Ellowyne stood up, dried her tears, and looked into Midge’s eyes. “I want to live. I made a huge mistake by wishing I had never been born. I love my family and friends—even Amber—and I want to be in their lives. I want things to be just as they were.”
“Ello, you realize that nothing can really be the same again. You know things about the people dearest to you—things that could change their futures—and you must use that knowledge wisely. There are also things that you need to change about yourself. You saw what happened to Lizette. You have to take control of your ennui and quit wallowing in your self-imposed distress.”
“You’re right. I need to take my sessions with Dr. Bantam seriously. Maybe I’m depressed. Or maybe something is wrong with me, like chronic fatigue or—what did you say that Rufus’ mom had, fibro-something?”
“Fibromyalgia. It happens in young people and causes pain and chronic fatigue. I wonder if that’s what’s going on with you.”
“I’ll make an have appointment with a doctor. I need to crawl out of this pit.”
“Good. That’s my girl. Now, I can grant you one more wish. What will it be?”
“I wish to be alive, Midge. I wish to be alive!”
Suddenly, Ellowyne’s eyes opened and she was back on her fainting couch, Sybil snoozing at her feet. It was her room! Her pictures were on the walls! Her clothes and shoes stuffed her closet! She heard no noise downstairs so she quickly texted Prudence. “I’m sorry. Please, everyone, come back!”
Pru answered immediately. “BRB! Getting karaoke system into RR’s Subaru!”
Uncharacteristically energized, Ellowyne flew into her brother’s room. “Ah, Freddy, what are you doing with those matches? You gotta stop this nonsense or you’re going to get in real trouble.” And she swiftly doused the matches with a bottle of iced tea Freddy had nearby.
“Whatdja do that for?” Freddy wailed. “Buzzkill!”
“I love you, too, Freddy. Things are going to be different around here and I’m going to keep a better eye on you.”
Freddy smiled as Ellowyne left his room. Gosh, he thought to himself, I didn’t know she cared.
Ellowyne descended the stairs to a cacophony of sounds. Prudence had started up the karaoke system and Amber and Rufus were arguing.
“Eartha Kitt,” Rufus insisted.
“Madonna,” Amber retorted.
“Oh please. Eartha rules.”
“Duh! The Material Girl was born to sing “Santa Baby.”
Ellowyne looked at them with bemusement. “Are you two fighting—why?”
“Well, yeah,” Rufus answered. “Because this musical connoisseur doesn’t realize that Eartha Kitt’s version of Santa Baby is superior!”
“You two need to join the debate team,” Ellowyne laughed. “I’d pay money to watch you verbally spar with each other.”
Amber and Rufus stared at each other, then started to laugh. Amber spoke first, “Hey, Rufus, I’m sorry about the way I’ve acted toward you. Can we be friends?”
“Well, you have no taste in music,” Rufus teased. Then his face became somber. “I’ve kind of been jerk to you, too. Sorry. Friends.”
Amber turned to Ello. “Ellowyne, I know how much your mother’s pottery meant to you,” she said softly. No one can restore it to the way it was, but maybe this will help.” She handed Ellowyne a photograph of a bowl with what appeared to be gold veining. “It’s called kintsukuroi. Japanese artisans actually repair broken pottery with gold or silver. That way the piece isn’t thrown away and it takes on a whole new meaning. I hope you like it. I told the gentleman who’s doing the work to do it in gold.”
Ellowyne’s eyes filled with happy tears and she gave Amber a huge hug. “I know things haven’t always been right between us, Amber, but I’d like a fresh start. I want to be your friend.”
“Oh, Ellowyne! Do you mean that? I’d like that, too!”
Ellowyne gave Amber her friendship bracelet and Amber put it on immediately. Rufus, Prudence, and Lizette exchanged glances of sheer astonishment. They knew Amber felt sorry for breaking the pottery and that she was paying for the repairs herself, but to see Amber transform from a frenemy to an authentic, caring friend was almost unbelievable.
Prudence whispered, “And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.”
Lizette nudged Pru in the side with her elbow. “Shut up, little Who or you’ll get no roast beast. Or hot cocoa.” The two girls dissolved into giggles. Ellowyne, wondering why they were being so silly, came over and hugged both of them.
“I don’t tell you two often enough how much I value our friendship. I love you both so much,” Ellowyne said as her eyes filled with tears. “You are my best friends.” Then she handed them their friendship bracelets.
“Wow, Ello,” Lizette exclaimed. “These are really pretty. You did a great job!”
“She’s right,” Pru added. “I think you’ve got some hidden talent there!”
Ellowyne made a mental note to herself to visit the bead shop close to Dr. Bantam’s office after her next appointment. That could be a fun hobby, she thought, not too strenuous, and it might quell some of the ennui.
Then Ellowyne looked at Rufus. He was standing in the corner where the mistletoe had been hung, looking out into space as if he were deep into his thoughts. Ellowyne remembered the black leather bracelet she’d made for him but decided she could give it to him later. She needed to do something else first. She saw that the mistletoe had been removed due to the fiasco earlier that evening. We don’t need that stuff, she thought, and she wrapped her arms around his neck and gazed into his eyes. For a brief moment, Rufus was too stunned to realize what was happening. And then a male voice whispered in his ear, “Man, don’t be a dork! Kiss her!”
Midge, who could no longer be seen by Ellowyne, was watching from across the room. She looked up, startled, and asked, “Allan?”
“Who else do you think would be Rufus’ guardian angel?” Allan grinned. “The kid deserves a break! Now, come on! We have to go back so you can be officially presented with your wings!”
As the two angels disappeared, Ellowyne and Rufus kissed. It was no ordinary kiss. It was a head spinning, heart pounding, knee weakening, toe tingling kiss—and both of them felt it and were rendered speechless.
Pru flashed Lizette a grin and murmured, “Another Christmas miracle!”
Amber shrugged her shoulders. “Ah, maybe he’s got some cute buddies. Three of them—one for each of us!”
As Ringo Starr belted out The Little Drummer Boy in the background, a bell on the Christmas tree rang. Lizette exclaimed, “Hey, my aunt back in New Orleans used to say that whenever a bell rings, an angel gets her wings!”
Hand in hand, Ellowyne and Rufus walked over to the bell. Ellowyne spied a small package she hadn’t previously noticed. Inside was a friendship bracelet and a note:
“Remember, Ellowyne, you do make a difference. Thanks for the wings! Love, Midge.”
“Who’s Midge?” the bewildered but deliriously happy Rufus asked.
“A very dear friend, someone who changed my life. Way to go, Midge! And thank you!