heard so much about.”

The couple sat at a table near the window, Laura’s hand automatically going to Daniel’s.

“I meant to meet Patti here,” Laura said, “I guess she’s been held up. Still, what a lovely surprise meeting you.”

Daniel leaned forward and kissed Laura softly. “How could I stay away from the woman I love.”

“Tell me that when you’re feeling half asleep at 5a.m.” Now go… get us two of these special Christmas Coffee’s.”

“Yes boss lady.” Daniel said giving a mock salute. “I love it when you’re dominant.”

Laura laughed and gave Denial’s rear, a friendly slap as he went to get the coffee’s.

She looked around, wondering where Patti might be.

Daniel returned with two cups of coffee, the whipped cream piled on the top, had silver sprinkles in it, so it almost looked like snow.

“So these are the Christmas Coffees,” Laura said taking a sip. “Hm not bad.”

Daniel wiped the cream from his lips caused by his first sip. “I like the snow,” he said “but I think it needs more ice.”

Laura looked a little puzzled. “More ice?”

Daniel fumbled in his pocket. “Yes,” he said “more ice like this.” He handed Laura a red box, which she carefully opened. There inside was a ring, not any ring, but an engagement ring.

She looked at Daniel her mouth half open in shock.

A smile flicked across Daniel’s lips. “I’m sorry love, this is all a little plot hatched between me and Patti, to get you here so I could ask you one question.”

Laura’s eyes filled with tears.

Daniel knelt down on one knee. “Will you marry me Laura?”

People at the nearby tables had stopped talking and were looking at the couple.

“Well?” said a lady sitting next to Laura. ”What’s your answer?”

Tears started slide down Laura’s cheek. “Oh yes Daniel, with all my heart, yes.”

A cheer went up as the couple kissed, sealing their engagement.

“About time!” Came a voice from behind Laura. Turning, she was greeted by not only Patti, but also Carolyn, and several of her friends from the office.

Laura turned back to Daniel, and slipped the ring onto her finger. “Some plot, fiancée of mine. Then she laughed, saying, “I think Christmas Coffee’s the best drink I’ve ever had.”

Click the microphone to hear the story narrated by the author

Barry



BARRY EVA (Storyheart)
Author of Young Adult Romance/Fiction book

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