"YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!" Poppy screamed as she threw the two-gallon gas can at the car that was lying on it's side in the ditch.
Poppy couldn't believe her eyes as she ran a hand through her short blonde hair in disgust. When she'd left, the car was sitting at the side of the road, where she had run out of gas. It had taken her hours to walk the mile, or two back to the last gas station she'd passed. On her way back to her car, it had gotten so dark, that she'd almost gone in the wrong direction at the crossroad.
The clouds that loomed overhead, promising snow, were making good on their threat. The wind had picked up too. This made her trip back to the car difficult to say the least.
She was cold and tired. Even though it was wintertime, Poppy wasn't really dressed for it. She did have on a flannel shirt, but only wore a light jacket over it. The rest of her wardrobe wasn't much better for her walk in the snow, she had on a dark pair of jeans and tennis shoes.
And now her only ride was useless. From the looks of the caved in-side, it must've been side swiped by something big, pushing it into the ditch.
"Shit!" Poppy said, as she sat down on the cold, snowy ground. "I give up. You hear me! You freaking bad luck, or whatever the hell, I've been cursed with!" Poppy wrapped her arms around herself and pulled her knees up by her chin, as she put her head down on them. "I give up." She sobbed.
"Giving up is easy to do. Living, is the hard part."
"Huh?" Poppy jumped to her feet. "Who the hell are you? Where did you come from?" Poppy asked as she backed away from the woman in front of her, who was sitting on a horse.
"I'm Joy." The tall, dark woman answered Poppy as she got off the beautiful white horse that had, what looked like a silver mane. "I see you've got a little problem here."
"Oh, now THAT, is an understatement. What was your first clue?" Poppy sneered.
"Well unless you have a funny way of driving. I would say it was the car laying on it's side." Joy laughed.
"Ha, ha." Poppy answered her. "Wait a second. Where the hell did you come from anyway?" Poppy asked as she looked around. "There is nothing around here. I know because I looked."
"Guess you didn't look hard enough. The town is just over that hill." Joy said as she pointed towards the hill in front of them.
Poppy looked towards the hill. That was impossible. She had climbed that hill to look around, when her car first ran out of gas. There wasn't a town on the other side of it that she had seen.
"You're pulling my leg, right?" Poppy asked as she turned to finally get a good look at the tall woman by the light of the moon, that kept trying to shine through some of the breaks in the clouds.
Joy's hair, was as dark as midnight and just touching her shoulders. The moonlight's glow, reflecting on her hair made it look like stars were shining in it. Her eyes were a dark crystal blue and they twinkled, when she smiled. She was also wearing a pair of long black jeans, but somehow, they looked heavier than Poppy's were. She had on black boots that came up above her ankles. Poppy could see the fur sticking out of the top and the front, where the boots laced up, so she was sure they had fur inside of them. Her white coat was halfway unbuttoned, so she could tell, it was fur lined too.
She's so beautiful. Poppy thought. Joy's smile made her feel good inside. But Poppy wasn't too sure, if she wanted to trust that feeling.
"I guess the only way you can find out is to come with me." Joy said as she held her hand out for Poppy to take. "It is getting cold out here. Let's go find a warm fire to sit by and get to know each other better."
Poppy frowned, as she could almost envision Joy wiggling her eyebrows while she said this. Joy was right though; the cold weather was starting to get to her. But she didn't know this woman, so there was no way she was going to go anywhere with her. As far as she knew, Joy could be a mass murder or something?
Poppy took a step back from the hand that was being extended to her. "I'm not going anywhere with you."
"Poppy don't be stupid." Joy tried to reason with her.
"How the hell did you know my name? No, this is just weird. I've looked over that hill already, there's nothing there. You came riding out of nowhere! No, I'm heading back for the gas station." Poppy said as she turned to walk off.
"Poppy!" Joy yelled after Poppy as she walked off. "Poppy, it's too far back to the station! It's getting colder! You'll freeze!"
Poppy didn't listen, she just kept walking, as the snow kept falling.
Damn, I don't remember the station being this far away. Poppy thought to herself, as she tried to keep herself moving. "Just put one foot in front of the other." Poppy kept repeating to herself as the cold snow slapped at her frozen skin.
The snow was getting deeper and deeper as Poppy kept moving in the direction she was sure the station had been in. Funny, it must be warming up, I'm not nearly as cold as I was before. Poppy thought to herself as she tripped and fell into the deep snow.
"I'm so tired." Poppy mumbled as she tried to get up but couldn't. "Maybe if I rest for just a minute." Poppy thought she could hear the sound of bells jiggling off in the distance as she closed her eyes.
"Poppy, come on Poppy, wake up."
