A Little Christmas Tree

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It was a freezing snowy evening the day before Christmas eve 1842, but ten year old Christabel still wanted to go outside. Her parents had gone to the theatre and with tomorrow being a busy day the servants had all gone to bed early, expect for Christabel’s Nanny and maid.

The three of them were sat before the crackling fireplace in the nursery. Nanny and maid were sewing up holes in socks and dresses, they were growing tired with the heat of the room and the darkness. Christabel had been reading a book of poetry but she was finding it difficult and her mind kept wondering.

She looked over at the window and saw in the glow of the gaslights from the street below that it was snowing again. The silent, soft balls of white were floating down lazily, brushing against the frosty glass.

‘I want to go out,’ Christabel declared, there was still a slight lingering of a french accent to her words.

Nanny looked up at her then over to the window, ‘it’s late and snowing,’ she answered.

‘I don’t care,’ Christabel declared.

Throwing her book down, she left the nursery and went to her bedroom. Christabel pulled out her red winter coat which she put on over her white evening dress then sort a hat to match.

‘I really do not think this is a good idea. It is all most bed time,’ Nanny said from the doorway.

Christabel ignored her and emptied more of the wardrobe out, scattering the clothes around with no care.

Her maid came forward and with the ease of knowing her little mistress’ wardrobe, found a suitable white hat with a red flower, black ankle walking boots and a white hand muff. She dressed the child quickly as she had down for years now, without saying a word. The maid knew her place well.

‘I want to go out,’ Christabel stated and now dressed, she left the room.

With a sign, Nanny returned to her room to get ready. The maid began tidying away all the clothes. Christabel walked down the grand staircase, the gaslights on the wall pooling light around and casting shadows on the paintings high above. The silence and stillness of the house give Christabel a slight chill but she would not show it or say anything to the servants.

Stepping into the hallway, Christabel found that only one gas lamp had been left on. The housekeeper had left it for her parents return. The stretching corridor behind her looked unfamiliar, dark, scary and she imagined it full of wild animals waiting to eat her. Christabel turned her back on it and looked at the front door.

Soon Nanny joined her and they walked out together. The snow fluttered around them and Christabel with all child wonder, looked up and around. She smiled and wanted to laugh but held it in. They walked across to the little park that stood in the middle of a square shape block of houses. There was no one else out but them.

The snow was thick and untouched on the ground, they walked down the path which could be just made out in the dim glow of the street gas lamps. Christabel breathed in the cold air, it chilled her but she felt warm enough not to complain. From between the evergreen bushes which the snow was slowly turning white, she saw something shinning.

‘What is that?’ she pointed out.

Nanny looked and replied, ‘I do not know.’

Christabel walked over and found that near the bandstand someone had put up a pine tree and decorated it. Glass coloured balls, white frill lacy, other little ornaments decorated the branches and at the top a red star. She stared in wonder, it was so beautiful and she had not seen anything like it before.

‘Oh,’ Nanny said, ‘it’s a Christmas tree.’

Christabel repeated the words to herself in a whisper.

‘It is pretty,’ Nanny added, ‘the king and queen have one. They are becoming fashionable.’

Still in silent wonder, Christabel looked at the reflection of light and snow in the glass balls. There was something magical and awing about the decorated tree that she  could not look away or think of what to say.

‘We should get back now,’ Nanny spoke after a minute or so, ‘it’s getting colder and the snow is thickening.’

‘What will happened to the tree?’ Christabel asked.

‘I…Nothing. People will come to admire it and maybe on Christmas day everyone will sing and give gifts around it.’

Christabel nodded and looked up at the star which seemed to be shinnying.

A cold wind started blowing, the snow fell faster and thicker.

Nanny took Christabel’s hand, ‘we need to go now. You can come back and see the tree again.’

‘Yes,’ Christabel answered.

Together they walked back. Nanny wanted to go quickly but the snow half-blinded them and the path was slippy as the new snow was freezing on top of the layer they had walked on. Tall trees loomed on the path, shaking in the wind and making them both feel nervous.

