Christmas came and went before Brielle saw Crispin again. She had worked all that past week before Christmas then attended a Christmas party that her landlady had hosted in the boarding home. It was another lonely Christmas. Brielle could have gone back to Cornwall to visit old friends and family but didn’t have the finances. She enjoyed the party as much as possible and decided to just focus on Christ’s birth instead of all the things she couldn’t have or do.
The day after Christmas Brielle ran into Crispin on her way into town.
“Crispin, hi!” Brielle said after he had passed by without seeing her.
“Oh, hey, how are you?” Crispin walked back to her and asked.
“I’m good, how was your Christmas?” She replied.
“It was great! I stayed at my uncle’s and my dad came over.” Crispin put his hands in his pockets and leaned up against the building they were standing next to. “How was yours?”
“That’s nice. Mine was ok. I just live at that boarding house you know…and I don’t really know anyone there so…” Brielle cut her sentence hurt and decided to leave it at that.
“Oh.” Crispin nodded his head. “So it was lonely?” He prodded.
“Man, does this guy have no boundaries to asking personal questions about other people’s lives?” Brielle thought to herself. She sighed heavily and looked down hoping, by doing so, to gain an apology from Crispin for prying. But none came. “Wow”.
“Yes, yes it was.” She answered finally. “I guess I’m still not used to lonely holidays even after a year.”
“I’m sorry Brielle. I should have invited you to our Christmas party!”
“No, I wouldn’t have wanted to impose.”
“You wouldn’t have been imposing. Actually you being there might have been helpful.”
“Helpful?” Brielle didn’t understand.
“Yes,” Crispin was the one who looked down this time. “You want to get a cup of coffee somewhere and I’ll explain?” He looked up and asked.
“Oh…I was..I mean um…Ok why not?” Brielle laughed away her stuttering and Crispin took the books that Brielle was going to take to the library. He carried the books and they walked along side each other on the way to “Alpine Café”, a quaint little restaurant in town. On the way, Brielle exclaimed “You got a haircut!”
Crispin chuckled, “Yes, I did. Thank you for noticing.”
And he did. His light brown/blondish curly hair was cut to a medium short length instead of the long wispy cut he had had before. For the first time it seemed like, Brielle began noticing little details about Crispin. He was a very simple young man. He wore jeans and flannels, he dressed casually but neatly. His face had a rugged manly look and he always carried a sense of pride with him. His eyes were so sweet and smooth though and showed his soft side.
“Do you like it?”
“Do I like what?” Brielle snapped out of her deep thought.
“My hair!” Crispin laughed and questioningly at Brielle.
“Oh, oh yes!” Brielle laughed at herself and apologized. “I’d like your hair any way you have it Crispin, as long as you don’t buzz it. I can’t stand that on a boy!”
“I see.” Crispin smiled and watched Brielle for a moment while they were walking.
“What?” She asked after noticing Crispin staring.
“Oh, I was just thinking that I would like your hair any way too, as long as you don’t buzz it.” Crispin teased.
Brielle rolled her eyes and shook her head. Then they talked about the weather, what the next holiday decorations would be, and what kind of coffee each other liked and so on. Soon they arrived and chose a table near the big window to sit at. The two ordered mochas and chocolate cookies. Then sat and discussed little subjects together. They talked about their jobs. Crispin worked for a construction company and wanted to save up for college. He wanted to work with his uncle at the hospital and would work his way through college. Brielle told Crispin where she worked and he said the job suited her,
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Brielle asked pretending to be mean.
“It means you look like a girl who works at a floral shop!”
“Oh dear.” Brielle shook her head.
“That’s a good thing silly.” Crispin winked.
Then Crispin set his cup down and folded his arms across the table. Before he began what they’d came here to hear “explained”
Brielle interrupted the moment “Well, what did you want to explain?” She took a loud bite out of her cookie trying to be silly.
“I was just going to tell you.” Crispin sighed.
“Oh! Go ahead then.” Brielle put her cup down too and tried to act serious.
Crispin shook his head and looked down.
“Well, I think you would have helped by being there because my dad is a very hard hearted man. Ever since my mom died he’s been cruel, unloving and just mean. He blames me most of the time for his anger. He wishes I were richer, or that I had a better paying job. He thinks I’m reckless and self-centered. He’s always yelling at me to be better and smarter and richer. Just yesterday he told me I was pathetic and a waste.”
“A waste of what?” Brielle asked. She was trying to be sympathetic and wanted to help Crispin as much as he had helped her.
“A waste of everything I guess!” Crispin covered his hands in his face. “Maybe if you were there he wouldn’t have been mad at me.”
Brielle felt hurt for Crispin. She looked around and tried to think of some way to help. She slowly reached out and put her hand on his arm. Crispin looked up; his eyes were red and his face was hard and sad.
Brielle smiled gently and said “Come with me, I want to show you something.”
Crispin took a deep breath and put down the money for their bill. Then he stood up and followed Brielle out of the café.
Walking along, Brielle stopped in front of an old fashioned general store. She turned to Crispin, “Do you have any matches on you?” Crispin creased his eyebrows and looked at Brielle as if she were a little crazy.
“No.” He replied.
“Ok then, you get the matches and I’ll get the chips and hot dogs.”
“What?” Crispin asked completely confused now.
“Just do it Crispin!” Brielle grabbed a shopping basket near the door of the store then disappeared inside. Crispin shrugged his shoulders in bewilderment and went inside to buy the matches.