Poppy could hear a far off voice calling her. Her eyelids felt so heavy, she thought that she might have been dreaming.
"Here drink this."
Poppy could feel something warm touching her lips. Hot cocoa? Poppy opened her tired eyes. "Where the hell did you get the hot cocoa?" She asked Joy.
"Never leave home without it." Joy chuckled.
"Come on, let's get you home." Joy said as she picked Poppy up in her arms.
Poppy was so small, Joy felt as if she was lifting a feather. Poppy must have been all of 5 feet tall, if that. And there was no way, she weighed more than ninety pounds, if that much. She sat Poppy up on the front of the saddle as she climbed up behind her.
"Home Jiggles." Joy said as she touched the horse with her heel.
It seemed like it didn't take anytime at all, to get back to the hill that Joy said the town was on the other side of.
Poppy looked down as they topped the hill. Oh my God! She thought. How could I have missed this?
The town was just where Joy, said it would be. There looked to be about twenty homes around in a semicircle and a big general store was at one end with a church right beside it. At the other end of the town was a frozen pond with people ice-stating on it. And right in the middle of town, was a huge Christmas tree that shimmered with colorful lights.
To Poppy, the most outstanding part of seeing the town was that every building was glowing. There were Christmas lights and decorations everywhere. The whole setup of the town reminded Poppy of one of those little Christmas villages that she'd seen in the stores. The kind that when you tipped them over and then, set them back upright, it would snow on the scenery.
Poppy also noticed, as they got closer to town, that there wasn't a car in sight. All she could see were some horses here and there by the buildings. What the hell did I get myself into this time? Poppy thought as she continued looking around.
"Hi Joy." A chubby lady yelled out the door of her home as they were passing by. "I see you found her. It's about time."
Joy just smiled and waved back at her.
"What did she mean by that?" Poppy asked.
"I'll explain it all too you after we get you warmed up." Joy said as she headed for the house closest to the pond.
"You thawed out yet?" Joy asked as she carried in a bowl of soup.
"Yes thank you." Poppy answered as she sat up in the bed and smoothed the covers around her. "Thanks." She said as she took the soup from Joy. "Oh that taste's good."
Joy gave her a smile as she sat down beside her on the bed.
This was the first chance Joy had gotten to really look at Poppy. She had the greenest eyes, that she'd ever seen before. And the softest looking skin. Joy had to hold herself back from reaching out to touch it.
Poppy looked like a teenager, with her short haircut and young facial features. But Joy knew, she was in her early twenties. It was the sad look in Poppy's eyes, that had Joy worried.
"So tell me, why were you out here in the middle of nowhere by yourself?" Joy asked Poppy.
"Hmmm?" Poppy gave a chuckle as she finished the last bite of the soup. "I don't even know where I am. I just decided to get into the car a few days ago and I just drove it, until it ran out of gas on me that is. The rest you know."
"That really doesn't tell me very much." Joy said to her, even though Joy knew more about Poppy, than Poppy herself did.
"I'm boring." Poppy tried to tell Joy. But Joy, just lifted one of her eyebrow's at her for that.
"Okay. Ok, I'm twenty-three, I don't have any family left. I tried to help out someone, whom I thought was a friend, but ended up losing my job and apartment instead. And I don't believe in Christmas, I think it is just a waste of time and money." Poppy smiled at Joy.
"Don't believe in Christmas, huh?" Joy said. "Guess I'll have my work cut out for me."
"What do you mean by that?" Poppy gave her a puzzled look. "And come to think of it, what were you doing out in this weather?"
Joy laughed. "Why, I was looking for you of course. Get some sleep, I'll see you in the morning." She said to Poppy as she walked out of the room.
"WHAT? Wait!" Poppy called after her, but Joy just kept going out the door.
What a strange woman. Poppy thought to herself, as she settled down into the bed, closing her eyes. But what a beautiful woman too.
The sounds of laughter and singing woke Poppy up. Her eyes weren't quite focusing yet, as she sat up in bed, yawing and glanced towards the window. Poppy blinked her eyes in surprise, when she saw what looked like a little elf, looking back in at her.
Poppy closed her eyes and rubbed them, then took another look. The elf was gone. Poppy, I think you're going nuts. She thought to herself. I'd better get dressed and go find Joy.
"What is going on here?" Poppy asked Joy, when she finally found her in the kitchen.
"Well good morning. Did you sleep well?" Joy asked as she sat down at the table. "Thanks Mary." She said to her housekeeper as the smiling woman set a plate of bacon and eggs down in front of her.
Mary looked like the grandmother everyone dreamed about. A little roly-poly, jolly looking woman, with her white hair done up in a bun, rosy cheeks and little wire-rim glasses, sitting on the end of her nose.
