I was told that Christmas is universal. And maybe it is. I guess people from all over the world celebrate it. But shouldn't universal mean that everyone celebrates it? That everyone enjoys it? The same person told me that Christmas can brighten anyone's world. But that was the same person who died seven years ago. The same person who didn't know that on Christmas day, my world would be ripped apart.
"Only five days till Christmas!" I announce to my best friend, Maddy. We walk along the paved trail, that leads down to the lake. Snow covers the ground like a snowy blanket, and the river is frozen over, clouds cover the sky, just letting in the frail sunlight.
"I know" Maddy laughs, "You've only mentioned it a billion times already today" Maddy's creamy colored cheeks are tinged with red, and her slightly curly hair bounces when she walks. I've always envied her looks. Her chocolate brown hair and warm brown eyes. Her tall figure and perfect smile. I have the standard blonde hair and blue eyes. I'm short, but I guess my smile is okay. Maddy always insists that my hair is golden, and eyes deep and thoughtful. She also says that I'm over exaggerating when I say I'm short, she says that I'm only a little shorter then most people. She's kind of right.
We walk over the old wooden bridge, our last obstacle before we can walk down to our spot by the river. The bridge has been here for as long as I can remember. Always there to help us cross the fast running waters. The bridge is kind of deserted, a two minuet walk from town and partly concealed with trees. But that just makes it better, like our very own Bridge to Terrabithia.
Maddy runs the rest of the way to the lake, down the padded down snow path, that leads to the shore. Usually I would run with her, but I'm so padded down with sweaters and jackets that its enough to walk. I nearly trip on a pesky root that sticks out through the snow on my way down the tail, but catch myself just in time.
When I reach the bottom the sight of our hang-out greets me. The scattered trees and frozen lake. A pile of boulders sticks out from the snow, Maddy sitting on them patiently. "Finally," She says, grinning. "I thought you'd never make it."
"If it wasn't so cold I'd be quicker" I reply, sitting down next to her. I swing my legs up onto the rocks and face Maddy. "Did you put the tree up?" I ask. Maddy's father serves in the army, over seas; and she has to live with her Aunt, who's barely never home.
"Yup, I did. It's amazing how hard it was to get the stupid tree out of the box" Maddy says. "I hung mums ornament just this morning, I had to dig it out of my closet."
I nod in understanding. I hung my mums ornament just last week for the same reasons. Our mothers ornaments are both the same, since our mums were best friends. A small picture of them side-by-side, inside a miniature Christmas wreath.
Seven years ago our moms were coming home from a night out and were killed in a Hit-and-Run accident. It would have been a lot harder to go through if we hadn't have had each other. Because we both were feeling the same way, both knew how to comfort the other. Sure they made us see counselors and such, but nothing compares to one who truly understands.
"You should come over tomorrow" I suggest. "And we can do some late Christmas baking" I don't need to add that my dad and her Aunt won't do it. Maddys Aunt because she's obsessed with work and my dad because he can't cook to save his life. I'm lucky if he doesn't burn the macaroni.
"I'll try" Maddy says, her breath puffing out into the cold air. "I was left with a long list of house-chores to do"
I elbow Maddy in the side. "Chores that your not doing now?" I tease.
Maddy roles her eyes at me. "I figure I can conveniently forget about them for one night."
"I tried that once" I say, brushing the snow off another boulder with my gloved hand. "And my dad just added a kazillion other things to the list"
"Yah," Maddy says. "But my Aunt is never home to notice anyways."
I don't reply to that. One thing that understanding another teaches you is when its best not to say anything. Though we both endured an emotional trauma, Maddy has the rough end of the stick. With her Father always gone with the army and her Aunt neglecting her, I'm the only one who stays constantly by her side. Sure my dad has to work, but I always see him after.
We just sit in silence, stuck in our own worlds, and staring at the frozen lake.