|Thursday, May 23, 03:33:27am||
[ VoyUser Login optional ] [ Main index ] [ Post a new message ] [ Search |
Check update time
| Archives: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, , 7, 8, 9, 10 ]
[ Next Thread |
Previous Thread |
Next Message |
Previous Message ]
Date Posted: 12:44:47 12/20/09 Sun
Christmas Glitter Graphics
It is my honour to extend an invitation to one and all to share what the season means to you. Whether a story, a poem, a time honoured memory or a special tradition put to words, please feel free to grab your festive drink of choice, and come sit a spell. A literary gift of words, while it doesn't cost anything, is a treasure to be remembered always.
May your hearts and home be filled with the joyful spirit of Christmas.
Next Thread |
Previous Thread |
Next Message |
I'm adding a little extra incentive to prod all of us to participate. If you post a story and comment on the other stories posted, I've got a wee giftie for you. So join in and help make the Lit Forum festive! -- Page, 14:59:50 12/20/09 Sun
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]
[ Edit | View ]
Love this Page! -- Debi, 16:21:46 12/20/09 Sun
This is a true story? Wow... that's a BIG baby, you poor thing! Now I may have to buckle down and write a REAL story, not just post something I already wrote.
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]
[ Edit | View ]
[> [> [>
Yep, a true story >>>> -- Page, 18:21:10 12/20/09 Sun
She'll be 23 on Friday. *stops to examine self in mirror and notices two new wrinkles* Yes, she was a whopper alright. The nurse on duty in maternity said she lifted her head and watched the doctor walk across the room when she was two hours old, so I just figure she was already two months old when she was born. *G* Note: I did NOT have any more children after that one! LOL
Here's what she looks like now: Chel
Last edited by author: Sun December 20, 2009 18:28:13
Edited 1 time.
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]
[ Edit | View ]
Page's Christmas story >>>> -- Page, 15:24:51 12/20/09 Sun
An Angel on Christmas
A true story by Juli Page Morgan, ©2009
My back was killing me. Of course, I was almost eleven months pregnant, I kid you not, and I’d been standing at the stove all day baking things to take to my in-law’s the next day. It had been a long Christmas Eve already and my two-year-old daughter was bouncing off the walls with excitement, adding to my fatigue. I’d allowed her to help a bit in the kitchen, but she was like a bumblebee in a bottle, unable to remain in one place for very long. My husband finally gathered her up and popped in a video of The Little Mermaid to keep her occupied.
Aching back notwithstanding, I was starving. I’d nibbled all day on the sausage balls and cookies I was making, but I was ready for something substantial. So I cooked a huge supper – chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, black-eyed peas, and biscuits, my favorite meal. I deserved it. After all, this baby in my belly had been due on November 8 and I was still carrying it around. At least, I hoped it was just one baby! There were tons of gifts under the tree sent by relatives who had anticipated having photos of the new arrival with what they’d sent. To say nothing of a stocking embroidered with the name “Sean,” the name we’d chosen for our new son. The son who seemed perfectly comfortable where he was.
My husband washed the supper dishes and my daughter dried, giving me a break. Since my back was still killing me, I decided to take a nice, hot bath. One of the few things we loved about our rental house was the huge claw-foot tub in the bathroom. It was more than large enough for my 5’11” frame to stretch out, and it had more than enough room for two, which is why I was in my current predicament in the first place. I sank into the embrace of the hot water and felt my muscles relax. Sean did a slow roll, making the skin of my abdomen stretch and making me grimace. I couldn’t blame him, though. If he was half as comfortable in his warm bath as I was in mine, no wonder he’d chosen to stay there. My daughter joined me for the last 15 minutes of my bath, and received a good soaping before being dried off and forcibly inserted into her nightgown.
It should have been a relaxing night; my husband was sprawled in his recliner, I was stretched out on the couch, and our daughter had taken up a position at the window, looking for the blinking of Rudolph’s nose. But I wasn’t relaxed. I felt nervous and agitated, like I’d forgotten to do some urgent chore, but I couldn’t think of anything I’d left undone. About 9:30, my husband turned to me with a sigh.
“I wish someone would give it up and go to bed so Santa Claus could come. I’m completely worn out, and ready for sleep.”
“Yeah, well.” I eyed our daughter. “Maybe if you put her in bed and read her a story she’ll stay there.”
“Good idea.” He rose from his recliner with another sigh and called to our daughter. And that’s when I felt it, a slow, inexorable tightening of the muscles of my belly. I held my breath, and my eyes stuttered to the clock on top of the television. I’d had false labor twice, but this was different. This contraction meant business. Oh, hell.
There was a pad of paper and a pen on the coffee table and I snatched it up and recorded the time, hoping for all I was worth that I was wrong, that this was just another bout of Braxton-Hicks. I wanted to have this kid, don’t get me wrong, but not now!
My husband returned to the living room about 30 minutes later and settled in to watch the local news. The pad of paper now resting on the huge mound of my belly now had four different times noted on it, the times in between contractions getting shorter. Still, I kept my mouth shut. It was Christmas Eve, for Pete’s sake, and my name wasn’t Mary. This was no time to be having a baby! I directed mental chastisement to Sean, telling him if he waited another week we’d be in the running for the First Baby of the New Year contest the local newspaper sponsored, and we’d get all kinds of great gifts from local merchants. Sean ignored me, just like he’d been doing every day since November 8.
