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    Aditus
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Our Christmas Songbook - 4. The Snow Falls Quietly (Four Calling Birds)

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
four calling birds...

Laaaast Christmas I gave you my heart...

“Google, shut it! It’s too fucking early for that shit.” Dahlia glared at her car display. She’d had a trying day at work, and their receptionist Nora topped it off by decorating her desk with an illuminated reindeer. In early November! Around Christmas, it would be overflowing with kitsch. Le sigh.

You have a new message from Abbie.

“Google, read the message.”

Abbie said, “Hey, baby. I’m going to be late. Evie asked me to come by.”

“Evie? You’ve got to be shitting me!” It was only when she passed yet another car that Dahlia realized she was driving much too fast, and she forced herself to slow down.

“Fucking Evie! Spineless twat.” Anger bubbled up when she remembered that year. First, Abbie’s beloved grandfather had suddenly passed away in his sleep. Abbie and Evie had spent a large part of their childhood with him while their parents traveled. Then, her family ruined their wedding day. They had been prepared for Abbie’s parents to ignore the invitation. But Dahlia would never forget the moment hope had turned into resignation when Abbie realized her twin sister wouldn’t come either.

A few months later, they heard through the grapevine Evie had married her longtime boyfriend, Anders. And hadn’t invited Abbie. “At least the disloyal bitch was consistent.” Dahlia’s fingers tightened around the steering wheel.

And because the fucking year still hadn’t been over—the twins had turned twenty-five— which meant their parents transferred their grandfather’s inheritance to them. Evie got the house. Abbie got some knickknacks and the kitchen table. Of course, she adored every item. And because she was as gifted and passionate a carpenter as her grandfather, she refurbished the scarred piece of furniture to become a gleaming showpiece. There was a photo that showed how proud he’d been when his grandchild finished her apprenticeship and presented her final project. It was always clear to everyone she would inherit the house and the workshop, and Evie would get money to follow her many dreams. Until it was not... claiming it was in his will.

Dalia turned into their driveway a little too fast and parked abruptly in front of the garage. She grabbed the groceries from the back and pushed the door close with more force than necessary. Inside the house, she toed her shoes off, threw her backpack on the floor, and brought the groceries into the kitchen, all the while muttering angrily under her breath in her native tongue. She looked at her phone. No message from Abbie. Slamming cupboard doors and drawers, she made dinner. When all the vegetables were washed, chopped into about even pieces, and placed on a baking sheet, she looked at her phone. No message from Abbie. Dahlia stomped upstairs to shower. When hot water pelted down her tense shoulder muscles, she thought she heard someone calling her name. The bathroom door opened briefly. “Dah?”

“Shower!” Abbie knew Dahlia hated it when she opened the shower stall door and let all the heat escape. That was probably why she didn’t come in. When she thought she’d calmed down enough, Dahlia wrapped herself into a huge, yellow bath towel, then took a smaller one for her hair. She wasn’t angry at Abbie, but after remembering everything again, she realized she was still as furious as she’d been when it happened. She would never forgive Evie for hurting her Abbie.

Abbie sat cross-legged on the bed when Dahlia entered the room. Not trusting herself not to snap at her, she slowly collected her favorite pajamas and thick socks and put everything on. Only then did she make herself comfortable on the large reading chair under the roof window.

“You’re angry.”

“Not at you.” Dahlia rubbed her face with both hands, trying to be open to everything her wife would tell her. “I’m trying to come up with a reason why you visited that bitch ever since I heard your message. I’m sure you had a viable reason, I just can’t think of one.” Her Romanian accent was thicker than normal, betraying her upset.

Abbie swallowed. “When I was locking up, the workshop’s landline rang. No one calls that number anymore. They only call my mobile phone. I was curious about who it was. The first words I heard were “It’s me. Don’t hang up!” My finger instantly went to the button to do just that, but something in her voice stopped me.”

“Your twin Spidey senses woke?”

“Dah!”

Dahlia immediately lifted her hands placatingly. “You’re right. Sorry.”

“She asked me to come by, saying she had to show me something. When I hesitated, she insisted it was important. Before I knew it, I said okay and instantly regretted it when she told me her address. She and Anders live in the old house now.”

“Your grandfather’s house?” Abbie nodded. “Oh, baby, that must have been so hard for you.” Dahlia jumped up, sat beside her on the bed, and pulled her into her arms.

“Yeah.” Abbie wrung her hands. “I didn’t want to be a chicken after I’d already agreed to go over. I thought of calling you, but I knew what you’d say.”

Dahlia pressed her lips together. “Fuck her.”

“Exactly. I didn’t want you talking me out of it. As soon as I had my hand on the little gate to the front yard, Evie stood in the open door all teary-eyed.” Abby imitated her wiping at her eyes exaggeratedly. “She must have been watching the street.”

“Yep.”

“So, what did she want? A family reunion?”

