Advent Stories, Part 1

Happy December, my friends!

My friend Rachel is hosting an Advent Season fiction writing challenge, and I thought it would be fun to take part. Each week, she’ll post a prompt, and I’ll write a short fiction piece related to the prompt. I hope you enjoy this little series, and I’m excited to see where the weekly prompts take me. Part 1 was inspired in part by the 8 inches of snow we got on Wednesday. Enjoy!

This week’s prompt: Hope.

Nothing lasts forever, Even cold November rain.

Hope pulled the curtains back on the big, bay window in her living room and sighed. What about November snow, Axl Rose? Did you ever think of that? The street outside was blanketed in a six-inch layer of the white fluffy stuff and more was falling from the sky, making it seem as if there was no end in sight. A groan escaped her throat as she pulled on her coat, hat, and mittens. She knew from experience that the word “fluffy” was a misnomer. She’d be getting a back and arms workout before she’d finished the short sidewalk to the road. She gritted her teeth and opened the front door.

Half an hour later, the sidewalk was cleared, for now. Hope pulled her wet mittens from her hands and set them on the heater vent to dry. At least the power hadn’t gone out. Thank goodness for small miracles.

Rubbing her hands together to warm them, she padded through the house, filled the tea kettle, and set it to boil. A warm cuppa would do her good. Besides the workout she’d gotten, the snow also meant she’d be on her own for the day. She wasn’t taking chances with the roads, and she didn’t expect Jon to either.

No matter that the last day of November was an anniversary of sorts for them.

The kettle rumbled on the counter, the sign that it was nearly at a boil. Hope snatched it up and began to pour, the scent of cinnamon, bergamot, and bush tea filling her nostrils. The scents curled tendrils of warmth around her heart. Jon knew it was her favorite tea, and kept her well-stocked.

Curling her hands around the cup of steeping tea, she wandered back through the house to stand at the bay window again. Across the street, twinkling lights glittered back to her in other windows, a sign that the Christmas season had officially started.

Hope sighed, wishing for the joy she so often felt at this time of year. In their twenty-plus years of marriage, Jon had never missed a Last Day. She didn’t remember exactly how they’d made the decision, but over the years November 30th had come to be known as Last Day. Besides it being the last day of November, it also marked the last day they’d known life without each other.

Most couples have a funny story to tell about the first time they met, and Jon and Hope were no exception. They met on a snowy December 1st. They’d both attended the same church for years, but had never met until the year the college ministry held a Christmas decorating party and they’d both decided to attend. He’d ended up catching her when she nearly fell off a ladder. The rest, as they say, was history.

Jon and Hope had been inseparable in the days and months that followed. A whirlwind romance, followed by a picture perfect wedding, twenty-plus years of marriage, two kids, three dogs, and years of ministry. Their first year of marriage, they decided to celebrate Last Day by putting up their own meager Christmas decor, and the tradition had stuck around.

But today, the six inches of snow that had now become eight stood between an airport runway and Jon coming home.

Hope’s phone dinged with a notification, and she pulled it from the coffee table to check it. Sure enough, Jon’s flight had been cancelled due to the storm. Her heart sank. The little hope she’d held out that he might somehow make it home today faded. She dropped the phone back on the coffee table and walked back to the window.Huge flakes of snow still fell from the sky.

Worry, Hope’s biggest enemy and thief of joy, began to nibble around the edges of her thoughts. What if he can’t get a new flight? What if the weather causes issues with the plane? What if something bad happens? What if the snow never ends?

She shook her head, hoping to clear away the thoughts. She knew her worst-case scenarios were ridiculous, but even after years of trying, she couldn’t stop her brain from jumping there. Of course the snow would stop. Eventually. But with eight inches and counting already on the ground, it felt like winter would never end.

To be continued…

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