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I hope I wrote a story everyone can enjoy, I’d like to improve my writing, and this is my first serious attempt in a few years. I hope that the story is to you, the reader’s liking, and I hope even more that the characters (especially the women) were written believably and that the details were written descriptively enough and engaging enough for everyone’s enjoyment. Also, please note that I tried different things with paragraph formatting and didn’t have the time to change it all to be uniformly written, hopefully it’s not too jarring. Lastly, I hope readers can overlook any grammar or spelling mistakes, without being taken out of the story, I tried to fix as many typos as possible but I’m sure some got through.
All characters in the story are over 18 and are consenting adults at the time the story takes place, etc.
“Are you going to be okay Dan?”
“Yeah” Daniel replied softly as he looked out the windshield of his friend’s car. The car turned the corner and he could see his mother’s old house clearly, he hadn’t seen it in 10 years. As the car drove into a cul-de-sac, he sat reflecting on what his life had been before he left home. The gloomy weather only served to underscore the somber mood of the situation he was in, his aunt had just passed away, and he had no more family left save for his friends. He hadn’t been close to her, but she was family, he only ever really had his mother, but their relationship had also been distant to say the least. When she died, he and his aunt were the only ones left, and now that the day had come when he was truly alone, he was having trouble processing and deciding how he actually felt. He had held a bit of hope that maybe it would be years until his aunt passed, but she wasn’t the healthiest person in the world and she had been up there in years, she had after all been 20 years older than his mother.
As they inched ever closer to the house, he remembered that he had never had a white Christmas like in the movies. The day had always been overcast and gray in his childhood home, only the dead quiet gave away that he wasn’t back in San Francisco; although it made no difference to him, Christmas was just like any other day of the year, all the disappointing Christmases of his youth had left him numb to the holiday. He liked giving gifts to his friends, but he got no more joy out of handing out gifts on Christmas than he would if he handed them out in July.
Daniel took a deep breath as they finally pulled up to the driveway.
“Yeah man, no worries, I’m fine it’s just that I had half-hoped to kick the bucket before aunty Vicky to avoid the hassle of inheriting this old house” he said only half-jokingly.
“You sure you don’t need any help or any anything, Laura will understand if I spend a few days here so that you have some company for Christmas Eve.”
“I’m fine, go ahead, Laura’s cool, and she’d probably understand, but you and I both know that you’re terrified of spending Christmas with her family, especially her dad” Daniel teasingly replied as he opened the car door.
“Yeah,” Sam said sheepishly as he got out to open the trunk, “but he’s a hard ass! I think I’m slightly justified in trying to weasel out. I mean would it kill him to be the least bit friendly?”
“What can I tell you man, you chose Laura, and Laura and her family are a package deal” Dan said as he shrugged.
“Anyway, you’re sure? Last chance to have the most awesome Christmas with the coolest guy around.”
“Yeah I’m sure” he said as he reached for his suitcase.
“Stop!” “Sam said as he did his best crossing guard impersonation “I will at least walk your bag into your house, I have to see this place otherwise I may never know why you turned out like you did.”
“You mean level-headed” Daniel countered as he smiled and began walking toward the front door.
“If that’s what they’re calling it these days, then yeah” Sam shot back, over-night bag in one hand, as he closed the trunk and began after Daniel.
As Daniel opened the door to let enter, he paused, took another deep breath, and stepped inside.
“Hmm, no welcome mat…interesting” Sam said, arm raised, and bag slung over his shoulder.
As he entered the house Sam stopped dead in his tracks, “Well that explains everything…”
“Shut up” Daniel chuckled in the kitchen, “I asked them to get rid of everything except the recliner, the bed, and the stuff in the kitchen.”
Sam made toward the lazy-boy and collapsed on it. “Yeah like I said, I understand you completely now, you have no TV. There’s no way you’re normal” his voice echoed as he fully reclined with his feet on the footrest.
Daniel came out with a smile from ear to ear and a glass of wine in each hand. “While I’d love to get tipsy, or hell even shitfaced, with you this holiday season, you have a girlfriend to drive to today so, here’s to the holidays and for making the best of the year ahead” he said as he handed Sam a glass and sat on the floor, Sam joined halkalı escort him, and they toasted.
