Behind urgent toes, heels in a steady pace, small glazed pine cones crunched into frozen pine needles. A late December wind with snow spitting in his face, the traveler forged on.
Owls hoot! Shadows dart! Dead limbs snap! Moonlight guides him to a glowing rising bend. Boot soles slide on unseen ice —balance is regained.
Dim grey clouds begin to fade from dusk. Curling nested squirrels brightly tick eventide; on his path, still short of distant village lights.
Snow, now steadily blowing in a whiteout slant, flicker the orange and yellow glow of the houses steady burning lamps.
The wind tore through his over-coat; threads fluttered and shredded behind him as he hastened to a saved empty seat.
It’s been twenty years, since he left the family’s livery stables. He remembered when he left that place, with disappointment and half smiles on his family’s face. Traveling with his friends he rode out of town. He rode hard and fast following youthful delusions; robbing banks and railroads. Now, with empty hands carrying nothing, except a wanted poster, folded in his pocket: dead or alive and unloaded pistol holstered in the essence of a child.
In scented moonlight he caught the smoke that waffled thru the familiar stone chimney and the scent of a welcomed arrival in the house of true warmth; they were seated in the glow at table side, where they lit the center white candle —awaiting Christmastide.