They reached the park gates soon enough and were back on the well light street. Stopping to get there breath, they both heard the clip clop of horses’ hoofs and the creaking of wooden wheels. Around a corner came a black handsome cab pulled by a dappled grey mare.

The carriage stopped outside a house and the driver helped two figures get out. The horse stomped on the ground, eager to be off to a warm stable. The reins rattled loudly then the handsome’s door was banged shut and the driver snapped the reins. The mare neighed and walked on.

Nanny and Christabel crossed over and walked up the gate of the house. The figures before them had seemed to be heading this way too and as the front door opened and light was realised out, Christabel saw her parents.

‘Mama! Papa!’ she shouted.

Her parents turned on the doorstep, dressed in all their theatre finer, Christabel ran up to meet them, almost falling over.

‘Come and see what we found in the park!’ she cried.

‘Christabel what are you doing awake and out at this hour?’ Mama demanded, ‘get inside at once!’

Christabel stepped into the house, still talking as she tried to tell her parents all about the walk, the snow and the Christmas tree. Her parents did not seem to be listening to her though. They are taking off coats and hats.

Nanny helped Christabel out of her things, not saying anything though the child included her. Nanny kept her eyes down, she knew she was in trouble with the Master and wanted nothing to do with the child’s talk of the tree.

‘What are you going on about?’ Mama finally cut in.

Christabel opened then shut her mouth, realising her parents had not been listening to her. She felt a bubble of emotion and tears pricked her eyes. She held her breath and tried to keep it all in. Her parents disliked it when Christabel got hysterical and they would not give into her demands then.

‘Miss Lockwood,’ Papa spoke addressing Nanny.

‘Yes, Sir,’ the Nanny began the gushed, ‘Miss wanted to see the snow in the gas lights, how wonderful it is! We went to the park and someone has decorated a tree there like the king and queen have in the palace. It was pretty and Miss I think would like to have one of her own in the house.’

Christabel nodded looking at both her parents full of excitement as a silent crept in.

‘We will see about it tomorrow,’ Papa answered, ‘now to bed.’

‘Thank you, Papa!’ Christabel cried.

She kissed her parents, bid them goodnight and went upstairs. Nanny trailed behind, carrying everything up, glad that things had worked out.

A Winter Storm #WeeklyWritingChallenge

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Harper went to draw the curtains at the living room’s floor to ceiling windows of her three bedroom top floor London apartment. She stopped and looked out. Normally she could see much of London’s high end business streets, fancy apartment blocks and Big Ben on the skyline.

Tonight though, a snowstorm had hit the city and it was really coming down now. The large, heavy white flakes were sticking to everything, even things that were normally warm. The wind was gale force, gusting at 30-40 miles, creating a white blindness against the darkness and the noise it was making was louder then the London traffic jams far below.

Clutching the curtain, Harper said aloud, ‘I’ve only seen snow like this on TV in those snowed-in romantic movies. Well, it doesn’t look ‘lovely’ to me.’

She closed the curtain on the scene and as she did so she heard Big Ben strike the hour. Frowning, Harper opened the curtains and tried to look out but she could barely see anything. She listened hard but heard nothing then the howling wind.

I thought they were still repairing things, the bell and clock haven’t worked in months. How can Ben chime then? Maybe, I miss heard it? Harper thought.

Closing the curtains finally, she turned away and back to the tidy open living room. The fake fire was going in the wall, the warmth coming off it making everything cosy. The other walls were decorated with framed photos of family and friends, Harper and her husband, Hugo, at there wedding five years ago, on their honeymoon, other holidays and celebrations. The larger frames were decorate with sprigs or small garlands of real green ivy and red berries.

There was a medium size Christmas tree, shinning in the corner next to the fireplace. The red and gold colours of all the decorations and lights give a magical feeling. Other Christmas decorations hung about or were on display from shelves, adding to theme. On and around the glass coffee table were stack boxes of presents, rolls of colourful wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, labels, sticky table and scissors.

