The Christmas Card

by DebC

Written for the Gabefic Challenge:

"The Christmas Card"

The house was empty. Chloe and Lana were still out shopping for last minute Christmas gifts and Gabe had given them money to see a movie while they were out. He wanted to make sure he had all the time in the world to do what he had to do. Taking a shoebox from underneath his bed, he walked out to the kitchen and placed the box on the table.

He stared at it for what seemed like an eternity before opening it and pulling out a Christmas card which showed a group of penguins in knit hats skating on a pond with a Christmas tree in the background. The inside said simply "Happy Holidays" in red and green ink. The next thing he took from the box was a yellow legal pad and a pen.

*Dear Carolyn,*

He began, pausing in thought before pushing onwards with what he had to say to his ex wife this year.

*Another year has come and gone without hearing from you. I almost lost my job at LuthorCorp last summer. Mr. Luthor decided to close our factory down, even after a fairly good year. His son rallied behind us workers and initiated a buy out. I'm now a stockholder. Can you imagine that? Granted, I still work for Luthor's son, but Lex is a fair man compared to his father. If I'd lost my job for real, we would have moved back to Metropolis.

Chloe wasn't too happy with that prospect, which sure surprised me. Moving back to the city was all she used to talk about, but not so much anymore. She's made some good friends here, one of them is now living with us. It's a trial thing, because the girl did not want to move to the city with her aunt. It's strange to have two women in the house again.

The day I've been dreading finally came this past year. Our little girl is finally interested in dating boys rather than hanging out with them. She had a date for the Spring Formal with one of her "best buds." She was all glowing and happy and beautiful. She looked just like you did on our first date. I wanted to tell her that, but I was afraid to. I think she's pretty touchy about you these days.

I think, anyway. The truth is, Chloe and I aren't as close as we used to be. She tells her friends more than she does me now. I know that is supposed to be natural, but it hurts a little to think she's growing up and won't need me someday. Since she came home from her internship with the Daily Planet, it's been even worse. Something happened between her and one of her friends and I can tell she isn't happy about it.

She really needs you, Carolyn. She needs her mother in her life to help with the things she's too embarrassed to ask "dear old dad."

I know you and I weren't compatible enough to make it work, but I wish you would consider writing to Chloe at least. Or calling her. She doesn't deserve to go on suffering for our mistakes. She loves you so much.*

Gabe considered his words one more time. He doubted they would make any impact on Carolyn. They never did, but he refused to give up--just in case. Heaving a sigh, he resisted the urge to write "Love," before he signed his name to the bottom of the letter. He did love her still, in that wistful, nostalgic way people always care for old flames, but the fire had long since died out. The best he could hope for was that someday Chloe would get the chance to know her mother and that their reunion would not be as bitter as the separation had been.

Peeling the pages of the letter from the legal pad and folding them neatly, he slipped them into the card. From the shoebox, he pulled out one of Chloe's school pictures, a Polaroid of her in her dress for the Formal and a copy of some of her more memorable articles from the previous year. These he put inside the card as well, and then sealed them all inside a red holiday envelope.

It was getting late now, he realized as he addressed the envelope to Carolyn Roberts of Edge City. If he was going to make it to the post office before it closed, he had to go soon. Then, the most painful part of the year would be over with for another three hundred and sixty five days.

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