By the time the newscast ended, I’d had four more contractions and had finally begun to accept the fact that I was really in labor this time. I looked at the Christmas tree and the gifts wrapped in festive paper, wondering how this was going to affect my daughter. After all, she’d been wound up tighter than a spring for over a week, waiting to rip into all that pretty paper. And I had been looking forward to seeing her do it. It appeared all that was going to have to be rescheduled and I hoped she wouldn’t hate her baby brother for wrecking her Christmas.
My contractions were three minutes apart at 11:00 when my husband stood up and announced he was headed for bed.
“Um, wait.” I looked up at him. “I hate to tell you this, but I’m in labor.”
His face went perfectly blank. “You’re what?”
“Labor,” I repeated. “The contractions are about three minutes apart.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
I winced. “I hoped I wasn’t.”
Relieving me, he laughed. “Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Do you need help getting dressed?”
“Nah, I got it,” I assured him. “You go get the stinker bundled up and I’ll meet you at the truck.”
I smiled at my daughter’s sweet little face looking over her father’s shoulder as he carried her to the truck, and the saw look of concern she gave me when I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, clutching my belly as another contraction gripped me.
“What’s wrong with Mommy?” she asked.
“Oh.” My husband stopped and glanced back at me. “Your brother’s ready to be born and Mommy’s just helping him.”
Our daughter looked skeptical. “Is it working?”
“God, I hope so,” muttered her father as he put her in the truck.
I hated that truck, but in my advanced state of pregnancy, it was the only vehicle I could get in and out of without the use of a winch. We dropped our daughter off at my father’s fiancee’s house and headed to the hospital.
They checked me out and reassured me that these were no Braxton-Hicks contractions. We weren’t going to win that First Baby of the Year award after all. After I was installed in my room, I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and the fun began. I went into transition almost immediately, and it didn’t help when the nurse looked at me with a pitying expression, saying, “You poor thing, you’re just not getting any relief between those things, are you?” I just glared at her and demanded Demerol.
At four minutes past three o’clock on Christmas morning our angel arrived. The doctor, a friend of my husband’s from high school, beamed at us. “It’s a girl,” he announced.
“It’s a what?” my husband and I asked in unison.
“The ultrasound said it was a boy.” My husband sounded confused.
I was concerned with a more pressing issue after having just given birth to what felt like a toddler. “There’d better not be another one in there!”
There wasn’t. Moments later, a nurse placed all ten pounds and seven ounces of my baby daughter in my arms. She looked up at her father and me with a serene calm and I forgot all about those gifts under the tree, and knew her big sister would, too.
She was the best Christmas gift we ever got.
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]
[ Edit | View ]
Ah, Page. I love it! Even got a little teary-eyed.>>> -- susiej, 16:06:23 12/23/09 Wed
My son was born on Dec. 3rd though he was due Dec. 19th. Being born on the 21st, I had kicked myself when I heard the due date saying "What the hell? Why didn't you count back by nine months and put a big red x on the calendear." But, hey, we all know it doesn't really work that way.
I had toxemia both times, and was in the hospital induced into delivering early. I never had the water break, the up in the middle of the night, none of it. Yours is such a great story. I can't believe you made all that foot 10 months preggers! What a supermom.
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]
[ Edit | View ]
Ah Page! I love this! >>> -- Esther, 10:48:40 12/30/09 Wed
Not only did you share something so personal, you did it with style! Your voice showed clearly in this! Just awesome!
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]
[ Edit | View ]
Memoirs and Memories >>> -- Myxtress (Esther), 14:47:11 12/22/09 Tue
Well...I've run into a bit of a snag, and Rurik and I, are currently in negotiations as to how it's to be. So...my story isn't quite ready yet. How sad is that to admit...
Anyway...As a way of saying it's okay to post something old if you don't have anything new at the present moment...I'm going to do that. The idea is to share, not just stress ourselves out that we don't have something new to contribute.
Originally posted on the first Christmas story compilation, here is a bit from my first WIP. Hope you enjoy!
Excerpt from working title ‘Pander’
by E. M. Sawatzky © 2005 All rights reserved.
Posted for critiquing purposes only and does not constitute publication.
“What in the world? Who would be phoning at this hour? On Christmas Eve yet.”
Hawken looked up from the train set. “Maybe it’s Santa Clause telling me not to bother setting this thing up because he’ll do it.” He nodded over to the coffee table where cookies, milk and carrots awaited jolly Ol’ St. Nick and his reindeer. “After he eats all that.”
“Oh you!” Mirth twinkled in his eyes and I couldn’t resist slapping his shoulder playfully as I passed where he sat on the floor. “Hang on, I’m coming.”
I found the cordless in the kitchen. “Hello?” I turned and walked back into the study wishing I hadn’t answered. “Of course he’s here.” I met Hawkens’ questioning look and rolled my eyes. “Mom don’t start. It’s Christmas Eve, couldn’t you—” I sat in the chair, unable to stop the sigh. “The boys are fine. They’re sleeping. Do you know how late it is?” His smile disappeared.
He put the piece of track down and stood, coming over to the chair and holding his hand out. I shook my head no. He wiggled his fingers and narrowed his eyes at me. I turned my back to him. “Mom, don’t say things you don’t mean.”
He leaned over me and wrenched the phone from my hand, putting a finger over his mouth to signify silence.
“What do you think you’re doing?” His hand held me off while he held the phone to his ear. I gave up; it was useless to fight him when he had his mind set on something.
He listened for a few minutes, his expression growing darker with every passing moment. “And a very merry Christmas Eve to you too, Mrs. Stevens. I can assure you we have a tree. The boys and I decorated it weeks ago. If you bothered to visit, you would know that. And as to whether I’m out whoring around or passed out drunk you can hear that I’m not.” His teeth clenched together as he listened. “Look. It’s your choice. But I will not allow you to ruin another Christmas for Jess or the boys.” He turned and walked toward the fireplace, stockings hanging in anticipation on the mantle. “I am her husband. We are a family, with or without your permission. Don’t let an old grudge keep you from seeing your grandsons.”
