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Held on by a fine thread of hope a tiny sliver of ice dangles from the edge of the window. The steel white frost looks like tiny bursts of stars etched into the glass.A soft, sugary powder of snow is breathed up into the air by a small gust of wind, sprinkling the rectangle of desire with fairy dust.

The girl stands at the window, her mittened hand held tightly in her mother’s. The warm amber light from inside illumines the doll in the rocking chair, making her cheeks rosy, her golden curls sun-kissed. Her blue velveteen dress falls in soft folds around her knees, the gold trim of lace at the hem speaks of a perky, confidence. Shiny black patent leather shoes practically dance in repose; ready and waiting to run down a polished wooden staircase – it’s shiny banisters trimmed in garlands of forest green and rich, red satin bows.

A fleck of cold whispers in the mother’s ear, and she pulls her thin coat tighter. Her free hand clutches the collar at her throat, trying to keep out the prying fingers of winter. The little girl squeezes her mother’s hand, eyes locked on her twin behind the glass. The doll looks back, blankly, unperturbed by the small form so intent upon her.

A sigh of air releases the sliver of ice and it slides down the cold pane of glass, breaking away from the cluster of magic in the corner. The little girl reaches out to catch it as it gently maneuvers its way to the bottom of the frame. Her woolen mitten holds it for a moment, this frozen slender pin, and then it melts into her hand. A miniscule spot of moisture, then, nothing.

She looks up to her mother as the lights dim inside, the sunlight taken away, the dark of the evening covering them like a damp cloak. Her mother reaches down, lifts her up into the air –and, oh, glorious wonder - she feels like she’s flying! She is swung around, right there on the sidewalk, in the dark and raw blackness - and the want and need disappear into nothingness as the mother brings her up onto her chest. Her daughter’s arms reach round her neck and they clasp each other as tight as hugs can go. Cold cheek against cold cheek, puffs of air escaping in breathless smoke.

They turn away from the frost and glass. The little girl nestles in the safety of her mother’s arms, her head resting on her mother’s chest. She hears the quiet “thump thump” of her mother’s heartbeat muffled by the rough fabric. The cold is forgotten, the doll is forgotten, all that matters is right there, holding her, squeezing her tightly. Her eyes spark and light up as she lifts her face to look at the most beautiful gift of all.

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