by Gail A. Girard
Atlanta Shore awoke to a shrill, buzzing sound. Confused, it took her
several seconds to realize that it was her alarm clock. She shook her head
and laughed softly to herself. Lingering in bed she tried to recall a
dream which was already fading from her memory. The dream had been
disconcerting to say the least, but why? “Oh well, it was just a
dream. It’s Christmas Eve. Boy, do I have a lot to do today. Better get
busy,” she thought. She jumped into the shower. After dressing she made
herself some toast and a steaming cup of coffee. The Shore’s were having
some friends over for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before attending the
annual Marineville Christmas get together. Atlanta tried to make a list of
items she needed to purchase at the Marineville Supermarket, but her mind
kept wandering. She thought about her new dress, a deep blue, beaded
number that fit her like a glove. “It’s very elegant and very sexy, if I
do say so myself. Why even Troy would have to notice.” At
the thought of him, her stomach did that little flip flop thing that
happens when you think of someone you love. Lately Troy had been acting
kind of distant and remote often breaking their dates. On several
occasions she’d heard him talking with Phones, Marina and John Fisher only
to go silent when she walked into the room. Maybe she had pushed him to
fast. A few weeks after Troy had been honored as Aquanaut of the Year they
had taken a long walk alone, before going on duty. A light
snow had fell earlier covering Marineville in a blanket of white. The
stars lit up the sky making the night very romantic. As she and Troy
walked hand in hand, Atlanta couldn’t contain herself any longer and she
told Troy she loved him. He didn’t answer right away and when he did all
he said was, “Thanks, Honey.” “Thanks, Honey,” what kind of an answer was
that? The rest of the walk had been uncomfortably silent and things had
been different ever since. She had this nagging feeling that Troy was
going to suggest they start seeing other people. Suddenly she remembered
her dream. In it Troy had done just that! She sighed. It wasn’t the
first time her heart had been broken, but could she, would she get over
him? It would be difficult as they worked so closely together seeing each
other almost every day. Why they even had all the same friends.
Atlanta’s life hadn’t always been easy. Following her mothers death,
she left the Academy to run the Shore household. Through correspondence
and night courses she was able to finish her studies. Things were
complicated two years later when her father had been paralyzed during a
mission. Next Brad Holden, whom she had been seeing, left to join
Spectrum. He had asked her to go with him, but she had turned him down. It
was not because she wanted to, but because she felt she couldn’t leave her
father. How could she, just when he needed her most? Loyalty and duty-
they had been instilled in her ever since she could remember. What had
helped her get through it was seeing Troy. And now it appeared he was
breaking it off. Oh well, she’d deal with it, she always did. She sighed
again and tried to shake off her gloomy mood. “Cheer up”, she said to
herself, “It’s Christmas Eve.” She put the dishes in the sink, grabbed her
coat and keys and was half way out the door when the video phone sounded.
It was Troy. “Hello, Troy. I was just on my way to the market to pick up
some things for tonight.” “Atlanta, I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it.
I’ve been called to Headquarters.” “But Troy it’s Christmas Eve. Why
tonight?” “Don’t know, but you know the service. Duty calls. I’m sorry,
but it can’t be helped. I’ll be back tomorrow night. I’ll stop by then if
it’s not too late. Merry Christmas, Honey.” “Yeah, what a Merry Christmas
this will be,” she thought.
No sooner had Troy clicked off when the video phone sounded again. This
time it was Phones and Marina. “Marina wants to go to Pacifica for the
Holidays. I’ll be taking her and might as well stay a few days as I have
some leave coming.” Marina smiled and nodded. “Great, just great,” Atlanta
thought. Always gracious, she said, “OK. Give my best to your Father
Marina. You two have a good time and a Happy Holiday.” “You too, Atlanta.
We’ll see you when we get back.”
Disappointed she drove to the market. She figured that left her father,
Lt. Fisher, Admiral and Mrs. Dalton, Admiral and Millie Carson, and
herself. The Marineville Supermarket was exceptionally busy with last
minute shoppers cramming the isles. Everyone appeared to be in a festive
mood, everyone but Atlanta of course. She bumped into Mrs. Dalton.
“Atlanta, just the person I wanted to see. Millie and Henry called me and
said they won’t be able to make it. Some sort of trouble on that island of
theirs. If you ask me that island has been more trouble than it’s worth.
Jack has asked that I help him deliver some of the presents, so I’ll have
to meet you at Luigi’s. I’ve got to run. See you later, dear.” Atlanta was
stunned. Now there would be only three of them. She put some items back
and proceeded to check out.
Shortly after she returned home she found Lt. John Fisher at her door.