He sighed. “It doesn’t have to be like this.” He pressed the off button and looked at me. “I’m sorry, Jess.”
It felt wrong. He set the phone on the table and gathered me in his arms. “Is it terrible that I’m relieved she’s not coming?” I asked.
“You don’t want me to answer that.” His lips brushed mine in a quick kiss, his lips curved up in a smile. “We better get busy or we’ll be up all night putting these things together.”
“Hmmmm.” I couldn’t help but laugh. “I can see you’re so upset. Let me get you another drink so you can drown your sorrows.”
“Eggnog.” He winked. “Straight up.”
We looked at each other. Ring! “She wouldn’t phone back, would she?” he asked.
I shrugged. “You never know with her. Maybe she had more to drink this year and feels brave.”
“I’ll get it.” He grabbed the phone. His thumb pressed hard on the talk button. “Yeah? Now what?”
He turned and walked out of the study, so I couldn’t see his face. “Sorry, what did you say?” His tone alerted me that it was not my mother.
“Oh, no problem. Thanks for calling.” Hawken had a habit of walking around when he was on the phone, so it was not surprising to find myself alone in the study, his voice fading. I looked around and sighed. There was still so much to do before tomorrow nights big dinner. I went to the kitchen to check on the turkey thawing in the refrigerator, remembering that I wanted to put it in cold water.
Hawken came into the kitchen, stood at the counter, and watched the water flow from the tap into the tub. “Um…a little help here?” I asked, struggling to move it when the level was an inch from the top.
“What? Oh…sorry.” He lifted the container with ease, setting it down where I indicated. Not a drop of water splashed out.
“Hawken, is everything all right? Who was on the phone?”
His head moved in slow motion to where I stood, his eyes gazing at my face, but his attention elsewhere. “Everything is better than all right. He’s on his way here.”
“What? Who is?” I put my hands on my hips. “You’re not making sense, and you look dazed.”
He smiled, his eyes sparking to life, the dark embers glowing like coals. “Shit! They’re on the way here! Come on!” In a burst of energy, he reached for my hands and pulled me to the study. “Quick! Help me put these things away!” No motion wasted, he scooped up the train set and jammed it back into the box, hiding it under the couch.
“What are you doing? We have to get that set up by morning.”
“Morning is a long way away. They’ll be here soon.” In no time, he had the room stripped of any evidence of presents besides the wrapped ones under the tree. “I think that’s it,” he said surveying the room. “Oh! Wait!” He dashed out.
I followed, confused. Never had I seen him act this scattered. He bounded up the steps three at a time, and was in our bedroom before I made it to the second level. I leaned against the door jam, watching as he inserted the key in the cabinet. Silent, the glass door opened and he reached in and removed a small wooden box.
“Hawken that’s –”
“Yes, I know.” His thumb caressed the worn wood.
“What are you doing?”
He looked at me. “I’m giving it to her.”
“Her? Who’s her? And why would you give something so important to you away?”
“She made it for her daughter.” His eyes had a haunted look, filled with a sudden panic. “Can you wrap it?” His hands shook when he handed me the pen-sized box.
Downstairs, he chose the wrapping paper. The one he would not let me use on any other package. I just put on the last piece of tape when we heard a vehicle pull into the driveway.
“They’re here,” he whispered, taking the gift from me and removing his pen from his shirt pocket. He wrote a name on it and set in front of the other presents under the tree.
His exuberance vanished at the soft knock on the door and left him frozen in the hall.
“You want to fill me in on what’s going on?” I asked walking to the door and placing my hand on the knob.
He smiled. “Open the door.”
“Okay, but you will tell me why you’re acting so strange once I get you alone.” I twisted the knob and let the door swing open, my quick intake of breath an indication of the cold blowing inside.
“Oh my goodness! You poor dears! You two look half froze!” I hustled them in, noticing the woman getting the bags from the trunk of her car. She hurried to the steps and followed them inside.
She set the bags down and held out her hand. “I’m Sara, with the Ministry.”
I smiled. “I remember you.”
“I’m so sorry about disrupting your Christmas Eve,” she said, “but your husband said it was okay.”
“Of course it’s okay.” Hawken woke from his stupor and walked toward us. “We are delighted to have Warren and Hannah spend Christmas with us and the boys.” He squatted in front of the children. “I’m Hawken and this is my wife, Jess.”
I caught Sara’s expression. “Is something wrong?”
Her gaze turned from Hawken to me and then back again. “How do you know these children, Mr. Wolfe?”
Hawken’s gaze jerked to me and then to Sara. I caught the hesitation, the flash of alarm in his eyes. “You told me on the phone.”
“No. I’m sure I didn’t.”
“Well, I know their names, so you must have, right?” He winked at the kids. The little girl smiled back at him.
“I…guess I must have.” Sara laughed. “I tried so many homes, but no one wanted them on Christmas Eve.”
Hawken raised his brow and stood up. “I’m sure you want to get home to your family.”
She frowned at the dismissal. And that is what it was; there was no mistaking his tone. “I have to go over their case with you.”
“I know enough for now.” Hawken opened the door and ushered her through. “They were alone and now they are not. Anything else is irrelevant.”
For the first time she looked at the children, bewilderment creasing her brow. “I’ll be in touch with you in the New Year, then.”
“No. I’ll be in touch with you. Good night. And Merry Christmas.”
