Carol threw the towel over her shoulder like an old pro after wiping the counter for what seemed like the hundredth time. Another lonely customer with no family heading home to the dark nothingness they call home on Christmas Eve. It was sad really. It's supposed to be a happy day and yet she witnessed such profound sadness in some people's eyes today. She realized then how much she missed her family.
She began to doubt herself, had she made the right choice for her life? L.A. was so far from her little wintry Idaho town. She loved the mountainous view she had there and the four seasons. Christmas was always her favorite, especially when it snowed. She wouldn't be seeing any snow this year. She had no plans either, nowhere to go. She figured she looked no different than her lonely Christmas Eve customers. Her new friends had gone skiing in Washington. She was invited but didn't have money to go and had to work anyway. The price you pay when you leave the nest and forge out on your own. Someday though she would see the world. She was going to be an international model. Travel the world, have an amazing career, make lots of money. That's the reason she came here anyway.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a voice. She looked around realizing she had been standing there for quite some time. She turned around and saw Louise staring at her with one eyebrow cocked and a grin on her face.
“It's fine,” Louise repeated with a chuckle.
Carol looked perplexed, obviously missing something, “What is?”
Louise tended her pot of soup. “The counter,” she said, “it can hold itself up, it don't need you.” She smirked.
“Oh sorry Louise, guess I was lost in thought.” She laughed. “You need help cooking back there?”
“For what? Our one customer?” Louise snorted. “No darlin' I think I can handle it. You should be gettin' on home.”
Carol folded her arms leaning against the counter again, “To what? My friends went skiing, I can't afford to visit my family. Heck, I don't even have a cat to go home to.”
Louise gave her a look. “We all make choices honey, you'll be fine. Just gotta find your way is all. Gotta take the good and the bad, can't be all sunshine and roses, even in California. Go home, watch a Christmas movie and eat some ice cream.”
“Okay Louise, thanks.” Carol smirked as she took off her apron, she liked Louise, she was like a second mother to her. Always looking out for her. “Merry Christmas, tell Bob to take it easy with the eggnog tomorrow.”
Carol began liking Louise's idea of a movie. As she slid the key into the lock to her apartment door she began wishing she would have at least decorated a bit. She flipped the light switch in her living room and startled when she saw the room light up with Christmas lights all around and a scrawny little tree with a star on top.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS!” her friends yelled.
She was momentarily lost for words as she tried to take in her surroundings. “What, what is all this? You guys!”
“Took you long enough to get off work!” joked Molly. “Look, we couldn't leave you here all alone on Christmas. We didn't want you to jump off your balcony or anything.”
“Oh gee, thanks!” Carol laughed. She grabbed her friends and gave them each a bear hug. “Oh you guys, this is perfect, thank you so much.”
...a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas...
Molly ran to the sliding glass door of the balcony, “Look Carol, carolers!” She giggled.
Carol laughed. “Oh aren't you cute.”
They all went out to the balcony. Carol stopped cold, adrenaline coursing through her body, she couldn't believe what she was seeing looking at the carolers. A tear rolled down her cheek as the breath she was holding escaped, “Mom?”
Her mom put her hands over her mouth and started to cry, “Hi honey, Merry Christmas!”
“Hey princess,” her Dad said, “we brought your brothers too.”
“You did? Where are they?”
Carol felt something on her back. She turned around and saw her brothers, who had been hiding, throwing fake snow at her.
“God cares about the little things too Carol, we know you love a white Christmas so we brought it to you.”
“Oh Mom, it's perfect!”
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