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Amelia, Then and Now (Part 1 of 2)

I remember Amelia

I checked my watch. I had been waiting for her for almost 20 minutes. I grinned and chuckled to myself. No, I'd been waiting longer.

I leaned against the railing overlooking the square. The air was crisp and cool. It felt good to inhale it deep into my lungs. It had been a mild winter so far. They were only able to open the square's outdoor skating rink just a week before Christmas, weeks later than usual. Skaters shuffled or glided along the surface. From where I was standing, I could hear the soft "Shush-shush" sound of steel blades slicing across the icy surface. There were loud, shrill squeals of laughter whenever someone fell onto their butt. Then there was music, the same winter wonderland music that brought to mind holding hands and walking through the snow or cuddling up in front of a cold fire with hot cocoa or rum-spiked totties.

Eight years ago it was all the same. The air smelled the same. The sounds were the same. The music never changed. The memory I had of her never changed.

"Wow. If you're going to be that deep in thought, you should put out the 'Do Not Disturb' sign!"

The voice that spoke to me was, as it always had been, a sweet sing-song voice. The light within me immediately brightened whenever I heard it."Hey you!" I said turning to her.

"Hey yooou!" she replied before she jumped up and hugged me.

I held her petite body close. I don't usually do that. I could feel her give me a little extra squeeze as well. She stepped back and looked me over. I did the same.

Her name was Amelia. She's a 5-foot-2 sprite of a woman with chestnut brown hair, round cheeks, smooth white-peach coloured skin, and eyes that just swallowed you up and held on till you were filled with her warmth. And she had a smile that put you at ease like a week in the sun. I hadn't seen her in years, and while the hair style may have changed, some of the baby fat had given way, and a refined maturity had settled in her expression, the Amelia I remembered shone through like a beacon.

Amelia reached forward and adjusted my jacket collar."Are you kidding me?" I chuckled, "Will you cut that out already!"

"I can't help it," she tittered, "Your collar is always messed up."I brushed her hands away, feigning annoyance. I snorted, "I haven't seen you face-to-face in 4 years and you're going to just fix my collar?""

Well," she pouted her lower lip, "What else would you like me to do for you?"

"Ha, ha," I scoffed, "You were the one who called me out tonight, right?"

"If that's the way you remember it," she snickered.

I smiled at her and said, "It's good to see you again, Amelia."

It really was. She had grown up beautifully.

"I missed talking with you," she replied, "I'm sorry we stopped talking and emailing."

"Oh you know, it's the usual thing," I said, "You're unable to call for a little while then when you want to but you're embarrassed because it's been so long. Then you make up excuses in your head like thinking the other person is too busy and you're going to sound like a pathetic goof trying to get their attention again."

I'm not sure if that was what she was thinking. Mostly, those were my own insecurities rambling on. But she nodded thoughtfully anyhow.

We stayed by the railing and caught up a bit. My story was short: I was still working at the library. I was still at the same apartment. I hadn't been in a relationship in over a year. Amelia talked about school, travelling, and her family. She didn't mention her current boyfriend status. Then she threw in a twist."I'm leaving in a week. I'm going to Australia," she said thoughtfully, "For an internship."

I looked at her, "That's great. Australia? Wow. That should be exciting."

"Yeah," she smiled, "I hear they have nice people, nice cities, nice weather. Lots of places to escape from things."

I cocked my head as I listened to her. Then I shook it as I rolled my eyes.

"Hopefully," she started, pausing for a moment as she shifted her eyes to look out over the square, "If it goes well, they'll offer me a permanent job."

I nodded slowly, "You'll be staying in Australia then?"

She tucked her red lips into her mouth as she looked up at me. She blinked and nodded once. Her expression was thoughtful, her eyes gazing toward me.

After a long silence, I cleared my throat and forced a grin, "What about your singing?"

That seemed to lighten her up a bit and she smiled when she answered, "I don't know. Maybe I'll check out Sydney's musical theatre. Or else I can always sing in the shower."

We both chuckled.

"So is that what this is about? Calling me out like this? You're going around meeting people from your past just one last time to say hello and good-bye?" I asked.

"No," she said with a coy grin, "Just you."

"Ah," I said, my standard aloof reply. I had no clue what she was up to. She continued to smile at me, that blooming rose smile of hers. Going against my better judgement, I felt complied to add, "Well, I'm honoured that it was my heart you're choosing to break."

That didn't come out quite the way I had intended.

