A Christmas story by: Arne Overbeek
...continue with part 5 - The End
Kaylee filled her lungs with air and slowly let it escape again while making a peephole with the sleeve of her nightie on the window, which was covered with ice flowers. She peered out along the snow-covered slope and followed the path down between the tall spruce trees. Somewhere in the distance lay the small village where her father worked in the sawmill. Every morning before the sun came up, he kissed her forehead and said goodbye. Left the cottage and descended on the road to the village. At this time of year, there was little work and the small amount of money coming in was mainly from the sale of ‘Christmas’ trees and logs for the fireplace. Kaylee had become used to the long hours she spent alone in the little cottage until her father came home in the evening. She did the housekeeping, prepared dinner, and massaged his tired feet as he sat down exhausted in the old chair. It was a hard life, but a good one as well. They had each other and that was all that mattered. After dinner, when all the jobs were done, she brought him the wooden pipe and the bag of tobacco. She loved the way he filled his pipe, lit it with a long match, and blew the first white-grey circles of smoke into the room. Then he started telling her stories.
The stories about her mother were the highlight of the day. Kaylee had been too young to remember much about her. She was only four when this sickness claimed her mother's life, and she was left behind with her father. Yet it was her father's stories that made her feel her mother was never far away.
Kaylee turned away from the window, where large snowflakes formed a new layer on the iced glass. She shivered for a moment as the wind howled around the house. Time to get dressed. There is still a lot of work to be done.
Kaylee - Part 2
Two hours later a bunch of laundries were hung up to dry in front of the fireplace, in which large orange flames feasted on a pile of logs. A perfectly draped tablecloth with a floral pattern lay on the round wooden table. On top of that a bowl with three red shiny apples. Kaylee routinely used the long broom with which she wiped away the last crumbs of the simple breakfast they had that morning when there was a knock on the door. Visitors? She looked up in surprise. With the exception of the postman from the village, few people managed to find their little home. She put the broom against the mantelpiece and went to the door where she pushed the iron bolt aside.
The door flew open, and Kaylee struggled to prevent the strong wind from pulling the heavy wooden door from her hands. "Come in quickly," she called to the woman standing in the doorway. The woman quickly stepped over the threshold, helping Kaylee push the door back into the lock.
"Boy, I didn't notice it was so bad outside. The first snowstorm of the season " Kaylee wiped the sweat from her forehead with one arm and looked dazed at the floor, where heaps of snow had been left behind by the wind.
"I'm so sorry," the woman said. "I was on my way to the village but was overwhelmed by the snow. Could I wait here until the worst is over? "Kaylee nodded and only now saw the woman's wet hair and clothes. 'Of course come and sit here by the fireplace, and I'll get you a towel. ”She pushed one of the two armchairs that were in the house to the fireplace and made it clear to the woman that she had to sit down while she turned to her father's large bedroom to grab one of the towels that were lying there on a shelf. Half an hour later, the woman - dressed in Kaylee's father's sweater and pants - sat in the chair with a warm bowl of soup, watching in admiration how Kaylee put the wet clothes on the washing line and poked up the fire a little.
Kaylee - Part 3
"You know how to take care of yourself. Are you often alone at home? "
Kaylee nodded. "It’s just the two of us. My father and me. Sometimes someone from the village brings some stuff up to the house, such as Mrs Olmen from the grocery. But other than that... "She stopped for a moment, then shrugged her shoulders. There was a worrisome look in the woman's eyes as she softly ran her hand over Kaylee's long black hair. The girl seemed startled a bit and took a step back.
"Uhm. Are you from around here? I mean, I don't believe I've seen you before. Do you live in the village? " The woman did not seem to hear her and stared at two small statues on the wooden shelf above the fireplace. Kaylee followed her eyes. "The three kings," she said. Her voice was proud. "Mother made them when I was a baby:" The woman smiled. "Where is number three?" Kaylee's eyes started to fill with sadness. "I lost it." Her voice had now fallen to a soft whisper and a tear rolled down her cheek. "Last year I was decorating the tree when I had to go outside to get wood for the fireplace. I quickly put them in my pocket, but when I came back one of them was gone. I searched with my father everywhere, until months later the snow had completely disappeared, but we were never able to find it again. " The woman put the now-empty bowl back on the table, and with a small handkerchief gently wiped the tear from Kaylee's cheek. "You are a brave girl."
