The doorbell rang.
Singing merrily away, she was occupied with her holiday baking and had failed to hear the heavy shoes that thumped up her front porch steps. Pausing to note the five remaining minutes on her red Lux timer, she removed her flour dusty apron, flung it over a chair and bustled from her warm kitchen-the strains of one last fa la la on her lips.
She opened her front door to an icy slap of cold air, and a shiver shot through her body. Though her thin cotton house dress offered little protection from the weather, this was not the reason for her reaction. It was the sight that greeted her. The uniformed figure, yellow envelope in hand.
Her voice barely audible, she whispered her shock. Oh please God, No. Her legs seemed to bend without her permission, refusing to support her weight, and the porch rose up to meet her.
Sitting there, in the cold, she opened the telegram. She forced her spinning mind to maneuver the words into the correct order, and her swimming eyes to read them.
Her son. A million dollar wound. Home for Christmas.
Inside her kitchen, the timer rang.
She giggled her relief.
Oh, heavens! My bread!
As she lifted her hand to brush away the tears that were frozen on her cheeks, snow began to fall.