Monday, November 29, 2010
"The Greatest Gift of All" is from an anthology published by Highland Press entitled: Holiday In the Heart www.highlandpress.org
Despite all efforts to protect herself from getting hurt again by not dating, Claudia Sykes, is talked into a dance at the church. And she learns a lesson that you can't hide from love.
Walking into the crowded room decorated with hundreds of hearts and cupids, Claudia began to regret coming. The band had begun to play a slow song and Matthew and Brittany started to walk to the dance floor, but stopped when they saw a man approach Claudia. Before Claudia could go find a spot to sit, she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned around slowly to face a guy wearing black-framed glasses with round shot-glass thick lenses. What little hair he had left on his head was thin and lifeless and combed to the side. A Prince Charming, he wasn’t. And she very much doubted he’d even make it to the frog category, either.
“Would you care to dance?” he asked.
To make sure her sister didn’t hide in the corner, Brittany nearly pushed Claudia into him. Claudia opened her mouth to protest, but Brittany quickly said, “She’d be delighted to.”
As Claudia was led onto the dance floor by the stranger, she tried to console herself with the thought he was probably a very nice person. Not everyone could look like an Adonis. Besides, it was only for one dance—not forever.
The first sensation she got as he held her hand was far from pleasant. The guy must have been nervous because his palm was quite clammy. When he placed his hand on her bare back, she cringed. And that was only the beginning. From that moment on, it was all downhill.
He was a terrible dancer, constantly stepping all over her feet. Though he apologized profusely, her poor feet didn’t feel any better.
“You live around here?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said careful not to tell him where.
“Me, too. My name is Howard Dolan.”
“Claudia Sykes.” She was tempted to give him a fictitious name.
“Oof, sorry,” he said, coming down hard on her left foot.
“Ugh, that’s okay,” she managed to say through the lingering pain, praying for the dance to end.
“I think you’re the prettiest girl here.”
“Thank you.” She tried to concentrate at keeping my feet out of harm’s way.
“Maybe we can get together some time…”
At that exact moment the music mercifully stopped. She took it as her cue to escape.
“I must run to the Ladies’ Room,” was all she said, fleeing as fast as her two wounded feet would take her.
Feeling like a coward, Claudia ducked into the bathroom. Realizing she couldn’t remain in there until the end of the dance, she decided to sneak out and look for a nice, dark corner to hide in. Hopefully Howard would find someone else to dance with while she laid low.
She opened the door a crack to see if the coast was clear. Howard was no where in sight, so she slowly opened the door and walked out. To tell the truth, she half expected him to dart over and grab her, but he didn’t. She released her breath and began to breathe normally again as she spied the nearest corner behind a pole. Just as she reached the safety of her chosen haven, she felt a tap on her shoulder.
Totally upset, thinking Howard had found her after all, she whirled around and said defiantly, “Go away!”
Only, it wasn’t Howard…