Walk in the Park

by AB

He walked on the frost as everything changed around him. He tried to be avoided, people did not really agree with him so he did his best to avoid them.

Near the Serpentine, he saw a boy round his age, sitting on a bench.

Atticus thought he looked positively sad and alone. He sat there on the bench looking at his dangling coltish legs playing absentmindedly with his lean, wiry fingers.

The freckles on his face and hat-like cut hair made him look cute. Cute? Where did that come from? He thought he had left all those feelings behind. He shook his head in bewilderment and continued walking.

For a moment, he thought about trying to talk to that boy but he knew what the outcome would be. It always ended one way when he tried to talk to people. Badly.

How he wanted to be allowed to rest. However, his torment would not end.

Tom felt alone. Why had he gone and done that? At least before, he had had a friend or two.

So nowadays, he came around the park and either sat or walked after school until he had to go home to do his homework eat and sleep.

He lifted his head to see an older-looking boy pass by him. He was clothed in a heavy old-fashioned looking raincoat made out of wool and cotton. He had his head stuffed in the coat so that only the brown mop of hair showed.

He walked fast holding his trench coat with his hands close to his face. Somehow, Tom thought he looked cute.

He did not know why but the more he looked at the stranger boy the more he wanted to get up and talk to him.

Why do that though, why would a stranger want to talk to him? He probably had friends, a girlfriend.

Not even realising it he got up.

Why would he even want to talk to him? He had nothing, was nothing. At least he felt like it.

He was walking towards the older boy, why was he walking towards him. Why? He knew how it would end up, he knew it and yet he could not stop himself from walking up to the boy. He screamed inside his head to stop, to turn back and sit back in the bench.

He tugged on the boy's cloth-covered wrist and felt the boy try to liberate his hand and hurry his pace.

Tom tugged on it again. This time more forcefully.

The boy turned round yanking his hand in the process.

"WHAT D…." He started saying, almost yelling but cut himself when he saw whom it was tugging at his hand. "…o you want…?" He finished in a normal tone of voice.

To Tom the initial show of anger and raised voice verified in his mind what he had thought would happen. Before the other boy could say another word, he stormed off on the opposite direction.

"No, wait!" Atticus tried to say but the boy was too far away and the wind was gathering force so only he heard himself speak.

Tom run back home and locked himself in his room, fell on his bed and cried for in his mind every boy around his age he met hated him, every single one. Why did he continue to try, why did he continue to hope that one of those efforts would end better.

He did not even hear his mother asking him how his day had been at school. He would not want to answer her anyways. Having hit twelfth year a month ago, he had entered on that new and confusing stage in his life called "puberty". He had of course read about it online and talked about it with some of his friends at school. About all the changes, he would be going through starting soon. Some of them terrified him, some excited him but one that had started taking affect was the fact that he did not want to talk to his parents about school and stuff as much as before.

No, in fact he preferred not to.

They just did not understand what he was going through. How could they? They were adults.

Lately though there were other stuff that made him feel gloomy beyond the decreasing amount of conversation between him and his parents.

"Tommas, honey. Dinner is ready!" His mother called out to him from the kitchen.

He got up and cleaned his face from the tears in his ensuite bathroom.

"Hey honey, how was your day today? School okay?" His mother asked him.

"It was okay…" He answered almost in one word and sat on his chair. "What's for food?"

"Shepherd's pie and salad. Anything exciting that happened today?" She tried to spark some conversation.

"No…can I eat in my room, please?" He asked.

"No, Tom. We've discussed this before. We will be eating dinner as a family, the three of us." His father replied setting down the newspaper on the table next to his plate.

"Why…? I am not a little kid anymore! I just want to eat in my r…"

"I am not going to discuss this further son, for as long as you live in this house we will eat dinner together. When you grow older there may be weekend days that you eat outside with your friends or girlfriend, but other than that my word is final." His father cut him off.

His parents were not bad or unjust or even that strict but like with many of his peers everything seemed like a punishment to young Tom.

Girlfriend, that was a joke, he did not like girls in the slightest even though other boys in his school seemed to have started acting differently around them.

"You can go to your room after, until it is time for bed." His mother told him and served him food.

They ate and talked, well his parents did most of the talking, until the food was finished and Tom was excused from the table.

