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“I bought you som'thin. Can you pick it up before we close today?” We're closing early for Christmas Eve. Samaria paused for a moment waiting for Gary's reply.
“Okay, I'll talk to ya later,” she said, hanging up the phone.
“Ditto!,” he said.
Several hours past, and she began to wonder when Gary would arrive. While her customer was writing out a check, Samaria watched the Christmas crowd herding by. Her eyes stumbled on Gary standing by the Foot Locker's display window. She began to smile from ear to ear. She wondered how long he had been standing there. Gary’s presence always aroused a high school sweetheart feeling inside her. She liked the way he stood with his hands stuck in his slack pockets. His tall, slender body made him look like a distinguished entrepreneur.
“Miss, Miss, here's my check,” the customer said, attempting to retrieve Samaria's attention.
“Oh, I'm sorry. I’m in a daze. I guess I'm tired,” she answered. She smiled at the customer, and took the check while attempting to play off her mesmerized state for Gary. She processed the customer’s check and handed her the receipt.
“Thank you, Mrs. Rainwright. I hope you enjoy your cell phone,” she said, handing the customer a Christmas bag. She looked over at Gary, who was still standing by the foot locker display, and signaled him to wait for a moment. Immediately, she told her co-workers she had a visitor, and was going to take a break. She approached Gary with a big welcome smile. He inspected her nonchalantly. They had only known each other for a couple of months, but that nonchalant inspection drove her crazy. She’d wondered time after time, what was he thinking. She’d learned to deal with it, considering, maybe, that the military had trained him not to show his emotions.
“Come on, lets walk to the food court,” she said, with a desire to grab his hand, but knowling it would be a premature move at this time. They walked towards the food court and sat at a table in the center.
“How are you doing today?” she asked, trying to break the ice.
“Fine,” he replied, still showing no expression of his face. She pulled a little box from her jacket pocket and sat it on the table.
“Merry Christmas,” she said, smiling from ear to ear. Gary slowly reached for the box and began to open it.
“A key chain for your new car,” she blurted, with a bigger smile, as though Gary had just given her a engagement ring for Christmas.
“Thanks.” His voice didn't sound enthused at all. She looked for a change in his countenance, but didn't see one.
“What's wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he replied, staring at the gift.
“Look.” She turned the sterling silver chain on its backside. “Blessings on your success, love Samaria 2001” was engraved on the back. Gary was in a car accident a day before Thanksgiving. He was also seeking a new career, and Samaria wanted to give him a Christmas present that would encourage him in his new career, and in getting a new car.
“It's nice,” he said.
Samaria didn't have much time before she had to get back to the store. Therefore, she decided to move the conversation on to the next subject.
“Oh yeah, you said you had something to talk to me about. What is it?” Gary didn’t answer Samaria right away. His eyes darted back and forth, from the key chain to her several times. For the first time, she was able to read a change on Gary’s face. Her smiled faded and her heart began to beat rapidly. Gary took a big sigh, and placed both of his hands on the table.
“Samaria it's been revealed to me that Sabrina will be more than just a singer on my album. Don't take what I'm saying wrong. You're sweet, and I have lots of fun with you, but I need to follow my heart.”
Blood rushed to Samara's head, and every vein in her body was on fire. Her throat became dry. She looked away for a moment, fighting back the tears. At this moment her emotions became a roller coaster. She didn’t know if she wanted to laugh or cry. She looked Gary in the face like an angry bull, and asked, “Who's Sabrina.”
“That's not important,” he replied.
“Not important, of course, it’s important!” Gary’s eyes enlarged. She caught a reaction, remembering Gary had not made a commitment for courtship, but just friendship. That was not important either, she thought. She knew, he knew, she’d hoped for more. Now, she felt stupid for even considering herself eligible to be his girlfriend.
“There will be someone for you,” Gary continued. Tears welled up in Samaria's eyes. The center of the St. Pete's mall, in a food court, was not the place where she wanted to burst in tears. Therefore, she fought them back. Gary continued to talk, but Samaria was not listening. I can't believe he is saying this. I don't wanna hear this. After a several sentences, her ears tuned back to Gary's conversation.
“See that's how it’s going to be Samaria,” he concluded.
“Okay, you have a nice day,” she said, squinting her eyes at him. “I’ll talk to you later, she said, in a nice, but nasty tone of voice.” She calmly pushed the chair back, and stood up then walked away. Gary kept his eyes on her until she disappeared into the crowd.
