Over the next few days I will be sharing some of my Christmas stories, most of which you may have read before, but if you are new to the blog, I hope you will enjoy..
Three Mince Pies
The little girl lay in bed asleep, blonde hair spread over her pillow. From her restless movements it was obvious that she was in the grip of a disturbing dream, and 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, and 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 as business had been tough and there had been no extra money for holidays 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 was now 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 and she had begged 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 and Jenny had been unable to take Sophie in to to see her father before he was rushed away by anxious staff.
Jenny 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 while away the time. 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 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 looked across to the toy cupboard with a plate of mince pies and a glass of sherry on the top. Suddenly 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. Her daughter was smiling and holding out her hand to the light. Jenny’s eyes were drawn back across the room and she gasped as in the 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 her face and laying back against the pillow her breathing settled into a gentle rhythm, and she was peacefully asleep.
Her father left her bedside and walked to the door. 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 wonderful look between them; she knew in her heart 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 inside her remained.
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. Three had been put out for Father Christmas. This year he really had come to visit.
©Sally Cronin 2015
At the moment I am offering a free ebook from this choice of five of my books to find out more about them and read a review please click on this link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/12/18/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-buy-a-book-for-christmas-the-last-author-to-be-self-promoted-and-free-giveaway-sally-cronin/
How to get your free e-book version of these books.
Please email me on email@example.com and let me know if you would like a mobi version for Kindle or epub for other devices. I have no expectation of a review but if you do enjoy the book a quick email to let me know would be fantastic.
Look forward to hearing from you.
The offer runs from today 18th December until Midnight Christmas Eve 2018 wherever you live