The door slowly closes behind me as I slip of my old tattered boots and place my bags on the floor beside them. The house is silent, too quiet for Christmas Eve. Pulling my hat off and hanging it with my coat on the rack and take a look at myself in the mirror. My cheeks are rosy red from the brisk cold outside and my hair is wind-swept, hanging at my shoulders. There is one single stocking hanging by the fireplace, it doesn't belong too me. I've tried to make this Christmas special, as much as I can. The Christmas tree is standing tall in the corner of the room, ferns covering the carpet, we decorated it together. I can't say how I feel, as I truly don't know. A fifteen year old should be able to enjoy Christmas with her presents pilled high under the tree, her parents standing side-by-side waiting in anticipation to see the look on her face. She should be out in the main town picking out some brand new clothes, laughing with her friends as they stroll from shop to shop. Not sitting on her own beside the fire while she tries to warm her ice-cold feet, while she watches the snow fall and cover the ground in a blanket of white. The stocking hanging on the fireplace will be filled tomorrow, I'm staying up late tonight to finish the final last minute wrapping and place them by hand, carefully inside. To see the clock strike midnight and silently wish myself a Merry Christmas before curling up in bed. I know what Bella really wants, a new bike. It's her own way of becoming more independent. I was anticipating that day, when I would be free but it came to soon. I had to grow up fast.
That night, me and Bella sit together with a blanket over us on one of the chair's in the Living Room. I handed her a hot chocolate a few minutes a go, topped with whipped cream and marshmallows, and now she has chocolate froth around her mouth. I laugh.
"Bells, you've got a little something..." and I gesture to the chocolate around her mouth. She uses her hand to wipe the chocolate away.
"Do you think mum and dad will be back for Christmas?" she asks me, her innocent eyes trained on my face. I can't do it. But a lie hurts more when discovered, than the truth first hand.
"I'm sorry, but I don't think they will be" I wrap my hand around her as a tear slips down her cheek "We'll have a great Christmas, just us"
"And no one to ruin it" she adds and I agree.
Except, Christmas is not the perfect scene you read in books. Sometimes, you have to face up to the challenges you haven't been able to reach or the promises you have broken. Bella's bike is one of them. A fifteen year-old shouldn't have to see the disappointed look on her sister's face when she finds hardly anything under the tree. When the magic of Christmas is lost. With nobody to repair the damage.
-Interview with Karen McCombie to come.