Light in the Window

Buford hunched his shoulders as he trudged through the slush toward home after a long shift at the factory. He lived in a big city, though at times he forgot which city it was. Other times he decided it wasn’t worth the effort to remember what city it was because they were all alike anyway.
Then he reminded himself to be grateful he had a job. It was 1934, and most people were out of work. But his job drained his soul so much he could not enjoy the Christmas season. Besides that, he had no one to share his life with. Seven days before Christmas. What difference did it make?
In the gloomy twilight of his big city street, a glimmer caught in the corner of his eye. As he turned to look into a street level room of a tenement building Buford saw a young woman place a lit candle in the window. No one would have given her notice if she walked along the street, but flickering candle revealed her face in such a way that made him feel both sorrow and affection for her.
The next night Buford did not hunch his shoulders quite as much as he had before walking home. He automatically looked toward the tenement window. The young woman placed two lit candles on the sill. He studied her face as best he could and thought he sensed quiet desperation in the curve of her mouth. His sleep was restless that night.
The third night Buford thought he detected a tear glistening in her eyes as she put three candles in the window, and his heart began to break a bit. He hardly ate any of his supper at his boarding house and again had a restless night sleep. The vision of the young woman and the growing candle illuminations haunted him.
Buford’s step quickened the fourth night. His shoulders were full back, and his face took the sting of the sleet straight on. Hoping the woman would be putting out another candle, he dreaded seeing her face tinged with pain. There she was, in the tenement window putting down four candles. This time a sweet smile graced her face, which make Buford smile.
Work at the factory went swiftly for the next three days. Buford’s mind was filled with thoughts about the young woman. Would she place yet another candle in the window? Would the shimmering light reveal despair, hope or joy? On Christmas Eve Buford walked briskly toward the tenement building. He felt his heart beat faster. Would there actually be seven candles in the window? And would the angel be smiling? He was startled by the image that crossed his mind. Yes, she had become his angel.
When he stopped in front, he saw the young woman carefully place the seventh lit candle in the window. He could no longer contain his curiosity and affection. Buford went toward the tenement and tapped on the window. He smiled as she noticed him and raised the window.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t help but notice you’ve been putting candles on the window sill for the past seven days.”
“Oh.” Her eyes widened. “I’m sorry. It’s just some silly dream I had.”
“Dreams are never silly.” Buford had never given much thought about dreams before now, but now he wanted to believe in them. “What did you dream?”
“Promise you won’t laugh?”
“I promise.”
2
“I dreamed Santa Claus told me to light candles for seven nights and I would get my Christmas wish.”
“And what did you wish for?”
“I wished for someone to love.” She smiled gently at Buford. “I think I wished for you.”

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