By LING LIN
Jack and Mary are walking down the street. “I’m shivering. The night’s getting cold.” Mary turns to her brother, whose hands are crossed over his chest and head hidden under his hood.
“Oh yeah, it’s almost winter.”
“People say we don’t have winter here.”
Jack halts and takes a breath. “Your friends are messing with you! If there’s no winter, when will Christmas be, huh?”
“You aren’t smart, you’re only two years older than me.”
“Still.” Jack shrugs and speeds up the pace.
They do sense the holidays are approaching: trees on both sides are decorated with little yellow string lights, lampposts have red bow ties, and Christmas melodies are flowing out from a nearby bookstore. As they walk by a retail store, Mary stops. She stands on her tiptoes and peers into the glass window.
“I want to see the chocolate!”
“We don’t have the money, and Mom is waiting at the bus stop.”
“Please! I want to see how beautiful the packages they have for chocolates are! Remember last year they wrapped the Ferrero chocolate into a large one, as big as a tennis ball!”
Jack looks around. At the edge of the sky the clouds are as pink as his sister’s sweatshirt, and the pedestrians are either talking or smiling to their friends. He can even see the steam rising from a red Starbucks holiday cup on a desk. Jack likes this lovely atmosphere. “Okay, but we can’t stay long.”
He takes his sister’s hand and leads her into the store.
In fact, Jack wants to see the food too. He wants to know what his sister’s favorite chocolate is so that a month later, he can put it in the stocking for her.