Jamie suddenly wanted to be alone. He got up, grabbed his jacket from the coat rack by the front door and slipped outside. An almost-full moon lit up the snowy landscape. Wisps of wood smoke from chimneys throughout the village floated like gray ghosts across the clear night sky.
He sat down on the top step, closed his eyes and let his mind wander. He remembered what Rusty had said the other night about hard times showing what people are made of. He thought about the man who had asked them for a dime and about people standing in lines to get bread. He thought about Christopher’s generosity and about the kindness he’d been shown by the people of
Then his thoughts turned to his father. He had begun to understand how his dad might have felt when things went wrong – just like Jamie felt now, scared and not knowing what to do. Jamie thought about his mother, and for the first time, he realized how awful it must have been for her when his dad left, and how hard she had tried to protect him from what had happened. He longed for the sound of her voice and for the chance to rest his head in her lap again.
Jamie looked up at the moon. “I want to go home,” he whispered, “I want to go home so much.” His lower lip quivered. The muscles in his face began to twitch. His body trembled. The first sob was like a hiccup. The second one jerked his head and shoulders. The next one started as a wave in his belly that surged into his chest and flooded his heart with tears. Then wave after wave of sorrow pulsed through him, his whole body shuddering and tears gushing out like water from a geyser.
He wept for his father, who had lacked courage in a time of trouble, for his mother, who had tried to pick up the pieces, and for himself, for being caught in the middle of it all. He wept with frustration for the unfairness of being twelve years old and trying to solve a problem that seemed impossible. He wept with desperation for being far from home and with terror that he would never find his way back. He wept at the thought of never seeing his parents and grandparents again. He wept because he felt like time was running out.
After a long, long time, his sobs ebbed, until they were no longer waves but only ripples. Jamie wiped away his tears with a sleeve. Looking up, he saw a million stars twinkling in the clear night sky. He whispered, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight ….” He stopped, feeling silly for reciting a little kid’s poem about wishing on a star. Well why not? I wished that I could come here and that happened, so why can’t I wish to go back home? He squeezed his eyelids shut and finished, “I wish I may, I wish I might … be home for Christmas.”