“And to y--” The soft click sounded loud in the sudden silence.
Hawken turned and knelt in front of the little girl. “You want to take off your coat and help me make some hot chocolate? Jess says I don’t put enough marshmallows in it.”
She giggled and nodded. Her brown eyes seemed large for her face. He took her hood off, snow scattering, and her hair tumbled out, falling well past her shoulders.
“He don’t need your help Hannah,” Warren said. “Quit being stupid.”
“We don’t talk to each other like that in this house,” Hawken said. If I didn’t want her help, I wouldn’t have asked for it. Now, take off your coat and boots and come to the kitchen.”
“Why?” Warren sounded suspicious.
Hawken smiled. “Because if you are anything like my boys you’re always hungry. While Hannah is getting the hot chocolate, we’ll find you something to eat.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Suit yourself,” Hawken said standing up. “But I heard your stomach growl when Sara left. It’s a stupid choice to go to bed with an empty stomach when you don’t have to.” He held out his hand for Hannah and they went toward the kitchen.
I held my hand out to take his coat. He hesitated and I shrugged, waiting for him to decide. “If you don’t want to eat you don’t have to.”
“Yeah, whatever.” He jerked his coat off and tossed it to me, kicking off his boots in angry movements.
A cold shiver rippled through me. There was something...familiar about him, something in the set of his shoulders and his stride as he followed Hawken.
After Warren had two helpings of leftovers and Hannah made us all hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows, we went back into the study. Warren went to Hawken’s chair by the fireplace and sat down.
“Oh! Look!” Hannah ran over to Christmas tree in the corner and grabbed the package Hawken had me wrap moments before they arrived. She moved it so the light caught the stars twinkling at her from the wrapping. “Hey!” She jumped up and ran over to Hawken, who had settled for a spot on the couch. “Santa’s been here! He left me a present! It says my name.”
Hawken pulled her up on his lap and squinted at his writing. “Han-nah.” He smiled at her. “So it does.”
“Did you see him? How’d he know we were here?”
“There is no such thing as Santa,” Warren said.
“Is too,” I said.
She looked at me, her eyes losing some of their fire. “Really?”
“Do you believe in him?” I asked. She nodded her head, her curls emphasizing her enthusiasm. “Well then, that’s all that matters, right?”
“Can I open it?”
Hawken nodded at her. She tore off the wrapping, her thumb stroking the worn wood just as Hawken had earlier. I felt my heart strings tighten. Slowly, she opened the lid. Tears fell from her eyes as she hugged it to her chest.
Inside was an old doll. An old native toy made by mothers of young daughters. Hawken said dolls made with the mother’s hair protected the girl from harm because love was sewn in with each stitch. I had always thought the hair colour made it odd. That and the fact the doll was passed down from father to son and not mother to daughter. Hawken said that is what made it special.
Sobs wracked the little body as she rocked back and forth.
“What’s the matter honey?” I asked.
“I miss my mom. This doll has her hair.”
“You’re right, Hannah,” Hawken said. “It is her hair.”
I jerked my gaze to Hawken, stunned. He had a pleased expression on his face and he smiled when Warren went to console his sister.
“It’s okay Hannah. Mom will come for us soon.”
“Then why isn’t she here?” Her wails were heart wrenching.
“She promised. Remember?” Warren held her, awkward yet with concern, shushing her to be quiet. She only cried harder.
“Why did you tell her that?” I hissed under my breath, not wanting the kids to hear me. “You lied to her.”
His eyes left the kids and met mine and his look said it all.
“Okay, you wouldn’t lie. I’m sorry. But what--”
“Did you hear that?” Warren asked, his head tilted to the side. Hannah’s sobs lessened as she listened.
“I hear it.” She sniffed and wiped her nose on her sleeve.
We all listened. Hannah’s cries stopped, although her nose was running. Hawken smiled. “I hear something too.”
I strained to hear what the others did. “I don’t. All I hear is Jingle Bells.” I picked up the remote on the coffee table and muted the stereo, eyeing each in turn. “What is it?” Hawken shrugged, although I had the feeling he knew exactly what it was. The children didn’t answer, although they both rubbed their ears as if they hurt.
“Hannah, can I see your doll?” Hawken asked.
Hannah smiled through the tears on her face. “Isn’t she pretty?”
He patted his leg and she jumped up as if they were lifelong friends, putting the doll so close to his face he had to lean back into the cushions to see it. “She’s perfect. And you know what?”
“As long as you have this doll, your mom will be close to you.” Hawken tousled her hair. “Now, how about you get ready for bed, and maybe we can have a special story.”
“Okay!” She bounded off his lap. Warren stood too.
“Warren, I’d like to talk to you for a minute.”
“Yeah, whatever.” He slumped back to the floor, arms crossed.
“Hurry Jess,” Hannah said pulling on my arm. “I wanna hear a story!”
Together we left Hawken and Warren and wound our way through the house to the guest room. “This is Elias’s room,” I said, stopping. “He’s our oldest.” She stopped beside me. “And this is Ash’s room,” I motioned to the door on the opposite side of the hall. “He’s about your age.”
“They won’t like us,” she said, her face sad.
“Why would you say that? Of course they will.”
“They’ll laugh at us.”
I knelt down in front of her and tilted her chin up. Her dark eyes glittered from her earlier tears. “Now you listen to me. Hawken and I would stop that immediately. As long as you are under this roof you are part of the family.”
She sniffed and I felt my throat constrict. “This is your home for as long as you stay. Okay?” She nodded.
“Well, that’s about it, except our room. You want to see it?”
She shook her head no.
