“I need coffee.” Carly awoke to the screams of her alarm clock. She had less than an hour to get dressed and meet her mom. Carly had promised her mother that she would help shop for her father’s gift. She dragged herself out of bed as her bedspread casually fell away from her silky snowflake pajamas. As she groggily found her way to the bathroom, she contemplated calling to cancel. Carly knew she couldn’t do that, her mom was depending on her. She found all the things she needed for a shower and quickly bathed and got dressed.
Andrea was waiting next to the Pine Hills Mall water fountain. Glancing at her watch, she looked for her daughter. It was already 11:03 a.m., but she knew that Carly always ran late. She thought about texting her to meet her inside next to the food court when a lady of tall stature and dark features approached her. “Sorry I am so late, Mom. I didn’t hear my alarm go off.” Andrea smiled and jokingly reminded Carly, “You will be late to your own funeral.” They laughed as they entered the mall.
Carly passed a window and noticed her frame. Carly were 5’6″, about 145 pounds, long dark hair, and green eyes. She and her mother looked eerily like sisters. Regardless, she found herself attractive but had not found anyone worth her time. Andrea called to her from across the department store. Carly glanced over the holiday shoppers to find her mom, finally locating her next a table festively decorated in silk ties.
Andrea held up a bright red tie with embroidered reindeer detail. “What do you think?”, she said smiling. Carly looked at her mom and then the tie and then back at her mom, Trying to hide her disdain for the hideous tie, she smiled at Andrea. “Don’t you think he has enough ties, Mom?” “But he doesn’t have one with reindeer.” Her mother protested. Carly sighed and looked at her mom. “Mom, let’s keep looking. If you don’t find something else, you can come back to it.” As she hurriedly tried to get her mom as far away from that tie as possible, she accidentally bumped into someone.
Peter looked down to see a woman in her thirties. “I-I-I’m sorry.” He was completely caught off by how attractive she was. He felt himself blushing in embarrassment but he hoped she didn’t notice. He was about to say more but she seemed rushed. As she turned to leave, he noticed she had dropped something. He picked it up and tried to get her attention but the crowds separated them. He pushed his way through and ran to catch up with her.
Carly was standing at the cashier’s register looking for her wallet. Her mom had FINALLY found something that was not ludicrous in every aspect of the word and she was finally ready to grab a cup of coffee and go home. She felt someone tap her on the shoulder and saw the man she had just bumped into moments earlier. “Oh great. A creeper.” She hoped not. She was trying to find a way to excuse herself without looking like such a shallow person when he spoke. “Excuse me, miss. I would like to buy your coffee.” She was ready to turn him down until she looked down to see that he was holding her wallet. Carly was so relieved. She didn’t know whether to just take her wallet or hug this strange man who had suddenly become her knight in shining armor.
Peter smiled at the woman and held out his hand. “I’m Peter.” The woman extended her hand, returning his greeting. “I’m Carly.” He couldn’t stop smiling, that wallet had been a great twist of fate. “So, what are you doing later?”, Peter had to ask. He felt like he might lose her forever if he didn’t.
Carly glanced Peter over, trying not to be too obvious. She took in his 6’1″ stature, his sandy blonde hair, and his green eyes. She had just realized but she was still smiling. “I was going to look for a Christmas tree. Would you like to accompany me?” She wanted him to say yes but she resisted high hopes. “I would love to.” “Great. Meet me at the Pine Hills fountain out front at six?” Peter smiled in response, “I would be delighted. See you then.” Just as they were about to depart, Carly heard her mother yell, “Carly, let’s go! My feet are starting to kill me.” Carly smiled, “That is my cue to exit. I will see you at six.” She smiled and waved goodbye as she left.
Andrea had noticed a peculiar change in her daughter all of a sudden and wondered if it had anything to do with the man she had saw she talking to at the coffee shop. “So, who was that man you were talking too in the line when you were getting your mocha?” She noticed a slight smirk appear on her daughter’s face. “He found my wallet and we are meeting later to pick out my Christmas tree.” Andrea nudged her daughter jokingly, “All that from a lost wallet and coffee. Wow! Things sure have changed.”
Six O’clock rolled around quicker than expected. Peter stood next to the fountain, hoping he didn’t get stood up. He looked at his watch. “Six exactly.” He mumbled to himself. He was starting to think that he should probably just go home when he felt a tap on his shoulder and heard a friendly “Hi!”. He turned to see his new found angel before him. “Hello.” He smiled, as if his smile had never left. He offered his arm, “Are you ready to go finds that trees of perfection?” She took his arm and nodded her head yes.
As Carly and Peter approached the tree lot, Carly noticed a boy outside the entrance handing out flyers. While getting closer she noticed his appearance was a bit too grungy for that of a volunteer. “Would you like a flyer, ma’am?” The boy held out a piece of paper to her. “Thank you.” She smiled and took the flyer. Carly glanced at the flyer and noticed big lettering. “PINE. Hills SHELTER TALENT SHOWS” “Do you want to go to that?” Peter interrupted her brief train of thought. “Yes, actually. It seems like it would be nice.” Peter pointed to the date and time. “It’s tonight. Guesses we better hurry and find that one special tree.” She smiled at him. She liked that he didn’t seem disgusted by her big heart. “Yes, we do need to get going.” With that said, she took his hand and they continued their search for Carly’s Christmas tree.
Carly couldn’t describe it but she felt at ease when Peter was around. Not to mention, the way he gently put his hand on the small of her back when they were walking through crowds. “What about that one?” she heard Peter say. She looked to see a beautiful, full Douglas Fir and knew that it was the one that she had been looking for. Ironically the feeling was similar to that of what she had been feeling for Peter all evening. “It’s gorgeous. I’ll take that one.” She paid the salesman and gave him the address to deliver it to. Peter checked his watch. “You still want to get to that talent show? We should probably hurry. It starts in 14 minutes.” Carly took Peter by the arm. “I’m ready when you are.”
Passing a shop that sold handmade crafts, Peter inhaled the scent of cinnamon. For a second, he felt five again. He had his arm around Carly’s shoulder and was holding her close as they walked together. They approached the Pine Hills Shelter and he noticed the same little boy that had been outside the tree lot. He noticed the admission was $5.00 and reached for a $10.00 bill. As they came to the door, he handed the boy the money. He and Carly entered the shelter and found two seats on the third row.
Carly looked around and then looked to Peter who was already looking at her. She smiled and snuggled close as the lights went dim. A man started talking about the joy and cheer of giving during the holiday season and then they opened it a little girl that sang “Silent Night.” As Carly took in the decorations, the music, and the smell of pine trees. She held onto Peter’s hand, realizing the beauty of the season and realizing that she had never felt so happy or full of joy herself.