"Oh. Am I breaking your heart?" she asked. She spoke without pretensions, a mild mix of amusement, concern and surprise on her face.

I spoke quickly, "I mean, uh, we don't see each other for years and then we finally get together just so you can tell me that I'll probably never see you again. I'll miss you." I felt compelled to over-empasize my point, "Anyone who knows you would miss you."

Amelia lowered her head, burying chin and mouth underneath her scarf. She frowned.

"But, I mean," I was tripping over my thoughts now, "We can still email of course... even video chat. I just mean... well, you were the first person I ever got to hire on my own. I don't know."

She was still quiet, shuffling her feet. I smiled and waved my hands in exaggerated circles, "You know me, too sentimental for my own good! My workers are growing up and moving away. It's sad."

It was kind of sad. I had hired so many young faces over the years. I replaced so many. Their faces often just blended together. Not Amelia's, though.

Lost in thought again, I turned back to the railing and looked at the skating rink. In my mind's eye, I saw only two people on the ice: A small young woman in a beige and pink ski jacket and a taller man in a long winter overcoat. She was laughing and skating circles around him. He was older but seemed less sure on his skates. But he was also undeniably having fun.

Amelia must have been staring at me as I was lost in my imagination again. She joined me, leaning over the railing. Just by doing that she drew me back to the moment.

"Why didn't you ever ask me out?" she asked suddenly.

I tilted my head. I had to think about what she was saying. The usual mental blocks in the back of my head went up, keeping me safe from jumping to embarrassing conclusions. I went for answer B, the safe choice, "What do you mean? We went out lots of times. We all went to the movies. And we went out to those restaurants almost every month. We even went over to Siobhan's house when Jenny and Lee Soo cooked for all of us."

Amelia was grinning and shaking her head while I was talking. I was feeling a bit rattled now. It was becoming clear what she had meant, even if my mind wouldn't allow it.

"I mean you and me, Patrick." She made herself absolutely clear, "Not in a group with the other staff. I meant just you and me. We never went out."

I stared at her as she looked out across the square. She was still smiling, pulling herself up on the railing. No. We never did go out together. I never asked her out. How could I have?

"I-I didn't... I never thought I could..." I mumbled trying to put the words together. I sighed and shrugged, "We sort of went out once, didn't we?"

Amelia turned her head. Her fine brows were angled sharply, making her look a bit like a cute elf. Surprised, she asked, "Was that a date?"

I shook my head slowly and said, "No. I guess... no, it wasn't."

We both returned to gazing out over the rink. After a long pause, Amelia turned to me again and said, "So you never once thought about asking me out?"

I was totally confused now. I wasn't sure if she were asking me honestly, if she was being coy, or if she was just being arrogant. I know there were a lot of guys who had asked her out, from work and from her school. She had no shortage of male attention.

I looked at her, frowning and my head tilted aside. I said, "Amelia, I'm not sure what you're getting at. I was your supervisor. It wouldn't have been right..."

"I quit the library after two years," she replied, her voice was steady and serious.

"You were with Stephen and then what's his face... that guy from university?" I said.

"Yeah, but not all the time," she answered, "I was with Stephen for less than a year."

I hesitated before speaking. The next reason was the hard one, the one hurdle my mind had to clear, to decide if it was safe to speak about. I said, "You were 16. I was, what, 26? I think there would have been a problem."

I was sure that reason would end this conversation. Instead Amelia didn't even blink and replied, "I grew up. I turned 18 a long time ago."

That was Amelia: When I had doubts, she had the answers.

As soon as she spoke, her face relaxed, the brief moment of tension easing. Both of us paused for thought now, letting our exchange sink in. We had both been brief but the layers of what we were saying peeled away fast. We revealed a lot of truths that we both may not have been aware of all this time.

She wanted me to ask her out? When? Even after she had left my branch? After she had left the library? After she turned 18? She'd been waiting? And she must have been wondering how long I was actually thinking of her as more than a co-worker. Or was I?

Amelia's brown eyes shifted quickly at her feet as she blinked. Her mouth was hidden underneath her scarf again. I wasn't quite sure what she was thinking.

My heart was beating faster. I had to clear one thing up. "Amelia," though my head hurt I spoke very slowly, "When we worked together, I never thought of you that way."

"Because you didn't want to," she said into her scarf, "Or because you weren't allowed to?"

