Were you worried that the third installment would never be posted? I know I was 😉
I had a difficult time deciding where to go with this story, and it might not be the perfect resolution. I hope you might enjoy it nonetheless 🙂
On a very small side note before we get to today’s short, I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens yesterday! Words can’t describe how great my anticipation for this film was and, despite it’s shortcomings, it is definitely one of my favourite movies of this year! I’m hoping to post a review in the coming days, so keep your eyes open if you’re a fan 🙂
And now, to our story:
Father Christmas?, Part the Third
There were a fair amount of presents under the tree, most of them for Max. She could pick out the awkwardly wrapped ones among the more delicately. Sam knew well that these packages held gifts from the nearest Dollarama, chosen by Max with the help of his grandmother. Tacky items, she loved them more dearly than anything else.
As pleased as she was with the number of gifts she had managed to procure for her son, her heart was heavily burdened by the absence of his most desired present. She had not found anything that could replace the father he wanted, and had stayed up most of the night wracking her brain for any solution. The plan she had ultimately devised was far from perfect; she hoped without conviction that it would be enough.
Trepidation churned in her stomach all the while that Max delighted in unwrapping every present. He exclaimed at the sight of each: from Star Wars figurines to a new soccer ball. Even the two books she had purchased for him: The Cat in the Hat and Encyclopedia Brown were greeted with looks of awe.
When at last the wrapping paper and bows had finally settled on the ground, every box emptied, Max turned to her with wide, curious eyes.
She could hardly bear the look in them. There was a longing hidden behind it, a hope. He did not broach the topic himself, waiting for her to tell him whether or not he would get what he had asked Santa for.
“I have one more gift for you, Max,” she said, her voice cracking.
She passed him an envelope with his name written across it in a scribbled mess. She had done her best to disguise her handwriting; in doing so she had teetered on the brink of illegibility.
“It’s from your father.”
Max sank onto the floor beside her. His fingers shook with anticipation as they worked at opening the envelope, careful not to rip it. From it, he pulled forth a wrinkled piece of paper with worn edges and stain marks.
Sam had gone through enough trouble to give the impression of it having come a long way.
Max stared at it for a while, then passed it back to her.
“Will you read it for me?”
She frowned at him. “I know you can read it yourself.”
“But I want you to read it to me,” he insisted.
“Okay.” Sam took a deep breath and then read aloud the words that she herself had written.
“My dearest, Max. It seems like only yesterday when I first held you in my arms. My son. I was proud of you then. I am proud of you now.”
Max’s lip quivered. Despite his young age, he understood these words and embraced them in his innocent heart.
“I cannot remember the last time I saw you and every day I wish that we may be reunited. I want to come back to you. To your mom. I want us to be a family again. And one day, we will be.
“For now, I have to stay away. I promised to help people, to protect those who can’t protect themselves. And that is what I do. I defend the world against those who would attack it. But don’t be afraid. You aren’t in any danger. Because I am protecting you too. By keeping the world safe, I am keeping you safe too, and waiting impatiently for the day when I can come home.
“Until then, be strong and brave. Follow your heart, believe in your dreams. I love you. Your father.”
Sam lowered the page and observed her son with caution. His eyes were wet. He had been affected by the words she had read, the words she had written. Maybe she had gone a little overboard with the whole part about saving the world, but there hadn’t seemed to be any better way to explain why a father wouldn’t come home, and ‘The Avengers’ had been playing on the TV at 1:00 in the morning.
She waited to hear what Max would say. He was only four, after all. Chances were most of the letter had gone right over his head.
At last, he said: “I know you wrote that, Mommy.”
Sam stared, dumbfounded. She had always known that Max was a smart kid, but she had never expected that level of precociousness. “No, your Daddy did,” she insisted.
Max crawled closer to her and touched her cheek with a hand. “I love you, Mommy.”
He hugged her then, a tight embrace that evoked a warmth to build in her heart. It spread through her, to her toes, to her eyes where it came out in a wave of tears.
“I love you, baby. I’m sorry I couldn’t bring your Daddy home for Christmas.”
Max pressed his lips to her cheek. “At least I have the best Mommy in the world.”
“And I have the best son.”
It was some sort of Christmas miracle, and Sam felt validated in her earlier convictions. They had been, and always would be fine, just the two of them. And one day, she would find Max a Dad who could deserve his love.
For now, she remained grateful for Max. Her most precious gift. Her greatest blessing.
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,
© 2015. Faith Rivens.