The Surprise of Christmas

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It had been a long time since I had been back in my little hometown. I was a city girl, now working as a lawyer in New York City. I thought my life was perfect. I was engaged, had friends, and my job was going great. I didn't think anything could ruin it. That was until my fiancé cheated on me with not just my best friend, but my boss as well. It was not very fun to find him with my best friend when he was supposed to be working late or, later on, seeing him enter my workplace to go on a date with my boss. We had just broken up, and I had thrown the ring at him, telling him to shove it where the sun doesn't shine. A little over a week later, he strolled right in, like he owned the whole place, and like we had not just broken off a three-year relationship that was supposed to turn into a marriage. I thought we had love... I thought we had trust. I was so happy with him, but I had been a fool. I was desperate for an escape from the entire city, so when my mother called asking if I wanted to come home for Christmas, I accepted. She asked me, always expecting a no, because I had not been home in years. There was nothing wrong with my family, but I had always dreamt of getting out of the city that they were all so fond of. My sister was a schoolteacher and my brother was working as a policeman in town together with my father. They were happy with their small-town lives, but I had always wished for more... Maybe, and a small part of me felt ashamed to admit it, but maybe I had seen myself as a little above them. I was not saying it was okay to look at myself this way, but I had... Now, I had been knocked down from that high pedestal, and that probably served me right.

"Karma can be a bitch," I mumbled, as I stood looking at the little house in front of me.

It had charm. It was white with a small brown fence going around it and with a small swing set in the front garden for the grandchildren. I remembered being a kid and spending hours on that swing set, being pushed by my brother. I was the youngest of my siblings, but my older siblings had always looked after me. They did find it weird, though, that I had not wanted to stay in our little town on the outskirts of Wisconsin. They thought there was nothing else you needed that you couldn't find in our town, but I simply didn't see it. I needed more.

"Who are you?" I turned my head and looked over the fence that separated my parents' house and their neighbor's. A small girl was looking over the fence, looking at me intrigued, like small kids did. I smiled at her, and she smiled back.

"I'm Emma," I told her. "And you?"

"Sarah," she said. "Are you visiting Greta and Michael?"

I nodded.

"They are my parents," I said.

"They are?"

The little girl suddenly looked even more intrigued. I wouldn't be surprised if my parents were spoiling this kid like they were their grandchildren. She was so sweet, and clearly a very curious little one.

"Sarah! Come on, let's go! We need to go buy the last gifts."

Suddenly, a man came out of the house, calling for the little girl, who looked over and then waved her dad closer.

"Dad, look! Greta and Michael have another child!" she said.

I stood there frozen as the man, who had taken a few steps closer, also stopped when he noticed me. That was no stranger, I realized, as our eyes locked. It was Cameron. We had been dating in high school, and he was my very first love. My first everything, really. We had broken off when I took off to college and he went into the military, but to be honest, I had not forgotten about him at all.

"Well, this is a surprise," he said when he finally snapped out of his trance.

He walked closer, placing himself beside his daughter and smiling at me. I was still not sure what to say. It surprised me that even after all these years, he could still make my heart beat like crazy and bring feelings out in me I thought had died long ago.

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