I stepped back. She was shifting her weight slowly back and forth from her left foot to her right. Her cheeks that were above her scarf line were bright red. Every once in a while, a gentle breeze pushed aside her brunette hair. Strands fell across her face, covering her eyes. I thought about reaching out to brush them aside, but decided not to. She continued to look down at the ground, pensive and quiet. This wasn't how I wanted to remember her. I had to bring a conclusion to this awkwardness and decided to be straightforward for once about it.

"Look, why are you... why are you telling me this? Why are you asking me these things now?" I asked.

"I'm leaving in a week," she whispered, barely audible as her words drifted into the breeze.

“I know that," I said, "That's what started all this, I think. So if you're gone in a week, why did you have to ask me this now?"

She inhaled deeply. Her eyes seemed to sparkle again as she looked up, revealing her beaming smile from beneath her scarf. I'm not sure if seeing her like this made me relieved or more anxious.

"I'm leaving in a week," she repeated in her sweet, gentle voice, "7 days. I'll be here for 7 days. I leave two days after Christmas. I just wanted to let you know that."

She stood there, straight as a pin, just smiling. I opened my mouth to say something but she jumped up and wrapped her arms around me again. She hugged me close. My hands were at my side.

"Thank you for everything, Patrick," she said, “Don’t forget about me, okay?”

I was looking away and to the side, overwhelmed with uncertainty. My mouth was still agape and I was lost in a swirl of thoughts. I'm not sure how long she held onto me. I just remember how much warmth came from such a small body. Before I knew it she had let me go and was running away. I'm not even sure if she looked back as she waved.

"Amelia," I said softly.

By then, she was too far away to hear even if I had shouted.

*

Eight years ago, I hired a new member to the student staff at the library.

“This is Amelia Herceg," I said introducing the diminutive teen to the team of student employees in my department.

"Hello everyone," she flashed a round-cheeked smile that seemed to always be flushed with a light pink colour. She added, "Yep. It's the new kid. I know I'm smaller than some of the books but be kind to me!"

"Yeah, you guys," I added, "Careful not to step on her when you're pushing your trucks around, okay?"

The others instantly warmed to her, possibly even before she had opened her mouth. Amelia had a genuinely welcoming smile, big bright brown eyes that seemed to express excitement and wonderment all the time, and she was small and unimposing. The height and the pixie-type cuteness of this girl, however, didn't detract from her energy and enthusiasm to do a good job. She was scrappy. Like a hungry thoroughbred, she immediately took to the work and earned her place as a peer to any of the other staff. She didn't look for protection and she didn't need any more assistance than anyone else to do her job. She took her work and herself seriously. Maybe that's why she was able to enjoy herself when working.

This was good. I had been anxious for a few days after having made my decision to hire her. She was my first hiring. I had inherited the page team when I was made supervisor five months prior. I had it in my head that the other department supervisors and my manager would be paying attention to what I was doing, appraising my decisions.

When I had called her to offer her the position, I was sort of expecting the elated squeals of a teenage girl. Instead a calm voice came through the receiver, "Thank-you Mr.Santos. That's great. I'm looking forward to starting right away."

It was the same calm, sweet voice she spoke with during her interview; this was the first time I had noticed a slight lilt to it, almost melodic. A couple of weeks later I commented about it to her when she stopped by my desk to say hello for the day. She looked sheepish when she replied."I sing," she said.

"Uh-huh," I nodded, "In the shower?"

"Sometimes," she grinned, "No seriously. I've taken voice lessons. I sing at school. I'm hoping I can make it in the school musical."

"Nice," I said. I could picture her on the stage. She may have been small but her energy would probably radiate to the back row. I added, "Maybe you could sing for us sometime."

"Uhh, no," she grinned, "Don't think so."

"You want to sing in front of an auditorium full of people but you won't sing for our department?" I scoffed.

Amelia shrugged playfully, "It's not the size of the audience. It's who's in it."

Her eyebrows knitted and suddenly she reached towards me. I leaned back slightly in my chair taken aback as her hand seemed to reach for my face. Instead it went past it and down to my neck. I rolled my eyes downward with a puzzled expression. I felt her adjust my collar, pull it out from beneath my shirt and then flatten it out.

"Your collar is always a mess," she said, a playfully bothered look in her eyes.

"Um, don't change the subject," I replied.

She stood back and crossed her arms. She smirked and said jokingly, "What were we talking about?"

An idea came to mind. "Christmas time. It's two months away still."