It did not take him long to sleep and like with most nights his dreams revolved around cute boys. They were not entirely sexual in nature that part of his brain had only just begun to awaken but they did make him wake up with quite the hard-on in the morning.

His mother was in the living room when he came out of his room. His father reading a newspaper.

"Good morning sweetheart. Sleep okay? Only a week until you finish school for Christmas, excited?"

He tried to smile to her. She hugged him planting a kiss on his forehead.

"Yeah…sure." He said and headed to the kitchen to eat breakfast before leaving for school.

She sighed. She knew that Tom hitting puberty would have him change but she did not like how he did not talk to them anymore.

He had become closed to himself when he used to talk to them about everything.

She looked at her husband.

"You should talk to him…or maybe I should…I don't like how he does not talk to us anymore." She spoke to him looking worried.

He sighed and set down his newspaper.

"Stop worrying, he is becoming a teenager, he is no longer your baby or the child that will tell you everything and anything. He may be going through something right now or not. When he wants to, he will talk to us, me, or you. Try to force the issue and he will only bunker down more and shut down towards us. Let him be for now." He told her calmly and standing up he headed to their bedroom.

Tom's school day was much the same, boring classes, older boy or two bullying him.

God he wanted to go home and stay there.

Thinking of home got him thinking about last afternoon's walk in Hyde Park and that boy just off the Serpentine.

There was something about that boy that was just so appealing to him. Tom had not seen much of him but what little he had seen of his face excited him. The way his upper lip turned upwards just enough, no more no less, the way his eyes closed In with a down angle. Some sparse dimples on his cheeks.

In addition, he seemed to have an air of mystery about him, sad one, but mysterious. The way he held on to his trench coat, close to his neck and face. Was he trying to protect himself from the cold or was there another reason.

"Tom Lovewood would you please grace us with an answer?" The teacher brought him back from his reverie. Did she honestly have to remind everyone of his surname? Really?

He sighed. "I didn't hear the question Mrs. Cooper." He said truthfully. He knew this would irritate her. The fact that he did not cower before her when caught not paying attention.

He did not care for her class either. Modern British history? He could laugh at being made to attend this class. Not because he did not think, history was important, far from it. Just simply because his mother was a research historian of post War history in the British library and his father wrote historical novels that were mostly based in the eighteen hundreds to nineteen hundreds era. Ever since he could remember himself his parents had taught him, history be it modern or older. The important people, the facts, the dates, he knew most of it. Definitely what they had to learn at school and more.

"What did you say?" She asked him almost angry at him.

"I said I did not listen to the question ma'am." He replied to her knowing that she had asked everyone to call her Mrs. Cooper and not ma'am. Tom suspected because calling her ma'am made her sound old or at least older than she was. At least in her mind.

"Well then…let me repeat it your "grace"…" She said, sarcasm dripping from her lips. "What was the peace treaty that ended WWI?"

Tom grinned making her falter, "There was no peace treaty ma'am, there was an armistice that only served to deepen poverty and unemployment in Germany and aided in the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, the treaty of Versailles was a failure, admitted even by those that signed it." Tom said not even bothering to get up as Mrs. Cooper usually wanted.

Someone giggled behind him but Mrs. Cooper was none too pleased. "It ended World War one, it was thus a peace treaty." She said trying to end the conversation but Tom would not have it.

"No, ma'am you are wrong, an armistice is a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, since it might be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace. It is derived from the Latin arma, meaning weapons and statium, meaning a stopping. A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, which formally ends a state of war between the parties. It is different from an armistice. I think we can all agree which one was the treaty of Versailles." Tom finished. Mrs. Cooper was practically fuming from her ears but she said nothing.

"After the peace at Versailles…" She continued lecturing. Tom did not care. He knew the truth. History books knew the truth, if she chose not to not accept it as to not accept knowing less than her pupil did, it was not his problem. He got lost in his thoughts again mainly about that boy from Hide park.

The moment school was off he practically run to the park.

He continued to hope, for all his disappointments so far in his young life, he would not stop hoping. Would not surrender. So he kept walking to the park knowing, in his mind, what the outcome would be.

He reached the park. It was drizzling like usual. He sat under a tree in a bench overlooking some of the park and the lake.

The brown-haired boy was not there, yet. He got his textbooks out and started going about his homework.