“No?” I stuck my bottom lip out in a pout. “Why not?”
“Bad things happen.”
My heart stopped, but I strived not to show her my feelings. “All right, you don’t have to go in, but I’ll show you where it is in case you need us in the middle of the night. Okay?”
She nodded and followed behind me as I went to the end of the hall. The door was open, and she peered in, her natural curiosity winning. She stepped inside and walked through to the ensuite.
I placed my hand on her shoulders as she stared at the Jacuzzi tub. “Want to have a bath?”
“Can I?” Her dark eyes sparkled in excitement.
“Yuppers.” I let go to get her a towel out of the vanity. I could only stare. Inside the cabinet was a girl’s nightgown and Disney’s bubble bath. “I don’t suppose you’d like bubbles?”
“Yes! Lots and lots!”
I blinked to stop the moisture threatening to spill and turned toward her. She waited until the tub was full, bubbles nearly overflowing. I sensed her need for privacy. “I’ll go make sure your room is ready, and then I’ll go back to the study. Call if you need me.”
She placed her doll safely on the countertop. “I will.”
I gasped when I opened the door to the guest room. It wasn’t the same. The double bed was gone, replaced with a set of twins. Both were made up with sheets I had never seen before. Hannah’s was closest to the door and had Barbie gracing her pillow. Warren’s was by the window and was a solid blue. All we had for sheets were spiderman and hotwheels.
My fingers traced the comforter on Hannah’s bed, and then I sat down, my knees weak. When had he done all this? I felt his eyes on me and looked toward the door. Hawken and Warren stood at the entrance.
“Come on, Jess. Let’s give Warren some privacy.” He motioned me out with a nod.
I stood, allowing him to wrap an arm around my shoulder and lead me back into the study and onto the couch.
“Shhhh. I don’t have time to explain now.” His hands encouraged me to lean against him.
There were too many questions in my mind. I pulled away to look at his face, and saw the excitement in his eyes before he forced my head back, his heartbeat fast under my cheek. “How’d you know about Warren and Hannah? When did you change the room? What did you hear?”
He kissed the top of my head. “It’s not my place to tell you. Just know this night is special and will never be forgotten.”
“I’m scared Hawken.” His arms tightened around me. “I don’t like this. You’re creeping me out.”
“I know Jess. But all will make sense soon.”
I jerked up. “Someone is here,” I whispered. Goosebumps rose on my skin, a strange disoriented feel grew in the room. The air felt charged with electricity. The lights flickered.
His arms tightened around me holding me in place. “Don’t be afraid. He won’t hurt you.”
Despite his words, the taste of fear was in my mouth and I couldn’t keep my eyes off the door. I felt something. Something dangerous. “Who’s he? Why is he here?”
Hawken’s hand covered my mouth, stifling my scream. A man eased into the room, crouched down low, knife in hand, ready for an attack, or to attack, it made no difference. He appeared no stranger to combat, his bloodstained clothes attested to that. He was hurt, but his injuries didn’t seem to affect him, he moved with agility and purpose. His dark eyes held mine prisoner for a split second before releasing them and moving on to Hawken.
“You are among family here,” Hawken said.
A dark brow lifted, his eyes met mine again before going back to Hawken.
I felt Hawken’s smile.
His movements deliberate, the stranger straightened to his full height, the knife returned to the sheath in his belt. “Where are they.”
It wasn’t a question. It was a demand. I struggled against Hawken’s hold.
Hannah’s delighted laughter rang out, as beautiful and pure as Christmas bells.
Fear gave me strength and I jerked away from Hawken, horrific images of what this man would do to the children flashing in my mind. When I looked back he was gone.
He grabbed my arm in a bruising grip. I fought against him, using every ounce of strength I possessed. With infuriating ease, he pinned me on the couch. “Stop it Jess!”
“No! We need to protect the children!” I kicked at him, renewing my struggles. Anger loomed, my face hot with indignity. “Let me go to them!”
“They are safe,” the stranger said. “The girl is playing in the water. The boy is sulking in the room he’s in and your two sons are sleeping.”
I went completely still. He had only been gone for maybe two minutes, yet he had went up and checked on them and returned without me hearing him.
“Let me up,” I said. Hawken hesitated. “Dammit, it’s not like I’m stupid enough to attack him outright!”
“He won’t hurt anyone,” he whispered in my ear, releasing me.
I stood, straightened my clothes and took a deep breath to get my composure back.
“Who are you.” A demand from a stranger in my own house.
“I think we should be asking that question, don’t you?” I said.
He smiled, if you could call the quick twist of his lips a smile. It wasn’t friendly and made him look vicious. He took a step toward me.
“I’m Hawken, and this is my wife, Jessica.” Hawken stood beside me and took my hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “Jess, this is Grey Wolf.”
He didn’t acknowledge us in any way, no expression showed on his face. He peered at Hawken, his gaze intent. “You have her eyes.”
“Who’s her?” I asked, blurting out my question, even though I didn’t think he would answer me.
He turned his dark, expressionless eyes to me. “My wife. Karma.”
I felt nauseous. “That’s impossible. Karma is Hawken’s great, great, great...something grandmother.”
Grey Wolf smiled that same smile. “Warren and Hannah are her children.”
“No,” I whispered to the spinning room. Faces blurred together. My eyes closed against the darkness. I allowed myself to slump into the couch. It couldn’t be! I kept my eyes closed and took a few deep breaths.
“Jess, are you all right?” Hawken asked.
I opened my eyes, instantly searching for Grey Wolf. He had retreated to the window, his back towards us as he watched the snowfall from the sky.
