Xmas Crash at the Mall

by Shay



I was just walking around the Mall on Christmas eve, when I heard the tinkle of silver bells announcing the exit of another customer from the crowded ‘Xmas Shoppe’ I’d passed a moment before.

A child’s squeal of delight, almost under my feet, made me swivel 180 degrees on one foot with a startled grunt. A small body, knee high to me, smacked into my legs. A midget wrapped strong little arms around my thighs and hung on like an octopus.

I rocked back on my heels and reached down, taking hold of the shoulders of a blue and pink nylon windbreaker. Small hands grasped the back of my denim jeans and a wild giggle shook the small blonde haired body under my hands. "I saw mommy kiss Santa Claus!" the midget screeched excitedly.

"Hey! Who’re you?" I managed to gasp out just as another body – much larger than the one wrapped around my knees – came careening around the corner of the ‘Xmas Shoppe" !

"RACHEL!" a very worried and almost hysterical voice assaulted my poor eardrums like the little drummer boy on uppers! "Rachel! Where are you?"

OH SHIT!!!’ was the only thought in my head as I got a blurred image of wild auburn hair and wide blue eyes before I was knocked flat on my back.

I managed to shift the little octopus attached to my legs sideways as a flying body hit us.


I know for a fact I didn’t black out or anything, but I sure wasn’t realizing there were other people around. All I saw when I lifted my head were a pair of the most beautiful, vivid blue-green eyes I’d ever seen; to say I was flummoxed was an understatement!

"Mama!" the delighted squeal was accompanied by a tugging sensation on my leg, bringing my brain back to reality.

The weight on my body shifted abruptly as the woman who’d decided to use me as a crash mat pushed herself up to a sitting position. I could feel the flush creeping up my face as I became aware of the people who had gathered about us to take in the entertainment. I swear I heard someone in the crowd mutter that they wished the mall wouldn’t deck the halls with human crash dummies in the middle of the Christmas eve rush!

The blue green eyes of the woman on top of me landed on the wriggling blonde toddler whose hands were STILL attached to my pants. "Rachel?" The auburn head turned, those beautiful blue green orbs filling with an expression of shock and dismay.

I could see the woman’s whole face now; dark brows arcing above those oh so mesmerizing eyes. A furrow of worry above a small, well shaped nose. A pair of lips to die for. A PAIR OF LIPS TO DIE FOR! OH GOD! Do you hear what I hear? What I’m saying to myself? My senses came crashing back to the present with a distinct "THUD!"

"I’m … I’m sorry! Excuse me!" I stuttered as I frantically began to squirm out from under the woman. ‘What was I doing apologizing?’ the incongruity of the situation finally hit me. I couldn’t help the laughter that erupted from my chest.

"Oh-h-h!" She backed up off of my shaking body as if a match had been lit under her; but in doing so, the backpack she carried swung down off her shoulder and whacked me right in the face. It knocked my wire rimmed glasses off. They hit the tiled floor with a clatter, the lenses popping out with a sound like chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

‘Ah Great!’ now I couldn’t see anything, being blind as a bat caught in a white Christmas blizzard!

A slightly hysterical tinkle of laughter sounded above me as I rolled to my side, groping around for my second set of eyeballs. I was lost in a winter wonderland of blurry fake snow used to decorate the ‘Xmas Shoppe’s’ windows when I glanced up towards the sound of her voice.

A rustle of clothing and a light touch as someone bent over and placed my glasses rims and lenses in my hands was followed by a high pitched and hesitant, "Here … let me help you up!" The invitation to assist my rather undignified lurch to my feet, with my vision still distorted, was welcome.

An unusual warmth coursed through my arm where her hands grasped my elbow in support. I staggered a bit, attempting to control my upward motion. The blonde midget still had a hold on my pants leg!

I was finally upright on two feet. I was able to pop the lenses back in my glasses, resettling them on my sore, backpack smacked face. I was able to get a good look at my assailant, who still had a hold on my arm.

She was head to head of a height with me. Short dark red-brown curls framed a youthful face, but I immediately got the impression she wasn’t as young as she seemed. She wore a concerned smile as she returned my gaze, her lips just barely raised at the corners. I shied away from a direct look into those eyes, knowing what they had done to my brain beforehand.

