Still Christmas Day
Now I understand why she wanted decaf tea. I sit there with kind of open mouth and vacant expression. I’m speechless. I watch in slow motion at my mum hugs Mei and wipes a tear from her eye. My dad would jump for joy if he could.
I kind of wished she had told me in privacy. But it’s out there now. I heard that you’re not supposed to announce it until twelve weeks in case of complications. If you tell people and something goes wrong then you have to tell them things went wrong. It is only my parents though. And her mum, obviously. I hug Mei. I’m happy for this. It takes me a few minutes to come to terms with it, but I am happy. It’s the perfect Christmas present. And it’s made my Christmas.
‘That’s great,’ I tell her. ‘Really great.’
My mum is still a blubbering mess on the sofa. ‘You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting to hear those words.’
‘You sure that test is right?’ I ask.
‘It’s the third positive one. You’re going to be a dad. Get used to it.’
It suddenly dawns on me that I need to find another job.
The meal, as expected, is amazing. Even the pâté starter with toast is the best I’ve ever tasted. She made it herself. It’s admirable how she takes the whole thing in her stride like she does this every day. The turkey is juicy and cooked just right with crispy bacon and stuffing. So tasty. I say every year that I’ll do it next year, but I know I’ll never come close to this.
I need to start practicing so my child will look at me through similar eyes as I see my mum.
Dad does his usual eat and spill thing with most of it going down his shirt. He seems to have developed a shaking hand. He tells me the doctor says it’s nothing to worry about. It just makes certain things harder. I feel sorry for him, though it doesn’t stop me taking the piss and feeding him.
Finally is mum’s homemade trifle or shop bought Christmas pudding. The Christmas pudding is her Achilles heel. I choose the trifle and it’s a sweet as it always is.
The entire meal is eaten quietly with the recent good news in the forefront of everyone’s mind. Although I’m happy, I’m terrified. Am I up to raising another life? I don’t think I have much of a choice. I’ll do what every parent does: make it up as I go along and hope that the end product is something to be proud of.
For the rest of the afternoon we catch up on what’s new. I tell them about Jason, his mum, Poppy, Emma, and Mrs Mellor. Shit. I need to find out when her funeral is. I’ll be sure to do that tomorrow.
Mum tells me that my sister phoned.
‘You already told me that,’ I tell her.
‘I am old, you know.’
I wouldn’t call sixty six old.
The Grinch is on the TV serving as background noise while we chat. Later on dad brings out Monopoly. Never been a big fan myself. It lasts forever. A pack of cards is something much more my taste. There are endless amounts of games to play with them, most of which my dad taught me. But for some reason nowadays he can’t remember them.
Well, that was Christmas. Technically it still is. We’re driving home at seven in the evening. Leaving mum’s and dad’s home feels like the day is over and I feel a little deflated.
‘Do you want a boy or a girl?’ Mei asks.
‘Any as long as he or she is healthy.’
‘That’s a crap answer.’
‘All right. A daddy’s girl could be nice. It’ll be fun to scare her boyfriend’s away.’
She laughs. ‘You’re so bad.’
The snow has melted throughout the day and has frozen. Some poor people have been out and gritted the road. The weather really doesn’t care whose Christmas is ruins. Selfish.
My phone beeps to tell me I have a text message. Who could be texting me now? It’ll have to wait until I get home. It’s probably Leanna in Nottingham giving me shit about not texting her Merry Christmas. I’ve also not put anything on Facebook. Oh well.
I pull onto Bournemouth Avenue and see some flashing lights up ahead. Now what? There’s an ambulance and two police cars inside the walls of the block of flats. On the grass I can see what looks like a body in a bag on a stretcher.
Harold comes out to greet me. ‘Merry Christmas from Bournemouth Avenue,’ he says sarcastically.
‘Who died now?’
‘You’re not going to believe this.’
‘Emma. The recorder. Looks like she jumped from her window. Killed herself.’
I puff out my cheeks and let out a breath. Not good. Two deaths within weeks of each other.
‘About an hour ago. I heard a scream and came out. Someone else called the ambulance.’
Mei’s mum comes out of our house holding Harold’s Christmas present. She seems unfazed by the fuss across the road. Knowing her she saw the whole thing from our bedroom window.
She hands me the book and I hand it to Harold. ‘Merry Christmas.’
‘Oh, thanks very much.’ He reaches into his pocket and brings out a couple of gift vouchers. One for me and one for Mei.
We both thank him.
Seems weird doing this so close to a recently deceased Emma.
We say our goodbyes and head inside.
Mei tells her mum she told me the good news. She looks at me to see any reaction. I smile and she suggests coming back to visit closer to splashdown. Shit.
In the kitchen I get a chance to check my phone. It’s a picture message. From Amy. The hair on my neck stands on ends. I open it and have never been so thankful to be on my own in the kitchen. She’s there, naked and wrapped in a long bow around her more intimate areas. The caption says: unwrap me!
Oh. My. God.
I’m frozen. I really hope this isn’t meant for me. I mean, it’s a nice picture, a very nice picture, but if it is meant for me this is way too much.
I delete the picture and we settle down with the TV again, still stuffed from dinner.
Tomorrow I need to speak to Amy alone.