On Christmas Eve
It all started the week before Christmas Eve, a bracing, slippery December morning. The interval between heavy snow and pouring rain, in which breathing itself was an intake of chill.
Tying her scarf the way she always did, she was not unaffected by this change in atmosphere - after all, a cold or a flu virus is a most unattractive thing. But, as she stepped onto the luridly painted bus and reaching out to pay her fare, those kind of thoughts were immediately swept aside and replaced with ones of her destination.
There was a book store in town that up until the fifties had been a tea shop. In her youth, she had visited with her grandmother and been treated to cream tea and scones. Now that she herself was a grandmother, it was a great comfort to revisit and find it relatively unchanged. The young man who owned it upon her return had inserted labyrinthine bookshelves around her beloved tea shop, filled with masterpieces. His dream, he once told her over a cup of chamomile, was to be the