I Need to Talk to You (The Christmas List)

By Christopher R. Whalen

 

She grabbed his hand and said, “I need to talk to you.”

 

She turned away from him, still maintaining as firm a grip as a nine-year-old girl could muster, and pulled him towards the spot which she had chosen to have her little talk.

 

He got up from the kitchen table, his tie still undone around his neck, and left a fresh bowl of Frosted Flakes, into which he had just poured close to freezing milk, waiting to be eaten.  He knew they would be soggy by the time he returned, but he knew his step-daughter now as well as he knew his own beautiful daughters, and he could tell by the look on her face that this conversation could not wait, soggy Frosted Flakes or not.

 

Still holding his left hand in her right, she opened the inside front door with her left and stood aside and allowed him to walk past her and onto the enclosed porch. She quickly followed and closed the door behind her.

 

She led him to their wicker love seat and he sat. She pulled the wicker ottoman, as the wicker chair and sofa were much too heavy, directly up to his knees, and she plopped herself down and placed her hands on them. 

 

He thought for a moment that they were going to play patty cake, which had become one of their favorite things to do together.

 

His mind brought him back to the first day he had met his stepdaughter.  He had been dating her mother for almost six months and he had known from their first meeting that he wanted to spend the rest of his life taking care of her and her daughter. He was going to come over for dinner as her mother thought that would be comfortable for everyone. Her mother had told her so many things about this wonderful man for the past half-year.

 

He arrived and his bride-to-be met him at the door. Her daughter was upstairs in her room. They gave her the space which she seemed to need and they both sat down at the dinner table.  She was called down and down she came, holding an 8 x 10 photo of her biological father against her chest. She sat down at the dinner table, her left arm embracing and pressing his picture against her.

 

She ate dinner that way. No one mentioned it and he conversed with her without showing a worry or fear. Upon finishing her last piece of macaroni she asked if she could be excused and she was given permission to leave the table.

 

Up to her room she went and they knew when she had gotten there by the slamming of her door against its jamb.

 

That was over a year ago and he was very proud at how hard he had worked to respect this beautiful little girl, but also to give her the love that she so desperately needed from a man.

 

His mind brought him back to the present, where her tiny hands were on his knees and she was simply staring at him.  He let her collect her thoughts.

 

She leaned towards him and he subconsciously did the same.

 

She whispered, “I decided what I want for Christmas.”

 

A great sense of relief came over him. So many worries and concerns had been racing around his head as she sat in silence in front of him for those few moments on their enclosed porch. He had seen her going through every online toy store the past few days and printing out her favorite choices. This was going to be easy. Maybe those Frosted Flakes could be saved after all.

 

She bowed her head for a moment and closed her eyes. She slowly inhaled, and then slowly exhaled, and then picked up her head and stared directly into his eyes, her gaze never wavering as she said the following.

 

“There is only one thing on my Christmas list and it is the only thing that I want.”

 

“Shoot, he said, and I promise me and your mom will do our best.”

 

She whispered “I want….

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