Leslie's Last Noel
Homeless on Christmas
Fiction by William McIlmail
Her eyes sparkled brighter than the Christmas lights that adorned her Christmas tree. It was her first real Christmas tree since moving into the "box"—not exactly a box, but an old storage trailer. Behind the twinkling lights in her eyes was a much deeper searchlight that was finally peering into the depths of her heart.
She never had much growing up. Yes, there was Christmas, and some presents beneath the tree, along with always a good dinner. But there was also the bill that came due, one that took half the year to pay off. Some of her fondest memories of those Christmases long ago were welling up in her eyes, and the sparkle was veiled by a waterfall; its diffused radiance was something akin to holiness.
There were years with a scrawny artificial tree, or "Christmas bush," as she would refer to them to the few friends she allowed in her life. But the home fires were not burning in the box—it would not have been safe, and her safety was non-negotiable, the one thing she thought she had control over in her out-of-control world.
She finally came unstuck from the rapture of the tree and looked around at the presents beneath it, the candies and cookies, the table set for a feast, the love from deep inside.
They found Leslie Noel Cummings dead in her box on Christmas morning from exposure. A new light to shine in Heaven.