Harper went back to the red bean bag chair next to the coffee table, where she had been curled up in before. There was a fresh cup of herbal tea on the table and the TV which was turned down low showed Christmas music videos.

Sipping her tea, Harper looked at her list and decided what presents to wrap next. Not for the first time she wish Hugo was here. She looked up at the photos and his smiling face. He had gone to Germany a few days ago on a business trip and had been due back tonight but the snowstorm had grounded all the planes coming to London and Hugo had phoned hours ago to say he was spending the night in a hotel.

Harper turned the volume up on the TV as a classic Christmas song came on; I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. She hummed along as she started wrapping again. Soon she had drink her tea, sing along to more songs, found enjoyment in wrapping the presents again and Hugo had slipped from her mind.

It grew super late before Harper realised but she had finished the bow on the last present. Yawning, she put everything away and turned off the TV. Hugo had phoned to say goodnight two hours ago down a static line which was then cut off. Harper had held the phone in sadness for a few moments then decided nothing could be done and carried on with her task.

Big Ben chimed midnight.

Harper stopped, her fingers had been reaching to turn the fireplace off. She listened, counting the tolling bell sound. Reaching twelve, she turned the fire off then the Christmas tree lights and went to the window. Moving the curtain she looked out but the snowstorm was still swirling and she could barely see the lights of the neighbouring buildings.

‘Maybe, they have finished working on the clock tower?’ she said aloud.

Dropping the curtain, Harper went to bed and slept well. All that present wrapping had exhausted her.

The next day, Harper found that the snowstorm had almost brought London to a stop. All the roads were blocked by cars and buses not going anywhere as the roads were covered. Pavements were crowed by people trying to go to work or the shops but they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere either. The snow lay thick on roof tops and didn’t seem to be melting.

Harper phoned in work and told her secretary, who always seemed to be in the office no matter what, that she wasn’t going to even try and come in and would work from home. Then she added that if the snow started again, her secretary was to go home, no excuses! Then setting herself up in the study which was the third bedroom, Harper worked the day away.

In the afternoon, the snow started falling again. Light at first but then as the sky darkened heavier. Harper phoned and texted her husband a few times but got no response. She had no idea if he was coming home or not. Harper ate dinner late, setting the table for one and having a glass of red wine to calm herself. She watched the snow falling and the twinkling Christmas at the windows of other apartments.

Big Ben chimed seven o’clock.

Harper lowered her wine glass from her lips and picked up her phone. She did an internet search and found that her thought before had been right; the bell had been stopped from chiming expect for special events, whilst repairs were done to the tower. So, she shouldn’t be hearing it. What was that bell chime then? A local church bell?

Whatever, it doesn’t matter, Harper thought and she had some more wine.

Afterwards, she took the rest of the bottle and sat before the TV to watch some movies. No word came from Hugo and every hour, Harper heard a bell ring. It turned midnight again and sleepily, Harper went to bed.

Laying there, she couldn’t get the idea of Big Ben sounding out of her head though. There was no other sound like it and Harper had lived in and around London all her life, so she knew all the noises well enough. Perhaps, she thought, before sleep claimed her, someone put it on in the spirit of Christmas? 

Next morning, Harper found Hugo asleep on the sofa, still dressed from travelling and suitcase next to him.

‘Hugo?’ Harper called and touched his shoulder.

He stirred and woke up.

‘What time did you get in?’ she asked.

‘Couple of hours ago. Didn’t want to wake you, you looked so peaceful,’ Hugo replied, his voice rough with tiredness.

‘I’m up now, so why don’t you go to bed for bit?’

Hugo nodded and taking his suitcase went into their bedroom. Harper straightened the sofa then had breakfast. Afterwards, despite the food delivery three days ago, Harper decided to go to the shops. It wasn’t snowing, but there was frozen piles on the streets and it was freezing.

