Scene on a Winter Evening

Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening’s forehead o’er the earth,
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.

~Emma Lazarus, “The Feast of Lights”

She holds a single, lit, taper in her hand, and watches the tiny flame dance on the end for a moment before using it to light the rest of the candles on the table. A menorah is glowing in the window, but there’s a Christmas tree sharing the space, neither diminishing the other.

The candles on the table now ablaze, she replaces the taper in one of the mis-matched (on purpose) silver candlesticks she’s had since college, and lifts a hand to brush a stray hair from her forehead.

She hasn’t had time to vacuum the rugs, but the lights are dimmed, the house lit by candle and star, and she knows her steadfast friends are coming for the company, the companionship, not to judge her housekeeping skills.

Her mother taught her well: dinner is warming in the oven, ready, but with no need to rush, hors d’oevres are waiting to be devoured, music just a click away from being played. Her husband comes up behind her in the dining room doorway. “Stop worrying,” he says. “You always worry that no one will show up, and they always do, and they always have a good time.”

She relaxes against him, lets his strength, as solid as the earth itself, kindle confidence within her. “Do you ever feel like you’re just playing at this whole grown-up thing, and that one day you’ll wake up and realize you’re still ten years old?”

He chuckles in her ear. “Trust me, sweetheart, you are no ten year old.”

The innuendo is playful, and she laughs in return. “No, I know. But…do you?”

“Never,” he says.

He turns her, in his arms, so that she is facing him, and seeing the love in his eyes sets her heart ablaze all over again. “Never?” she asks, disbelieving.

“Never. When I was ten, I hated girls.”

They share a laugh that turns into a kiss, and for a fraction of a second they flirt with more, but the doorbell rings, and they pull apart. She heads for the door, but he catches her hand and pulls her back, using his thumb to wipe the smeared lipstick from below her lips. “Later…” he says, and she knows exactly what he means.

“Count on it.”

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Written for the Cafe Writing Holiday Project, Option Two: Pick Three.