She started to shake her head.

"You can sing for us then," I continued.

"Uh-uh," she said flatly.

"A Christmas carol," I cajoled, "Just one! C'mon the staff will love it!"

She clasped her hands behind her back and pivoted on her toe. She high-stepped it towards the staff door, teasing in her tuneful voice as she left, "It's not going to happen!"

"I'm your boss!" I snapped.

"Oh, okay then, boss," she opened the door and leaned back to face me. Then she stuck out her tongue. "Pft-th-th-th-THT!"

“You're fired!" I laughed as she shut the door.I think that's when the dithering back-and-forth banter started between Amelia and myself.

Over the next few weeks, I realized I had been right about her. Amelia was the glue that got the rest of the team to come together as more than coworkers. It's what I had been hoping for. The other supervisors in the other departments didn't place as much emphasis on this part of team building but I took it as a source of pride that they started going out with each other after work to restaurants, to movies, just to hang out. It helped them gel as a unit at work.

"Come with us," Amelia said one Saturday afternoon as the library was closing. The pages were going to a restaurant after work.

"Eh, no," I answered, "That's alright."

"Come on," she insisted, "It'll be fun. We can all see how you are outside of work."

"I am what I am," I said mimicking the voice of God from The Ten Commandments. I don't know if she got that reference or not. The fact was, I had been a bit reclusive during that time. I'd go to work then go home. Not much else.

She craned her neck around and shouted to the team of pages getting ready to go, "Patrick's coming!"

There was a little cheer.

"Hey, wait," I sat up in my chair, "I didn't say I was coming!"

Amelia marched over to the coat rack and grabbed my jacket. She had a mildly determined and obviously amused look on her face.

"Put that down," I warned her.

"Up!" she ordered raising her hands.

I crossed my arms and, reclining in my chair, smirked at her.

The amused look faded. She draped the coat over my head. Momentarily in the dark, I clutched at it. Blinking to clear my eyes, I felt a shove against the back of my chair. Amelia grunted as she tried to tilt me forward.

I laughed, "You're going to get a hernia!"

"Get out!" she grunted again.

The other pages ran around to join her and soon I was stumbling out of my chair. Again there was a cheer.

"You're all fired," I said, exasperated.

The others made their way out of the door in mock fear. Amelia stayed behind to help me put on my jacket. For some reason, like a little boy being dressed up by his mom, I let her.

"That's like the fifth time you've fired me," she said as she did up my zipper.

"Yeah, well, you keep coming back," I replied, "You never listen to me."

She pursed her lips as she adjusted my collar, "I guess I like it here too much."

Amelia looked up at me and smiled, a soft, thoughtful smile.

The cool autumn air actually was very refreshing. It cleared my head after a day at work. The others walked ahead of us towards the restaurant. Amelia and I strolled along falling further and further behind them. The group had grown a bit since we left with staff from other departments joining in. A few boyfriends and girlfriends of staff members hooked up with us as well.

"Austria?" Amelia asked me.

"Not Austria, Australia," I corrected. Our conversation had turned to places we'd like to visit.

She nodded then scrunched her nose, "Why Australia?"

I pursed my lips as I thought then replied, "Well, it seems to have nice people, nice cities, nice weather. I wouldn't have to learn a new language. And I understand you don't have to travel very far to find some beautiful, isolated sites and to just escape things for a while."

"That's so you, isn't it?" Amelia chided, "Always trying to escape."

I grimaced. What was she getting at? No. Actually I didn't want to know. I had learned that Amelia had a way of getting at certain truths that I just not assume hear about. I turned the subject."Where's Stephen?" I asked her.

She shrugged, "Didn't want to come."

"You should have shoved him out of his chair," I joked. "So, your boyfriend doesn't show..."

"He's not really my boyfriend," she slipped in.

"...And yet you're able to drag your boss along," I continued. "What's wrong with me?"

She beamed up at me, "Maybe you can't say no to my smile, boss."

I felt her brush her arm up against me. I could feel her warmth. I don't know what I was thinking but I instinctively stuffed my hands deeper into my pockets and pressed my arms closer to my body as I walked. There was no room for a hand to push through between.

Amelia leaned a little to her side, putting a bit more space between us.

I cleared my throat then said, "So you owe me."

"Hmm?" she answered whimsically.

"For going out with you guys tonight," I said, "You owe me something."

"I've got lint in my pocket," she mocked, "You can have that."