Setting out, Harper thought about walking to see Big Ben but it would be too long a walk.

What do you hope to prove anyway? That you’re not hearing things? 

Harper shook her head and walked to a local shops. She got everything to make Hugo his favourite – lamb chops and sticky toffee pudding for after. Then she brought the maps up on her phone and looked to see if there where any churches or chapels close by. They didn’t seem to be any.

Walking home, Harper told herself it was only a ringing church bell after all. Back home, she busied herself with tidying up, checking work emails and her phone. When Hugo got up, they had a late lunch and talked.

Harper decided to bring up the bell, ‘Last night I heard Big Ben ringing. Do you think they put it back on?’

‘I thought it was taking them years to do the work?’ Hugo said, ‘it’s Christmas though, so maybe they have?’

‘I want to go and see it,’ Harper said.

‘The bell? I didn’t think you could…The clock and tower are covered in scaffolding, so there’s nothing to see.’

‘It doesn’t matter,’ Harper muttered.

She collected the plates and went into the kitchen.

That night in bed, listening every hour, Harper heard the bell sound. She couldn’t sleep. Hugo felt too warm next to her and his breathing, plus snoring, too loud. Harper got up, thinking she would get a cup of herbal tea.

Standing by the window, sipping tea, Harper watched fine snow drifting down and the dim lights of the city.

Big Ben chimed three AM.

Maybe, it’s all in my head, Harper thought, I’m so use to hearing Ben that my mind is just filling in the sound? Unless…bells have ghosts. Is that even possible? Have I been hearing the ghost of Big Ben?  

Harper laughed, finished her tea and went back to bed.

The idea of Big Ben’s ghost didn’t want to leave her though. So, the next day, her and Hugo walked to the Houses of Parliament. Hugo had been right; scaffolding ran from floor to almost the top of the tower, hiding the clock who’s hands were stopped. There were a few notices around explaining to visitors what was happening.

‘It says here the work will be complete in twenty-twenty-one and Big Ben will only strike on special occasions, like New Year,’ Hugo read aloud.

‘So, it’s not Ben I’m hearing?’ Harper spoke.

‘Looks that way.’

Harper sighed and looked up – a long way up – at the clock face. Above a dark grey sky was threatening more snow and Harper thought she could feel water drops on her face.

‘Feel better now?’ Hugo asked.

‘I don’t know,’ Harper responded.

She touched her forehead but didn’t feel hot or unwell.

I feel….unsettled, Harper decided.

‘Pub lunch?’ Hugo asked.

Harper nodded and let him led her away.

She didn’t hear the bell chime again after that.

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/12/03/weekly-writing-challenge-170/ with thanks).

Dark #writephoto

The first snowflake fell onto my book’s open page before I could turn it. I paused, tutted and watched the flake melt into a water dot over a word. Turning my head up, I saw the sky had grown dark with heavy unfriendly grey clouds. It was time to go home.

Gathering my things, I knew everyone thought I was strange. Why would a young woman go out to the lake to sit and read in the snow? I liked the peace and the distance from people. I didn’t feel the cold at all, in fact, I didn’t feel anything and hadn’t since the incident.

With everything neatly placed in my army hiking bag, I began walking back. The snow was deep but my footprints from hours ago were still clearer. I traced over them but the opposite way this time. The wind picked up as more snowflakes began to fall. I powered on, enjoying the feeling and sight of raw nature.

I almost slipped into the lane but was able to hold on. There were a few four by four car tire tracks marking their way through the snow. A few meters up, off to the side lay an abandoned blue car, half buried in the snow. I had checked as I’d arrived and no one was inside, thankfully. They’d have frozen out here.

A few minutes later and I’d arrived at the edge of the village. The tops of houses stuck out of the snow like early spring flowers. Nobody was walking the streets or driving down the roads. They were all inside, sat by fires, keeping warm and safe. I should have been so too, but there was only so much of being inside I could handle.