Sam and Daniel spent the next half hour talking about life and cracking jokes, dancing around the reason they were there. The words they left unspoken were the most important, but their years old friendship didn’t need to be communicated. Although he didn’t want to let it show, Daniel could not hide the truth from Sam, he wasn’t certain what to make of it all, and that left him feeling lost and a slight bit scared; but Sam knew Daniel would be fine, he just needed some time alone. Finally, they got up and began saying their goodbyes. They walked to the door and Sam hugged his friend,
“Everything’s going to be alright”
“I know. Thanks.”
Sam walked to his car and drove onto the street. He honked and as Daniel smiled and waved, he waved back.
Daniel stood there as his smile faded, looking at his friend’s car as he drove away. This was the moment he had come here to face. He closed the door as a feeling of confusion washed over him. He stood silently not knowing what exactly he had expected. He knew he didn’t want to cry, although he spoke to his aunt 2 or 3 times a year to check up on her, he had never been close to her. He didn’t know why, but he had a feeling of incompleteness that he couldn’t shake off. After a few minutes his stomach growled, and he decided he should order something from the local pizzeria.
While he waited for his dinner, and regretted skipping lunch, he began walking around the house and recalling his childhood. He walked up the stairs and as it always had, the second step creaked, he went to what had been his old room and same as ever, the door’s handle needed a little convincing to open. He smiled and decided he didn’t actually want to look inside and went back downstairs. He walked back to the kitchen to pour a bit more wine, it was helping, and decided to instead go to the garage. To his great surprise, his mom’s 30-year-old Camry was in the garage looking as ugly as ever, of course her car had to survive. He walked to the shelf where they always kept the car keys and as he was walking back to the car, he stopped. To his astonishment the tin box where he had kept his wooden toys was on the top shelf. He reached for it and was shocked when he felt that the box was full. He opened it and there they were, the toys his mom said his father had given him when he was a baby.
The doorbell rang.
He put the lid back on the box and walked back into the house. He placed his toys on the floor next to the recliner in his empty living room and opened the front door. As walked back in he walked to the recliner to pick up the box and then to the bar next to the kitchen entrance to eat and look at his old toys. He ate in silence happy as ever as he felt more at ease in his house.
He finished his meal, took a quick shower, and read in bed using his phone’s flashlight until he fell asleep. When he woke up his phone was dead, and he couldn’t check the time. It was still dark outside, and he was still tired, he lay in bed looking up at the ceiling since he couldn’t sleep anymore. He finally decided it was time to get up and go to the bathroom. He looked for his charger to connect his phone and began getting ready for the day. When he came out of the bathroom he turned his phone on.
“FUCK!” he thought. Even when he wanted to sleep in his body wouldn’t let him. He dressed for his morning run and went to the kitchen to get himself a drink of water. He warmed up in his empty living room staring at the fireplace as a he reminisced about a time he had roasted marshmallows when he was a kid. He walked out the front door and was greeted by a cold breeze. He began his jog, going the same route he had always gone all throughout high school. He knew every crack on the sidewalk and every bump on the road, it was as if no time at all had passed. On his way back through his sleepy hometown he noticed some shops were gone, transformed into something different by their new owners. He normally wasn’t one to get nostalgic, but he stopped and looked, he remembered going into the old pastry shop with his mom and picking up those chocolate filled croissants he and his mom loved so much, he started running as he recalled one of the few activities he and his mom could enjoy together.
As he returned home it began to snow. He looked up and thought that maybe he might just have one of those white Christmases like in the movies. He sped up to reach his house in time before the snow picked up. When he got back inside his house he checked his phone and sure enough a few inches of snow where forecast that morning. He prepared himself a light breakfast as he listened to some music through his phone’s speakers. He went outside to pick up the morning paper to read through some news as he ate breakfast. Breakfast and the ensuing clean-up were as unexceptional as they had always taksim escort been for Daniel.
Much of the morning passed him by when he noticed the snow had finally stopped, and he went outside to shovel his driveway. As he shoveled an elderly man, his neighbor, had come outside to pick up some wood for his fireplace.
“Morning” the elderly man said, giving a light wave as he walked. Although he looked to be near his 90’s he still had a spring in his step.
“Morning” came Daniel’s reply.