Today is Christmas day, she thought. A day of giving and being with family. Samaria and her daughter had planned to cook a Christmas dinner. After Gary’s announcement yesterday, she didn’t feel as though she could mask her heartache in the presence of her family. At first, she thought she would claim to be ill, so, her family would excuse her for the day, but her heart didn’t want to disappoint her daughter. It was their first Christmas dinner together. Instead, she decided to cover her pain by becoming an actress for one day. At least, for her the sake of her family.
Samaria and her two teenage boys arrived at her daughter’s apartment approximately at 9:00 a.m. Christmas morning. Christmas love music filled the air. Sabrina, Samaria’s daughter, really liked the new Ben Tankard Christmas CD, which was filled with love songs like “Christmas Would Not Be a Christmas Without You.” Mushy songs Samaria was not emotionally able to handle at this time. I wish she could put another CD in the stereo. She greeted her daughter pretending everything was okay. I’ll get started with the dinner, she said, still dreading this day.
“You go finish setting the table,” she said to her daughter. She really didn’t want the company in the kitchen. She couldn’t help but listen to listen to the songs while chopping celery and onions. Finally, she gave into the melody of the music, and began day dreaming how Gary and her could have spent this day. Because the Christmas Eve scene was imbedded in her heart, the daydreaming only lasted for minute. She began to rehearse the Christmas Eve’s day over and over again in her mind. She had been a single mother for a long time. She really thought Gary was the prince she had waiting for, for so long. But I guess not this time, she thought, as the tears welled up in her eyes. She couldn’t wait until this day was over. She wanted to go home and home, crawl in a shell, and cry an ocean of tears.
Hours later, Samaria completed the task of preparing the turkey and dressing. While waiting for the meal to roast, the children decided all to sit down and look at Jurassic Park. She was not really in the mood for a movie, so she broke away from them by easing her way back into her daughter’s bedroom. She decided to make a couple of phone calls to friends to wish them a Merry Christmas while sitting in the room. She thought at least it would get Gary off her mind. While in the process of dialing a number, her cell phone rang.
“Hello.” Her heart pounding against her chest. She couldn’t believe it. It was that silky, sexy, tenor voice on the other end the phone. Her brain went into shock, and her mouth took the fifth amendment. Once she pulled her mind out of shock, she put on a shield of pride. She was not going to let Mr.Gary know he was ruining her holidays.
“Oh, nothing. Hanging out with the family. I don’t understand Gary why do you want to see me?” He has a lot of nerves, she thought, talking as though nothing has happened.
“We'll see,” she replied. They continued to talk for several hours. Finally, Gary persuaded Samaria to see him on Christmas day.
Months passed. Gary and Samaria became best friends in spite of the Christmas Eve announcement. Where was Sabrina? she wondered, but dared not to ask. She and Gary were spending to much time together for a Sabrina to even exist.
One morning Gary and Samaria decided to go to a seminar. They sat waiting for the meeting to start. After waiting for thirty minutes, they realized the meeting was Saturday at 7:30 p.m. instead of 7:30 a.m.
“We came for nothing,” she said.
“No we didn't,” he said.
The silence settled between them. After the Christmas Eve announcement, Samaria had a very hard time looking into Gary's eyes and talking to him.
“Give me a hug,” Gary said.
“I don't hug my buddies.”
“I'm not your buddy. I'm your boy friend”
Samaria swung her head towards Gary locking her eyes with his. “Your what?” she said, raising her voice a notch.
“Your boyfriend.” Gary had a slight smile on his lips.
“When did I become your girlfriend,” she said, snarling her nose at him.
“You've always been my girlfriend. I did not want to accept it.”
Gary was not making any sense.
“What about Sabrina?”
“Ah, she was made up.”
“You made her up.”
“Yeah, to keep you from getting close to me.”
“You jerk, she said, smiling and rolling her eyes. She was upset he had lied to her, but inside she was glad Sabrina did not exist.
“Samaria, men get hurt, too. After my divorce, I put a wall between love and me. I felt like a failure, and was afraid of setting myself up again. So, if it seemed as though any one was getting close, I would push them away. But, I couldn’t get you out of my mind. Even after Christmas Eve. I guess you’re special.”
She moved closer to him and put her arms around him. “We don’t have to rush into anything. It will take time for you to heal. I believe I still need healing, too. Why don’t we heal together,” she said.
“I love you,” she said, with a quivering voice and tears streaming down her cheeks.
Gary pulled her close, put his arms around her, and wiped the tear from her vanilla Cherokee cheeks with his hand. He looked into her eyes, and said, “Ditto Kiddo”