Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cards (11/06/08)
TITLE: Missing Gerald
By Sara Harricharan
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So alone. Always alone.
The doorbell rang, once, twice and a third time.
Gracie closed her eyes against the splitting headache, it had to be the mailman again. This was the third day he was bugging her with some useless piece of junk to sign for. The ringing persisted and against her better judgment, Gracie roused herself enough to crawl out from the bed.
She fumbled with her bathrobe, knotting it haphazardly as she shuffled for the door and yanked it open. Her mouth opened to spew words she would not be able to retract when she saw a surprised young woman in postal service uniform.
“You're not Hank.” The words tumbled out of her mouth.
Her tag read Callie Evans. She smiled politely. “Hank's vacationing.” Her nose twitched.
“You look like a rabbit.” Gracie leaned against the door frame, finding herself struggling to stay upright.
A tinted eyebrow arched upwards. “I have a certified mail for you. Are you aware that your mailbox is full?”
“No.” Gracie scribbled what she hoped was some semblance of a signature on the screen and handed it back. Her head began to spin, and it hurt. A wave of nausea overtook her and she gripped the edge of the door.
“Ma'am? Are you all right?” Callie's concerned face faded out of view as Gracie felt herself returning to the darkness of her mind. Her foot wobbled.
“Just peachy. Mind grabbing the rest of that mail stuff?”
Callie hesitated. “Sure...” ”
A faint trace of a smile crept onto Gracie's face. “You'd get it, even after I called you a rabbit? That's very kind of you.”
“No trouble at all.” Callie hurried down the walk, returning moments later with a large stack of envelopes in hand. “Anything else I can do for you?”
Gracie shook her head. “No. Thanks.”
“Merry Christmas.” She waved and was gone.
Memories of Christmases past rose to the surface and breaking the barrier of her grief as Gracie tried to put her mind in gear, by focusing on the mail.
There were several bills, plenty of junk advertisements and a few official notices from storage facilities. Gracie bit her lip. “So unfair fair, Gerald.” She whispered. “ This was our dream. When we moved, it was supposed to be for the two of us. Together.”
Hot tears spilled out of her eyes.
She sifted through the envelopes, stopping when she reached several with colored envelopes and fancy sticker seals. Her head hurt trying to read them to put the names in perspective.
The name on the corner was unfamiliar, but she ripped open the first one straightaway.
A lovely blue card fell into her lap. “With God's love and hugs, in addition to my deepest sympathy...” The card fell from her hands as more tears came. “From Keisha.” Gracie nudged the card off her lap and reached for the next one. A pink square. She ripped open the flap and tugged it free. “With all my love during this holiday season...missed you today. Everything all right? Happy holidays. Keisha.”
Wonderment grew as Gracie opened each card, surprised to find them staged to be twice per week. There were a few from her family, but the majority of the bundle was sparkling, glittering Christmas cards from Keisha.
Her fingers shook as she opened the last card. “Merry Christmas on this blessed eve.” She mumbled. “To Gracie and Gerald, with all my love, your cyber-sister Keisha.” The fog cleared and the sorrowful tears to turned to ones of gratitude.
A white slip of paper fell into her lap and Gracie gasped.
Gracie...girlfriend, you'll get through this, but I'm still coming down for Christmas. Don't make a fuss over me, I'm coming to fuss over you. See you soon! Hugs! Keisha.
Gracie stared at the paper for a full minute and the door bell rang again. This time, she scrambled to her feet and hurried to the door. She pulled it open to fall into Keisha's open arms.
“It's okay, girlfriend...I got your back.”
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