"So much has changed in London, and London has changed so much." Atticus thought as he walked down the damp, moody streets to his destination. He hoped the kid would be there. He had not meant to yell at him but he had been caught by surprise.

Storeowners as it seemed had already prepared for the festivities from weeks if not months before. Yes, a lot had changed.

He made his way over the serpentine, almost running. Why he felt such need to see the unknown boy was beyond his understanding.

He saw him sitting there, under the tree on the bench. He looked so incredibly cute sitting cross-legged on the bench, looking down at his books. He wanted to run over to him and squash him in a tight hug. Instead he stood there arguing with himself on the validity of that approach and if that boy would even want to talk to him.

He shook his head and with a fast-beating heart thundering in his ears he paced to that bench on that spot in the park where all his concentration lay.

"H…hi.." He said in a trembling voice. Why did this boy make him feel like this? Atticus did not like it. He was not supposed to feel like this for another boy. That is what his society had drilled in his mind.

Tom raised his head and his heart skipped a beat. Half of him wanted to run half wanted to stay so there he was rooted to the spot not knowing what to do.

Atticus saw his hesitation and spoke swiftly.

"N...no please don't go, I'm sorry about yesterday. I…" He paused for a second. "I was scared…I thought you'd react like everyone else…see the monster in me, the one I am and….I…" His voice trailing he fell silent.

"Monster? You are not a monster, why would you think that?" Tom asked perplexed.

Atticus' eyes bulged out. He had not heard that for a very long time, everyone saw him for what he thought he was.

"Y…you don't think…but can you not see me?" He asked.

"No, I see you…have you done something that bad? Why would you think that you are a monster?" Tom continued his questioning.

"I…there was someone who would say I have…I don't know…I think I have…."

"I am Tommas…I prefer Tom…please sit." Tom said scooting off to the edge of the bench from the center of it.

Atticus turned to leave but could not make a single step. He turned back and sat down feeling ever so awkward toying with his fingers on his lap not knowing what to do or say. He looked down on the ground.

Tom didn't know what to say either so he left the next move to the boy.

"Tom…Tommas…Tommy…Can I call you Tommy? I am Atticus."

It actually made him giggle, Atticus' hesitation and question. "Sure, no one calls me like that…you can if I can call you Ati…?"

Atticus shrugged his shoulders. "Sure…I guess…how old are you?"

"Twelve, you?"

"Uhh…fourteen. You like Hyde park a lot don't you?"

"Yeah…No one here to ask me questions I don't want to answer."

"Parents huh?"


"It would seem some things in London have not changed…"


"Nothing…yeah parents can be…like that."

"Yeah…why can't they take a hint? I don't want to talk to them….right now."

"Yeah parents are not like that." Atticus said giggling. Tom laughed as well. He couldn't remember the last time he had laughed the last few weeks.

"Should you not be in school?" Atticus pressed on.

"No, it has ended for the day…I could ask you the same you know!" Tom replied.

Atticus smiled, "Yes, I guess you can…so what do you do for fun? Entertainment?"

"Uhm…dunno…play video games I guess...maybe read a book, but not often…some TV…"

"Uh…okay…I like reading books…not much else…"

"Parents won't allow you?"

"You…could say that."

"You're not from around here are you?"

"Not really…I am, just been a while since I was here."

Tom looked at his watch. "I have to go home…will you be here tomorrow?" He hoped Atticus would say yes.

Atticus nodded smiling. When was the last time he had smiled he could not remember.

"Bye Tommy, I'll see you tomorrow." He said and got up. Atticus tried to shake his hand. Tom tried to bump knuckles with him. The result was funny and made them both laugh.

"Yes, definitely not from around here." Tom said giggling and started walking away.

Atticus found himself smiling at Tom's figure walking away.

"Why…? How can I love a boy…?" He thought as he himself walked away.

"Oh…damn I forgot to get his phone number. He is so cute." Tom whispered to himself and turned to see if Atticus was still there but the boy had vanished.

Tom sighed. He could see his breath in the cold of the setting sun. It always reminded him of a dragon's breath.

He walked home clenching to his overcoat. It was getting colder and colder as the heart of winter and Christmas drew closer.

Next day he almost contemplated skipping school to go to the park earlier. He would have if he knew or could be sure that Ati would be there, but in all likelihood, he had school as well.