I needed to be out, feeling all kinds of weather against my skin. Doing something physical and being my past self. I wasn’t very good at being a ‘normal person,’ it had been sort of trained out of me. I had liked that life, it give me my place in the world but now on almost permanent leave due to injury and mental health problems, everything had been turned around.

Reaching the front door of my parents’ cottage, I didn’t want to go in. The urge to stay outside lingered. However, the wind was really howling and blowing now heavy snowflakes into me. So unless I wanted to get lost in a blizzard and or possibly die, it was time to go in and find another way to spend my time.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/03/01/thursday-photo-prompt-dark-writephoto/ with thanks).

Snow Fall #FridayFictioneers

Looking out of my window, I was surprised to see deep snow covering the street. It was early in the morning, so the streetlamps were making the falling flakes sparkle. Frowning, I wondered how unpredictable snowstorms were. No one had said anything about this and though a few people would be happy, I wouldn’t be.

My wedding was in a few hours. The idea of cancelling, drifted into mind but it was impossible. Rain would be worse, I told myself and at least the wedding photos will look really pretty. It was hard to feel sure though.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/02/14/16-february-2018/ with thanks).

The Village #TwitteringTales

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Gunther looked out his window, shaking his head. This was the worse snow fall the mountain village had ever seen. People could barely get out of their homes but worse no one could save them. Gunther eyed his axe in the corner and knew he had to do something.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/01/23/twittering-tales-68-23-january-2018/ with thanks).

Cosy

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She was glad she had worn her new cosy winter boots on the walk. They were wool lined, waterproof and with a good grip so dealing with the snow was much easier. The afternoon outing, with her husband, of a romantic tour around the abbey ruinings and a nice hot chocolate at the cafe before heading home however, hadn’t gone to plan.

Instead, they had been caught up in a snowstorm and had to huddle under a crumbing archway. The cafe was closed – staff sickness- and waiting things out had seemed better then trying to battle through them. Nestling together, they tried to keep warm and out of the worst of it.

The wind howled about them, finding many holes and hallows in the abbey ruinings to echo in. The snow fell like a thick fog; blinding and cruel which was made more wild by the wind. In addition, darkness had began to fall too and the sky that had been an icy blue with tinted grey clouds was now a dull black.

She thought about trying to leave. It wasn’t far to their house and they had both lived in this village their whole lifes, so even in weather like this they could find their way. She looked up at her husband and yelling as loud as she could told him, ‘maybe we should try to go back!’

He stared into the storm, weighing things up before answering, ‘no! We need to wait till it gets better. It’s dangerous. But perhaps, we could move to somewhere better. That area were the stone coffins are.’

Holding hands they walked through the archway and around some low stone walls. The wind and snow whipped around them as if to make them go back, but they struggled on till they reached the enclosed chapel space. Here, through a single doorway, four solid walls and half a roof blocking out most of the storm. There were also two examples of the stone coffins in a corner.

Shaking off the snow as best they could, they settled into the other corner and watched the snow rage through the open section of the roof. They were far enough away not to be as effected though. She snuggled into him, trying to grip some of the romance back but it was hard when you were both frozen and just wanted to go home.

‘Do you think it’ll last much longer?’ she asked.

‘Hard to tell. We’ll try and stay for as long as possible,’ he replied.

After sometime had passed in which they had held each other and shared kisses, the storm dropped a little. The snow was still coming down but the wind wasn’t as wild. Deciding now was the time, they headed out and made their way slowly back home.

 

(Inspired by; https://lindaswritingblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/a-good-word with thanks

Winter Forever

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The world had never been the same since the Evil Knight had taken over. We were all trapped in a snowstorm of winter, waiting to be freed. I didn’t believe the stories that a princess would come and melt his heart, this was beyond fairy tales now. No, I was going to do it; the village blacksmith with muscles described like ships’ anchors and a mighty warhammer made of long lost dwarf metals which I had perfected for years. There was no failure in my mind, only the hope that I was going to change the world.

(Inspired by; https://bikurgurl.com/2017/12/06/100-word-wednesday-week-48 with thanks).

