'Flash!' Winter 2017

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium


This is a collaborative short story written by Imaginarium members jaylizbeth and Hullabaloo22. The first part is by Hullabaloo22.

Chapter 22 (v.1) - Noel pt1.

Submitted: November 28, 2017

Reads: 52

Comments: 2

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Submitted: November 28, 2017

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Noel.

When the phone rang I almost didn’t recognize her – at least just for that first moment. At just 20 years of age Justine had packed up and left. We had not heard a word from her until now.

Mom?”

Justine? Is that really you?” I wanted to say so much more but kept the words inside.

Yes, Mom. It’s me! Listen, I’m coming to see you on Christmas Eve. Just for the day, mind you. I’ve got someone I want you to meet.”

Oh, Justine, that’s fantastic! Are you sure you won’t stay?” I could hope couldn’t I. But I wouldn’t push.

No, I have to return home that night. Is Dad going to be okay with it?”

Of course, Justine! He’ll be delighted to see you. He’s felt bad ever since you left but we had no way of getting in touch with you.” Not the full truth. He’d rarely mentioned Justine since the day she had walked off, turning her back on his dreams. But it would be okay; I’d make sure of it.

See you in four days then. And, Mom, I’m really looking forward to seeing you.”

And just like that, my entire plans for Christmas had been changed. Frank and I did not really celebrate very much; just ate a bit more, exchanged a couple of gifts. We did not even bother with decorations any more. Not since our daughter had gone.

Frank had always assumed that she would follow him into the family business. She was clever, did well in college, would have been ideal as manager and then director. But then she met Vince; he changed her outlook, changed her attitude, and when he left she went with him. Frank had been devastated, refused to accept that she had to make her own decisions. He sold the company after he suffered a stroke – should I have told her? Warned her that her father, although much recovered, could no longer talk? Too late now.

Frank, we are going to have a real Christmas this year. Just a day early! Justine is coming! Isn’t that wonderful.”

I hugged him, but not before I noticed the tears in the corners of his eyes.

All of the next day, I spent scouring the shops for some new decorations to add to the old ones I dragged from the garage. I scrubbed and cleaned and decorated from the time I got home until I went to bed.

That left me three days to sort out the food, sort out some treats, and look for the perfect gift. But how could I know what would be perfect? I had not seen my daughter since she was 20 and now she would be almost 25. I had some money put aside so I could go for something a bit extravagant. For two days I looked in one store after another. Eventually I settled on a delicate pendent and a cashmere sweater. But even when they were home and wrapped, I worried if I’d bought the right things.

, I just could not sleep. I tossed and turned, replaying the harsh words that had been exchanged, all the recriminations and blame. But that was gone now. All in the past, and this was a new chance. Just when I convinced myself of that, I started to think how dreadful it was to not know my own daughter. What sort of mother did that make me?

The morning could not come too soon, even though it found me feeling tired and drained. What time did Justine say she would arrive? Think, think....She hadn’t said a time, had she! I must get up, get the place ready.....What on earth was I going to wear?

Frank must have sensed my nervousness; although he probably felt it way more than me, he took hold of my hand, held it. I could feel him willing me to calm down. And I tried, but could not drag my eyes away from the window.

While I was waiting, I suddenly recalled her saying she had someone for us to meet. Was Vince a thing of the past? Did she have a new partner, a husband? Now what was I going to do? I had no other gifts!

My mind was in a whirr when I heard the approach of a car. Was that Justine? I tried to stop my hands from shaking but I was so nervous....

It wasn’t a bad car, not brand new but not a beat-up old wreck either. It pulled to a standstill and she got out, my daughter, who really did not look much different at all. She turned towards the house, saw me and waved, then walked to the back door, opened it.

And it was only at that last minute, when I saw that baby seat, that I realized just who we were to meet. Our grandchild, one that we did not even know existed.


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