“Well, I hope Luke and Ben make it back home today and safely with all that snow in Italy causing problems,” Mrs Julia Svenson said with pure excitement. “It is 4:45 p.m. on Christmas Eve after all. I want all my sons to be here for Christmas day, tomorrow. For the first time in five years I will have my sons under one roof.” She was at her mansion at Amarillo, in Texas, America. The family had moved about eight years ago as she wanted to downsize and move somewhere with different surroundings. She was watching the snow fall down and gather on her garden leaving it all white and nothing peeking through. She loved her garden so much. It was quite nice as it was almost Christmas day and having a very big open fire that was burning and crackling away merrily it will keep everyone nice and warm.
The lounge, where the biggest fireplace was, had a huge real Christmas tree right next to the big wooden window frame. It was covered in tinsel from top to bottom making it look so sparkly when the light from the fire hit it. The rest of the room had lots of old styled decorations and newer ones covering all that could be covered. Wooden red cardinals, old looking snow men; a huge merry Christmas sign was set above the fireplace. It had been made by a friend of hers years ago out of a piece of wood. It was round in shape, painted red with black writing and little carvings of Santa Claus, some elves and his slay full of Christmas presents.
“Mom, where do you want these mince pies?” asked Captain Blue.
“Put them next to the red wine on the table, son,” she said looking round at him. “Ah, shouldn’t there be eight and not seven, Adam?”
“How do you know there isn’t? You’re not near enough to see!”
“There’s a gap, Adam.”
He looked down and saw he hadn’t moved them around when he nicked one.
“Just testing. That’s all. Making sure they are perfect,” he said, clearing his throat and putting them down next to the wine.
“You’re as bad as your brothers when it comes to food,” she said, looking through the snow, hoping to see a sports car pull up. She turned around and walked to the table with all the food and wine on it when there was a loud thump on the window. They both looked and it was snow. Someone had chucked a snowball against the glass.
“Wait here, Mom, I’ll see who’s out there,” said Captain Blue whilst walking to the front door. Julia walked back to the window and tried to see who was there but the snow was too heavy. Then, another thump. She saw that one coming, and it scared her so much it made her jump backwards.
“Come on, you cowards, Show yourself!” Adam shouted, trying to see though the blizzard. Then a big cold lump hit his face. He wiped the snow off and heard someone laughing. He had a feeling it was Luke and Ben.
“Ok, you two, cut that out. You’re GROWN men, not silly kids!”
Julia was so happy it was her two sons who had finally arrived back safely from their six month tour in Bereznik.
“Sorry, bro. I didn’t mean to. It was meant for the window, really,” Luke replied whilst both walked towards Adam’s voice.
“Ah, there you are! You were blending in with the snow,” Ben said whilst giving Adam a man’s hug. Then Luke gave Adam one.
“How’d you get here in these conditions?”
“We actually came back early yesterday. We were staying at some of my friends’ place, in Dallas,” Ben said whilst trying to walk to the front door. “Then we drove here in Luke’s car…”
“You drove all the way from Dallas? A five hour ride?” Adam said, astonished. “Wow… I’m impressed!”
“Said the man who had the chance to man that Mercury shuttle last year!” Luke retorted. “Man, what I would have given to be in your place!”
“Oh, I would have given it to you gladly,” Adam retorted, rolling his eyes at the memory of that particular event.
“We took turn behind the wheel,” Ben said. “But we had to leave Luke’s car about five or six streets from here. It’s stuck. I think he isn’t very used to driveing in snow.”
“And are you?” Luke retorted. “That’s a blizzard we don’t see often. As we weren’t far, we decided to walk the remaining distance… And here we are.”
“Hmm...not looking like snowmen yet, either. You didn’t think of calling to announce your arrival?” Adam asked.
“We wanted to surprise you and mom,” Ben said. “We knew you probably wouldn’t have expected us, what with that weather. Didn’t get the same when we were at Fort Hood, did we?”
“Sure not… More rain than snow we had there!”
The three of them hurried to the door, where their mom was shouting for them to get in the warmth.
After an hour of lots of hugs and kisses from their mom and trying to warm up with the fire, mince pies and a few glasses of red wine, Luke and Ben decided to go up early to their room, as they were both very tired.
“Walking in that thick snow, after that long drive from Dallas, no wonder you’re tired,” Julia said, while smiling at them. “Ok, you two. Sleep well!”
“Night, bro. Don’t stay awake and wait for Santa to come down the chimney!” Luke said whilst Ben was laughing.
“Don’t be horrible to your brother... you know he’s too fat to get down our fireplace.”
“Sorry, couldn’t help it,” she said while watching Adam shake his head.
The next morning, Julia got up first and went to the lounge to put wood on the fire to make it stronger in heat. She then saw there were lots of presents under the tree. Just as she was about to have a look, she heard voices coming from the stairs. She smiled and looked round and saw all three of her sons walk into the room.
It was the best Christmas for a long time for her.
This story was beta-read by the Spectrum Headquarters beta-reading panel.