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A Christmas Visitor -- FWG Flash Fiction for 12/19/2020

I guess I'm feeling the spirit of the season this week.

A Christmas Visitor

The church stood proudly at the end of the marketplace. Its clock played half of the recorded Westminster chimes from its bell tower. Six-thirty on Christmas Eve meant the last-minute shoppers—all men—rushed from store to store, desperately searching for that one last gift that would make their wives, sweethearts, sons, or daughters smile on Christmas morning. Carolers, bundled up against the cold, sang their final song.

Janine stood behind the counter of the coffee shop, dreading when the clock would strike seven times, when she would close the shop and spend another Christmas alone. The tinkling of the bell above the door woke her from her reverie.

“Good evening. Can I help you,” she said as she took in the man’s swept-back hair falling just to his collar, its salt-and-pepper color matching his full, yet well-groomed beard. He wore a long camel hair coat over a white dress shirt and black slacks. A cashmere scarf completed the ensemble.

“I hope so,” he replied. “I’d love a cup of hot cocoa.” Janine smiled, although she had already cleaned and stowed the cocoa machine. “If it’s not too much trouble, that is, Janine.”

“Do I know you,” she asked, puzzled. He nodded to the nametag on her blouse. “Oh, right. It’s no trouble,” she said, a little flustered, but happy for the momentary company.

“While you’re at it, better make two,” he said as he pulled two biscotti from the jar on the counter.

Janine looked past him to the dark windows. “Are you expecting company?” she asked.

His eyes twinkled and a smile curled his lips. “Nope,” he said as he slid a biscotti toward her. “I’m just taking a break before I continue my rounds. Merry Christmas.”

For the first time in a long while, it was.

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