The day could not go by fast enough though so when the final bell rang Tom rat as if his life depended on it. He run out of the school building, down the street and waited on the bus-stop practically bouncing up and down from the anticipation of it all. In just a short three days Ati had become quite important to him.

"Maybe I can ask him to come over for the holidays…or maybe I can go over to his place…yeah he's older but they were friends now and he wasn't all that older…" His mind raced a million miles per hour from the moment he got on the bus to the moment he got off at the bus station near Marble Arch underground station and run down carriage drive over the lake to his spot.

When he got closer, he saw Atticus standing there. He was not sitting but then again he rarely did.

"Hello." Tom said grinning.

"Oh…hello." Atticus said as if coming out of a trance.

Tom sat down on the bench.

"How are you today?" Atticus asked him.

"Uh…good I guess…" Tom semi lied.

"I…look I know we don't know each other that long but…I can see you are not okay…I…we are friends yes?"

"Yes!" Tom said emphatically.

"Then I want you to talk to me…even if we don't really know each other.

"I…I don't know…I trusted someone…didn't end good…"

"I promise I won't react bad…how bad can it be?"

"I am gay." Tom said bowing his head low, twiddling with his fingers on his lap.

"And why would that be bad? We are all gay, strange, different to one another." Atticus stated matter-of-factly.

Tom didn't know whether to laugh of feel shocked. Then something clicked inside him from one of his father's books.

"What century are you from? I don't mean gay like they meant it three hundred years ago! I mean that I…like boys and not girls."

"Oh…" Atticus said turning his head away from Tom.

"No...please not you too…" Tom nearly cried ready to bounce up and leave.

Atticus snapped his head back to his friend.

"What…? Oh no, no, no, nothing like that. I am not angry or ashamed to be your friend…just…just thought of something. It really has nothing to do with you." Atticus said.

"Oh…what did you think?"

"I can understand why that though would make you feel…worried but why would it make you feel…so sad?" Atticus changed the subject expertly.

"Oh…uuhhh it's not that alone…it's…It's…I…" Tom looked at Ati's deep eyes. He took a deep breath and spoke after releasing it in an almost loud sigh.

"I told someone…a real close friend of mine…actually I sort of told him I have had a crush on him for like years now and that if he was interested I would kill for us to….be together…you know boyfriends…but he…he…just left. He said nothing, not even to reject me. He hasn't talked to me since…and it has been like three weeks now…I miss my friend. I should have never come out to him like that." A tear streaked down his rosy cheek.

There was a moment of silence, not awkward silence but silence then Atticus spoke.

"I am sorry to hear that…I can understand why it would make you feel bad." He spoke softly, almost non-audibly.

Another long silence.

"So where are you from?" Tom asked him trying to change the subject to something, anything else.

"London." Atticus said vaguely.

"Yeah me too…where from London?" Tom pressed on.

"I…think it goes by a different name now." Atticus continued to be evasive.

"Names don't change all that often you know…come on tell me please…why don't you want to?"

"It's not so much a matter of where…rather of when but…Lewisham…I live…there."

"There…that wasn't so difficult was it?" Tom teased him making him smile sadly.

"So why did you not want to tell me?" Tom pressed on.

"I…it's complicated…one thing will bring another and then you'll probably hate me…like everyone else."

"I don't hate you. You are my friend…"

"No, but you will…everyone does."

"that's what I thought about you…turns out you don't, why not give me the chance? If you are so sure I'll hate you why even, come here? Some part of you must believe the truth."

"And what is that? I don't know anymore." Atticus said looking at him, his back hunched, his hands on his thighs.

"That I don't hate you, and I won't, and that…that…" Tom paused for a second trying to remember something he had heard of from the TV one day. "You are projecting your fear and hatred of you to me." He finished looking like a million dollars at having remembered something so difficult.

"I don't know what that is or what you mean but…no look I don't want to talk about it…you'll hate me."

"I didn't say no when you asked me and I told you that you would hate me." Tom tried to hold Atticus' hand.

"No, please. Look I know what I'm talking about, especially after what you just told me. You'll hate me." Atticus said and jerking his hand he got up and almost run away.

"No, Ati…please… wa.." Tom tried to call out to him but Atticus was already too far.

