Bella cracked the egg and tossed the shell in the trash can with the rest of them, her fingers covered in the sticky goo. “Yech,” she said, wiping her fingers on the washcloth. The doorbell rang. Bella poked her head out to see if it was unlocked. “Come in!” she yelled.

Tim walked in, also letting in a blast of chilly Chicago morning

air. “Hey, Bella,” he said in his soft Australian accent that made Bella feel like

the world would never end.

“Morning! Want some scrambled eggs and toast? I’ll start some

bacon up,” Bella offered, kissing him.

“Sure, after I give you an early Christmas present,” he smiled,

removing his coat and laying it in a chair. He got down on one knee and pulled

out a ring, and then smiled up into Bella’s face, half-covered in tears. 

“Will you become my forever one, Bella?”

“Yes!” Bella flung her arms around him. “Ooh, I thought you’d

never ask!”

Later after Tim had left for work and Bella was washing dishes, a

thought hit her and she set the dish she was washing and turned off the faucet.

“Tim. Christmas gifts. Oh my gosh, I gotta go get Tim a Christmas gift!”

She threw on a coat and grabbed her purse and keys and jumped in

her car. First she stopped at the mall, going from shop to shop. She first

decided to stop at Macy’s, and see if she could find him a jacket or something,

but came out empty. 

Next she stopped at a perfume and cologne shop called Pacific

Smells. “Hello! Can I help you?” a lady with a name tag that read ‘Mags’

approached Bella.

“Oh! Hi. I’m looking for a gift for my, er, fiance,” Bella smiled.

Mags laughed. “Recently?”

“This morning,” Bella admitted, blushing violently.

“Aww, cute love. My boyfriend is close to doing it, but I think

he’s scared to be together for good.” Mags shrugged. “Anyway, this colone is

the one my boyfriend dies for. And then there’s this one that also smells amazing!”

She squirted some into the air for Bella, who sniffed it.

“Whew! What’s this one called?” she asked, contemplating.

“Um, Nightingale. Do you like it?” Mags asked.

“I want to try the other one first,” Bella decided. Mags dug

around on the shelf and pulled a dark purple bottle out, squirting it for Bella.

“Oh my goodness!” Bella exclaimed. “Now I can’t decide.”

Mags smiled and placed the bottle back on the shelf. “That’s ok.

The price for Nightingale is sixty, and Moon is seventy.”

Bella gasped and quickly coughed to hide it, but Mags had already

noticed. “It’s ok. A lot of people are surprised by the prices. Why don’t you

go shop around in some other stores and come back if you’ve made your decision.”

Bella nodded, thanked her, and left. After stopping in Old Navy,

Kohl’s, and even Target, Bella had two little bags. One carried a warm sherpa

blanket, the other a shirt. She wandered back into Pacific Smells. 

Mags was just about to clock out. “Oh, hey!” she smiled. “Did you


Bella nodded. “A bottle of each. If he can spend over a hundred

dollars on me, so can I on him.”

Mags opened her eyes in surprise and set her purse down to help

Bella. “Ok, so your total comes to one forty-two, fifty three.” 

Bella dug around in her purse and set her card on the counter.

“Thank you, Mags,” she said quietly, taking her things and leaving the store,

hoping Tim liked the things she got for him. 

That night as she was wrapping them while Hallmark’s Elf played

on her TV, the phone rang. “Hello?” she answered. 

“Hey,” Tim said on the other end. “Is it ok if I come over to your

house? I’ll bring a Christmas movie since it’s Christmas Eve.”

Is it really? Bella

thought. “Uh, yeah. Sure. “Let’s open presents tonight when you come over. I

can’t wait to see if you like them or not.”

“Alright. Sounds like a true American tradition. Be there soon,

love!” Tim agreed.

After hanging up, Bella frantically wrapped his presents, shoving

them under her little artificial plastic tree as Tim knocked on the door. Bella

jumped up and opened it calmly. “Hey, Tim. Come on in!”

“Thanks, Bella,” he shivered. Tim carried armfuls of presents,

causing Bella’s cheerful smile to crumple behind him. As soon as he set the

presents down, he scooped Bella in his arms and kissed her long and loud, for

some love speaks in volume.

After Bella opened her presents, surprised at all he had gotten

for her. Tim got to his first present, and Bella was near tears. How could her

presents ever amount to his?

Tim opened one of the first boxes with the Nightingale cologne.

Bella’s worst fears were confirmed as Tim’s face fell. “Oh. You don’t like it,

do you?” she asked dully.

“Of course I like it, Bella. In fact, I love this cologne. I

usually get it. So much so, that I went and bought a bottle today!” Tim assured


Bella laughed nervously. “Oh, dear. Keep going!”

As Tim opened the box of Moon, he laughed again. “I love this one

too, but I never bought it at the store when I went today. I forgot!”

“Good thing you did! One more! Hurry!” Bella edged him on. He

thanked her for the blanket and shirt.

“Ok, ok! I’m opening it!” Tim laughed again.

“But...it wasn’t as good as the gift you gave to me,” Bella sighed.

“You’re absolutely right Bella. Well, in a way. Your gift was even

better than all of mine put together,” Tim said, his Australian accent showing

more than ever, making Bella feel like crying.

“How, Tim?” Bella whispered.

He kissed her. “You gave me the greatest gifts of all. Love,

happiness, and you.”

Bella laughed and kissed him back. “You say the sweetest things.

Merry Christmas, Tim.”

“Merry Christmas, Bella,” Tim smiled.

December 12, 2019 23:42

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