The Glass Christmas Heart

“Looks like rain to me,” Tommy said.

“Yes, I know, relied Cathy over the phone, “but Momma already called and confirmed the flight.”

Tommy just moaned, “Oh.”

“Don’t be sad Tommy,” Cathy said. She had expected this from him it hurt deep inside her but there was nothing that she could do. If only her mother had asked before making the arrangements to go to San Diego for Christmas.

Tommy attempted to make his voice sound as if it were okay. He struggled to sound stronger than he was as he said, “I’m not sad. I just miss you that’s all.” He continued, “Sorry if I sound so sad. I’m really not.”

Cathy knew better but she didn’t continue as she realized it would be hopeless. There was a long pause on the phone.

“Tommy?” asked Cathy.

“Yes?” answered Tommy.

“I didn’t know if you were still there,” she said.

“Yes, I am. I was waiting for you to say something,” Tommy said. Another pause came; it was shorter as Tommy said low into the receiver, “I love you, Cathy.”

She replied back to him, “I love you, too. It’s time to go. Bye-bye, Tommy. Don’t be sad and have a Merry Christmas. I love you.”

The telephone clicked into his ear as he said, “I love you.” He sighed as he hung up the phone.

Tommy knew that this was going to be a long and lonely Christmas holiday. His father was gone to Oklahoma to see family back there for the first time in years. His mother was still angry at him over moving to Fort Dick and buying land when she and Dad decided to divorce. So she wasn’t talking to Tommy at the moment.

Also, Cathy was going away. Tommy had nothing to do with that. Her mother had decided that she should come home from school for the holiday period. It would be hard on Tommy; he just hoped that the three week period would pass quickly.

The first few days were terribly slow and Tommy paced his tiny trailer like an animal caged. Cathy felt the same boredom as she would sit and wait for the mailman only to be despaired as he came and went without a letter for her.

Each night was spent with anticipation of the following day. Tommy wrote Cathy a letter each night as he had promised. He ended each correspondence with “I love you.”

Cathy used her nights equally by writing Tommy a book. She filled several pages each evening and wondered if she would have to get another journal. Her days were filled with helping her mother with “Share your Christmas” projects driving around San Diego County delivering boxes of food to families. Other times she longed to call Tommy or that he would call her.

In the meantime Tommy’s brother, Adam took the Greyhound to Fortuna to celebrate Christmas with Mom and their sisters. Deep down Tommy felt good that everyone was getting what they wanted for the holidays. But his mind lingered in the thought of Cathy. A sad loneliness caught up with him.

For several days Tommy rode his motorbike to work at KPOD then home again. He checked on the horse and completed his daily routine. Still every night he wrote Cathy letters and hoped she would come home soon.

It wasn’t until the seventh day when the rain ceased and the sun shown shyly from its lofty perch that Tommy started into town. He had just arrived at KPOD when the receptionist said, “A Cathy wants you to call her at home immediately.”

“Cathy?” Tommy asked.

“Yes, and she says you have her Arcata number,” the receptionist replied.

“Okay and thank you,” Tommy said as he took the pink piece of paper from the lady and walked into the back offices. In seconds he dialed her phone number and a mere few seconds later that Cathy answered.

“Hello,” she said.

“Cathy?” Tommy asked.

“Tommy!” Cathy shouted, “Oh, it’s so good to hear from you.”

“I love you,” Tommy said and he continued, “What are you doing back?”

“Well it’s a long story…” she started.

Tommy interrupted, “I’ve got all day!”

“Let me finish…it was raining so hard down there that I decided to come back early rather than get stuck,” said Cathy. “I got in late last night.”

“I’m glad you’re home,” Tommy said. “Look, I’m due on the air in a couple of minutes.”

“Okay,” responded Cathy, “I’ll see you in a little while. I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Tommy said as he hung up the phone. He was all smiles as he picked up his headphones and walked down the short hallway and into the sound booth.

Cathy rolled across her bed, hanging up the receiver, while sighing a breathe of relief. She thought to herself for a moment, “I’m glad to be home and Tommy’s glad to hear from me. We will have a Christmas after all.”

Their reunion was a joyous occasion as Cathy and Tommy spent time making up for lost time. It was their being together that made the days pass so quickly. Christmas was upon them before either one realized it.

Tommy was invited to Cathy’s home for Christmas dinner. She served a small turkey with stuffing and gravy. There were mashed potatoes and corn on the side with golden brown biscuits.

After dinner they retired to the living room to share a brandy and eggnog. Tommy built a small blaze in the woodstove and the pair relaxed in the couch. The flames reflected on their faces as they sat and talked into the early morning hours.

Finally, Cathy said, “I have something for you.”

“I thought we said…” Tommy started. He was halted by her finger pressed against his lips. She got up and disappeared down the long corridor and reappeared moments later. She carried in her hand a plainly wrapped box.

“When I first saw it,” she said, “I thought of you.” She held it out to Tommy.

He took it in his hand and smiled at her. As he did, he drew her closer to him and kissed her.

“I didn’t get a present for you,” Tommy said, “All I have is…well, my heart for you.” She smiled and kissed him. Tommy impatiently untied the red ribbon from the white wrapper.

“The red ribbon is my bond to you, Tommy,” she said. He undid the wrapping, unfolded it carefully. She continued, “The wrapper represents me on the outside and the gift on the inside is my gift to you,” she finished.

Tommy looked up from the small glass bobble in his rough hand. A tear slowly escaped his eye and slipped down his cheek. In his hand he held a small heart. It was made of glass and was as fragile as a real heart.

Tommy looked at it as it lay in his hand and than at Cathy. He shook his head as tears fell from his chin and said, “I love you.”

A tear came from Cathy’s eye as she said, “And I give you my heart as well. I love you too.”

Thomas got up and hung the Heart of Glass upon the tree as he had done for so many years. He turned and said to Cathy, “I love you. Thank you for the gift; it’s still the best of the years.”

Cathy just smiled.

For years, every Christmas, that Heart of Glass was hung on the tree, a symbol of their love which after years of being together was as strong as it had been when they were young.

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