“No.” Abbie pulled a sheet of paper from a manila folder lying beside her. “This is a note my grandfather apparently wrote shortly before he passed. Evie found it in a drawer in his second desk in the workshop.”

Dahlia’s eyebrows shot up. “But it says here you get the house, including the workshop, and Evie gets money when you both turn twenty-five.”

“Exactly. Evie wanted to find out if our parents knew about this, and she called grandfather’s attorney. He told her granddad died before he could sign the changed will, but reaffirmed to her that he’d made sure our parents were aware of the intended amendments. As it looks, they decided to ignore it. They took the will to their attorney to handle the rest.”

Dahlia crossed her arms. “To be honest, it’s hard to believe no one looked in those drawers after his death.”

“Evie said Mom and Dad planned to tear the workshop down to expand the garden and sell the tools and machinery. They never regarded carpentry very highly, not much money to earn.” Abbie pursed her lips. “Maybe, as it’s a little hidden at the back of the property behind three large spruce trees, they simply forgot after they took all the things they thought were valuable from the house. They quickly closed the door forever. Too dirty,” she scoffed. “Then they contracted a cleaning service for the house and a gardener and waited for Anders to stop taking jobs all over the world and settle down with Evie. They transferred the house and money to them so they could start a family. Evie suspects, they waited until they were sure she was normal.”

“Ha! Normal!" Dahlia gestured broadly, nearly taking a lamp out on the side table.

“Anyway, no one entered the workshop for a long time because the lock was jammed. One of the workers who renovated the house helped Evie to open the door eventually. She showed it to me. Cobwebs and a thick layer of dust were everywhere. There was even still a mug with dried tea.”

“So, they really didn’t enter his workshop after your grandfather’s death? I still can’t believe that.”

“He had an office at the house where he had all his business records. Less sawdust.” Abbie grinned. “They must have turned off the power at some time, though.” Abbie grabbed a pillow and held it in front of her chest. “It gets even better, though. After Evie had spoken to the attorney, she called our parents. She caught them on the way to the harbor, ready to board yet another cruise ship. Mom admitted freely they knew about grandfather’s wishes but decided to ignore them. They were sure if he’d known about my unnatural proclivities, he’d never have given me a thing. Which is utter bullshit!” She threw the mangled pillow on the bed. “Grandfather knew I liked girls! I told him when I was fourteen. He didn’t care.”

Dahlia leaned forward. “Do you want to contest the will?”

“No. I’m sad I lost the workshop. I always thought it would have—maybe—spiritually connected me to him if I had worked where he did, inspired me, but no. I don’t want to have anything to do with my parents anymore. They’re lost to me.” Abbie looked at Dahlia. “You?”

Dahlia took Abbie’s hand. “I know you loved that house and dreamed to work there with your grandfather before he died. I support any decision you make. For my part, I’m very, very angry your fucking twin cut you from her life. I‘ll never forgive her for that because it hurt you so much. Otherwise, I’m good if I never hear from them again.” She tilted her head to the side. ”Did she have anything to say about her reasons?”

“I asked her why she called me. I mean, she could have thrown the note away and been done with it. Instead, she investigated. Asked questions.”

“And what was her answer?”

“She did it to save her marriage.”

“She—What?”

“She told Anders a bunch of lies. For example, she never sent us an invitation to their wedding, but told him we ignored it. The same with our invitation. She never showed it to him. She followed our parents’ lead. Apparently, she got in some kind of trouble at uni. They supported her financially. On top of it all, she admitted she was always envious of my close relationship with grandad.”

“Wow. All viable reasons to act like a bigoted schmuck.”

“Do you know what she said? ‘I was an asshole, and if I were you, I’d never forgive me.’ I’m sure normally she wouldn’t have contacted me in forever. But then she made the mistake of showing Anders the note. And he began to ask questions.”

“Good man.”

“Evie didn’t want to lie to her husband and answered all his questions truthfully.”

“That’s surprising.”

“That’s what I thought too. At first— but she really loves Anders and is willing to do everything she can to make sure he stays with her. Right now he’s on a business trip, although he promised her not to travel anymore. He called her a bad person. He’s also thinking about spending Christmas with his parents in Norway.”

“So, he’s serious about leaving her?”

“I think right now he’s taking a break.”

“What happens now?”

“Evie talked to her attorney. Either she transfers the ownership of the house and workshop to me, or we sell everything, she adds in the money she inherited, and we split the resulting money.”

Dahlia rested her elbows on her knees. “She means this?”

“Yep. She suggested something else. We divide the property and the money. I’ll get the half with the workshop, she keeps a small backyard for their future kids to play in or something. We split the money, her half minus the amount she used for renovations and their honeymoon. And we build a large fence between us. That’s possible because the back part has its own entrance.”

“Holy shit. She really, really doesn't want to lose her husband, huh?”

Abbie wrapped her arms around herself. “That’s one thing that’s for sure.”

“What did you decide?”

“Nothing yet of course. Do you think I would make such an important decision without you?”

