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Autumn was definitely something I looked forward to, but when autumn comes, winter is to follow. The very realization paints a shadow over the beauty of Autumn. But I’d be a fool to let that diminish the beauty that surrounds me like a blanket. I picked up the dried leaves, wanting to paste them in my journal, so that the beauty of autumn would remain immortalized in my memory.

As predicted, nature brought winter, and snow covered every inch of the ground, making it look white and angelic. But the fact was, even hell wouldn’t have been as cold as it was during winter around here. Trudging the snow each day, the only way to pass the time would be looking at the footprint of other people who had trudged the snow earlier on.

But perhaps, the winter and coldness brings warmth somewhere else. Couples huddling closer, to share their body heat, hot cups of chocolate and coffee often makes me wonder, if the winter was a blessing that makes us search for a warmth that eludes us.

It is not to say that winter did not have its own beauty. But I wanted that beauty to extend to me. I needed to feel, and beauty was at its extreme spleandour when it is felt. I waited, waited to see
beauty taking its form, and soon enough, my patience was rewarded. Although I had to wait, the wait made it more meaningful in every aspect.

December was a month of beauty, with the chimes of cheer jingling merrily, and sparkling lights twinkling away, creating the perfect atmosphere for romance and love. Love…ahhh…you could smell it in the air, amongst the freshly baked Christmas cookies and and the sweet aroma of brewed coffee. You could smell it in the candies and the dried sprigs that adorned doors as Christmas decoration. You could feel it inside Christmas cards and you could feel it passing in the air when you watched couples huddle closer to beat the chill of the winter. You could feel it within the romance books in old bookstores that had wooden doors and sky high shelves.

Yes. Love was everywhere. But to feel it yourself was a complete miracle. And, on the month of December, amidst all the beauty, I was blessed to feel the love. Love comes in many ways. But the best one comes, unknown, uninvited. It suddenly appears, out of the blue, and that makes it all the more beautiful and special.

Walking down the snowy roads with myself huddled into my coat, I made my way to my apartment. It was easier to walk, rather than riding the bus. You look at the shoe prints and make up your own stories about them. Stories that would swim in your head. Stories that would make you imagine and create more stories. It was during this walk back home, I heard a little bark. One that was piteous. It could only be heard when you listened closely. I begun to follow the sound. And true enough, under the thick blanket of snow, there was a small puppy that was shivering, half frozen. It was white, and thus, perfectly hidden under the soft snow. I picked it up and bundled it in my coat, hoping that it would make the puppy warmer.

Reaching home, I quickly got the puppy into a spare basket and poured him hot milk. Watching him lap the milk gave me a fuzzy sensation – one that brought tears to my eyes, which I hastily wiped away. The puppy gazed at me, with big brown eyes and wagging tail. And there, at that moment, that second, I felt deeply in love, for the very first time in life.

From then on, Champers became a constant companion. I named him Champers, because, well, I have a love for champagne. In life, the best things start with the letter C, like chocolates, champagne, and even climax. And Champers was like a sunshine on a cloudy day. Well, since it was winter, Champers was my source of warmth right to my heart and soul.

I took Champers with me everywhere I went. And that proved to be the best thing, because, he was an amazing companion. Bundling him up in a warm coat, I trudged the snow with him one wintery afternoon to the local bookstore. I always had a thing for old bookstores. This particular store had big windows that framed the falling snow and old books that moved your heart and soul. The shop had a roaring fire, that created a glow of orange amidst the cold and white scene outside. I let Champers down, and he snuggled quite happily on the fluffy rug that was by the fire place.

I smiled at the old shopkeeper, and I wandered to look for books, particularly old titles to add to my already cramped book shelf at home. It was then that I noticed the calendar and realized that it was the eve of Christmas. It’s always said that magic happens on the eve of Christmas, and i wondered about the truth of that. In this quaint bookshop, holding an aged book in my hands, I wondered what kind of magic could really happen?

The door opened, allowing a gust of snow in, and my skin shivered. I turned a round, to see a shock of hazelnut hair flying all over the place. Champers started barking, but it didn’t last long. His barking soon became whimpering and he was rubbing noses with the new puppy that had just entered the shop, a dark hazelnut colored puppy with drooping ears and big, totally big brown eyes. I smiled to myself, and turned to see the puppy’s owner. And there, at that second, I knew the magic was true. It happened to me then, the Christmas eve magic. I fell in love with the brown eyes, and bewildered look that he gave me. My book fell off my hands, and I wobbled on the old stairs, unable to keep my balance as my heart was pounding fast, too fast for form me to get a grasp.

I felt myself being helped down the stairs, and I felt myself staring into his eyes.

“Are you okay?”

I wanted to scream and say no, I was not – I was in love with him. But I nodded, mutely. It was as if I was robbed of my speech. Champers came running to me, and I hugged him. The comfort he offered was better than anything else. But Champers was intent on introducing me to his new fur friend.

“This is Shandy, my friend,…” the voice above me said, and I looked into his comforting brown eyes again.

I got up, abruptly, and knocked my head on his. “I….I…. I am sorry… look…this is embarrassing…. but I think I am…. no..okay.. I did not say that…usually I am not like this…. I am just..” His smile disarmed me further, and I tried to grab Champers and run out of the shop. But he caught my hand, and Champers jumped out of my grasp. I knew then that it was impossible for me to leave things there.

“Look, I have no idea about what is happening, but we are standing under the mistletoe…and that warrants me a kiss..” his mouth fastened over mine in what was the most beautiful kiss I have ever experienced. When his mouth left mine, I was still in a state of shock. He smiled, and whispered, “It’s magic, and I feel it too. I am sure you do too, don’t you?”

I nodded, still unable to speak. He held my hand, while the two dogs rubbed noses and walked side by side, and we left the shop. The old shopkeeper only smiled, with a knowing look. Walking out of that shop, I knew, my life would never be the same again.

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Khayma Balakrishnan says; “I am a passionate teacher, and an idealistic writer. I write about the ideal, because, it’s the best way to escape from the realities of life. I am 28 years old, I have a Masters in Ed (TESL) and I teach English during the day. I usually pen down my thoughts in my blog, and when I have hours to while away, I love to read.”

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