“Lovely weather we’re having, eh young man?”
“Couldn’t have asked for a better day” Daniel said as he gave him a warm smile.
“Excuse me young man, I hope I’m not being overly intrusive” the man prefaced as he lowered his voice, “…but, have you bought Mrs. Alexander’s house?”
“Not at all, there’s nothing to worry about” Daniel replied as friendly as possible, “and no, I’m her nephew”
“Oh, I’m sorry for your loss. We weren’t too friendly with your aunt you see, but it was still sad to hear she had passed. Between you and me she wasn’t the friendliest person, we sensed she wanted to keep to herself and that was her right, so we tried to leave well enough alone and just tried to be polite.”
“Thank you and yes, well that was aunty Vicky for ya, Sh– “
“Ah, Aunty Vicky, well we never even knew she had a nephew, she was always polite, but she was a private person, and we never really got along on friendlier terms than the occasional ‘Good morning or good evening’ “
“Yeah, I understand she was happier being left alone, she wasn’t the best neighbor but at least no one could complain about her.”
“Oh yes, that much is true, never a peep from your house. So, I take it you’re moving in mister…”
“Daniel, my name is Daniel, but no, I don’t think I’ll be moving in. I just needed to get away from the city for a little bit to figure out what I’m going to do”
“Ah, well yes, a good breath of country air beats the smog any old day and clears the mind to boot. Lionel Baker by the way,” Mr. Baker said as he walked closer with his bare hand stretched, “Well it was nice meeting you, but if I keep the Mrs. waiting any longer she may come looking for me.”
Mr. Baker turned to walk back to his house
“Please go ahead,” Daniel said as he gestured with his hand that there was nothing to worry about. “Do you need help with your driveway? I’m already shoveling, might as well do both” he called to the older gentleman.
“Well since you offered I’ll take you up on it young man, you’re saving me the trouble of having to come out later today, there’s more snow forecast in the evening”
“Don’t worry then Mr. Baker, consider it done”
“Please call me Lionel, Mr. Baker was my father” Lionel turned to say, “Oh and I almost forgot what I came out here to get” Lionel chuckled as he changed direction to pick up the chopped wood he needed.
“Have a good day Lionel” Daniel said, continuing to shovel.
“Likewise, young man.”
Daniel went back to his shoveling and when he finished both driveways he went back inside his house. He prepared himself some tea to get back to his book and spent the afternoon reading. He went into town to do some shopping and when he returned home he was hungry. As he was about to begin preparing his dinner he heard a knock at the door. He walked to the door and in the doorway was Lionel and in his arm a thin white haired woman slightly shorter than himself who could only be his wife.
“Hiya neighbor” Lionel delightedly exclaimed, “We wanted to formally introduce ourselves and thank you for the driveway, well you know me, and this is my lovely wife Abbie” Lionel gestured towards his wife.
“Nice to meet you, young man” Abbie said as she stretched her hand “Lionel told me that you were nice enough to shovel our driveway, I swear my husband is getting lazier and lazier with age…” she poked him in the stomach with her elbow as Lionel just smiled and held her closer “I baked some cookies for you—”
Her eyes fell on the solitary recliner in the living room as she fell silent. Daniel stepped back as he looked back to see what Abbie was looking at.
“Well now you can’t seriously be living like this” said Lionel commandingly, stepping into the house with Abbie in his arm.
“Yes, well we were coming over to bring you some cookies to thank you for the driveway, but I can see now that you’re in need of a good home cooked meal” Abbie’s eyes fell disapprovingly on the pizza boxes from the day before and then to Daniel. “You must come over for dinner, we insist”
“No, I couldn’t. You’re very kind to offer but my dinner’s already waiting I only need to heat it–“
“Nonsense” Lionel interjected “You can eat that some other day.”
“No, again it’s very nice of you but I couldn’t intrude—”
“No intrusion at all, please come over, you must try my wife’s cooking. Honestly it’s to die for!”
“Maybe some other time, şişli escort but today I really do have my dinner ready, the pizza boxes are from yesterday, but I promise today I have real food.”
“You’re sure?” Lionel asked with a very questioning look.
“Yes, again thank you, but I already have todays dinner ready and if I don’t eat it, it may not be good tomorrow.”