Kaylee shyly glanced at the floor for a moment but quickly recovered. "It has stopped snowing and the wind is not blowing that hard anymore. I still have some work to do" The woman stood up. "You’re right. I’ve spent enough of your time as it is. Do you mind if I bring these clothes back tomorrow? "Kaylee nodded. "I will put your clothes in a bag when they are dry, then you can take it with you tomorrow." The woman walked to the door. "I have to go." Kaylee walked with her and opened the door. Outside it was quiet and a pale sun turned the snow into a field of diamonds. The woman stepped into the snow which made a cracking sound, and turned around. "Goodbye Kaylee." I’ll see you tomorrow. "Then she descended the path through the trees toward the village.
Kaylee closed the door gently behind her. A wrinkle appeared in her forehead. Strange, she thought. "I don't remember giving her my name...'
Kaylee - Part 4
That evening, her father was not happy when she told him about the unexpected visitor. "You don't just have to let everyone in," he grumbled. "You never know what can happen. It's bad enough that I have to leave you here alone every day. I don't want to have to worry about who you invite to our house. "Kaylee stood behind her father and put an arm around his neck. "It was really a very sweet woman and you know that I am always very careful. I am already thirteen, and I really know how to take care of myself. " "Twelve!" He corrected her. "Your birthday is not before another month, and by the way, what was the name of this mysterious lady?" Kaylee smiled and kissed her father's cheek. "I'll ask her that tomorrow."
The woman had kept her word and had returned the following morning. She called herself Anouska and was visiting the village for a few days. She had suggested staying for a few hours to help Kaylee in the house and keep her company. The girl had gladly accepted the offer and couldn’t recall having such a nice time for a long, long while. Anouska had sung Christmas songs with a wonderful warm voice all day long, and Kaylee couldn’t get enough of it. That afternoon they had gone into the forest with a large basket, gathering all kinds of things like pine branches and cones, red berries and some holly. In the middle of the table, a large homemade piece of Christmas decoration had now replaced the bowl of apples. Kaylee had found some red ribbon and two white stubs of a candle in an old box with Christmas decorations, and put it in the middle of the table piece. Now she looked over the flames at the strange expression in her father's eyes.
"And she said her name was Anouska?" Her father's voice was so disbelieving that Kaylee raised her eyebrow. "Yeah, weird uh?. Isn’t that what you used to call mum al the time? "Her father blew a large white plume of smoke into the room and tapped his pipe on the small granite ashtray. "Yes, not a name that you hear that often." He seemed to be willing to say some more, but then changed his mind. "Come, kiss your old man goodnight and then go to bed. Tomorrow it’s Christmas. "Kaylee nodded happily and gave her father a big kiss on his forehead. "You are turning grey," she said, walking away to her room. At the door, she turned around for a moment. "It will be the most beautiful Christmas ever. I feel it. "Her eyes glowed as they had never done before. ..To Be Continued
Kaylee - Part 5
The little bird in the old cuckoo clock on the wall made her well-known call eleven times when the man got up from his chair. Through the years of caring and hard work, he looked older than he actually was. He walked with a somewhat stiff pace to the small chest of drawers in the corner of the room. He opened a small drawer and pulled out a yellowish sheet of paper that looked like it was a few years old, together with a small black box. He walked over to the window and stared outside. It was a clear evening and the black sky was full of white sparkling stars. One, in particular, seemed to be slightly larger and more brighter than the others. The man looked at the little note. His eyes followed the childish handwriting and read:
Wish list of Kaylee (8 yrs)
I’m not in need of mutch but my father could use a new coat. There are holes in his old ones.
They were small at first but are now very large.
If you can get him the coat, you don’t need to buy me anything except…
Are you a friend of God? I don't know exactly how this works, but if you see him, would you please ask him if I could spend one last day with my mum? He then can have her all the other days. It’s just that I miss her so much.
but I do understand if that is difficult to arrange, I just thought I could try.
The man carefully folded the paper back up and took the gold ring from the black box. He tenderly stroked the inscription inside with his thumb and read: Forever yours. Anna He ran his hand over his eyes and again stared outside. “Anouska" He called out softly. Than is broken voice whispered “Thank you Lord,"
The man carefully put everything back into the chest of drawers and stumbled to the bedroom. A small beam of light pierced the window and fell on the mantelpiece where the fire was slowly dying. It moved slowly as if guided toward the statues of the two kings that were left over. Next to them was a small package, wrapped in red cellophane paper with a silver-colored bow on top of it...
Dear reader, If you liked this story, or have any comments please let me know!!!!
Happy holidays and a very blessed 2020!,