A Christmas Gift
by Jody Kish
Her sudden illness had caught us by surprise. I was there to comfort her until the very end. I lost my love, my house, and the only life I had known. Now, I was here left with nothing.
Still hopeful in finding happiness, two long years have passed since her death.
I’ve had no one to celebrate my birthday, Christmas, or any other holiday for that matter. I haven’t enjoyed being alone. I’ve had no choice. People would look through me as though I were invisible when they would meander by my arthritic body. I tried to accept the frigidness of my plight , but I had the suspicion that this was what being a senior was going to be like for me.
Christmas will be here soon, and I wanted it to be the way it once was. Ah, the aroma of the fresh cooked turkey, the sweet smelling ham—oh, and let’s not forget the mash potatoes drowning with that savory gravy. My tastebuds were salivating just thinking about it! I would do anything for a good home-cooked meal again.
Depressed and lost in thought, I looked up to find a beautiful woman watching me. Her turquoise eyes stared at me with such intensity, my spirits were suddenly lifted knowing that she was the one after years of sorrow and loneliness.
Everything had changed after we met. Age was irrelevant in her eyes. She accepted me with an open heart when others didn’t. I felt like a young pup again. She looked at me and grinned, “Ready old boy, for the best Christmas meal you’ll ever have?”
I was given a second chance—the best Christmas gift I could have asked for.
Once again, I was wanted and loved.
“I love you.” I woofed.
Around this time of the year, she would always remember snippets of one particular christmas.
Mistletoe and wine
by Sue Dawes
The turkey is in the roasting dish and Dad’s in the mortuary. He died at four o’clock this morning. Seeing Santa must have stopped his heart.
Mum says he was up late watching Mass whilst she was stuffing the bird. The bloodied plastic gloves are still on the counter.
Dad was agnostic until the last few hours of his life but then he always did like Opera.
They couldn’t revive him. They tried. Even the cat nuzzled him. She knew something was wrong.
I didn’t know cats cried.
He was up three times for the loo, mum tells the ambulance crew, but that’s normal in a man over fifty. Isn’t it?
It’s six in the evening now and no one wants to eat. The bird is starting to smell.
There’s no Christmas Spirit, just a hangover.
She entered through the rear of the cottage, closing the door quietly behind her.
She didn’t want to be seen. You can’t be seen. If he were to catch her (tonight of all nights) it would be over. He would lock her up and this time, he’d throw away the key. Or worse. She knew that. He’d threatened as much.
She couldn’t let that happen.
Not at this time of the year.
Removing her shoes she stepped barefoot into the living room, the parquet flooring chilly on the soles of her feet. She glanced at the fire; it was dead, the last log burning out an hour before.
Good, she thought, looking around the tidy room, he’s in bed. At least that was one thing going in my favour, she thought.
She stood at the bottom of the stairs, listening, a triumphant smile resting on her lips. He was snoring, rhythmically, peacefully. She climbed the stairs and silently tip-toed into his bedroom.
The light from the half crescent moon cast a silvery shadow across his sleeping face, his eyes moving rapidly behind his closed lids.
The warm air in the room felt slow and heavy. Stifling a yawn she approached his bed, her fingers reaching out for him.
Careful … careful.
She paused, her breath catching in her throat.
He rolled onto his back, his slumber remaining undisturbed.
She sat on the edge of his bed, tracing the lines in his face, burning everything to memory, then leaned forward.
His cheek felt warm beneath her lips.
Her kiss was soft, silent, and when she sat up she whispered, hoping that he would hear her and open his eyes: ‘Merry Christmas, dad.’