“OK, your funeral, but you don’t want to disappoint the Mrs. twice”
“Oh stop, you’re terrible” she said as she nudged him with her arm again.
“In any case, we brought a small desert for you” Abbie said slightly flustered as she handed Daniel a hefty Tupperware container filled with cookies. “We hope you enjoy them, and you have an open invitation to come over for dinner any time.”
“Yes, well, come on over any time and if you change your mind, dinner’s in an hour” he said smilingly while lifting his hand from his wife’s shoulder to point at his watch with the other.
“Ok, thank you for the cookies and I’ll be sure to pop by sometime”
“We’ll hold you to it, don’t think we won’t”
They smiled and bid farewell to each other as the elderly couple made their way outside the house. Daniel enjoyed his dinner that night while finishing his book.
The next few days went by much as the first day had gone, Daniel exercised and prepared his meals. When he went out he exchanged pleasantries with the neighbors and made small talk with Lionel and Abbie. Daniel made no significant headway into the reason for his feeling of emptiness, he was just going through the motions, waiting for the holidays to end. If he wasn’t going to make any progress in figuring out why he felt like he felt, he thought it’d be best to just leave when the holidays were over and sell the house.
On the evening before Christmas Eve he heard Lionel excitedly shouting outside. Daniel put down his book and got up from the bar to make sure everything was okay. He looked through the window and saw that there was a car he hadn’t seen before parked in the driveway, as he looked he could make out the shaped of people hugging near the entrance to Lionel’s house. Daniel smiled and went back to his book. Ending the night soon after and going to sleep.
That foggy Christmas eve morning I was halfway through “A Scandal in Bohemia” when I heard a knock at the front door. I was glad to see my neighbor Abbie at the door, I had only met her a few days prior but she and her husband, Lionel, were honest genuine people and I liked them.
“Morning Daniel! Merry Christmas, Eve!”
“Morning, and Merry Christmas to you too! Please come in”
“Thank you” Abbie said as she stepped inside from the cold, “I won’t be long, so I’ll get right to the point. Lionel and I were speaking, and we don’t think anyone should spend Christmas alone, especially after the passing of someone in your family. We’d be honored to have you over this Christmas.”
“Thank you, really,” I smiled as I said in the kindest tone I could, “…but I couldn’t intrude, I’m fine here really. There’s no need to worry.”
“Well, that is not going to fly today mister!” she told me in a playful tone but with slight exasperation in her voice, “It would be wonderful if you could join us and we won’t take no for an answer.”
As I began to decline again she interjected more seriously
“-Our family is small, and we don’t have too many people over at our house for Christmas. Our granddaughter Sophie finally arrived yesterday and that’s the entire family. It would mean a lot to Lionel and I if you could join us. The more the merrier after all!” She said as her tone brightened again. “We have plenty of food to go around, and you can even help us prepare the dinner, come on over we’ll have a good time.”
I couldn’t say no, so I accepted but I needed to clean up, I had gone for my morning run and wasn’t presentable for so nice an offer. I asked her to give me 20 minutes to clean up and I’d be right over. With that Abbie walked merrily back to her house and as I was about close the door she turned and said as she wagged a finger at me and said,
“Don’t take too long, don’t think I won’t come back to get you.”
“I’ll be right over, don’t worry” I replied with a grin on my face.
I went to the bathroom because I needed to shower quickly and then head on out. I trimmed my two-week-old beard down to stubble, and I set out the most presentable clothes I had. As I looked in the mirror I tried to put on my happiest face, I hadn’t expected to need to be pleasant that Christmas, in those days I always made an excuse to avoid company on Christmas because that’s when it was hardest for me to socialize. I wasn’t managing to set myself at ease so, as I usually did when I needed to cut loose, I went into the kitchen for some liquid courage in the form of half of a bottle of wine, I also set out another to take with me to thank them for having me over. I hopped into the shower and when I came out I brushed my teeth to make sure I didn’t have the smell of alcohol on me. I finally made my way to Lionel and Abbie’s house and as I walked near the car in the driveway, probably the granddaughter’s, I noticed there was a small Invader Zim bumper sticker on her car. At the very least we could talk cartoons, I made a note of it in case we ran out of stuff to talk about.
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