 

A year later

Dahlia parked her car behind Abbie's truck. The windows of the old workshop shone warmly in the dark. The newly added wood storage and showroom were already dark.

Shivering, she pushed the gate, trudged through icy sludge, and opened the door, happy when the warmth of the old wood stove enveloped her. “Hey, baby.” Abbie was attaching a wooden bird —a blue-capped chickadee?— to a fragile-looking construct hanging from one of the rafters. Several rods were tied to a string so that each could rotate freely. Four birds were hanging from the rods balanced by leaves or snowflakes so that they remained more or less horizontal. Everything swayed lazily in the drafty air without coming into contact with each other. She stepped closer. “What’s that?”

“A mobilé.”

“A mobile?”

“A mobilé. You hang it over a crib to entertain babies, or scientifically spoken, to give them visual stimulation.”

“Cool.” Dahlia pointed at some half-assembled rods and strings on the table. “And that’s for pulse two?”

“I wish you wouldn’t call them that.”

“Anders started it.” Dahlia poured herself some hot tea and wrapped her cold hands around the mug.

“Still.” Frowning, Abbie made another tiny knot.

Dahlia inspected the birds. “Let me guess—four calling birds.”

“A blackbird, a cardinal, a chickadee, a wren,” Abbie said proudly.

“On the fourth day of Christmas, my aunty gave to me four calling birds.”

Abbie grinned. “I knew I married a smart woman.”

Dahlia walked over to one of the workbenches. “And what is this? A dollhouse?”

“A bird feeder. I tried to recreate the one granddad made for Evie and me when we were kids. He only filled it with seeds when it snowed, claiming the birds would find enough otherwise. We always tried to sing the snow out of the clouds with a special song. Do you know Softly falls the Snow? A few days ago I remembered how Evie and I would sing the song, hoping it would snow, and we could watch the birds. I thought she would like to do that with the Ps once they're big enough.”

“Or their aunt could sing it with them,” Dahlia said.

“Maybe next year.”

“We’re not there yet. I’m talking a lot to Anders, though. Evie stays on the other side of the fence, but we have a gate now.” Abbie blew at the birds, and they began to swirl. “Anders said she’s getting bigger and bigger. He has to tie her shoes now.”Abbie snickered.

“When is she due?”

“Mid-January.”

Dahlia kissed Abbie’s ear and whispered. “Next year, then.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDZwoS3TmW8

I hope you enjoyed part four of our ongoing journey through the Twelve Days of Christmas! Do you have a favorite Christmas song?
Copyright © 2021 Valkyrie, Cole Matthews, Aditus; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

17 hours ago, Valkyrie said:

This is a great tale of the reality of forgiveness.  It's not an immediate thing, but a process, which this outlines so clearly.  It also shows how horrible family dynamics can be, especially when there's an inheritance involved.  I'm so glad the workshop is being used by the right person.  Anders sounds like a good man.  I also love how the child is going to be the unifying force.  Perfect for the season!  Great job, Wolfie!  :hug:  

Thank you, Val. This story wouldn't be what it is now without you. :hug:

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17 hours ago, Mattyboy said:

Ooh, I didn't get that about the gate until you mentioned it.  I had noticed that the "big fence" was a nice thing to offer but I hoped it wouldn't be necessary.  Thanks for this lovely story of old attachments and new creations. 

I love you like 'the gate'. Thank you for reading my story and especially for commenting . :hug:

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15 hours ago, Cole Matthews said:

Powerful emotional tale.

Thank you for your help Cole, and  nudge in the right direction. :)

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10 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

I imagine Dahlia will get lots of chances to practice holding her tongue.

Oh yes, that's for sure. 

 

10 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

Often the person can forgive and forget, but never their parents, siblings, and spouse!

Definitely, and that's how it should be. Thank you for your comment, Jeffrey. :)

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5 hours ago, raven1 said:

I guess I missed the trigger warning for massive earworm attacks for these stories.

I knew we forgot something!

:facepalm:

5 hours ago, raven1 said:

I did love the new Christmas song (new to me) by the winsome ladies.

It's a German Christmas song. A favorite of mine. I'm glad you like it too. :)

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Families can be so damn complicated, especially when one of the kids doesn't fit the 'norm'. As sad as this was, it was also uplifting that Abbie did the right thing. Sure, she did it for Anders mostly, but still, her heart won out for whatever reason, and isn't that what is important. Nice addition to your Christmas songbook, Adi. Cheers!

Edited by Headstall
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10 hours ago, Headstall said:

Families can be so damn complicated, especially when one of the kids doesn't fit the 'norm'. As sad as this was, it was also uplifting that Abbie did the right thing. Sure, she did it for Anders mostly, but still, her heart won out for whatever reason, and isn't that what is important. Nice addition to your Christmas songbook, Adi. Cheers!

Complicated..such a harmless word but its aftermath  fills libraries. Anders became a favorite character. He is a mediator, a broker of peace. I think I'm not done with him yet.

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