Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Necklace (Blogophilia 44.9)

..Do you hear what I hear?
Kristy turned off the radio. If she heard another carol or hymn, she’d scream. Bah, humbug. Scrooge was right. Happy this and miracle that. It really was just another day to pick your pocket. Looking into the living room, she sighed at the scraggly tree with Emily’s preschool ornaments, Jimmy’s tacky “Redneck Christmas” wreath, and only a couple of wrapped presents. She knew she should be grateful for what she had, but it was too much, the bills, the arguments. Now he’s late from work again. Was he seeing someone else? I wouldn’t be surprised, she thought as she grabbed another beer from the fridge.
“Mommy, why did you turn it off?” The little girl asked, twisting her red curls around her fingers.
Popping the can, she took a long drink sat down at kitchen table. His plate sat unused across from her.
“I don’t know. I’m just tired of Christmas.”
Emily rubbed Kristy’s back and put butterfly kisses in her tousled hair. 
“But, why?”
It was all she could do to keep from crying. She stared at the half finished can. 
“Just too much to do, and your Daddy is late again.”
Headlights reflected off the kitchen door. Slump shouldered, Jimmy walked in as she took the last slug. Emily squealed and ran towards him. He caught the leaping girl in a bear hug, planting a wet kiss on the side of her face. Kristy slammed the empty in the trash. 
“Where you been?”
“Wreck on 400.”
“You have a cellphone.” She opened another beer. “Your dinner is on the table. We’ve already eaten.” 
She wobbled into the living room before he could say anything else.
Sighing, he put his briefcase down. and down at the table. Another screaming match. He wondered how much longer they had. He still loved Kristy more than anything in the world, but this work situation was hard on both of them. Months of no work followed by mandatory overtime. He couldn’t tell from one day to next whether he’d be home in time to read to Emily. Nothing he could do was right. How did it all change? Maybe the box in his pocket would bring her around.
Emily brought him a glass of tea, then Mommy told her to get ready for bed. With a quick kiss, she tore out of the room. Jimmy smiled. She was her mother’s child, affectionate and quick tempered. Her tantrums were as fiery as her scarlet hair and he loved her even when she screamed the loudest.
He thought about heating his plate, but after a taste, decided it was fine. Eating slowly, he couldn’t help but be grateful for what he had. Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim were right, he thought. Even with the work and money problems, he still had his family and no amount of money could replace that. He wondered if Kristy felt the same way. When he was finished, he rinsed his dish and put in the washer. He wasn’t going to hear that argument tonight, anyway. Opening a beer for himself, he went into the living room to watch TV. 
Kristy was in her chair watching some soap opera. She was still upset and probably one wrong word from throwing stuff. Silently, he sat on the sofa and sipped slowly from the can. 
The silence was toxic.
“You did clean your plate?”
“I would think you’d have enough respect to call. I mean, how many times do I have to tell you that?”
“Look, Kristy, it’s Christmas Eve. Can’t we at least be civil?”
She took the last slug from her can and expertly crushed it flat.
“Why? You aren’t very civil to me or Emily.”
“Don’t bring her into this.”
A little voice piped up from the hallway.
“I know a Mommy and Daddy that need a nap.”
They both stopped and turned. Emily, her panda pajamas, had a frown on her face. Kristy’s irritation was obvious.
“Why aren’t you in bed, Young Lady?”
Skipping across the carpet, she grabbed Mommy’s hand and sat her next to Daddy.
“You two need to say sowwy to each other. Yelling isn’t allowed at Chwistmas or Santa’s not going to bwing you nothin’.”
They looked at each other and then at the earnest little face. 
“Now, kiss and make up!”
Their anger slipped away. Stifling a giggle, Jimmy leaned over and gave a retreating Kristy a peck on the lips. As she broke free, her hand felt the bulge in his pocket and stopped. What did he spend money on now? She tried to get up, but Emily pushed her back down.
“No, Daddy. Give her a mushy movie star kiss. She’s been sad all day. It’ll make her happy.”
Jimmy grinned. Just like her mother, always thinking of someone else.
“Maybe, I should give her what Santa gave me.”
The little blue eyes widened. Kristy didn’t know what to do.
“You saw Santa?!”
Jimmy knelt down and looked deep into her eyes.
“Yes, Sweetheart, I did on the way home from work. He told me that Mommy was such a good girl she should get her present early.” Emily looked at her mommy, sinking lower into the sofa. 
“What is it?”
“Well, she has to come over here and see.”
Reluctantly, Kristy slid over. Jimmy pulled the plain long box out his pocket and opened it. Inside was an inexpensive silver necklace with heart shaped locket. 
“Kristy. I know we don’t have much money, but I found this at a thrift store and knew you would like it.”
Pulling it out, he opened the locket. Inside was a small picture of the three they had taken at church when school started. Tears sprung up at the corner of Kristy’s eyes.
“Oh, Jimmy. Our picture!” 
He fastened the chain around her neck. 
“When you wear it, we will always be next to your heart. It is where I want to be now and for all time. Now, let’s give our little girl the mushy movie star kiss she wants.”
There was no hesitation. Kristy pulled the screaming Emily between them and together they kissed her up and down her face. 
“Mommy! You’re the one that supposed to be kissed.”
Putting her down, Kristy looked into her daughter’s eyes and saw herself. There really was a lot to be grateful for. Kristy then kissed Jimmy like there was no tomorrow, only coming up once to say how much she loved him and how this Christmas was the best. 
Emily went to bed, satisfied. As she closed her door, she heard Mommy squealing. Daddy was tickling her. She turned out the light and slipped under her covers. She knew not to ask for a story because they would be making the funny animal noises soon. They always made Emily happy because she knew they were happy, too. 
And that was the bestest present of all.

Easy Prompt-Use a Christmas Carol (Little Drummer Boy)
Pic Guesses: 99 Bottles of Beer, Redneck Special (in blog), Beer with Jesus, Beer Money, A Tear in my Beer, 12 days of Redneck Christmas, , Red Green Christmas.

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