Kramer hated Christmas. It wouldn’t be such a horrible time of year if Christmas stayed indoors. But Christmas doesn’t stay indoors, does it? Before the feasts of Thanksgiving have even been converted to unending leftovers, it parades out onto the streets, dressed in wreaths and bows, ornaments, and blinking lights. It festoons itself on houses, cars, lightposts, and trees with merry abandon. And then every year it carouses about in its gaudy attire to the same agonizing tintinnabulation of recycled carols for a long unbearable month.
New Years Day had long been his favorite day of the year. Used up trees lined the streets waiting to become pulp, houses looked like houses, and the ornate debauchery was retired once again to boxes in attics where it belonged. The music was gone. Peace on Earth was restored. But these days it seemed Christmas lingered on. It remained, a defiant child clinging to the bedroom door at bedtime.
Kramer kicked at the snow as he sipped at his coffee. He smiled as it settled in front of him. A giddy grin had been plastered on his face for more than a week now since Lights-from-Hell Harry across the street had finally returned from vacation to take down his nauseating automated display. He breathed in the crisp cool air, and grinned even wider at a his coffee-warmed breath that belched forth like a cloud from a steam engine.
Just like that, Kramer’s smile disappeared. There, in glaring, unceremonious isolation on Harry’s tree, hung one missed silver ball. In the naked beauty of the new year, it taunted him, an unwelcome blot on his pristine world of grey and white. It struggled stubbornly to bear the weight of its perfectly domed snow cap, glistening cheerily at him in spite. On January 15th!
This simply would not do. Contempt for the straggling decoration flooded him. No one would see. No one would know. Kramer stepped over the meaningless fence that kept only the smallest dogs from crapping on Harry’s lawn, muttering angrily under his steaming breath. He marched over to the tree and reached a gloved hand up to crush the life out of the happy little ball. And then he froze.
Staring back at him, just for an instant from the miniature mirror, was not the distorted reflection of an angry old man, bitter over his neighbor’s careless oversight. The ball instead held an image of Harry’s young daughter, standing in her pink hat, with her camera poised to capture a picture of the adorable little snow-capped bulb.
Kramer pulled his hand back and blinked as Jayne’s flash reflected back, magnified by the convex silver surface. The imagined flash burned through his eyes, seared his bitter thoughts, and warmed his chilled heart. Jayne was a fine young lady. As much as Kramer detested Harry, he had nothing but fondness for the girl. It was just one ornament. What was it hurting?
Carefully, he reached back up and plucked the ball from the tree by its hook. He held it up close to admire his monstrous nose and then took another sip of his coffee. Delicately, so as not to disturb the little mound of snow, he walked it up to the front porch and rang the bell. Once. Twice. No one answered.
Now what? Kramer looked around the porch. There was no place to put the top-heavy little ball where it wouldn’t tip and lose its beanie of white. Unsure of himself now, he walked slowly back down the steps and paused to look at the trail of footsteps that would have betrayed him had he destroyed the ball as intended. Another sip of coffee and another smile. He followed his footsteps back, remembering how often he used to do that when he was a boy, and then carefully by its hook, he put the ornament back where he had found it and stepped back to enjoy his reflection for a moment.
It was just one ornament. What was it hurting?
© 2012 Anne Schilde
HEA just for Eliabeth. 🙂