Heather stood in Madison’s bedroom. The silence so thick and dense, she would have sworn it was a living creature. In less than two months her entire life had shattered into millions of tiny fragments. She moved closer to Madison’s bed. Her daughter should be snuggled under the fuzzy pink blanket dreaming of what presents would be waiting for her in the morning.
First, Sean had disappeared and now their daughter. The sheriff had hinted that Sean could be responsible. Tears burned her cheeks as she crumbled to the floor. He could never hurt her like this. The silence gave away to her cries of sorrow and despair. A thick cloud of darkness swallowed her, feeding off her.
Opening her eyes, she saw a faint glimmer under Madison’s bed. She crawled across the floor and reached for the object. It was a picture of Madison, Sean and her. The silver frame had the words, love across the top and believe along the bottom.
Fresh tears rolled down her cheeks. The picture had been taken last year. They had just finished building a snow family so their noses and cheeks were red from the cold. They had spent the rest of the afternoon playing Uno. Madison had won the most games.
She ran a finger over the raised letters and a tingling warmth travelled up her arm. She smiled and stood. There was no doubt she loved, now she needed to believe. Determination guided her as she walked into her bedroom. Gathering Madison’s presents, she carried them into the living room. She plugged in the Christmas tree and the dark room was flooded with blue lights.
Carefully, she arranged the packages. Penguins danced across one gift. Snowmen sang on another. And reindeer decorated the last one. Heather sat the picture on the snowman covered present and went over to the couch. Curling up on sofa, she pulled a plush blanket over her.
“Okay, Santa, I love them. Now I’m believing in you to return to them to me.”
“What…” Sean’s voice trailed off as his father and daughter’s eyes glared at him. “Look.” He pointed to the map. The place of the darkest shadow of despair now had a light shining through it.
And it came from his house. Heather. It was Heather. Heather had the magic of true hope.
“I told you she was for me.” He walked over and scooped Madison into his arms. “Let’s go get mommy and save Christmas.”
“Not so fast,” Santa interjected. “Despair still blankets most of the world.”
Sean nodded. “Once we return home and Heather tells everyone how Santa delivered her husband and daughter to her the belief in miracles will again spread across the world.”
Santa shook his head. Sean had seen that look in his father’s face before. What hadn’t Santa told them?
“It’s Madison who will defeat the shadows of despair,” Santa stood. “She’s the one with the gift to spark belief.”
“She may.” Sean started to walk away. “But she inherited it from her mother.” Before his father could voice anymore objections, he left the room.
“Is mommy really beating the shadow monsters?” Madison looked up at him. Her eyes conveyed hope, love, and happiness. The same as her mother’s.
“Gibb, ready the sleigh. Tonight’s deliver will be made by me, my daughter and my wife.”
“I refuse to allow you to go,” Santa’s deep voice rumbled from behind him. “It’s too dangerous.”