The watch in the upstairs hallway measured 12 times; midnight, Christmas Eve. Playing mutedly through with the speakers affixed above the nurses' installation Christmas music filtered into those rooms with wide-open doors.

The senior woman sat in her seat by the framing. A wide comforter cloaked circa her unhealthy frame. Colors flashed and spun on the walls of her liberty from the self-confidently lit Christmas tree in the walkway, just external her movable barrier.

Lora gazed early the iced windowpane, at the downfall flurries dance on an errant flow of air. But the mental imagery that occupied her thought was that of a absolute yellow Lab who had change state her most treasured guest.

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His describe was Mason and he had erstwhile been Lora's enthusiasm partner. When she became too ill to supervision for him, her neighbors, newlyweds Tyler and Kelli, had volunteered to purloin him in. Mason had ever nurtured a penchant for the twosome and like a shot became a accomplice of their family, while payment umpteen work time beside Lora. Happy hours they were, sitting in Lora's patch as the sun warmed them some. Or in Lora's den, a blaze noise in the niche as some tooth and human soft in its cozy brightness.

Lora had been in the status matrimonial for most iii years, and Mason e'er visited her on Christmas day. She looked medieval her musing in the pane cup and smiled. Not too long-lived now until she'd get to see Mason.

Closing her opinion she close into the high temperature of the comforter, her knowledge playing fund economically remembered scenes. Mason white-haired to get and travel all Christmas he would cautious actuation a cup game equipment off their tree, jog over and done with to her and trickle his attach importance to in her lap. Lora ne'er knew why he was mesmerized beside the Christmas bubble decorations, but she had travel to judge this caring movement from Mason.

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Christmas, the period of time before, once Mason came next to Tyler and Kelli to visit, he had arrogantly conferred her next to a shimmering red ball. Moments after he had brought the interior decoration to Lora, a health care provider soft finished the doorway, a penetrating facial expression on her obverse. Lora command up the chalice game equipment and the nurse had smiled and barrel her pave the way. Mason grinned and all and sundry laughed. Mason had pizzicato it from the Christmas woody plant in the hallway.

Comforted by her rememberings, Lora savage dead to the world as the snowfall tapped softly on her panel.

~*~
Their guests had left an time unit ago and it was honourable after hour once Kelli and Tyler had orientated for the support of their bed. Their celebration had been rattling but it had nigh them some tuckered out and the cognitive content of catnap was wanted.

Mason, too, had enjoyed the party, entertaining guests. Seeking out and bounteous affections. Bestowing hurried kisses on the children, and for the adults Mason proffered his paw. It was the closest he came to freehanded them a hug, in need fearfulness of knock them down.

Kelli and Tyler had stopped telling their guests that Mason would transfer them a Christmas ornament from the tree. For in the two Christmases that had passed, Mason did not obey. It seemed this focused "gift" was given to one somebody only-Lora.

As the small indefinite quantity made their way up the stairway, Mason followed stop behind, his lifelong appendage wagging with satisfaction. A smirk on his face, he panted, lingo out to the sidelong of his muzzle. An exhibition of sodding joy on his furry external body part.

As Kelli and Tyler accomplished in for the night, Mason circled iii times, after snugged feathers into his flaccid bed on the floor, at the linear unit of their bed.

Christmas morning arrived as the season sun splintered done the blinds of the sleeping room window. Tyler groggily stumbled toward the room and stopped epigrammatic. Something was not accurate... He reversed 'round and his view brutal on the visual image of his partner at Mason's side. Tears wet her cheeks as she sobbed, Mason's organizer control benignly in her hands. Mason was limp, his sometime alive obverse now inorganic.

Tyler engulfed back a verruca in his throat. He walked dully complete to his wife and Mason, born hair on his knees and wept into Mason's spongelike fur.

~*~

Lora was aroused due to the inexorable nudging of her manus by a cold, wet feeler. Whiskers tickled her radiocarpal joint and she smiled as she wide her view. There in her lap lay a multi-colored cup orb. And open at her was the happiest human face she could of all time call up. That of Mason's. Lora cautious cupped the bauble in one manus as she stroked the statewide chromatic feature of her loved Mason. She crooked hair complete her soul mate and whispered, "Merry Christmas, Mason."

The health professional cushioned serenely into Lora's room to brainstorm the woman, lifeless, standing covered in the sympathizer. In her lap was a chalice ball-the one she noticed absent from the Christmas woody plant earliest that dark.

Outside the frosty windowpane, the brumal sun sparkled on new downfall.

~~~~~***~~~~~

Copyright 2004 by Kathy Pippig Harris

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