“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~ Roald Dahl
For many, love comes to us when and where we least expect it. Jason Walker, of 'Winter Oranges' by Marie Sexton, wins the award for falling in love in one of the strangest places of all. Trying to escape a disappointing life, Jason buys a house in an isolated part of Idaho hoping he can clear his head and find some contentment in life again. After moving in, Jason feels lonely; he begins to wonder if he's made a mistake. Instead of a time of contemplation and some alone time, Jason worries that he's simply given up, resigned himself to a life of boredom and loneliness. This all changes when Jason discovers Ben. As unlikely as it seems, Jason falls in love with Ben, in, of all places, a snow globe.
When Jason first finds Ben, he seriously doubts his own sanity. He thinks Ben is a ghost, which would be strange enough, but when Ben tells his story, about his sister placing him in the globe to keep him safe from fighting in the Civil War, oddly enough, Jason believes him. Ben has been in the globe for one hundred years with no hope of release. He often wonders why his sister didn't leave him directions about how to get out of the globe once the danger had passed, but neither Ben nor Jason can find any evidence of a solution.
Jason and Ben begin to experiment and push the limits of what Ben can and can't do. Ben tells Jason that he can appear outside of the globe as far as it is in the same room. Ben and Jason learn that there are plenty of ways to spend time together and learn to cherish each other's company, but they reach the point where they would like to be able to touch each other. They eventually find a way to be inside the globe together, giving them the opportunity to be intimate, but it comes with a price. After Jason's excursions into the globe, he always ends up with blinding headaches, disorientation, vomiting or worse. It gets so bad that Ben refuses to invite Jason in any longer, and if Jason comes in uninvited, Ben ignores him. There doesn't seem to be a solution for their dilemma, but Jason isn't willing to give up and keeps trying. Beyond being discouraged, Ben tries to convince Jason to leave him and the snow globe behind, so he can move on and find happiness with someone else.
Although this is an unusual story with a highly improbable story line, I became quickly swept into it, quickly relating to Ben and Jason and wanting them to find a solution to their problem. Jason was living such an empty life and, in the globe, Ben's experiences were extremely limited. I wanted them both to get a new start. I especially enjoyed the references to old commercials and shows I used to watch. There are some amusing parts, particularly Ben's incorrect use of words for things. This aspect lightened what could have been a much sadder story. I enjoyed both men's sense of humor and their respect and appreciation for each other. I enjoyed Marie's paranormal aspects; they were interestingly presented. I liked that Ben was an astral projection rather than being dead, which would have made him a ghost. Being alive instead of dead made the idea of the men eventually being together more feasible. I have to admit that Marie fooled me with the ending. From clues she dropped earlier in the story, I didn't think the ending I was still hoping for was going to happen, but she managed to work it out. This story reminded me not to take the good, ordinary things in my life for granted for fear I would miss them greatly if they were no longer available. If you enjoy oranges, snow globes, paranormal events, handsome men, and hot sexual encounters, you may like this story. Thanks, Marie, for making my holiday reading more enjoyable.