While I rewrite the stories that appeared in my 2014 book, The Green Crystal Stories, I’m offering the original stories here in chapter-by-chapter installments.
“The past is but the beginning of a beginning.” —H.G. Wells
Chapter 5: December 25, 2006
The patter of bare feet on wood floor brought Addison from her slumber. Seconds later, a child’s voice whispered in an ear, “Merry Christmas, Mommy.”
She reached out from the blankets and pulled the girl in bed with her.
“Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday,” she said as she cuddled the child close to her bosom.
“I want to open presents,” the child said.
“Me, too,” a husky voice said.
Daniel rolled over and hugged his wife and daughter. For a moment, Addie saw a whirlwind of light around them. The image faded like gossamer memories slipping away like fog in the lamplight that Daniel brought to the room. She peeked at the clock: 6:03.
“Okay,” she said to him. “You take Sara downstairs and I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”
Daniel rolled from bed, scooped up their excited three-year-old daughter, and snatched his robe from the closet door.
The house phone rang next to the bed. She let Daniel answer it downstairs as she rose and stumbled toward the bathroom. In the hall, she bumped against a stand and knocked her blue diary to the floor. A photograph fell from the pages as she picked up the book. The photograph was of Sara at the hospital on the day she was born.
Addison took a pen from the stand and wrote the day’s date on a blank page. Then she wrote, Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to my baby girl who means the world to her mommy and daddy.
Just then, Sara and Daniel called for her to hurry. She picked up the photo and tucked it away in the back of the book, and then hurried headlong in the rush that was Christmas and birthday presents shared with a loving family.
~ ~ ~
Across town, Catherine Johnson’s latest dream troubled her. She propped herself on elbows and looked around the bedroom that seemed familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. The room seemed longer, rectangular, and its four windows seemed wider and spaced further apart — but that could be from the play of dim morning light trying to pass through her curtains. The bedroom suite was still the one she had purchased after Nate’s death seven years ago, and the cream carpet still had the stain where she had spilled some wine one night when she made love to a date that ended up a brief sexual encounter.
She fell dizzily back to her pillows and thought of going back to sleep. She was tired, much more tired than she had ever been before. As she warmed again to the blankets covering her, footsteps outside her door caused her to stir.