Life is hard when you have no friends. I would know, seeing as I didn't have any since I moved at the end of 9th grade. It really hurts when you don't fit anywhere.

I was a little bit of everything: pretty, smart, athletic, musical, and lonely. The popular kids didn't accept me because I wasn't pretty enough. The geeks didn't accept me because I wasn't smart enough. The athletes didn't accept me because I wasn't good enough. The band geeks didn't accept because I wasn't good at that either. And finally, the loners are loners so there was nobody to accept me.

I wasn't completely alone; there were people I knew and talked to from my classes, but they weren't close enough to me to call them friends. Nobody took me into their group of friends, nobody bothered to hang out with me outside of our classes.

So I don't enjoy holidays. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because nobody gives any gifts; everybody eats (one of my favorite things to do) and spends time with family. Valentine's Day and Christmas were my least favorite holidays. But just because I was friendless and hated those holidays didn't mean I ruined it. I actually gave everybody something. I always had something special for everyone I knew. I didn't want anyone to feel left out because I knew what it felt like. I didn't want anybody to feel as worthless as I did.

So when Christmas rolled around, I bought everybody a little gift bag with something I knew they would love. That's a perk of not having any friends, I was able to watch people and know what they wanted.

The last week of school before we were let off for the holidays, I was able to give everyone their bag before first period even started on Monday. When I finished passing them out, I had nothing else to do so I headed for my American History class with a smile. I smiled all the time; I tried hard not to make anybody feel any worse than I did. I walked in and almost ran into someone.

"Oh, sorry," I said immediately. I looked up to see my older brother's best friend smiling down at me. "Hey, Lucas."

"Hey, Tali," he said. "Thanks for the Butterfingers. How did you know they're my favorite?"

"You're Jaren's best friend, how could I not know," I said with a smile.

He smiled. "Well thank you. I gotta go, so I'll see you later."

"See ya."

I turned to head for my seat, but froze when I saw what was sitting on it. A teddy bear holding a heart shaped box was sitting on the second desk in the fourth row. I turned to Mr. Richards.

"Who's this for?" I asked.

He looked up with a smile. "It's on your desk, isn't it?"

"Who brought it in?" I asked.

"He said to keep it a secret."

I walked to my desk and picked the bear up. It was really cute and soft and it had a silk bow sewed on its neck and the lid of the box. I opened the box and inside was a note that said "Taliann" on the front. That was my full name, and not many people ever used it. Some people didn't even know it.

I opened the letter and read,

I would have written a poem, but it would've come out wrong and that's been overused anyway. So I'll just stick to a simple not.

You're probably thinking this is a mistake, that there must be somebody else named Taliann, but this is really for you, Tali.

I know you don't get a lot of gifts (I actually know a lot more about you than you think) and I know that you use all your money to buy gifts for others. So this is my way of saying thanks.

I hope you enjoy your first gift.

I looked back into the little box to find five miniature presents. I picked one up and realized that it was chocolate wrapped in foil colored to look like presents.

The bell rang and my classmates started to file into the classroom. I put the letter back into the box and sat down, my smile bigger than ever.


"Hey Tali, do you know the answer to number nine?" Lucas asked. "I can't seem to get it."

I leaned over and looked at his paper. "It's a trick question." I pointed to the word 'mass.' "It's asking for mass, not weight."

He looked closer, as if it would help him understand better. "Oh! I get it. Thanks, Tali."

"You're welcome," I said, turning back to my own paper.

It was Tuesday and the last period of the day, Physics. We had 5 minutes before class ended and I had completely forgotten about the gift I'd gotten the day before. I didn't want to think too much about it, get my hopes up. I was trying to figure out who could have given it to me, but nobody came to mind.

"Tali, those balloons in the back are for you," our teacher said.

I looked in the back corner with the rest of the class. I'd seen them when I walked into the classroom, but I assumed they were somebody else's. I'd wanted them immediately though; they were my happy color, purple, and one of them had Eeyore on it. That one was blue, but Eeyore was my favorite character from Winnie the Pooh.

I got out of my seat and picked the balloons up. They were being held down by a bag holding four more chocolate presents and a rolled piece of paper. I took the paper and unrolled it.

