2017 Dreamspinner Advent Calendar (Stocking Stuffers) ~ An Open Window by Rick R. Reed
Henry’s homeless and only wants a warm place to sleep on the coldest night of the year. A forgotten open window in a darkened house entices Henry inside with the promise of warmth and comfort. He knows it’s wrong, but he promises himself he’ll be out before the owner wakes on Christmas morning. Except he oversleeps and the homeowner, Jim, discovers a bearded stranger sawing logs under his dining room table. When the shock and the drama that ensues dies down, Henry and Jim discover that they might have found, quite unexpectedly, the Christmas miracle they’d both been longing for—love and home.
Open windows and open hearts
An Open Window is told retrospectively, which is a tactic that works really well for this short because Reed focuses the reader's attention on Henry and Jim's meeting.
Reed poignantly highlights the plight of homeless people at Christmas and immediately we only feel sympathy for Henry rather than judging him for his choice to enter the open window in someone else's home. I think our emotions are intensified by the fact that Henry thinks about being found frozen on Christmas morning with a mixture of "terror and relief".
Another man who is alone on this Christmas Eve is Jim, who has had a lucky, if upsetting, escape from a man who could not give him the love he deserved. Every reader knows that Christmas is a time to be spent with loved ones and for that reason, we feel compassion for Jim, who feels that "he might never celebrate the holiday again".
Reed brings these two men together unconventionally but beautifully and I adore the fact that Reed is able to capture the Christmas spirit of goodwill in An Open Window. I turned the final page and was left with all the right warm and fuzzy feelings.
An Open Window may only be 21 pages but it is a story perfectly formed!