It was Christmas Eve, and Marjory had been baking for two days. She was baking cookies, hundreds of them. Snickerdoodles, gingerbread men, chocolate chips. All of the favorites from her own childhood. She took care with the ingredients, making sure that they were all as good as she could make them. She packed them into a few baskets, put on her coat and gloves, tucked the baskets in the back of her car, and headed for the poorer side of town.
Here, the Christmas cheer wasn’t as thick as in her own neighborhood. If there were Christmas lights, they were broken or only half put up. The houses themselves were sullen, broken and dirty.
These poor children, Marjory thought. Their parents were poor, destitute. They couldn’t afford to buy gifts or create a proper Christmas Eve for their children. The children must not have seen many Christmas cookies.
A group of the children was playing in the playground in the neighborhood. It was a broken down place. Maybe it had been nice once, but now it was shabby. The swings were either yanked down or swung up around the top pole. The seesaws were covered in graffiti.
The kids themselves were playing on the baseball court, kickball by the looks of it. Marjory pulled up next to the court and took a basket from the trunk.
The children were watching her, poor little things. Their coats were old when they had them at all. Many of them, she was sad to notice, were dressed in only hoodies.
“Would you like some cookies?” she called, holding out her basket.
The children looked confused, glancing around at each other. She supposed that it was a rare thing for them, to be offered sweets.
“Come on,” she said, “It’s Christmas Eve. You should have a cookie.”
One of the boys looked around at the others, then said, “Okay, sure.” He came up to her, his dirty baseball cap pushed back. He took a cookie and took a bite. “They’re good, thanks,” he said.
Soon the others crowded around, taking cookies. “Take more if you want,” she said, smiling at them. “I have enough.”
When the basket was empty, she bid goodbye to the children and got back into her car. She looked back at the children in her rearview mirror. One of the girls was coughing, and looking woozy. Even as she watched, the girl fell to her knees.
She wasn’t likely to rise, she’d eaten three of the cookies.
Marjory hummed a Christmas carol. There were so many of these poor children. Too many. But Marjory had lots of baskets left.
Copyright © 2017 by Nicole C. Luttrell
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