Bleak #writephoto

The winter had stripped the land bare. The only place to go which the snow didn’t cover were the rocks jutting out of the sea. It was there that I stood that day and wondered what we would do if the winter remained. The wind whipped the lowering tide up and spray wet my flushed cheeks. The sky was dusky and the clouds heavy with another snow storm.

With my gloved hands, I pulled my cloak tighter around me. I was use to the freezing chill now. We had suffered five months of this bleak weather. Balancing on the jagged rock tops, I walked across to the tiny temple which the out going tide had revealed. I had no idea who had built the four short pillars and roof but we had always come here to worship the Goddess of nature and the God of the sea.

Everyday since the snowstorms had started, everyone had visited the temples once or twice a day. They prayed that spring came and that the snow went away. I had gone to but then I just couldn’t face it anymore. So, whilst the starving town and village peoples knelt together and muttered prayers, I came out here, to the edge of the world to look for something else.

Entering the temple, I could see the sea on three sides. The waves were a tumbling mass with chunks of ice floating on top. I watched two larger shards bump together then ride away on the waves. Water was dripping off the columns and there was seaweed on the floor. I picked that up and tossed it away. There were some worn etchings underneath.

I wrapped my skirt and cloak around myself before kneeling down. I traced the patterns slowly. They felt familiar and yet I didn’t know what they said. Perhaps, they were nothing but a pretty design on the floor or maybe a prayer. I hoped they were much more though. A spell maybe, to call upon Goddess’ help.

Looking up at the roof, I could see the same patterns up there and they were clearer. The sea had done less damage up there. There was the imagine of the sun and moon coming together, the sea rising below them and a gust of wind moving them. Then there were other symbol pictures and things that looked like words. If only I could understand!

I hung my head and clutched at my skirt. Even if I knew what it said, who was I to cast a spell? There had been no wizards or witches here for years and the wise women and hermits I knew didn’t seem to be magic users. Hugging myself, I sensed the strange feeling in my stomach. It was warm, fluttering, almost like a warm breeze wanting to take me somewhere deep within myself.

Coming here made it stronger, somehow but no matter what I couldn’t seem to follow the warm breeze. I was too weak to reach it. I pressed my hands to the tiny temple floor and breathed in deeply. I willed that feeling to get stronger, even if I couldn’t do anything with it yet, I asked it to help in whatever way it could.

I believed as hard as I could then I felt a snowflake on my nose. Blinking open my eyes, I looked across and saw that another snowfall was starting. The waves were also rising up and darkness was fast approaching. Getting up, I wondered how it had gotten so late, it hadn’t seemed I’d been here long.

Saying a quick prayer, I left the tiny temple and carefully walked over the rock tops. The wind tugged at me almost as if it wanted me to go back and the snow was making the rocks harder to cross. The rocks gave way to dirt and grass which the snow covered faster. I stumbled on, the strange feeling inside of me gone and my mind only on getting home.

Something though seemed to be happening behind me. There was a blue circle of light growing. Perhaps it was just the sea coming back in? I paused and looked but it was hard to make out. The wind blew my hood down, I gasped an turned back again. Either I could open my cloak, remove my hands and put the hood back or I could keep the warm against my body.

The storm was growing, blinding me with snow flurries and forcing me backwards. I tripped on something and fell down. I pulled my hood up and huddled on the ground, hoping it would be over soon. I saw that blue light again and realised that it wasn’t the sea but magic!

I gasped and forgetting everything else, I reached out for it. The light was warm and fluttery, it ran though my hands then was gone. The wind dropped and the snow slowed. I wiped my face, there were icy tears on my cheeks. The blue light was gone and behind me at the temple was nothing.

I got up and walked home. The snow stopped before I got there.

And that was the end of winter.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/11/23/thursday-photo-prompt-bleak-writephoto/ with thanks.)

Snow Storm

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The snow claimed everything like an anger cosmic god.