“It can’t be.” I whispered. “It can’t be.”
Hawken’s thumb stroked my cheek.
“No, Jess,” Grey Wolf said. “It is.” He turned around and met my gaze, walking toward us. “Believe me. It is.” His eyes hardened when he looked at my husband.
“Hawken! I’m ready for my story!” Hannah rushed into the room, oblivious to the tension in the room.
Grey Wolf never missed a beat. He knelt down in front of the fire and rested his arm over his knee, his body open and his eyes at her level. “Hello, Hannah,” he said softly. Her name sounded exotic with the pronunciation typical of his people. Hawken still had the inflection in his voice when he was tired.
She hid behind Hawken.
“It’s okay,” he said. “I’m a stranger.” He looked at his clothing. “A dirty one. Your mom would be upset if she knew I was here, looking like this and scaring you. She called me Grey. If you want, you could call me that too.”
She took a step out, her doll clutched to her chest. “You know Mom?”
He smiled. “I do.” He nodded toward the doll. “I know she made her for you. She has her hair.”
“I know. Hawken told me.” Her head tilted to the side in contemplation. “Are you here for the story?”
His eyes went to Hawken and then back to Hannah. “I have no plans to go anywhere.”
“I hope he tells about Santa.”
Hawken ruffled her wet hair. “We have a different tradition in this house. On Christmas Eve, I sit in front of the fire and tell stories of our ancestors.”
“You do?” I couldn’t keep the surprise out of my voice. “Since when?”
Hawken smiled. “Every year. As my father told me and his father told him.”
“Well, then,” I said. “How about you move the table out so we can all fit in front of the fire, while I go get us some munchies. Wanna help me Hannah?”
“I’ll go get Warren,” Hawken said.
Hannah ran ahead of me to the kitchen, eager to help. She helped count out the glasses and set them on the tray. I emptied chips into bowls, while she took the lids off the dips. I let her carry the lighter tray to the study. She walked slowly out of the room, careful to keep the tray balanced. I smiled and went to the refrigerator to get out the meat and cheese tray I had prepared for our lunch tomorrow.
“Do you need some help?”
Startled, I jumped up and grabbed the door for support when the dizziness hit me. Grey Wolf’s dark eyes narrowed into slits. “You scared me.”
It was unnerving having him watch me. With the platter out of the fridge, I grabbed the eggnog, set it on the tray with the glasses, and turned to get the rum from the cupboard. It was behind another bottle and I stretched to reach it. Light-headedness swept over me again.
When I opened my eyes, Grey Wolf was standing beside me, his hands on my shoulders. As soon as my balance returned, he removed them and without taking his gaze of me, reached up into the cupboard and took out the rum. The glasses clinked together when he set the bottle beside them.
I shook my head, and he nodded in response, grabbed the handles and left.
They were waiting. Grey Wolf had his back to the fire, Hannah was one side and Warren on the other. Hawken sat opposite him. I set the tray down in the middle and took my place next to my husband, sitting cross-legged like they all were.
“Okay, who wants eggnog?” I poured three glasses for Hawken, Warren and Hannah. “Rum?” I asked Grey Wolf. He nodded. The dark rum splashed into the glass. I moved the bottle over to mine and tipped it. Grey Wolf’s hand on mine stopped me. He didn’t say anything but his eyes spoke volumes. I caught the slight shake of his head. I hesitated, my hand going to my belly. I set the bottle back on the tray.
He smiled and took his drink, straightening. He put the glass to his lips, and then paused.
Hawken twisted around and smiled. “You’re just in time, Elias.”
Elias rubbed his eyes against the brightness. “Are they here Dad?” he asked. He was squinting at the fireplace, trying to see. “Uncle Gareth?”
“I am Grey Wolf. Come here. Let me look at you.”
Without hesitation my son approached the fierce looking stranger.
“How old are you?” Grey Wolf asked.
Grey Wolf smiled. “You’re tall for an almost eight year old.” He looked towards Warren. “How old are you?”
Warren swallowed and rubbed the salt on his hands from the chips onto his pajamas. “Seven and a half.”
“Seven and a half.” He looked at both in turn and then at Hawken and I. “Why you two could almost be twins.”
Elias giggled. Warren smiled, the first one I had seen. Elias plopped down in between Warren and his father, grabbing a handful of chips and elbowing Warren at the same time. Warren elbowed him back.
Hannah moved closer to Grey Wolf. “Am I tall?”
Grey Wolf smiled at her, motioning her closer. He bent down and whispered something in her ear. Her eyes widened and then she giggled. “I’m short,” she said proudly. “Boys like short girls, right?”
Hawken pulled me close, laughing. “That they do, small fry.”
Her nose wrinkled up. “Small fry?”
“No, Shrimp,” Warren suggested.
“Hey! Enough of that,” I said. “I thought we were going to listen to a story.” I jabbed Hawken in the ribs. “What happened to our story? Huh?”
“I don’t need to tell it. We’re living it.” Hawken said, grabbing my hand and laughing.
“What kind of excuse is that?” I asked. “I don’t think there was any story.”
“He’s right,” Grey Wolf said. “We are living the story.”
“Awwww. I wanted to hear it,” Hannah said.
Grey Wolf smiled down at her. “I’ll tell you a story. Don’t worry.”
Hawken winked at Elias, earning him giggles. They were contagious, Warren and Hannah caught them. Even Grey Wolf had a lingering smile.
“Daddy, is it time for the story yet?” Ash shuffled into the room.
“Just about Ash,” Hawken said, motioning him forward. “We have guests tonight.”