"Are you alright?" she asked.

"Uh-huh …" I replied with a grunt. ‘That was gracious!’ my inner voice kicked up.

She stepped away, then dropped to one knee and pulled the blonde octopus’ hands off their death grip on my jeans. ‘Finally!’

"Rachel! What have I told you about running away like that?" her voice was a low, taut whisper to the child, whose face immediately crumpled into a twisted pout as she started crying. "Mama… sorry!" The woman wrapped the child in her arms and hugged her, looking up at me helplessly.

‘Do something, you moron!’ my inner voice screeched at me.

I knelt down and gently patted the toddler’s back. "Hey …hey? It’s alright!" The midget looked up at me with tears running down her red face and mixing with mucus running from her nose.

‘Ugh..Ugh!’ I cringed. I hastily pulled my handkerchief from my vest pocket and wiped at the mess on her chin. Thank God I hadn’t used it!

The little blonde adruptly turned away from the auburn haired woman and wrapped her arms around me! ’Ah shit! Now what?’ that inner voice sarcastically asked. I must have looked completely helpless, cause that lovely … LOVELY! Damn, what was I thinking? Auburn haired woman just smiled, a twinkle in those blue green eyes that gave me the kind of shivers you get on a cold, blue Christmas night when you’ve been out too long on a search for Christmas "cheer" in the local bars.

She stuck a hand out towards me, "Hi, I’m Terri." She patted the child’s back gently as she introduced her, "and this is Rachel."

Awkwardly holding one arm around the toddler, I grasped the offered hand with a firm grip. "Hey … I’m Devyn," I returned as she took hold of the child’s arms and pried her loose.

"Rachel, this is Devyn … say hello!" she instructed.

The midget let go and looked up at me with … URK! … adoring blue eyes. "LO!" she chirped.

"Hey!" I replied, grinning uneasily. ‘Great! Now you’ve turned into a monosyllabic moron!’ ranted my inner voice.

Terri rose, picking Rachel up in her arms. "I’m sorry, … she doesn’t usually run people down," she tried to explain, "Are you sure you’re okay?"

I stood up and ran a hand through my hair. "Uh … I’m fine…. Is she alright?"

Terri smiled as she looked into my eyes. "She’s fine," she grinned, "I think she likes you!"

"You think?" I grinned, waving a hand in the air.

The woman actually giggled just like the kid. It was adorable. ‘Oh-h-h, you’re getting in deep here … ‘ my inner voice moaned.

"Can I buy you lunch? We were just going to head for the food court…" Terri invited with an almost pleading gaze at the blonde head on her shoulder.

"I … uh sure … why not" I stammered, even though I’d already had an early lunch. ‘It’s about time!’ chortled my inner voice. ‘Oh shut up!’ I replied.


I held Rachel’s hand as we made our way towards the center mall food court. I glanced sideways at the silver haired woman walking a few paces to one side of us. Who’d been so gracious and … funny despite being bowled over by both Rachel and I in front of a crowd of fanatic Christmas eve shoppers. ‘She must have felt like her Grandma got run over by a reindeer!’ I chuckled to myself.

Devyn. An unusual name. I kept slipping sidelong glances at the woman. She really wasn’t any taller than me, at least from a distance. ‘And you’d like to get closer, wouldn’t you, Allen?’ my pesky subconcious supplied. I remembered the flash of grey green eyes I’d seen when Devyn put her glasses back on. Such a gentle, confused look!

"Mama! Want Ronald!" Rachel’s shrill cry caught my attention. I picked the bouncing bundle of my daughter up to keep her from getting loose again. "Okay, we’re almost there!"

I led the way through the dense mass of bodies across the food court and stopped in front of McD’s, looking up at the menu board. The jingle bells on the server’s red hats caught Rachel’s attention. "I know what Rachel wants, what can I get you?" I turned to ask our ‘new’ friend.

"Uh … a soda?" was the barely audible reply I could make out over the noise around us.

"That’s all?" I asked in surprise.

Those incredibly gentle grey green eyes widened at my query. Devyn reached up and pulled at her right ear self-conciously as I watched. "Uh … yeah." She answered.