"Something goooood," I mused.

She arched her fine line eyebrow towards me, "What, pray tell, do you want?"

I curled my mouth in a crooked shape as I pretended to think hard, "I'm thinking...I'm thinking of a song."

She rolled her eyes and sighed.

"I'm thinking of a Christmas carol," I teased.

Her head shook as she frowned.

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire," I sang off tune then said, "You know. That one. 'The Christmas Song'."

"Auugh!" she groaned and ran off ahead to join the group.

During dinner somebody pulled out a camera and everyone immediately designated Amelia the official photographer. Like everything else, she relished the job.

"Yeah! Yeah, bambino! Make LOVE to your fettuccine! Twirl that pasta! Whooo!" she spoke in a drippy faux-Italian accent to one of the other diners. Everyone laughed.

I don't know how many times I got caught on camera but, despite my best efforts, I saw dozens of little flash ghosts floating across the décor long before dessert came. I disliked having my picture taken. I was always self-conscious of my looks: patchy red complexion, flat nose, short black under-styled hair, and just plain...well, plain. Instinctively before each flash went off, I'd lower my head or look away.

Amelia sat next to me and pointed the camera at my face, just inches away. I panicked and immediately put my hand over the lens and pushed it down and away.

"Come on!" she exaggerated a girlish whine, "Something for the memory books!"

She raised the camera again. Again I pushed it away. I tried to put a serious expression on my face and said firmly "No."

Still she raised the camera. I held my hands up in front of the lens, starting to feel annoyed. I snapped, "Hey Amelia. Come on. Stop it..."

Amelia lowered the camera to her lap. She looked a bit dejected. Sighing once she said, "I'll sing the song."

I raised my eyebrow and remarked, "Yeah?"

"One photo," she continued, "And then I'll sing for you guys at Christmas time.”

I bounced my head back and forth in a slow thoughtful nod for a minute. I shrugged and gave in, "Fine! Fine! Go ahead!"

Instantly she broke into her trademark smile. She raised the camera and then quickly turned around and leaned back against me. Before I knew it, she held out the camera, facing it towards us."Smile!" Click.

I think my mouth was in the shape of me saying, "Hey!" I wasn't sure though. I never saw the photo.

*

Christmas time rolled around in the department. Somehow, for whatever reason or reasons, Amelia was able to welch on her promise to sing for us. It was so busy at the library during that time that I didn't have the energy to drag her down and make her perform in front of the staff. As everyone left for the day for a 3 day break for Christmas, I barely had enough energy to hand out my gifts, mugs full of candy, to each of the pages.

"Oh nice!" Amelia cooed as she held up her reindeer antler mug, "Mint Hershey's kisses!" She smiled at me.

Deep down, I was preparing for a hug. I was thinking that I would make sure it was just an "arm around the back" type of hug.

"But what if she gives me a present?" I wondered to myself. I looked around uneasily to see who else was nearby.

"Merry Christmas!" she chimed in. Then she waved and ran off to join the group as they exited.

No hug. No present. It was actually a relief...I think.

*

Typical of me, I was late with my Christmas shopping and what I did buy earlier in the season I didn't bother to wrap until Christmas Eve. I was in the middle of late night gift wrapping in my apartment when the phone rang.

"Hello?" I answered.

There was the distorted tinny voice of someone on the intercom in the lobby. The melody in the voice still made it through the static though, "Hello? Patrick? Hel-LOOOO?"

"Amelia?" I frowned. "Is that you?"

"Yes, it's me!" she chirped, "Can I come up?"

I paused listening to the crackling of the line. I looked around my apartment uneasily, rolls of wrapping paper and ribbon strewn across the floor. "Uh...my place is kind of a mess..."

"Well, can you come down?" she asked.

Again I hesitated but answered slowly, "Ssssure. Is, uh, is there something wrong, Amelia?"

"Nope," she said then she hung up.

Hanging up, I had one hand on my waist, the other I dragged through my hair as I exhaled a long breath. I was feeling a bit warm and muddled. I stood there for a second trying to think when the phone rang again. What now?

"Yeah?" I said.

"Bring your skates," Amelia said then hung up once more.

We strolled from my apartment to the outdoor skating rink near our library. She never explained why she called me out that night and I didn't ask again. Instead she said, "You're lucky to be able to just walk to work."

"That was the idea when I moved there," I said nodding back to the apartment. In a way, the out-of-bed-into-work nature of my life probably played a role in my reclusive ways, among other things.

