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[Fiction] Roses and Sleigh Bells

Lou Anne Burgess

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8 AM Sunday December 24, 2017

Rehoboth Beach, DE

Lou Anne bent down to check the fuel cell gauge on the tank. It showed three quarters full. That should last as long as they need it. The rented refrigeration trailer had been her brother in law’s idea, finding a company to borrow it from for the holiday had proved a bit onerous. Finally Perdue Chicken in Delaware had agreed to donate one of their old trailers for a week. It had taken a day of steam cleaning before everyone was happy with it. At this point she thought any residual ‘chicken smell’ had to be psychological.

They had loaded the trailer over the past week, Long had proven very helpful in getting the last of it loaded. Plain white paper colorfully labeling the trailer the ‘Christmas Joy Express’ (Moth’s idea) covered the more mundane Perdue Farms signs on the sides and back. Lou Anne checked the time on her watch, Falling Star should be awake shortly, then the first part of the operation could commence.

I wonder if she’s going to be as surprised by the amount of stuff we have for her as I was. Intellectually knowing how much stuff and how many people we were talking about, and actually seeing it were two entirely different matters. Lou Anne smiled. It was time to get back to the last of the wrapping and then the tent could be loaded.

12 PM Sunday December 24, 2017

Boston, Massachusetts

It was done. Finally!

Without help from Neil’s family and the N Prime Community she never would have gotten everything wrapped in time. The tent was ready in the Brenford’s back yard. Rented industrial heating units were keeping the temperature inside mild. It was too large to try to keep it warm. Rooms of carefully stacked presents were moved in one room at a time and in no time, the tent was full but with room to walk safely and comfortably through stacks and heaps of gifts. She had convinced Falling Star during the call this morning that bringing the presents out while still daylight would be better in the long run. She had just delivered the trailer of food and setup the steps so that people could get in and out of the trailer easier.

Now there was just this last delivery. When they constructed the tent, they had changed the planned dimensions to make teleporting the whole thing easier.

Attired in her Mrs. Clause outfit, Lou Anne reached out to the space around her and in a moment, she, the tent and all the presents left Boston for Inyan Kara. In it’s wake was left only the scent of roses.

And perhaps the soft sound of sleigh bells, but that could just be a trick of the mind.

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The first hints had come in the wee hours of the night. An OpPhone call... then an e-mail... then another, and another. A family clambered up the frozen track to her cave in the morning to share the good news. Another came by snowmobile only minutes later. Through the day, calls and visits and every other imaginable form of contact made their way to Ptesan-Wi's home, word that somehow, someway, the spirit of joy had found its way through the embargo and tensions and miles of frozen wastes to brighten the hearts of the Lakota, even if only for this one day. To everyone who asked her how this had come, she only smiled and replied, "By kindness that you should go and share."

And they did. It was, simply put, impossible for even the remarkable team of novas that had taken on this task to reach every family, every home that was cold and sparse this season. But the People themselves took what they had been given and filled in the gaps. Holiday feasts even reached those braves sitting cold and forlorn at the frozen front lines, as did Ptesan-Wi's mandate... and so it was that a few brave men pushed forward through the snow under white flags, to go and share and sit together in peace - even if only for this one day - with the men against whom they had struggled for nearly half a year.

Years later, men who had fought in this tragic conflict would still speak with fond memory of the Christmas Truce of 2017.

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