Eric zipped up his coat to his neck and pulled the hood over his head.Tiny snow tornadoes swirled around his feet as he brushed half an inch of snow
off his windshield. A nagging negative feeling floated around in his gut like bad sushi that perhaps driving to his parent's place today on a whim for
a surprise Christmas visit, perhaps wasn't the best idea.But seeing as how he had nothing better to do,and it had been a few years since he had been
home for the holidays,he talked his gut into being quiet. His parents weren't getting any younger, and maybe this was the year they would stop
grilling him over not being married yet to anything but his career. "Gotta build the castle before I can share it with a queen." He would repeat over
and over to their inquisitions.
He did a double take of the traffic from his view in the parking lot of the apartment building,and the steady flow on the main road gave him a sense
of security that the roads were still good enough to drive the trip and that hopefully the storm would pass as quickly as it came.The three hour drive
to his parents would be sketchy, but worth it to see the look on their faces.
Annie brought a lunch tray out from the kitchen into the lobby where Fred was sitting on a sofa beside the Christmas tree, staring out the window at
the heavily falling snow.He smiled at her, snatching half a grilled cheese sandwich and dipping it into a steaming cup of tomato soup.
"Good thing we have nowhere to go today." He said as took another big bite of the sandwich, and a trickle of soup dribbled down his beard.
"I'm sure it will pass soon." Annie spoke in between spoonfuls of her own soup. " But it sure makes it a festive holiday."She smiled at him with
flushed cheeks, either from the warmth of the soup,or the flurry of activity all day. Why she almost resembled Mrs. Claus fresh in from the cold, he
She winked at him as she caught him looking at her. No matter what his thoughts were, he was smiling, and that was all she needed to know.
Lynn's foot slipped as soon as her high heels hit the front step,sending her landing on her backside and her hand full of purse,keys,and coffee to go
flying into the shrubbery.
"Damn it DARREN! Didn't you salt the walkway?"
Darren glanced back at her brushing the snow off her coat from his position beside the passenger door." Yes dear, I did. But it's snowing too hard
and covered the salt up." He tried so hard not to smile at the spectacle of her, knowing it would be worse for him if he did.
All she did was roll her eyes at him, and tip toe slowly towards the car, after grabbing her keys and purse,and abandoning the cup of coffee left
splattered on the snow.They both climbed in the car and spoke not a word as Lynn backed out of the driveway and their journey began.Within minutes,
the tire tracks disappeared under a new blanket of white.
Karl took a long sip of hot coffee from his travel mug. The radio blasted and he sang loudly. Nothing could spoil his good mood today. " Merry
Christmas Karl!" He said out loud to himself,and laughed maniacally.
His route consisted mostly of continuously going over the main roads,with a few side streets at the end of town.There was still enough people hustling
and bustling around,that it took very little effort for him to clear the road. A few drivers waved a thank you to him,and that was always a
bonus.Every now and again some noodle head with a lead foot and a rocket up his muffler would tailgate him,and from his rear view mirror he could see
the driver banging on the steering wheel.You would think they would be more grateful for having the road cleared directly in front of them. Didn't
fizz on Karl though. He'd smile and yell as if the driver behind him could hear, " HONK IF YOU'RE STUCK BEHIND A SNOWPLOW!" That never failed to make
Maddy squirmed and wiggled in her seat.
" Mommy I have to pee!"
Serenity now, Michelle thought. "OK, just around this corner is a gas station and we can stop there."
"Sally needs to go too." Maddy spoke of her rag doll.
"OK baby, almost there." Michelle pulled into the gas station and quickly rushed Maddy inside.
Safely back inside the car,Michelle started to feel uneasy. While inside with Maddy, the snowfall had doubled, as had the wind.She was half way to her
destination,and it would be the same driving distance whether she continued on, or turned back. Knowing she was expected,she decided to press on, but
slowly. Surely this was the worst of it, and she could still drive, albeit carefully.
Maddy sang in the back seat, " Jingles Bells, Jingles Bells", over and over to Sally , her audience, as she made the cloth doll hands clap for her.
After waiting patiently in the line up of vehicles, Eric finally pulled up to the speaker of the drive thru coffee shop.
" Hello , my name is Amanda, Merry Christmas, how can I help you?"
" Yeah, can I get a large double, double please." Eric was suddenly self conscious that his teeth might be chattering as the wind blew through his
" Sure. Will that be everything?" Amanda asked in what he was positive was a phony enthusiastic voice.
Glancing behind him at the sole car that had been inching it's way up the line almost as long as him,and the senior couple it held warm inside, Eric
turned again to the speaker.
" Actually , no that's not everything. Please be sure whatever the car behind me orders, that you charge me for it as well. Thank you."
"Will do sir! Please drive up to the first window."
Amanda smiled at him, as she handed him his coffee and change. Perhaps she wasn't being phony after all. Or perhaps his small gesture brought out
genuine happiness in her. Either way, both made him feel warmer inside than the fresh hot coffee.
The smell of Annie's baked ham wafted throughout the small house,and Fred found it increasingly difficult to occupy himself away from her. Back and
forth he paced between the lobby and the whirlwind of activity outside,and the whirl of activity in his own kitchen. Dozens of cookies that were once
cooling on racks, now rested neatly in decorated tins. Annie was finishing up their dinner of ham,scalloped potatoes,green bean casserole,and her best
home made dinner rolls. She always made a lot of food,and leftovers were frozen for those days in winter when they wanted a hot meal, but the energy
to cook it was absent.
Fred snuck up behind her as she was rolling out the dough. He tapped his finger on the bread board, coating the tip with flour, and giggling as he
swiped her nose with it.
" Oh, you!" Annie squealed, and chastised him,with a light slap on the arm. Then she kissed him, leaving half the flour from her nose, now smeared on
his own face. Then they both laughed at the sight of each other, and Annie continued to make the rolls while Fred wandered back to the window,
frowning suddenly as he realized he could no longer see the road, nor across it, through the steady falling wall of white.
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