Dreams Do Come True

by_Lynn_©

“The tree is fake, but that doesn’t hurt. It still represents the holiday, right?”

Sam nodded but didn’t reply.

“I wanted a real tree, but that felt wrong. I mean, aren’t you supposed to enjoy Christmas when you have a real one? And I figured this year would be like the last ones—me sitting here alone, trying not to think about everyone else having a good time.”

“Get dressed. We’re going to find a real tree.”

“Sam? It’s Christmas Eve, where are you expecting to find one?”

“We’ll drive from lot to lot until we do. I don’t want our first Christmas to remind you of the bad ones from the past,” he said.

For the first time in years, Abby was excited about the holiday. She pulled on a heavy sweater and thick socks, then added jeans and boots before heading toward the door. There she slipped on her coat and gloves.

“I’m ready.”

He was still tucking his shirt in and chuckled at her enthusiasm. “That was fast.”

“Oh. Well, I can go slower next time.”

This time he read uncertainty in her eyes. Walking toward her, he sighed.

“I guess I had better brush up on my teasing.”

“No one ever did that to me before.”

“That was in the past. You’ll get sick of me teasing you in a hurry, I imagine.”

“Don’t stop. Please?”

He was intrigued by the way her eyes revealed her emotions. They told him she was far more complex than she appeared at first glance. Uncovering the layers to free her soul would be a tough task; but Sam knew he was just the man to do it.

“Never,” he replied, tugging his gloves on. “Now, let’s go find a real tree!”

He felt the kick in his gut from her smile. The entire wedding thing might have started as a joke, but it wasn’t now. Sam vowed to make sure Abby lost the sadness in her life no matter how long it took.

Two hours of driving around the city looking for a Christmas tree; one hundred twenty minutes of laughter; Abby was fascinated.

“Look! There’s a place that’s open,” she said, pointing to a gas station.

“Great honey, but I filled the tank yesterday.”

“No, I saw a sign and trees. Please go back?”

Sam turned right, went around the block, and followed her directions. Pulling into the Marathon gas station parking lot, he spotted the faded fence next to the building. A row of dim lights hung above the enclosure.

“See? I told you,” Abby said, opening her door. “Hurry, Sam. There aren’t many left and I want to find the best one.”

Her enthusiasm matched his. Sam followed her through the gate to study the offerings left leaning against the wooden slats.

“Hello, folks. Look around and holler if you need me.”

The metal folding chair leaned to the side so far it gave the impression the old man sitting on it was going to topple over any minute. Puffing on a pipe, his white hair and beard were perfect for the season. A red jacket and black boots completed his attempt to look like Santa Claus.

“This is our first Christmas together,” Sam said, pulling Abby to him as he spoke. “We’re getting married.”

“Congratulations! I can see you love each other a great deal,” he replied.

Sam squeezed her fingers through her gloves and nodded. “Yes, we do.”

The words echoed in Abby’s head, sending chills down her spine.

“Honey, let’s go look for a tree.”

Sam tugged her along as he wove his way through the branches lying on the ground. Two rows of scrawny trees remained; leftovers no one thought good enough to take home. Nothing he pulled out for her perusal looked quite right to her.

“I think I have the tree for you two. Found the darn thing just before you drove in.” They turned when the old man spoke, then waited.

He stomped through the snowdrifts behind the fence. Sam hoped the tree he mentioned was far better than the others there. He didn’t want Abby disappointed.

Dragging the tree behind him, they watched as he held it straight up for them to see. The blue spruce towered over Sam. Abby guessed he was close to six and a half feet tall, making the tree closer to ten.

“It’s beautiful,” she whispered.

“I agree.” He looked at her as he spoke. “Beautiful!”

“How did your other customers overlook such a magnificent tree?” she asked, unaware that Sam was talking about her and not the tree.

“Ah, Christmas is the time for magic, missy. This here tree stayed back in the dark, waiting for you to claim it.”

“Magic is a wonderful thing.” Sam stared into the old man’s eyes, letting him know that he had discovered that very thing.

“Sam? Can we please?”

She hadn’t even asked the price. She didn’t care. Whatever the cost, this was the tree for her.

“Of course, Abby,” he replied, touching her cheek. “I would never argue with anyone who believes in magic.”

Heat radiated from his gloved hand to her skin. Flashes of them in her bed that morning sent a flush throughout her body. Sam took a step back and dug into his pocket for his wallet.

“How much—where did he go? Abby?”

“He was just here.”

“You folks help yourself to a tree. The young kid running the lot left hours ago. He said it was too cold out.”

Abby and Sam spun around at the feminine voice behind them. A middle-aged woman stood near a garbage bin with two bags of trash. The logo on her shirt was the same as that of the gas station. It was obvious she was an employee just doing her job.

“Don’t know who owns the place; I just work here.”

The lid of the hopper banged closed, and the woman disappeared inside the station again.

“This is weird, Sam. Are you sure we should just take the tree? I mean, it’s beautiful, but isn’t it like stealing?” Abby asked.

“Honey, look.” Sam walked to the tree and pointed. “There’s a piece of paper on this branch.”

“Merry Christmas, Abby! Dreams do come true.”

Shocked at seeing her name on the note, Abby shook her head. No one knew her dreams; she didn’t talk to anyone about her desire for a family. Maybe she was hallucinating, she thought before looking at Sam.

“Sam??

“Let’s go home. We have a tree to decorate tonight.”

****

Abby didn’t want to use the old decorations from her fake tree; Sam agreed. They stopped at the local Wal-Mart and filled their cart with everything they would need for their first Christmas tree together.

While he hauled it all into her house, Abby pushed the fake one into her garage. Finally the trunk was empty. Stopping near the door, he took his coat and boots off.

“I thought we could use some music,” he said, digging into a small bag.

Sam handed her the CD after working it out of the cellophane wrapping. She slipped it into the stereo and adjusted the volume. The Dolly Parton song brought tears to her eyes.

“When I was a kid, I believed there was a Santa Claus. My parents would tell me he had brought my presents while I was sleeping. One year I asked for a horse. We lived in the city, so of course that was impossible. My mom told me that ‘if it’s meant to be, it will happen’. I wasn’t sure what she meant, but if she said something, then it had to be true.”

Sam didn’t interrupt. Instead he sat in the recliner and pulled her onto his lap.

“Even when my friends stopped believing in Santa, I knew he existed. Then I grew up. My parents died eight months apart and all the dreams I had of going to college fell apart. There was never a prince waiting for me, so I stopped hoping. Last year the dreams started. I had a loving husband and children. We laughed. We were happy.”

“Dreams can come true, Abby,” he whispered, dropping kisses in her hair. “Magic happens. I believe that with all my heart.”

She thought about the last choruses of the Christmas carol.

“It was him; he gave us this tree. Sam, there is magic. I know that now. After all these years, Santa answered my wish. ‘If it’s meant to be, it will happen’, just like my mom said. Santa Claus sent you to me,” she whispered, sitting straight up. “Dreams do come true.”

He held her for a while longer, both lost in thoughts of the past—and the future.

“Let’s decorate the tree,” she said, slipping off his lap. “Then it will really be Christmas.”

An hour later she plugged the lights in and stood back. Across the street, the neighbor’s plastic Santa yelled out “Merry Christmas!”

Magic existed, and now Abby knew that dreams do come true.

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