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#TheTwelveDaysOfChristmas: The Second Day

The Twelve Days of Christmas:

A Christmastide Tale in Twelve Instalments. With Elves.

Day2

The Second Day of Christmas

I went over to Tom’s house first thing in the morning on Boxing Day, before it was even light—not that that means much this time of year; sunrise doesn’t come until almost nine o’clock. His truck wasn’t parked at the curb where he usually leaves it. I used the key he’d hidden on top of the lintel—he figured that was safer than under the door mat—and let myself into his basement suite.

There was no sign of Tom. The bed looked slept in, but that didn’t mean anything—he never made it, so it always looked slept in. The real clue was the coffee maker. The dregs in the bottom were stone-cold, so he definitely had not been home that morning; he would never leave the house without at least one cup of fresh-brewed coffee.

A while ago, he had been making some vague noises about going ice fishing on Boxing Day with a buddy—I couldn’t remember who—but surely he would at least have let me know?

I checked the time on my phone. Seven thirty—I could probably get away with going upstairs to talk to his landlady.

“No, haven’t seen Tom,” Lilian, who was still in her housecoat, said cheerfully. “Not since Christmas Eve morning. But guess what I did see?” Suddenly she gasped. “There! There they are again!” She rushed towards her patio door, then stopped a few feet short of it and crept slowly closer, waving at me to follow.

“Look!” she whispered, pointing out the door. “A pair of turtle doves!”

Through the door I could hear the distinctive hooting call of the grey-brown birds that were perched on the edge of Lilian’s bird feeder. I knew that hoot well, as Tom liked to copy it—he could make all sorts of noises by blowing into his cupped hands. He tried to teach me, but I could never pull it off. I have to stick with beatboxing, which I’m not too bad at, even if I do say it myself.

“I saw them yesterday, during the Christmas bird count!” Lilian said, enraptured. “They don’t usually stay around for the winter, but this year they did! They’re so beautiful! I had to list them as mourning doves, of course; that’s what they insist on calling them in the records—but my family’s always called them turtle doves. Two turtle doves—that’s really unusual this time of year. Maybe I’ll win birder of the month with that!”

“Nice,” I said, pulled out my phone and shook it to open the camera. Even in the low early morning light the birds came out clearly in the photo; that could be nice on Instagram. “So, look,” I said, “could you do me a favour and let me know if you hear from Tom?”

“Oh, sure.” She nodded, her dyed red curls bobbing. “Maybe that lady out at Carson’s Landing knows something; I think that’s who he was talking to Tuesday morning.”

“What lady?”

Her eyes were back on the birds out on the patio, and she answered absentmindedly.

“Oh, you know, that sexy one in the fancy new house they built at Jimbo Carson’s old place. Her and Tom were standing out by the street, and Tom looked real smitten with her. Oops—I didn’t mean…” She looked around at me and giggled sheepishly. “I’m sure he isn’t—didn’t—”

No, probably not. Tom wouldn’t cheat on me—would he?

To be continued…

XRF_12days
By Xavier Romero-Frias (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Categories
writing

#TheTwelveDaysOfChristmas: The First Day

The Twelve Days of Christmas:

A Christmastide Tale in Twelve Instalments. With Elves.

By Xavier Romero-Frias (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The First Day of Christmas 

If you think that elves are small, cute, cheerful creatures with pointy ears, green hats, and jingle bells on the hems of their shirts, do yourself a favour: think again. Mind you, I can understand how you would come to such a conclusion, especially at this time of year—even our small town has a Santa in front of the grocery store with those little green guys flocking around him, luring small children to sit on his knee. Luring them—that’s about the only way in which the cheesy Christmas elves resemble the real thing.

I don’t know if it would have helped Tom any if he had known what elves are really like, that Christmas Eve he disappeared.

Tom Rimer is—well, was—my boyfriend. We had made tentative plans for him to pick me up from my place so we could go up the valley to spend Christmas Eve with my family; on Christmas Day he was on the early shift in Lord’s Mine.

He didn’t show up. I wasn’t too surprised—Tom’s a good guy, but not the most punctual; he tends to lose track of time.

However, when half an hour after he was supposed to have been there he was still a no-show with no communication on whether he was coming or not, I was getting a little miffed. After an hour, I was fuming. I’d tried calling him about three times, but the cell reception isn’t the best around here, so I didn’t get through.

I reached for my phone one more time and was just starting to type out yet another irate message, when my phone pinged and a text from Tom popped up on my screen.

12 days xmas” it said, “has 2B the whole thi

*thing

else I’m stuck here

pls try!!!

Say what? Tom is prone to being cryptic with his texting, but this was a bit much.

???” I texted back, then, “Where r u?

But there was no response—it was almost like I could hear the texts falling into the silence of an empty room. I gave up.

Leaving without you,” I texted, “c u Saturday

The next afternoon—Christmas Day—was when it started up.

“Look at this, Mac,” my mom called out, “come over here!”

I stepped over next to her by the living room window and looked out into the snow-covered yard. The Bosc pear tree still had a few forlorn brown fruits dangling from its highest branches where Dad hadn’t been able to reach them—plus, he always said, leave some for the critters, they need to live too.

In this case it looked like the critter in question was a small, round bird, perched on the spreading lower branches of the tree.

“That’s a big quail,” I said. “I didn’t know they like sitting in trees. And where’s the rest of the flock?”

“It’s not a quail,” Mom said, “it’s a partridge. Get it?”

Oh, cute. A partridge in a pear tree.

I reached for my cell, shook it to open the camera—it’s one of the features I like about that phone—snapped a picture, and texted it to Tom along with a pointed “See what you’re missing?

I never got a response, but as I figured he was at work I wasn’t too worried. Unfortunately.

When I got home late that night, I found a message on the answering machine of my landline.

“Hey, this is Herb. Trying to get a hold of Tom; he didn’t show up for work today. Tell him to get in touch, would you?”

To be continued…

XRF_12days
By Xavier Romero-Frias (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons