Sunday, September 13, 2009

Christmas eve, Epilogue

“So there you have it,” Jack said, helping Beth down the front porch steps. “A nice, normal Christmas eve. Some board games, a lot of loafing around, helping out before dinner.”

“That’s not much different from your normal routine,” Beth said. “Well, except that part with Charlotte giving Ellie her ice cream at dessert.”

“Bribes. I told you. Breakfast is going to be even worse.”

They walked to the hedgerow in silence.

“You’re awfully quiet,” Jack said.

“Just thinking.”


“Family. How lucky you are.”

“You can have my sisters any time you want them,” Jack said.

“I mean… Even your gran. It’s obvious she cares for you all. In her ham-fisted, sledgehammer kind of way.”

“You know, if she heard you say that—”

“She can’t hate me any more than she already does,” Beth said with a sigh.

“She doesn’t—”

“She does, Jack. And after slipping and taking you with me, she’s afraid of me, now, too. Which makes her hate me even more.”

“Well…. I’m sorry,” Jack said.

“Don’t be. I already knew to expect it.”




“She won’t. She never will. Not even—” Beth clamped her mouth closed.

“Not even what?”

“Nothing. I said too much.”

“No, you haven’t said enough,” Jack pressed.

Beth stopped. They’d reached her front porch steps.

“I can make it the rest of the way on my own,” she said.

“You still have to make it upstairs,” Jack said, not letting go of her hand. “Those stairs are slippery.”

“I can—”

“I am not going to come over here to get you Christmas morning and find you… paralyzed or... or worse… because I didn’t help you up those stairs.”

“You won’t— I’m not—” She sighed. Fine,” she said. “If it makes you feel better you can walk me up the stairs.”

“It would. It will. Look, just because you didn’t dream about it doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen, right?”

“Now you’re starting to sound like me,” Beth said.

“I know, scary, huh?”

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