“There’s something you’re not telling me.” Stacey declared in between costumers, as their booth was nearly as full as the rest of the store. The closer they got to Christmas, the more people swarmed into the department store trying to do some last minute Christmas shopping.
Miley wasn’t her usual chatty self. Instead, she only nodded and said yes, no, okay, whenever a customer engaged in conversation. Only neither felt offended by her lack of effusiveness because ever since waking up this morning, she’d had a goofy smile plastered on her face. So, customers thought she was just happy to be wrapping up presents. That maybe she was in a holiday daze.
“Have a Merry Christmas, sir.” Miley said to the latest customer to stop by, before taking on the next person in line. When she bent to get some reindeer patterned paper, she said to Stacey.
“Why would you say that?”
“Well,” Stacey smiled at her own customer and bent down as well, pretending to be busy looking for something too.
“You’ve been grinning from ear to ear since you came in this morning. And I know things have not been so good for you. You haven’t been yourself lately. And I know that if it were good news, you would’ve shared it with me. So,” They both raised up at the same time, Miley with a box where she was starting to bury a video game among colored paper, while Stacey came up with some red ribbon, of which she began curling its tips as it added the final touch to a cellophane bag containing a perfume.
“So, what?” Miley asked.
“So, the only thing I can think of, is you had the best sex of your life last night.”
“Stacey!” She said, appalled, not because it was so far from what had happened last night, but because she all but made it public to the entire store. The guy on Stacey’s side winked at her and the mother in front of Miley coughed out a laugh and also winked at Miley, before going away with her Christmas present.
“What?” Stacey said, looking innocent.
“I’ll tell you all about it later, okay?”
Only later didn’t come. The store was so busy they barely had time to grab lunch before they had to get back to Santa’s workshop.
Miley was running late. She had a visit to make, and then she wanted to get back home to put up her Christmas tree, which she hadn’t had time to take out from storage along with all of her Christmas decorations with all that had been going on.
And maybe fantasize about Rick’s arms around her all night long. It wouldn’t hurt, especially if she was never going to see him again.
Despite her good mood this morning, Miley walked back with her head bowed down going over all the things the doctor had said to her. All of her happy spirit had deflated the second the doctor had opened his mouth to explain to her the graveness of the situation and yes, how much the surgery was going to cost. A surgery that meant the difference between living through another Christmas, or not even making it until then.
Her heart felt so heavy with unshed tears, Miley felt it was hours after she was finally turning her key and entering her small apartment. So much for spending her evening thinking about Rick. She was going to be tossing and turning, trying to come with a way to pay for the surgery and the expenses that would come after.
Still, the idea of decorating her Christmas tree was an attractive distraction to the troubles brewing in her mind. When she had brought up all the boxes containing the decorations, Christmas lights, and the big box containing her artificial tree, Miley began moving furniture out of the way so the tree could fit in a corner of her living room.
She decided to turn the T.V. on and stopped surfing the channels when “Miracle on 34th Street” came on the screen. The sound of dialogue filled the small apartment and kept her company as she began working her Christmas magic, until a knock on her door had her going to answer it, all tangled up in tinsel.
When she opened the door, she couldn’t believe what her eyes were seeing.