I joked, "It also allows me to go for these late night skating escapades."

"Cool, huh?" she smiled.

"It's after 11 o'clock," I yawned.

"That's the cool part."

The rink was abandoned. It was late. It was chilly. It was the night before Christmas. Who would be out skating? Most of the lights in the square were off except for a few security lights. And there was no music. Who could skate without music?

We put on our skates anyway. I turned the collar of my long heavy coat up as I stepped onto the ice. She zipped up her beige and pink ski jacket right to her chin. Frozen wisps of air drifted from her red lips and her usually rosy cheeks were already turning a deeper red. I had to double up my gloves.

Yet still we skated. Actually it was more like Amelia gliding along like a fairy on the ice and me shuffling my feet trying to gain momentum and thinking about my numb ankles. She skated around the rink, doing little spins and turns. She looked completely absorbed in her graceful motions. Every so often, she would look up at me from the other end of the rink and wave, then she went back to her figures. There seemed to be nothing that she did that she didn't excel in. And everything she did, she did so with an unmistakeable relish and glee.

She skated over to me and then matched my leisurely pace. With our hands in our pockets, we slowly moved around in circles around the rink. It was so quiet except for our skates on the ice.

"So you were wrapping up gifts I guess?" she finally asked.

"Yep," I nodded and chuckled, "And because of someone I know, I'm going to be wrapping presents into the wee hours!"

She giggled softly and said, "Sorry. It's just that, sometimes, if you gotta skate, you gotta skate!"

I eyed her with mock suspicion.

"Did you find something nice for your girlfriend?" she suddenly asked.

I blinked and tilted my head, "What girlfriend?"

"Oh sorry," she said, "I thought you were going out with that person from the second floor."

"Carrie?" I looked up at the sky, exaggerating my uncertainty, "Um...no. Not my girlfriend."

Carrie had gone out with me twice. I could tell during dinner that she had come out the first time because she wasn't quick enough to come up with an excuse not to go. The second time...I don't know. Trying to make sure she was right about the first time? I just didn't know. But I thought we had been discreet about our dates. I didn't ask Amelia how she knew about them.

"No connection?" Amelia asked.

"Guess not."

She pursed her lips as she nodded her head slightly. I though I detected a hint of a smile there.

"And what did you get for Stephen?" I asked her.

"Wallet," she remarked, "He's always stuffing his money into his pocket and it falls out when he reaches for something."

"Very nice," I said.

Again she nodded thoughtfully.

“He know you're out here in the middle of the night with an older man?” I asked.

She just shrugged. After a moment she said, "Thanks again for the cute mug. And for the chocolates."

"No problem," I answered, "Did you finish them already?"

She rolled her eyes. "I couldn't stop myself."

"Glutton," I teased.

After we skated quietly for a little while, she looked at her watch."Had enough? Time to go?" I asked.

Amelia looked up at me, a broad, twinkling smile on her sweet face. She skated ahead and then spun around and continued to face me, skating backwards. She drew a deep breath.

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." she began to sing, "Jack Frost nipping at your nose..."

I came to an unsteady stop on the ice and just stood and listened.

"Yuletide carols being sung by a fire and folks dressed up like Eskimos...."

Her voice was...it was so pure. Unbroken like the fallen snow and crisp and strong like the winter wind. I listened to her sing, mesmerized as her she drifted from lyric-to-lyric. She continued to skate around me, her angelic voice filling the air surrounding me. She sang the entire song.

"And so I'm offering you this simple phrase, for kids from one to ninety-two..."

I was amazed, grinning like a goof through my shivering lips. It was in stark contrast to the confident and calm smile on hers.

"Though it's been said, many times, many ways..."

She had her hands behind her back as she curled her way back towards me. She skated within half a meter and stopped in front of me.

"Merry Christmas..." she sang, "...to you."

We stood there facing each other. The wind was doing it's best to send a chill between us. It was failing miserably.

"Wow," I breathed, "Very, very nice."I clapped my hands together.

Amelia looked like she would have blushed if her cheeks weren't already a ripe red. She held her hand to her mouth and laughed.

"That was great," I applauded her.

"Merry Christmas, Patrick," she said and bowed her head slightly. Then she reached towards me. I started to raise my arms. She just flattened out my collar, smiling.

As she got into her car and drove away that early Christmas morning, all I could ask myself was, "Why did she ask me to come out tonight?"
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