Harding, cracking and bending everything as it went.

Transfixing people with it’s beauty and making them forget how deadly it could be.

Winter Sounds

Todd didn’t think he had seen winter weather so bad before. He stood by the window and watched the stormy winds whipping the snowflakes into a frenzy amongst the pine trees. The sound of this and the movement of the tree branches were both scary and interesting to him. On one hand he could imagine some massive, perhaps prehistoric monster, howling and shaking the trees as it threw the snow around. On the other, he knew the sound was just the gale force winds battering through the trees and causing all the frozen snow, which had fallen in the last few days, to disperse.

He glanced over his shoulder, though his vision was filled with the winter snow, he saw the humped shape of his wife in bed. He half wanted to wake her up and invite her to watch the snow storm with him, but he decided that was a bad move. She was all ready mad with him over the fact he had convinced her to come away for a Christmas holiday and they were now snowed in the fake log cabin, holiday home. Todd scratched at his growing beard and reflected on the conversation they had before he had booked the holiday and it had just been an idea brought on by his insomnia.

‘How do you fell about going away in December?’

‘For a weekend? It’ll have to be in the first week. I’ll be too busy after that. Where did you have in mind? London to see Jennie? I don’t really want to be traveling far.’

‘No, I was thinking  more of a week holiday. Maybe at the county club? Or at that nice hotel we went to last spring in the Lake District?’

‘Are you serious?’

‘Yes and actually I was thinking of going Christmas week. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was just the two of us?’

‘But what about my family? Christmas dinner, the presents?’

‘Well, we can give the presents before we leave, or afterwards. However you want, but I really think this will be a good idea. We can have a quiet time whilst everyone else gets stressed. Plus, we’ve not had a holiday alone this year.’

‘I don’t know Todd, I get what you are saying, but I’m always with my family for Christmas. It’s just the way things are. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why you don’t feel the same.’

‘Let me at least look into it, please? It won’t be that much trouble and it will help us decided. Please, Maggie?’

Reluctantly, she had agreed and from that moment on he had pressured her and twisted her arm about going. She had given in at the last minute and even though her displeasure had spoiled the preparation, the travel and the first two days, he had ignored her attitude and believed she would see things his way soon enough.

The wind drew his attention once more with a loud moan like sound. He opened the window letting it in. A handful of snow came into and the room felt a touch colder. Smiling, he embraced the cold wind and wet flakes on his face. He felt almost childlike and marvelled in that.

His wife moved in the bed, detangling herself from the sheets and duvet. She looked round and spotting him next to the open window, frowned and got out of the bed.

‘What are you doing?’

‘Experiencing winter sounds.’

‘Are you mad? It’s freezing. Go outside if you want to do that!’

Shrugging, Todd shut the window and went to put on his things. He heard his wife in the bathroom, then in the kitchen. She called his name just as his hand was reaching for the door handle.

‘Yes?’

‘Do you want a drink?’

‘No. I’m going out.’

Whatever her next words were got lost in the blizzard he let in as he opened the door. Stepping out quickly, he closed it again, but he already knew snow had gotten into the hallway and that icy wind would been rushing around his wife’s legs. Pulling up his hood, he turned away all the same and walked into the snow.

Around him, the wind howled like a wolf pack at his heels. Snow blew about, getting under his hood and into his boots. He forced his way against the wind and went to stand in between the nearby pine trees. There he watched how the wind shook the tree tops with such force as almost snapping the trunks. Oddly, though the wind hadn’t seemed to be able to clear the trees of snow has he had wondered about. It must have been frozen on there, but he couldn’t really inspect that because snowflakes were getting into his eyes.

Dropping his head, he felt the first tingles of chill in his legs and fingers, even though he was completely covered and he’d only been outside a few minutes. He listened, but heard nothing other than the wind with the snow and branches. He wished Maggie could experience this, even if she didn’t like the cold nor the fact they were now stuck here for New Year’s. At least he had tried, but he couldn’t be blamed for the weather.