Ash turned toward Grey Wolf. Shy, he looked at the floor as he approached. Then in the enthusiasm only a child could get away with, jumped at him. Grey Wolf caught him in his arms, hugging him tight. Tears welled in my eyes as my son buried his face in Grey Wolf’s long hair and cried against his shoulder.
“That-a-boy,” Grey Wolf soothed. “Get it all out.” His hand patted Ash’s back and he rocked back and forth comforting him.
Soon the tears stopped and Ash wiped at his eyes with his knuckles. Grew Wolf held onto him. “You want to tell me what that was all about.”
“You’re okay. Nothing happened to you.”
Grey Wolf’s eyes narrowed at Hawken. “Of course, I’m okay.”
“But in the sto--”
His finger silenced the little boy. “I’m going to tell the story tonight.”
Grey Wolf motioned them closer. “Squeeze in front here and then one at a time, tell me what the best part of Christmas is.”
“Family,” I whispered.
Grey Wolf looked up from the group in front of him and nodded in my direction. He held up his hands in the signal for silence.
He smiled, but it did not reach his eyes. “Stories make up the history of my people. Without them we would know nothing of our ancestors. Or ourselves.” He looked over to Hawken. “Is that not so?”
Hawken nodded. “Story telling is a skill. Only the most daring, the most spiritual stories, get passed on from father to son. And only those that can speak the truth are trusted with the knowledge.”
“That is partly true. My story is not daring, and it’s not what I’d consider spiritual, but it’s why I’m here.” An eyebrow rose on the fearsome man whom Hawken had allowed into our home. “I’d like my family to hear it.” His attention went to the four sitting in front of him. “You ready?” he asked.
“Yes!” they all yelled out.
“And what about you, Jess?” His eyes never left the children. “Are you in the mood for a story?”
I smiled. “You have my undivided attention, Grey Wolf.”
His ebony eyes met mine before he turned back to the kids in front of him. We were dismissed for more important things. He grinned at the girl, his fingers finding her ticklish ribs. “Is Hannah ready...to be tickled!” She burst into giggles, squirming in his arms trying to get away. When she was breathless he stopped. “There,” he said. “Now you’ll sit still and listen.” She shared a secret smile with him. He narrowed his eyes at the three boys. “You’ll get worse if you don’t pay attention.” He winked and they laughed.
“My people lived off the land for thousands and thousands of years before the white man came and settled here. There were many battles fought. In the end, my people succumbed to the whites coming to our land. During those times, a boy was born into both worlds. He resented his white blood, but at the same time recognized that his red blood is why he was hated.
“Then one day he had a vision. A vision of beauty, of acceptance, of peace and harmony. So what do you think happened?”
“His vision came true,” Hannah said.
“Not quite. He became blind to everything else around him. He took his dream and threw it away. He made mistake after mistake.”
“What did he do,” Elias asked.
“He forgot the beauty that was living. He twisted things to what he wanted them to be.
“And then despite everything, he found his soul mate. The one woman who could help him. A beautiful woman who made the stars twinkle just for them. A courageous woman known to my people as Destined Spirit. A woman named Karma.”
“Our mom is called Karma,” Warren said.
Grey Wolf smiled. “I know. And she is very special.”
“She is.” He took a drink. “He didn’t realize until too late why they were thrown together. Instead of helping her, he hurt her. Instead of giving her time to heal, he tossed her to the wolves. All because he didn’t understand. Just when his vision was within reach he crushed it with his bare hands.” He clenched his hands into fists.
“Some would say he deserved what he received. He would agree. But he learned. He understood. For the first time in his life he regretted his actions. Have you ever been hurt?”
One by one, the children nodded.
“It takes time for the pain to go away, doesn’t it?”
Again they nodded.
“How do you know when you’re better?”
“Mom takes off the band-aid.”
“And what’s under the band-aid Ash?”
Grey Wolf smiled, rolling up his sleeve. I gasped when I saw the partially healed gash in his arm. He rolled up the other sleeve. “When this scratch is gone and my arm looks like this one, I’ll be all better, right?”
He held up his index finger and touched each child on the chest, right on the heart. “What happens when the hurt is in there?”
“It stays forever,” Warren said.
“Forever is a long time isn’t it? If you can’t see when it’s healed how do you know when you’re better?”
“When you have the courage to try again, and know you could get hurt. That is when you know you are strong enough, that you are getting better.”
“Like when I fall off my bike and get back on.”
“Something like that,” Grey Wolf said. “But only you know when to try again. Some take longer than others.”
“Like mom,” Warren said.
Grey Wolf’s eyes met his, and he nodded. “Exactly like your mom.”
“What if it takes forever?”
“Oh Hannah. It won’t take forever,” Grey Wolf said. “The last time I saw her, she said she needed to get back to you two.”
“Then why doesn’t she?”
“I don’t know Warren. But she promised me she would try. I couldn’t ask more of her than that.”
“What happened to him?”
“The one that threw everything away?”
“Yeah,” Elias said. “He doesn’t sound too bright.”
Grey Wolf smiled. “No. He wasn’t. But he was lucky. He was given a second chance.
“He searched for her, went on raids trying to find her. She had vanished. He vowed not to give up trying to find her. And then one day when he was out searching he could hear someone crying. A sound so sad, so scared, he could not ignore it. He followed the sound, determined to reach her.”
“Yes. He found her in a beautiful house decorated outside with hanging lights.” Grey Wolf leaned in close and lowered his voice. I found myself straining to hear. “Do you believe in magic?” he asked them. “The special magic that only happens at Christmas. Do you believe in the impossible Warren?”