“My relief called in. Seems he has the flu. I’m on my way to the Tower
now. Guess I won’t be able to make it after all. You have a nice evening
and Merry Christmas, Atlanta. Oh, I almost forgot, this is for you.” He
handed her a small package, kissed her cheek and left.
Closing the door she couldn’t contain her disappointment any longer.
Tears spilled down her cheeks. The video phone sounded once more,
startling her. “Hi Baby.” Noticing that she’d been crying Commander Shore
frowned and asked her what was wrong. “No one’s coming tonight Father.
It’s just you and me.” “I hate to do this to you Atlanta, but I’ll have to
meet you at Luigi’s. We’re having some supply problems and I really need
to take care of them.” “Father, I think I’ll just stay home. I’m not in
the mood to celebrate anymore.” “Atlanta you can’t!” “Why, Father,” she
asked as she dried her tears with a tissue? “Uh, it wouldn’t look right,
uh you being my daughter and all. People expect you there. Meet me about
20:00. Try to get some rest and wear that pretty, new dress.” He clicked
off before she could say anything else. “That was the hardest thing I’ve
ever had to do,” he exclaimed. “Don’t I know it,” was the reply.
Atlanta went to her room, lay down and cried herself to sleep. At 19:00
she awoke for the second time that day to her alarm’s loud buzzing. Once
again she felt confused. Were the day’s advents just a dream? No, they
were all very real. She dreaded leaving the warmth of her bed. The
last thing she felt like doing was dressing for a party. But Father was
right, it was expected of her. Looking in the mirror she noticed
her puffy eyes and red nose. “Isn’t this the icing on the cake?” She
dressed, fixed her hair and carefully applied her makeup. Checking her
reflection again she mumbled, “It’s not like anyone will see me anyway.
I’ll make an appearance and leave early. After a few drinks with the
“Boys” Father won’t notice I’ve left.” She decided to walk, hoping the
night air would refresh her spirits.
Arriving at Luigi’s Atlanta heard the sounds of laughter mingling with
the clinking of glasses and the strains of music. Everyone seemed to be
enjoying themselves, everyone but Atlanta of course. The Wasps,
Marineville’s own jazz band was playing the ever popular “Blues Pacifica”.
She spotted Mrs. Dalton sitting at the bar sipping a drink. They exchanged
greetings. “You look lovely, Atlanta. What a beautiful dress.” “Thanks,
Mrs. Dalton,” Atlanta said as she sat on a stool. Atlanta ordered a Pink
Ice. The two women sipped their drinks in silence.
Several minutes later, Mrs. Dalton exclaimed, “Oh look, here comes
Santa!” Santa was actually Admiral Dalton. Each year he dressed in a Santa
costume and passed out the gifts that had been placed under the Christmas
tree in the Tower. Atlanta and Mrs. Dalton watched as he made his way
through the crowd delighting young and old alike. Stopping in front of
Atlanta, he looked into his sack. “Well young lady there doesn’t appear to
be anything in here for you.” “Par for the course,” she thought. “Hmm, now
I remember. Come with me.” Santa led Atlanta into the private dining room.
She was vaguely aware that there others in the room. “It was too large to
fit into my sack.” On a table in the middle of the room was a large box.
The tag read, “Atlanta- Open on Christmas Eve- Troy.” Atlanta hesitated,
but Santa bellowed, “What are you waiting for? Open it!” Atlanta
un-wrapped the package and found another package. Un-wrapping that one,
she found yet another. Inside that one was another. Several boxes later
she opened the last box. It was empty! Not in the mood for one of
his practical jokes Atlanta thought, “Please no jokes tonight Troy.”
“Well, what’s in the box, Dear,” asked Mrs. Dalton? Struggling to hold
back the tears, Atlanta said, “Nothing, Mrs. Dalton. It’s empty.” “No,
it’s not empty, it’s filled with love.” “Troy?” Atlanta turned to
find Troy kneeling down on one knee holding a small blue, velvet jewelry
box. He opened the box, took her hand and asked, “Atlanta Elisabeth Shaw
will you marry me?” Atlanta felt her heart beat rapidly in her chest. She
managed to squeak out a “yes”. After placing the ring on her finger, Troy
stood up and whispered in her ear, “I love you too.” Then they shared a
romantic kiss, while the others in the room clapped and cheered. Everyone
gathered around to congratulate the young couple.
Luigi served dinner, which was followed by toasts and dancing. As the
evening progressed Atlanta discovered that Troy had been planning this
whole evening for weeks. Everyone had been in on it, everyone but
Atlanta of course.
This story previously appeared on the UNITY CITY website,
hosted by Robin and Pauline Day, webmasters of the
Space City website.
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