I shook my head and ‘tsked’ slightly. "Well, can you find us a table?" I requested over my shoulder as I stepped up to order.

"Sure," was all I heard. When I glanced back, I saw the silver haired woman moving off into the food court. I sat Rachel down and grasped her small hand. I stepped to one side to pick up our order on a tray with one hand and held onto Rachel with the other. Balancing the awkward tray, I searched for our lunchmate.

"Mama, want Ronald toy!" Rachel singsonged.

"Shshsh… just a minute honey! Soon as we find the table!"

A light touch on my arm from behind startled me and I almost dropped the tray

Devyn stepped into sight from behind me. "Here, let me have that’" she took the tray and led us over to a small table off to one side of the food court. The silver haired woman placed the tray on the table and pulled out a chair for me; Rachel was lifted into a high chair before I could even get settled.

Rachel leaned forward, grasping towards the tray of food. "Here honey," I unwrapped the brightly colored plastic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer that was the toy that came with the kid’s meal. I put the cellophane wrapping on the far side of the table away from little fingers.

When I looked up, Devyn had eased back in the chair opposite us, watching with a slightly lopsided grin. I got a moment to get a good look at her and decided I REALLY liked what I saw.

Devyn appeared to be in her early 40’s, I guessed. She was dressed in dark blue jeans, a long sleeved tan henley t-shirt that looked too large for her compact frame, and a khaki colored nylon and cotton Tech vest with lots of pockets. A flat, calculator sized box wrapped in sky blue pretty paper peeked from one of the large lower pockets. I wondered what it was.

The silver haired woman glanced up from watching as Rachel cooed, "Run Rudoplph Run!" and making the toy scoot across the table, to catch me oogling her.

I blushed, but met her grey green gaze with a bold smile. I liked her, I really felt drawn to her!

Devyn’s shy smile changed her solemn expression so dramatically it stunned me. ‘Ohhh! You’ve got it BAD!" seethed my subconcious.

We ate our lunch, quietly glancing at each other and Rachel, who had proceeded to make her usual mess with her frys trying to feed them to "Rudolph".

"SO," Devyn’s voice was hesitant as I looked up, "What does… Rachel … want for Christmas?"

I giggled. "Anything she sees," then blushed at the implication in that statement,

Devyn grinned, "And you?"

I was silent a moment, but then spoke with a burst of impulsiveness, " All I Want For Christmas is YOU!" I could feel myself turning bright red, but I met the startled grey green gaze confidently, "I mean, I’d like to have you for dinner!" Realizing what I’d just said, I put my hands to my face, moaning loudly, "I mean, would you like to come over for dinner tonight?"

I peeked through my fingers hesitantly to see the silver haired woman opposite me grinning hugely.

I dropped my hands to the table and reached across to grasp one of hers. "Please?"

Devyn chuckled. I never knew when I came home for the holidays I wouldn’t even be eating with my family!" She laughed, "Where do you live?"

"Oh!" I answered as warm waves of delight skittered up my back. "Up on the housetop!"

I sputtered, and realizing my mistake replied, in the apartment over my sister’s garage … just over the river and through the wood on the other side of town!"

Devyn grinned again, then suddenly looked confused.

"What?" I asked in alarm, sure she’d changed her mind or suddenly remembered somewhere else she had to be.

"Doesn’t it seem like there have been a lot of coincidental Christmas themes in our meeting up?"

"Huh?" I asked.

Devyn shook her head ruefully, "Never mind!" she answered and grasped my hands tighter.

Well, I later figured it out. You see, Devyn has a very clever, intelligent mind and she comes up with all these ingenious observations on things. Lucky for me, she figured out in one short afternoon she loved me!

1-All I Want For Christmas Is You

2-Blue Christmas

3-Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

4-Deck the Halls

5-Do You Hear What I Hear?

7-Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

8-Home For the Holidays

9-I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

11-Jingle Bells

14-Little Drummer Boy

15-Over The River And Through The Woods

16-Pretty Paper

17-Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

18-Run Rudolph Run

21-Silver Bells

23-Up On the Housetop

24-White Christmas

25-Winter Wonderland


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