Last Christmas

Allured by the scent of freshly baked Christmas pudding, drifting from a neighbouring bakehouse amidst the bustling streets, I take my lingering gaze off the enormous Christmas tree, adorned by glistening ornaments and glowing fairy lights carefully draped around it. White snowflakes elegantly float down, delicately tickling my nose, before falling into the snow. Strolling alongside the magnificently structured buildings and houses, I watch as people swarm in and out of the bustling coffee shops, gift emporiums and bakeries, like bees. The evening sky fades away; the pink and orange hues are replaced with dark shades of blue, specks of snow highlighting the twinkling stars, whilst the amber light of the street lamps spills out on to the stone-paved streets, now engulfed in clusters of snowfall. I hear the loud, spirited laughter of adults and the continuous chatter of children adding to the vivacious atmosphere.
Not just yet.
I anxiously pace in the shadows of nearby white spruce, waiting out the fading elation of the town.
Waiting.
Waiting for the right time.
Hesitantly I reach into the backpack slumped at my feet, quickly regretting my decision and pulling my hand out immediately. Subconsciously, I slip my hand back in the bag, and slowly pull out the crumpled photograph, fidgeting with it for a few moments, before slipping it into my coat’s fur pouches. I tug my coat down a little further, trying to trap the frozen air and I shuffle my feet through the frost that gently blankets the sidewalks and streets. Soon I start to walk
And walk.
I trudge along the treacherous pavement at a steady pace, focusing on the muffled footsteps in the desolate street. I watch the effect of soft prints in the blizzard that proves that I am really on this path. I try to distract myself; anything to not think about where I’m heading but also where I will be when there are no more steps to take, when I have finished my journey.
Then I stop -
The house is identical to its neighbour, right down to the shade of paint, slightly peeling around the frosted glass windows, however I know it is the right one. I clasp my fist around the brass knocker, pounding three times and I wait. In a brief lull of the snowdrift, I hear the hastening footsteps. The door opens a crack and a familiar hazel eye peeks out. The two people in the photograph stare out at me, overjoyed.
“Mother, Father,” I cry, “I’ve come home.”

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