By M.T. Decker

“May your Christmas wish come true, now and evermore.”

I could feel my pulse race as I read the inscription on the Christmas Star my wife had placed on top of the tree.

These were the words that had drawn me to the star 30 years ago when I was too naive to know better. The star promised something I’d never had: time with my dad. These were the words that had cursed me as well.

I thought I’d lost the thing, but, no, my mother had kept it, and when we moved, she’d sent it as a housewarming gift and my wife, had placed it on the tree as a surprise.

My mom had bought it at the second store we frequented back then. It wasn’t in Buckley, but the next town over. Mom always bought my clothes there to cut down on the chances of one of my classmates recognizing it as something they’d outgrown.

We didn’t have much back then, but mom always went all out on the holidays. She knew I wanted and loved that star. Though she didn’t know why she bought it just the same.

She gave it to me on Black Friday to make up for all the gifts I wouldn’t get, and I knew how hard she’d worked to get that star and it made all the more precious.

From that day until Christmas Eve, I wished for time with my father. Just one hour. Thirty wishes… and ever since then, a dead stranger comes and we sit in uncomfortable silence until the hour is past and we can both move on.

This is the 30th year since I made my wish; I don’t know if I’m afraid he’ll show up, or that he won’t.