"Poppy, this is Mary. She has been with me forever and is the queen of this house." Joy gave Mary, a smile of affection.
Poppy gave Mary a smile as she sat down beside Joy. "I saw an elf outside my window. How did I see an elf Joy? They're not real?"
Joy sighed, as she looked over to see Mary shaking her head. "Sounds like Cheerios is up to his tricks again."
"Joy, you're starting to scare me here. You're supposed to look at me and say Poppy, don't be silly, there's no such thing as elves. Why aren't you saying that?" Poppy was almost afraid to ask.
"I wish I could say that Poppy. But I can't lie. That is a part of being who I am." Joy answered as she held up her hand. "Please don't ask me who I am yet. I wanted to show you around and explain some things to you first."
"Oh don't worry, I wasn't going to ask." Poppy said as she stood up. "I'm just getting the hell out of here." Poppy told Joy as she grabbed a coat by the door and ran outside.
"Don't worry Joy." Mary said. "She'll come around."
"You're always the believer huh, Mary." Joy said as she got up and gave the jolly woman a kiss on the forehead. She then walked out the door to go find Poppy.
Poppy couldn't believe her eyes. Everywhere she looked, there were decorations of all kinds shapes colors and sizes. There were ribbons, long and short, balls, both large and small, there were bells and lights of all kinds in bursts of color. Everywhere around her, she could hear the sounds of singing and laughter.
Poppy leaned against the house she was standing beside. "What is going on here?" She asked herself.
"What the hell?" Poppy said as she felt the side of the house. It was spongy and smelled like?well, it smelled like gingerbread. She leaned down to get a closer look as she picked a piece off the house and tasted it. "Damn, it is gingerbread." Poppy said out loud. "How in the hell can that be?"
She took a step back and noticed for the first time that the house was made up like a gingerbread house. The roof looked like it was made of chocolate, with candy canes holding up the porch. There were gumdrops lining a sidewalk made out of rock candy. The whole house was made up of different kinds of candy in all kinds of shapes, flavors and colors.
"I'm crazy that's it, I've gone loony toons over the hill." Poppy put a hand up to touch her forehead. "Hmm? I don't seem to have a fever."
She stood there and took a better look at the town. She had just gotten to glance at it the night before. But what she had seen looked like a fairy tale village.
What is this place? Poppy thought as she turned around in a circle, looking at the town. This can't be. This looks just like the place, I would dream about, when I was a little kid. This is my town.
A movement out of the corner of her eye, caught Poppy's attention. Turning, she glimpsed just the flash of an elf, as it disappeared around the corner of the house. Well, it looked like an elf. In fact, it looked like more than one elf. Poppy heard them laughing as they ran around to the back of the gingerbread house.
Poppy took off after the elves. She screeched to a halt as she rounded the corner and came face to face, with four little ELVES!
"OH MY GOD!" Poppy said in shock. "You can't be elves. They can't be real. You ARE NOT REAL! You don't look real either." She closed her eyes and opened them again in hopes that it was her imagination playing tricks on her. But there, standing before her, were four little men with pointed ears, dressed all in green, with bells on the top of their hats.
"Ok that's it! Now I know, this is just a dream. I crashed and I'm laying in a hospital bed someplace. Yep, that's the only explanation for this, I'm dreaming."
Poppy tried to convince herself that there was no fairy tale town, with gingerbread homes, or elves running around. There were no decorations in all shapes, sizes and colors. Or bells ringing and people singing.
But what made Poppy saddest of all was that if all this was a dream, then what she was beginning to feel for Joy, was just a dream too.
Poppy blinked her eyes and stopped, as she'd lost her train of thought. She looked and blinked again at what she was looking at. "Reindeer? Is that a reindeer?" She asked the elves as she pointed towards the corral the reindeer were in.
"Well it's not a horse, with hat racks tied to it's head." The Elf that looked like the leader of the group, retorted smartly.
"Why you son of a?"
"ELF." The Elf smiled as he interrupted Poppy.
"Why am I asking you anyway, you're not real?" Poppy said as she caught herself talking to the elves again.
"They're as real as you and me." Joy said as she came up behind Poppy. "That's Conner, Donner's son. Dad gave him to me as a gift, last Christmas."
"Dad?" Poppy asked as she turned and faced Joy.
"Ahhh." Joy said as she scratched her head. "Yeah, my dad. He kinda raises reindeer."
"Who are you?" Poppy whispered.
"Oh boy." Joy sighed. "I was hoping we would have more time to get to know each other. More time for you to get used to everything here. To get used to me."
