The little girl lay in bed asleep, long blonde hair spread over her pillow. From her restless movements it was obvious that she was in the grip of a disturbing dream; dark rings beneath her eyes gave her small face a pinched and unhappy look.
Downstairs, Jenny looked at the Christmas decorations and cards around the room. In the corner, the tree lights sparkled and flashed through the tinsel; presents for Sophie were piled beneath its green spiky branches in a colourful heap. Family and friends had rallied round, determined Sophie would have everything her father would have bought her this Christmas.
Jenny rested her hands on the mantelpiece and stared at the photograph in front of her. It was the last that was taken of them all together. They smiled out of the picture, brown and happy on their holiday in the south of Spain at the end of October. It had been their first family holiday in three years; business had been tough and there had been no extra money for vacations or other luxuries. Ironically, she now had more money than she knew what to do with, but she would give it all back in a heartbeat.
Jack had inherited his father’s building business and although initially work had been plentiful, there had been more and more competition for fewer contracts. He had worked seven days a week and she could see from his face that this was taking its toll. Just after their holiday in Spain, Jack began to experience chest pains that he dismissed as indigestion after eating and drinking too much while they were away. Jenny had grown more and more concerned, begging him to go and get checked out. To keep the peace, Jack had begrudgingly taken a couple of hours off one evening and gone to the surgery. The next day he was in hospital undergoing tests, and that afternoon he was taken to theatre for an emergency operation.
It had all happened so fast they had barely time to talk about the situation. Jenny had been unable to take Sophie in to to see her father before he was rushed away from them by concerned medical staff. She had called out to him as he was wheeled away; but she had no way of knowing if he had heard her soft “I love you.”
She and Sophie had sat in the family room, playing with coloured bricks and a jigsaw to pass the long hours into the night. There had been other families in the room; all looking nervously at the clock until doctors or nurses entered to reassure them that their loved ones were safely recovering from their operations.
They were alone when finally a tall man in a green scrub suit entered the waiting room, loosening the mask from around his face. Jenny took one look at his eyes and knew from their bleak directness that there would be no visit to the recovery room for them.
She allowed the tears to fall; here in private where she could grieve. Away from the eyes of her small daughter who could not understand why Daddy was not coming home from work every night. She tried to be strong for Sophie’s sake, but she had watched her normally lively child lose weight, become silent and withdrawn. Tomorrow was Christmas Day how could they face it without him?
She heard a noise from upstairs. Sophie would be having one of her nightmares, crying for her daddy, tossing and turning, and reaching out into the dark. Wiping the tears from her face, Jenny walked upstairs to her daughter’s bedroom. She opened the door quietly and was startled to see Sophie sitting up in bed, clutching her teddy bear and staring across the room.
Jenny followed the direction of her daughter’s eyes, to the toy cupboard with a plate of mince pies and a glass of sherry on the top. As she stared across the room, she felt warm air flow over her. She blinked and stared at a glowing light that grew brighter and brighter. Clamping a hand over her mouth, she darted a glance over at Sophie and was amazed to see her daughter smiling and holding out her hand to the light. Jenny’s eyes were drawn back to the other side of the bedroom and she gasped, as in the incandescent glow, she saw her husband’s body materialise.
Riveted to the spot she watched Jack reach out a hand, take a mince pie from the plate and raise it to his lips. Taking a bite he grinned across at her. She felt the warmth of his gaze as it rested on her eyes and her mouth and an overwhelming sense of peace passed through her. Jack nodded once and then walked across to his daughter’s bedside where he reached out and touched Sophie’s outstretched hand. A radiant glow spread across the child’s face and laying back against the pillow her breathing settled into a gentle rhythm; she was peacefully asleep.
Her father left Sophie’s bedside and walked to the door where Jenny stood absolutely still as his body passed in front of her. He stopped and she looked into his eyes and felt a gentle touch on her shoulders. He smiled at her and all the love that they had shared was in that too brief moment between them; she knew that he was saying goodbye. He moved out into the hall and turned for one last glance over his shoulder. Gradually the light faded and the figure disappeared, but the warmth of his presence remained wrapped around her like an invisible cloak.
She stood for a few minutes with head bowed, absorbing and taking strength from that feeling before crossing to her daughter’s bedside. She kissed her forehead gently and moved over to the toy cupboard where she stared at the plate with its two mince pies. She always put three of the treats out for Father Christmas. This year he really had come to visit.
©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009
I hope you have enjoyed the story and if you would like a copy of one of my earlier books FREE then please email me and let me know if you need mobi for Kindle or Ebub for other devices.. Sally.firstname.lastname@example.org
If you feel so inclined.. my other books are available in print and in Ebook. My latest What’s In a Name volume 1&2 is in print for the UK only at the current time.
Here are my current books available on Amazon and Smashwords.
All except for Just Food for Health are available in E-versions for most readers. You can buy all my books from my own bookstore at the links beneath the titles below but also on
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin
My latest book was published on July 27th 2017 – What’s in Name – Volume Two – Stories of life and romance. The print version of combined volumes one and two is available in the UK and Ireland
This is one of the reviews for What’s in a Name Volume Two.
One of my most FAVORITE reads of 2017 September 5, 2017 by
It is the first fiction book written by Sally Cronin that I’ve had the opportunity to read. I was drawn into What’s in a Name collection and went on reading until the last story was done. I would call most of them ” tales with a twist.” I really did enjoy this book…you may need some tissue at times. You will love the unexpected and won’t think to put the book down. I found it hard to put down
The motives and emotions of the characters in all of the stories were well defined and expressed. I really liked the fact that each story came to a satisfying ending and the next story quickly engaged me with the new people and place. It’s undoubtedly one of my most FAVORITE reads of 2017, in my TOP 5. Sally Cronin creates stories that will keep you flipping pages and loving it!
I won’t tell you what they are about because being short stories I would reveal important details and I want other readers to live themselves the emotions I experienced. What I can tell you is that each story is as touching and compelling as the next one. The thread that links them all stories or characters is sacrifice and romance. Children, parents, lovers, life being lived.
These stories are for me like a fragrant flowers bouquet, each flower having its own special color and scent.
If you are short on time, What’s in a Name allows you to read something start to finish, which I love. Great for airplanes or a one hour mental break, beside being just great for personal “escape from the world.”
Thank you for dropping in today.. Sally
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