by Laura Anne Gilman
“It’s a beautiful tree.” Her brother came in from the garage, shaking the snow off his boots and dropping his overnight bag by the door.
“It is, isn’t it?” Mara was feeling decidedly pleased with herself. The tree was a solid 7-foot Spruce, with only a single bare spot, and that had been carefully concealed with strands of gold tinsel and carefully-hung ornaments. The tiny white lights wove their way in and out of the branches, making the tinsel and ornaments seem to glow from within. Behind the tree, the bay window showed a steady fall of snow, the season’s first, a perfect backdrop.
“You forgot the angel.”
Her mother’s voice from the sofa made Mara’s shoulders stiffen, but she didn’t turn around, and didn’t let the smile slip from her face, even though her mother could see only the back of her head.