“He placed his hand on the door knob, and his hand started to glow.” He made a sweeping motion up one arm. “It spread through him. He was scared, but he didn’t have the strength to take his hand away. Warmth and love surged through him.” Grey Wolf jumped up. “He couldn’t get away. He was powerless. And then....the glow spread to the door, and it allowed him to see inside. So he did the only thing he could.
“He stepped though the door.” He stood at his full height and took a step, his back arched as he demonstrated. “What do you think happened on the other side?
“He transformed into a little boy. A boy about your age Elias. A boy that looked like Warren. A boy that had had feelings like Ash. A boy that found the girl that had been crying. A short little thing like you Hannah.
“The man and woman who lived in the house welcomed him, a stranger. They made him feel a part of something special, a part of a family.”
“Why was the girl crying?”
“Why was she crying? Because she was alone. She needed a friend. And the little boy who walked though that door understood. Together, they could appreciate the beauty of the tree. The room had the scent of the forest because the father insisted on a real one. Thousands of lights brightened the room. Red, blue, and green bulbs reflected off the shiny ornaments. And presents! There were so many under the tree he couldn’t count them. Dishes of chocolate, ribbon candy, cookies and nuts covered every table. But do you know what his favorite was?”
“How did you know?” Grey Wolf asked Hannah.
“Because they are my favorist!”
I leaned into Hawken, welcoming his arm around me. I listened to Grey Wolf with a sense of awe. He told a wonderful story, one with a painful lesson, yet he still managed to capture the children’s excitement. He lived the story, his gestures as animated as his voice. If I closed my eyes, I could picture the tree, and smell the forest. I could hear the paper crackle when the two ripped open the packages to divulge the surprise inside. I could feel his joy at the present he received. The happiness as they went on their first toboggan ride down a steep hill, the wind rustling through their hair and trying to steal their laughter. The spray of snow icy cold against their faces. The beauty of making snow angels where the ground hadn’t been touched. The sadness when they had to go because they couldn’t feel fingers or toes. And then I could taste the hot chocolate that was waiting inside.
“Before he knew what happened the day was gone and he had to make a choice. Whether he stayed and remained a child forever, capable of experiencing joy in every day, or whether he searched for the other part of himself and kept his promise.” He reached into the pouch at his side.
“What’s the matter Ash?”
“It has the same ending that Daddy’s does. I don’t want him to leave.”
“He has to.”
“Because if he doesn’t,” Grey Wolf said looking point blank at Hawken, “None of you would be here today. These belonged to him,” he said handing each of the kids an arrowhead. “When he got them, he made a promise. Because they are a symbol of that promise, they contain great medicine. Worn in faith, they will protect you. He will make sure of it.”
He winked at Hannah. “How about a story about Santa Clause?”
Grey Wolf and Hawken told story after story, my eyes getting heavier and heavier. A feeling of contentment, of family, stole over me, and I dozed off, stirring when Hawken moved to carry Elias to bed. I sat up and noticed Ash and Warren were gone, already giving in to the dreams the stories conjured. Hannah was asleep, cuddled up against Grey Wolf, his long hair clenched in her hand. The train was set up, the stockings were full.
“You and the little one will be more comfortable in bed,” Grey Wolf said softly.
My hand went to my stomach in a protective gesture. “How did you know?”
Brightness shone in his eyes. “She is my family. How could I not?”
I smiled. “Thank you,” I whispered. “Merry Christmas.”
I left him alone with Hannah, and went to Hawken. He was in checking on Warren, whispering the protective prayer of his people, the same one he said each night to our boys.
I waited for him under the mistle-toe in the hall. He shut the door behind him, and took me in his arms, his lips soft yet demanding, his tongue expressing the feelings that words could not. Breathless, he lifted his head and looked into my eyes. “You know, I’ve been thinking, and it occurs to me, that I have never asked your mother over for Christmas. I’m going to call her in the morning and beg her if I have too. It’s odd but for some reason, I feel she needs to be here.”
It was the tears in my eyes that made me realize how important it was to have my mom spend time with us. “Thank you,” I whispered.
“Merry Christmas, Jess. I love you.”
"I love you too." I took his hand and placed it on my stomach. "And I love the gift you have given me."
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]
[ Edit | View ]
A mixture of sweet and a little scary. -- Debi, 20:19:09 12/22/09 Tue
I love the family warmth and emotion and that Hawken stood up for his wife. Y'know, sometimes, people just need someone to take charge, just to set things back on an even keel.
And Grey showing up, menacing yet accepted into the family as the stories were told. Warren finally smiling, all wonderful little glimpses into their lives. Great stuff!
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]
[ Edit | View ]
Even better the second time around! >>>> -- Page, 14:19:54 12/29/09 Tue
I came over and read this on Christmas Eve but so much has gotten in the way in between, and I've not been able to get back. So today I re-read, and love this even more than I did the first time. It's got it all -- the family angst with her mum (and doesn't that type of thing always seem to escalate around the holidays?), the traditions, the assembling of the toys. Then there's Hawken's sweet excitement over the children and Grey Wolf's appearance.
Lovely Christmas tale, Esther!
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]
[ Edit | View ]
Happy Holidays everybody. I got all my presents wrapped and had some time to read! I got through Page and Debi and was halfway through yours Esther when my kids got home. I'll get back to it soon as I get another quiet moment (maybe Jan.) -- susiej, 16:35:33 12/23/09 Wed
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]
[ Edit | View ]
Forum timezone: GMT-5|
VF Version: 2.94, ConfDB:
VoyForums(tm) is a Free Service from Voyager Info-Systems.
Copyright © 1998-2012 Voyager Info-Systems. All Rights Reserved.