He teased her yet again, trailing kisses down her chin. She moaned, whispering, “Yess…”. He touched her and she rose to meet him wantonly. Kate found herself rising to this levels of paradise, gripping the sheets tight. And suddenly, he stopped. By the time she opened her eyes, he was gone. Just like this. She groaned in frustration and threw a pillow in some corner of the room. Yet another unsatisfied dream.
Somewhere, in the abyss of her consciousness, she could hear some hushed whispers from down the hall. She groggily reached out for the clock, and opened one eye. 6:00 a.m. She cursed an oath and wondered, what the hell could her folks be cooking up in their minds, at so early a winter morning. She would have given it a miss, had it not been for the calendar, her eyes caught on. She jerked up. 25th December. Christmas day for the world. For her, a day that changed her life forever, three years back.
Brandon had went to his office, promising he would be back shortly, after a snag in some electrical lighting system had been found in the office. It had been their first Christmas after marriage and they had ensured that nothing was left amiss to make this a true celebration. No wonder, Kate had been disappointed, but then, work was work. Before leaving, he had given her a bone-melting kiss and winked, which said, wait for Me. Wait, she did. Till the midnight. And even more. Even then, no news had come from him. No phone calls, nothing. Zilch. Tensed because it was out of Brandon’s character, she thought to switch on the radio and make the time pass. All other family members had already went long back to retiring for the night. Just then, she heard the news. Due to a deep fog, there had been a major accident and a pileup of cars indicated numerous amount of lives had been lost. She shrieked and moments later, she and her family had reached the accident site. Not having spotted Brandon’s car, she heaved a sigh of relief. Apparently, her joy was short-lived. The rescue cops informed that along-with the pileup, two or three cars had gone down the ditch. They feared one of those were of Brandon’s.
Even after three years, she trembled whenever she thought of those times. It had taken her almost 6 months to return back to normalcy. Things had been black-and-white until that thing….had arrived. She pushed back its thoughts at the back of her mind and unmindful of where she was going, she started for downstairs.
She was met with the kind stares, some damn-right pitiful of her. She always despised these times. She might have been a little hard on them, because after all, all they wanted is to help her, in whatever ways they could. “Kate, umm, we were wondering if you would like to go outside today. You know, some bar or something. Mingling with new people…” Kate’s mom trailed off. Kate released a breath and said, “Thank you. I really appreciate your efforts, but I’m actually fine. I don’t have a problem really, with all the Christmas tree and celebrations.” She smiled and tried to put in weight in her statement. A lie. She will always be bothered by Christmas.
She remained cooped for the rest of the day in her room, giving the excuse of office work. Who was she kidding? She had been through the whole day with Brandon’s memories, fiddling with his clothes, going through their albums. Anything to get closer to him, in whichever way she could. When had she dozed off, she didn’t have an idea. When she opened her eyes, it was already dark.
Waking up disoriented, her eyes fell on the frame of Jesus, which had been put up on the wall. Brandon’s favorite. He’d strongly believed in Jesus and would have celebrated with great passion today, she mused. Had he been here. She stood before the frame and stared. Stared at Jesus. Could she again believe in him, like she did, when she was with Brandon?
She tiptoed down to the hall. She didn’t want anyone to see, she had dressed up lest more questions came in, for her to field. There had been no reason really for dressing up. Yet, she had felt something moving inside her, in that moment with the frame. A resurgence in Faith maybe. Something which she was unable to tap. She found herself right under the mistletoe, in all the sneaking she was trying to do. In a flash, she moved. No, not the mistletoe. Too many memories. But the Christmas tree by the fireplace? Could she handle that? She closed her eyes, her chest heaving. Too much to go through. Just then, memories floated in her eyes. Memories with Brandon. How they kissed under the mistletoe every Christmas midnight. How they used to decorate the Christmas tree together.
Where did time pass, she knew not. It was as if she actually relieved those moments. These memories were all that she had of him. Maybe, she actually could contend to live with them. Maybe, Life wouldn’t be such a struggle, after all. She smiled, picking up the gifts her parents had left for her, until she spotted an envelope with them. Her heart skipped a beat. It had come again. Something which had terrified her, in the last three years. Hands shaking, she opened the envelope.
“Merry Christmas, my Cat. With Love, your Bran.” In exact Brandon’s handwriting. Nobody except Brandon used to call her Cat. Nobody knew, in fact. It had been their private names they had given to each other. After the first envelope, she had almost had faith that he was alive. Her Bran was alive. Yet, she kept the envelope hidden from others, lest others thought that she had made it all up. She hadn’t left any stones unturned as well, trying to trace the envelope. All, to no avail. She had lost all hopes, until the next Christmas, when again another envelope had arrived. Now, the letter somehow gave her the shudders. She steeled herself. Not this time. Whether it was that moment with the frame or anything else, she didn’t know. All she knew is, anybody trying to get her, wouldn’t be able to. She would survive. Live for her Bran. Celebrate Christmas. A tear slipped from her eye. She whispered, “Merry Christmas, Bran”.