I had eaten only one cookie, still hungry for birthday pancakes, and once I got down from the table the first thing I did was start toward the stairs when my mother spoke and broke the hard silence.

"Don't go upstairs right now," she warned in a strange tone. Just then a man poked his head through the kitchen doorway and announced that they were finished.

He looked a lot like a delivery man who once brought a new car to the house for Gamma.

A delivery man and they were just finished! I could hardly believe it, Gamma couldn't make me pancakes because she had been busy with a delivery man who must have been delivering me a birthday surprise. How exciting.

I pushed passed the man and ran into the living room but when I stopped in the middle of the room I couldn't see anything different from the day before. Christmas tree lights were twinkling madly in the tree, the decorations were exactly the same, even the few presents under the big trees hadn't changed or multiplied over night.

I looked at the stairs and remembered that she said to 'not to go upstairs'. The surprise must be in my room I reasoned quickly and dashed up the steps as fast as I could move.

When I reached the landing I could see into Gammas room and her bed was a mess, which was so unlike her, but she was definitely awake and must be waiting for me to find her with my surprise.

I slammed my bedroom door open excitedly to find my room exactly the way I had left it when I had dressed to go play in the snow.

Gamma hadn't made my bed or picked up my pajamas, she hadn't even made her own bed. Then suddenly an overwhelmingly awful and empty feeling seemed to engulf me so strongly that I suddenly couldn't breathe or swallow. Something was wrong, something was very wrong.

I called out for my mother as I stood staring at my Gammas empty rumpled bed in confusion, and she was by my side within a second, holding me and saying something softly that I don't remember. The next couple of days were quite strange for me as people, lots of people, came to Gammas house and talked to my mother and each other in dull whispers.

The most amazing thing is that the morning after Gamma had left without us was Christmas day but my mother didn't seem to remember or notice. I could only wonder at such an absurd thought, how could anyone ever forget that it was Christmas day? Santa had delivered presents and no one but me was excited about it.

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