"Oh bugger…come on! Every single time I get a new friend something shitty will happen….and lose him…" Tom exasperated as he picked up his backpack and headed home. It was getting dark after all.

Next day Tom was at the usual bench. Atticus was nowhere to be found or seen.

Three days later Tom stopped going to the park altogether. It was two days before Christmas eve. School was out for the holidays but he felt like he had no reason to be happy and merry.

Then on the morning of Christmas Eve, he woke up different.

"I've had it feeling sorry for myself." He thought and got out of bed.

He picked up his mobile phone and called Henry, his best friend.

It rang.

"Yes, hello. Who is i…"

"It's Tom. Look, I don't know why you have been avoiding me. Yes I came out to you and yes I told you that I hav…had a crush on you, and you did not have to accept what I asked you obviously if you did not feel as I did but to shun me after knowing me for almost eight years is horrible of you. You should have just said no and let's be friends and that would have been that. I still don't want to lose you as my friend so if that's what you want as well you know where to find me." Tom said almost in one breath and hang up before Henry could reply.

He felt suddenly good about himself of having done this. Next was Atticus but the problem was he knew not of how to find him the boy had not given him an address or a phone number and going to the place where he lived was also probably a waste of time. Finding a single child in a large area would not work.

He did not have too much time to ponder over it though. Being the Eve of Christmas his mum had plenty of chores for him to do. Come the twenty fifth lots of family members and family friends would be coming over and stuff needed to be done. He did not mind helping out, it actually helped him pass the time and he always loved cooking with his mother.

When night came, he lay on his bed thinking. Thinking of if Henry would come by one of these days and they would continue being best friends or not. Thinking of Atticus and…

Then it clicked. Tom nearly jumped out of bed. He tried to make absolutely no sound. It was after hours, his parents were asleep but his father was like the lightest sleeper of them all and he did not want to get grounded on Christmas for heaven's sake. On the other hand…he had to get to Hyde Park…even if it was almost midnight.

He put on his clothes and walked tip toe on the front door, closed it behind him and walked down the stairs again very light-footed so that the doorman would not listen to him descending the marble stairs, awake and then wake up his parents. No thanks he did not want to have to explain that mess.

He was out of the building and run to the Park. He had not felt such excitement and fear before in his life. Yes, he was in a safe part of London but still it was almost midnight and he was only twelve.

He reached the Serpentine, run over it. There was no one else around. Even the squirrels had gone to sleep.

He reached the bench and looked around.

"It's not a matter of where…but of when…" He whispered.

"After what I told him…" It all makes sense…now.

"Atticus…I don't care what you did in your past…I don't. I won't hate you no matter what you've done. But if I am correct time is passing away and…and…I like you…you are so cute and…if as I think you are not really from around this time I want…I want someone to like me back. Someone to make feel special and warm and…and…like he cares about me and make my worries go away…I don't care if you hurt someone's feelings in your past. We've all made mistakes…I am still a child I'm sure I'll make many more just don't leave me as well…please." He did not yell but he spoke clearly and loud.

Time passed. It was getting closer to midnight. Closer to Christmas.

He thought he heard a sound like a whip cracking against the wind.

He turned around to try find out what it was and he saw Atticus standing there tears in his eyes, his hands hanging by his sides.

"You…you mean all that? How can you? I am such a monster…"

"No, Ati you are not. Please tell me what happened?" Tom said closing the gap between them.

Atticus looked at him in his eyes and whipped some tears from his cheeks.

"You figured it out didn't you?"

"Yes, but don't change the subject, please!"

"Okay…I lived in London. I was fourteen when Queen Victoria ruled our great empire…back then…back then it was not as it is now. If anyone found out you were…homosexual…you hoped for prison and not worse. I…I think I always had my…concerns on the matter but I was a teenager so I did not give it much attention. Then one day…" He stifled a tear and a sob and continued, "one day my best friend, the person who we had been friends with since before we could walk told me that he liked me and that he thought I liked him and….before he could continue I slapped him and run away. Three days later I found out that his father had overheard us and confronted him…told him that he would send him to be a monk and maybe heal him and…and…" Atticus fell to his knees not able to stand anymore.

First stroke of midnight.