Poppy gave Joy a puzzled look.
"I'm someone, who has some very strong feelings for you." Joy could see that Poppy, was starting to get a little nervous.
"Poppy, I'm?my father, gave my sister's and myself a special gift, when we were born. It is a gift of being able to know the love of our lives. Our true soul mate. We can watch you throughout your life as you grow up. I told you last night, when you asked what I was doing out in the cold, that I was looking for you. I was, Poppy. I knew you were close, I could feel you."
"Ok, stop right there. You're crazy. This is a joke right? Where's the camera?" Poppy asked looking around.
"Poppy, look at me. You know in your heart what I am telling you is the truth." Joy tried to reason with her. "Look at this town. It is your Christmas Town. You dreamed it up."
"Ok." Poppy said. "Let's say maybe, just maybe, what you are saying is the truth. But, who are you?"
"Kiss me." Joy told her. "If you want to know who I am, then kiss me and you'll learn all there is to know about me. After you do, if you still want to leave, I won't stop you."
Poppy looked at Joy then around at the elves and reindeer. "If it will finally get me answers about this place fine." Poppy answered.
Poppy walked over to Joy stood up on her tiptoe's and gave her a fast kiss on the lips.
Joy gave Poppy a smirk as she lifted her eyebrow. She then took Poppy in her arms and kissed her with all the love she had in her.
Flashes of pictures, started passing through Poppy's mind. Feelings, knowledge and finally believing, took root in her.
"OH MY GOD!" Poppy said as soon as the kiss ended and she stood back. "You're, you're?oh wow. I can't believe it! You're Santa Claus's daughter." Poppy felt like she wanted to faint.
"One of them." Joy smiled at her.
"You..I?I can feel everything you're feeling. I've seen it all?you growing up, this place, everything." Poppy told her. "How could I do that?"
"Let's just say that is part of my gift to you." Joy told her.
"But why did you build this place? Why didn't you stay in the North Pole." Poppy asked.
"I built this town for you Poppy. This is the town you would dream about. The people here are friends and family. They decided they wanted a more quiet life than what the North Pole can give them, so they stayed here with me." Joy chuckled.
"Dad sent Cheerios and the other elves to keep an eye on me." Joy leaned over and whispered into Poppy's ear. "They're supposed to be my bodyguards." Joy chuckled again, grinning.
Poppy glanced at the elves then gave Joy a going over look. Joy topped at least six-foot and looked like a fine toned warrior. Not an ounce of fat on her. "Bodyguards for you? right." Poppy rolled her eyes as she smiled.
"Hey we can do a lot of damage. We're not just any elves you know." Cheerios told them in a huff.
"Sorry Cheerios." Joy apologized. "I thank you all for your protection. You all do a great job."
"You better believe we do. You're not the easiest person to keep up with, you know." Cheerios waved his pointing finger at Joy. "Come on guys, let's go tie some ice-skates together."
"CHEERIOS YOU'D BETTER BE GOOD!" Joy yelled after the elves as they took off. "For goodness sake," she said as she shook her head, knowing that she was going to be ignored.
"So Poppy, are you going to take a chance with me? Will you stay?" Joy asked nervously as she turned back to Poppy.
"I've got some questions to ask first." Poppy told her.
Joy had a feeling Poppy was enjoying this torture of dragging out her answer. "Ask away." Joy told her.
"This town, how can it stay like this? I mean, how can you keep other people from invading it?" Poppy didn't want to see this town, her town, ruined by the outside world.
"This is Christmas Town, Poppy. It's magical. Someone could walk right past this place and not even know it was here." Joy answered her.
"Why is the town here and not in, or by the North Pole?" Poppy asked another question.
"The town goes anywhere, we want it to go. It's magical Poppy. Christmas magic. But we can go to the North Pole if you want." Joy smiled at her.
"One more question." Poppy said as she walked over to Joy and put her arms around her waist. "Do I get to meet Santa and take a ride on the Reindeer? But most of all, do I get to spend every day for the rest of my life, getting to know you?" Poppy finished her question with a kiss.
"OH POPPY, THANK YOU!" Joy yelled as she picked Poppy up and spun her around in a circle. "You'll never regret this, I promise you. I'll even give you a ride in Santa's sleigh."
"Joy, I don't think I will ever regret giving you a chance. I can feel your love for me remember. Now I think it's time, you feel the love, I'm beginning to have for you." Poppy told her. "Joy?I believe in Christmas again." Poppy whispered as she kissed Joy.
Was it just the trick of the lights surrounding them? A golden glow started shining out from around the two lovers, as they sealed their future with a kiss.
Never doubt the magic of Christmas. You never know when it might touch your life.