I tried to write another poem, but once again it didn't turn out. I'll leave the poem writing to Mary.

I laughed at that. Mary loved writing poems, even though she wasn't very good at it. She believed she would get better she more she wrote. She is better than when I first met her.

I read on,

I know balloons aren't very amazing, but when I saw them, I immediately thought of you. A lot of things remind me of you, but not like these did. I know you love Eeyore and that the color purple makes you happy. I like seeing you happy.

I hope you like you're second gift.

I reread the note as the bell rang. I had no idea someone thought of me. And how did they know me so well? Very few people know I love Eeyore and I'm sure nobody knows purple is my happy color.

I tucked the letter in my pocket and went back to my seat, balloons in my hand.

"Do you know who gave these to me?" I asked the teacher.

He shook his head. "He told me to keep it a secret."

I picked my backpack up. "Ok, thanks." I left, very confused but just as happy.


The third gift I found in my locker. It was in one of those big mailing envelopes that have bubble wrap on the inside. I was a little confused how it got in there; it definitely wouldn't have fit in the slots. I opened it and looked inside. There was a book. I pulled it out and my jaw dropped. It was Sammy Keyes and the Cold Hard Cash, a book aimed at junior high kids, but I'd been saving up for a while to get it.

I opened it and excitedly flipped through the pages, the smell of new book filing my senses. And then something caught my eye. It was another note.

I know you've been saving your money to get this book, but used it to buy everybody Christmas presents. So I got it for you. I would have gotten the rest of the series, but you already have them.

Enjoy your third present.

I put the note back into the book and was about to put it back into the envelope when something caught my eye. I tipped the envelope and three present wrapped chocolates fell into my hand.


I assumed there would be another gift, but I didn't want to get my hopes up, so I told myself that was all. I liked my presents and I didn't need anymore, but the person sending them didn't think so.

I walked into band and immediately got my flute. We had seventeen flutes in our class and I was fifteenth chair. It kind of made me feel bad for not being so good. I walked toward my chair and saw my stand buddy flipping through what looked like a music book.

"What's that?" I asked as I sat down.

David jumped in surprise and handed the book to me. "It's for you. I was just looking through it."

I looked at the cover. There was a note covering the pictures with my name on it, but I could clearly read the title: The Lord of the Rings Instrumental Solos. I took the note off to show shots from the movies. I flipped through the music, looking at the titles of the songs. It was amazing, I couldn't believe it. I opened the note to see what he had to say this time.

You're better than you think at the flute, you know. Try playing these songs. I love Lord of the Rings and I know you do, too. Have fun learning new songs.

I opened the page to the song In Dreams. David immediately started playing as I opened my case and reached for my flute. Waiting for me were two more pieces of chocolate.


Friday went by quickly. I walked into each class, immediately looking for something that could be for me. I opened my locker expecting something to fall out, but nothing did. There was nothing in my classrooms either. I sat in Physics, waiting for the bell to ring. I just wanted to get home and sleep Winter Break off. Everybody around me was talking and laughing to each other. They were just as anxious to get out of school for two weeks. Lucas was being surprisingly quiet, but I wasn't really paying much attention to him.

When the bell finally rang, I was one of the first people out the door. I walked quickly through the halls, trying to escape the crowds, but being too late. I was finally in the commons, free from the crush of people trying to get through the halls.


I stopped and turned to see Lucas jogging toward me.

"You forgot something," he said when he finally reached me.

"What—" Before I could finish my sentence, he took my hand and quickly gave me a soft kiss on the lips. My eyes widened and he smiled down at me.

"Merry Christmas." And then he turned and walked away.

After a couple seconds, I looked down to see what he had left in my hand. A chocolate wrapped in foil colored to look like a present stared back at me.


I was going to wait a few days to post this, but I got impatient. I have a longer short story coming out on the 14th and I've already written most of it, so you don't need to worry about me not finishing it (I have a hard time finishing anything longer than a one-shot). Actually you do because it isn't quite finished and I could decide not to finish it...

Anyway, my friend says I need a new title. What do you think? I have a hard time thinking up titles and she does too. I thought this one was pretty good. Please let me know what you think. It's nice to get more than one opinion.

I do not own Lord of the Rings or the Instrumental Solo book. Also I do not own anything else you recognize.