By angelic_editor <Moxie406@yahoo.com>
Submitted: January 2007
Summary: On a lonely Christmas Eve, someone finds inspiration when she least expects it.
Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine; the words are. Please don't take legal action, as lowly copy editors aren't worth suing, anyway.
Feedback: Better than chocolate. Be brutal; I welcome comments and criticism of all kinds.
She never expected to feel this.
Excitement, sure. Exasperation, definitely. And who didn't get a little impatient when it came to standing in seemingly endless lines with fellow last-minute shoppers?
But apathy — no. She'd never expected such emptiness.
It was disconcerting.
She should feel *something,* right? If not an all-encompassing good will toward men, then at least a vague appreciation for twinkling lights and candy canes.
But she didn't.
She only felt a hollow disconnect.
It's not that she wasn't trying. She was walking downtown on Christmas Eve, for crying out loud. But the laughter of small children, their cheeks rosy from the cold, couldn't bring even the faintest of smiles to her face. The elderly couple holding hands, gazing at the giant Christmas tree in the center of Centennial Park, did nothing for her.
She'd never felt so old. Not in her entire twenty-seven years.
She stuffed her hands in the pockets of her wool coat and sighed, staring hard at the enormous tree until the lights blurred and melded into one multicolored mass.
Swallowing hard, she turned back, retracing her steps to her empty apartment.
She kept her head down, unsure if it was just the cold or if it was the bitter disappointment congealing in the pit of her stomach.
She'd hoped — well, truth be told, she wasn't sure what she'd hoped to find this evening.
But whatever it was, she knew she hadn't.
So she kept walking, doing her best to ignore the cold. It was only three more blocks.
And then she could curl up with a cup of cocoa, a good book and be thankful that Christmas only came once a year.
Lost in cynicism, she didn't notice the church until she heard the voice.
<<O holy night>>
<<The stars are brightly shining>>
She'd forgotten how close it was to her building — she passed it every day, and after awhile, the stone structure just blended into her routine.
Well, she was paying attention now. To the clear, lush voice that could be heard even through the heavy oak doors.
<<It is the night of our dear Savior's birth>>
She was up the steps with one hand on the door handle before she realized she'd moved from the sidewalk.
<<Long lay the world in sin and error pining>>
Drawn in by the beautiful voice, she stepped inside, swallowing past the unexpected lump in her throat.
The sanctuary was lit by hundreds of candles, their glow illuminating the handful of people in the pews.
She slowly approached the back row and sat down, listening and marveling at the beauty of the young woman's voice.
<<Fall on your knees>>
<<Oh, hear the angel voices>>
The singer's dark eyes met hers for the briefest of seconds, and a chill skated down her spine.
<<Oh, night divine>>
<<Oh, night when Christ was born>>
She listened, hardly daring to breathe, the words and their meaning reverberating inside her rib cage.
The emotion swelling behind her heart felt almost too good to be true.
<<Oh, night; oh, night divine>>
Her hands shook as she listened. Her mouth was dry.
And her heart — her heart was pounding.
This was it. This was the feeling she'd been missing. She wasn't a particularly religious person, but she found herself moved to tears.
And she was thankful. So, so thankful.
She'd just wanted to feel something. And right now, she felt so much more than *something* — she felt grateful for absolutely everything.
This was what Christmas was supposed to feel like.
She stood and walked toward the exit, wiping away an errant tear with one gloved hand as she gave silent thanks to whatever deity might be listening.
A tall, broad-shouldered man stepped in front of her and held the door.
"Thank you — Clark?" She could hardly believe her eyes.
He did a double-take and beamed. "Hey! What brings you here?"
"I was just — just out for a walk," she stammered, gesturing to the sidewalk. "How about you?"
"I heard this woman singing and had to come listen for a little bit," he replied.
"Me, too. I was outside when I heard her begin to sing 'O Holy Night' and I just — well, it was so beautiful … " She trailed off, unable to articulate everything she was feeling.
But Clark nodded in unspoken understanding. "I know what you mean."
"So where are you off to? Do you have a late flight to Kansas?"
"No, I'm not flying to Smallville until tomorrow. I'm on my way to see Lois."
"Oh, I — I don't want to keep you."
Clark checked his watch. "I really should get going." He gently squeezed her upper arm. "Merry Christmas, Mayson."
She smiled. "Merry Christmas, Clark."