I wrote this original fictional story as a gift for my family while I was incarcerated in a Texas Prison. Over the month I will be sharing it here, chapter by chapter, as a holiday gift for my readers. I hope you will enjoy it as much as my family has.
Scott glanced at the horizon and watched for a few moments as the low winter sun began its descent. Just the night before, a December storm had dusted the surroundings with a blanket of fine white snow. It couldn’t have been a more perfect setting for Christmas.
It was almost time to break down the bell ringing stations. Scott had been ringing bells for charity for five years. During that time he had grown from a boy into a handsome young man. He smiled broadly as he watched his childhood friend Cassie, now a beautiful young woman, ring the bell directly across the street from him. She grinned back.
Cassie had started a year after Scott and, while she was a very generous and charitable person, spending more time with him was the real reason she volunteered. Over the past few years they had been ringing bells together and they had developed a unique alternating style and rhythm as they rang their loud brass bells. Town members noticed and the buzz spread after a public interest piece by the local paper. All the attention made for full donation buckets as well as brand new uniforms -- down to new patent leather black shoes. Although they had never spoke of it, they both admired the other’s new look.
Cassie and Scott admired a lot about each other and the sparks between them had become bright enough for everyone at the Outreach Church to take notice. This was exciting news for the small congregation and the real reason the church elders encouraged them to do all their charity work as a team. They were a good match and led others by their example. Their union would help the church grow.
Cassie and Scott had one more act of charity to perform together before they returned to the church for their congregation’s annual Christmas Eve potluck dinner. Scott doubled parked his Ford station wagon and with the hazards flashing, he walked the few short steps over to Cassie's bell ringing station to help her break it down. As they loaded the stand in the rear portion of the wagon, Scott leaned into Cassie and planted a kiss on her cold check. It was smoother and softer than he ever imagined. She was simply perfect. His heart pounded in his chest as he waited for her response.
Surprised and happy, Cassie said softly, “Merry Christmas Scott.” She looked up at him then quickly looked away. Their eyes were bright and danced nervously together -- wanting to connect but careful not to look at each other for too long. He opened the heavy car door for her and she slid onto the bench seat, leaning away from the door as it he pushed it shut. He slid into the driver’s seat, smiled at her and within seconds they were on their way. He inched his hand across the bench seat to find hers and squeezed it gently. With hands in union, they both knew this was going to be a very special Christmas.
Across town, Georgia Petros languished in her hospice bed as she looked out the window at the picture perfect snowscape. She was lucid today - for the first time this week. Pancreatic cancer had been ravaging Georgia’s body for the past four years -- a venomous hungry snake who was now running out of healthy cells to attack and consume. The doctors didn't know how she kept hanging on -- no one did. The disease was taking its toll and the pain, racking her body for years, had become overbearing.
Months ago, her only son, Danny, asked her to stop the weekly trips to the federal prison. He said he wanted her to preserve her strength. But old school and tough as nails Georgia handled the prison visits just fine. In reality, they had become much harder and more painful for Danny - he couldn’t bear feeling so powerless as he watched her waste away.