It was quite dark outside now. Timothy poked at the withering fire. “Anyone want last rounds of cocoa?”
Ash and Fio walked over with their empty mugs. Iris and Mira watched from a far distance where the heat of the fire no longer reached.
Timothy went on, “Either you two gonna get a dip of sleep? I’m thinking of staying up. The night’s so young.”
“I’m not,” said Fio. “Tired, but not the kind of tired to be able to sleep. It’ll be Christmas in a few hours!”
“My mom’s going to blow,” said Ash. “I should head back.” She swigged a generous helping of hot cocoa, wiped her mouth, set the mug down on the grass, cleaned her blankets, straightened, and waved while walking off. The rest of the group waved back.
The graceful-bodied Miriam came in out of the darkening field. “You’re all still here?”
The scattered group nodded in syncopated unison. The night young, the faces bright. Iris turned to Mira.
“Do you still feel lonely?” she asked.
“Not entirely. I’m trying to figure out the difference between loneliness and emptiness.”
“That’s not too hard. Loneliness is better. It means you have something to wish for, something to care about.”
Mira nodded. “Makes sense.” She looked up at the cascading expanse of sky.
“If this isn’t nice…” she murmured under her breath, the bonfire illuminating a thousand stars reflected in her wide-open eyes.
Writing month, day twenty, word count: 19, 095