"I found out that Benedict had chosen to end his life…hang himself…I felt so much guilt…but I swallowed it…I said nothing to no one… I said nothing when they bigoted over his dead body like crows and vultures. I said nothing when they blamed him and gays for all the wrongs of the fucking empire. I said…nothing…" Atticus was crying by now. Tom kneeled down and hugged him tight. He said nothing.

"I said nothing, I did nothing and he had been my best friend…but above all I feel guilt because…because…because…"

"Because you felt the same for him?"

"Yes, oh god yes…why…? Why did I slap him? Why did I not tell him I liked him back? Why…why…?" His voice trailed off.

"You…I…what could you have said or done…? You were a kid yourself…if his father had heard you he would have told your father…society was…is…can be so cruel at times…You got scared…not of what he was telling you…"

"No….I got scared shitless of what I felt so strong for him as he told me of his feelings for me…what it meant for me…and I chickened out…and now…now he will never know…I lived out my whole life, got married had kids…died…and he'll never know. I don't know why I keep coming back every Christmas but I do."

Second stroke of midnight.

"Yes, he will never know…but there is one thing you can do."


"Forgive yourself."

Third stroke of midnight.

"I…how can I?"

"Why not? It has been so long...have you not punished yourself enough?"

"Have I? I betrayed my best friend."

"You have…you are a good person Ati…you've just not told yourself and you have forgotten."

Fourth stroke of midnight.

"And if I cannot?"

"Then my guess is I'll be seeing you next Christmas."

"You think?"

"What else can it be…? It is the only thing that has remained the same since your death."

"Why…how can you see me not like the monster everyone else saw in me?"

"Fifth stroke of midnight."

"I don't think anyone saw you as a monster…you saw yourself as one and saw it in the faces of everyone else as well not because they saw it but because you could see nothing else." Tom placed his hand on Atticus' chest.

"I…guess you're right."

Sixth stroke of midnight.

"Then say it."

"I forgive myself…oh god Benedict please forgive me…"

Seventh stroke of midnight.

"He cannot, you can."

"I do…I want to rest…I forgive me…as much as I can."

Eight stroke of midnight.

"Now, what?" Atticus asked.

"I guess when it strikes twelve…you'll go…you'll rest."

"I like you too you know…maybe that's why after all this time I saw not a monster in your face."

Ninth stroke of midnight.

Atticus leaned forward.

"What…are you doing?" Tom asked surprised.

"I'm making your wish true…I'm liking you back." Atticus brought his face only inches away.

Tenth stroke of midnight.

"If you kiss me…you'll go away…then I'll have no one again."

"You still have your parents, you are only twelve you'll meet many new people…I'm going away anyways I think. It is time."

Eleventh stroke of midnight.

Tom sighed and closed the remaining inches separating their lips.

They kissed. Their lips brushed soft silk against soft silk and at that moment Tom thought it would last forever. Atticus' hand on his cheek caressing him ever so softly.

Atticus broke the kiss. "Thank you Tommy…thank you…"

Twelfth stroke of midnight.

Then he was alone grasping at air between his hands were Atticus' body had been a moment ago.

"Goodbye Ati…I…I love you…goodbye…" He whispered crying.

It took him a moment to get up but up he walked home and fell asleep.

A loud noise woke him up. It took him a moment to realise where he was and that it was light outside.

He got up, out of his room. "Mum…the doorbell…ugh never mind." His mum was running around minding the final details to the decorations of the house, the festive table, the food in the oven. She was always so busy this time of year.

He opened the door rubbing sleep from his eyes.

"Hello, My name's Victor, Victor Heinz. We just moved in with my mum the other day…I think you told off the history teacher nicely. Can I have some sugar please?"

In an instant, Tom was wide awake and feeling very self-conscious at being seen by a stranger boy in his pyjamas, his hair all messed up from sleeping…oh god Victor looked so incredibly cute right now. Short build, lean legs, oval shaped face, cute looking nose and a pair of turquoise eyes that could suck the soul out of you.

"Uhm…hi my name's Tom…or Tommy…pleased to meet you…sure come in I think mum will have sugar somewh…what are you doing?"

Victor had come impossibly close to him. So close that he could feel his breath on his face.

"Mistletoe silly…" Victor said biting his lower lip giggling.

"It would seem, Atticus that you have the last piece of wisdom and laughter, rest well." Tom thought and leaned in. Yes, this would be an incredible Christmas.

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