After The Longest Night

After all the wrapping and unwrapping, the lighting and the ribboning and the beauty of the snow and the everything, there will be presents under the tree, and there will be a slightly rounder belly, and more feelings of fluttering there, the life within life.

It’s late, and Blake is exhausted; he’s already gone to bed, and she will be out clicking off the last of the lights when she’ll see, by the Christmas tree, the pale-haired boy, holding a package.

“I’m sorry,” he says quietly. “I’ve been sent. I don’t want to hurt you. I’ll be quick.”

His blue eyes are the ice of the night, ghostly and preciously cool on the outside, an electric warmth behind them only for her, half-hidden, vulnerable.

He offers her the package; in bright red wrapping with gilded holly and brilliantly green glittering ribbon, and says, “The sun came back. After the longest night, didn’t it?” He looks semi-fragile, and apologetic, and his drawn breath shudders a bit, his shoulders shaking.

I miss you. He doesn’t say it, miserable and aching, desperately wanting, but knowing she hates him, fears him.

I was sick. He wants to shout it, scream it, beg forgiveness, plead his case.

He knows it won’t matter.

Inside the package is a strangely smooth piece of crystalline rock or maybe it’s glass. It shines blackly, desperately cold, oddly hungry.

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