[Note: This is part one of a four part Christmas story which I usually write in the week running up to Christmas. But as I’m now only doing fiction on Fridays I figured we’d just have to start now. Yes Christmas does really seem to be getting earlier. Anyway happy Spidermass everybody.]
Jenny was looking out of the window and it was definitely snowing. Jenny had told her mother that the news report had said to not make any unnecessary journeys and that it was definitely snowing but Jenny’s mum didn’t think it was true.
“But that’s what they always say when it gets the slightest bit cold. ‘Avoid unnecessary journeys’ like your life should revolve around something as random as the weather. And anyway,” she said clearing things up, “it’s not even snowing”.
But it definitely was snowing, and Jenny wasn’t sure how well her mother would take it. Jenny knew that her mother had to go to work and that they all thought like her that a bit of weather shouldn’t stop her from getting in to work. But what about school. Somebody at school had been saying that if it snowed then they would close the school. Jenny thought about this for a while because mentioning it now if the school was open might just make it seem like she wasn’t cooperating. She had been the one to bring up the snow in the first place. And it wasn’t as if she didn’t want to go to school either, she liked school – it just seemed that none of the people at school liked her. She was just worried about what her mother would say to her after they’d driven their in the snow and found that it was closed. Especially if she somehow found out then that she’d known all along that it was a possibility.
But before she could think anymore about this Jenny heard the light scrape of keys against the post at the bottom of the stairs that meant that her mum was leaving. Jenny hopped off of her seat, picked up her satchel and headed for the door. She knew better than to dawdle, the alarm would be on within seconds, it was definitely time to go.
They got in the car and drove. Jenny wanted to listen to a special cd that she’d selected. Her mum did not, she wanted to listen to the news. They sat like normal not talking. The thing that Jenny liked when there was music on was that you were kind of allowed to talk. But if there were people talking on the news then you weren’t really allowed to talk.
As they drove the snow was falling thicker and more thickly. And they were driving more and more slowly until finally they simply stopped. It was not for want of trying but something had happened in the engine and it wasn’t going to go anymore.
“What are we going to do? Nobody ever drives along here.” Jenny’s mum said rather presumptuously. Jenny wanted to say that it couldn’t possibly be that they kept the whole road open only for them but she had to admit that she had never seen any other car drive down this road.
They sat for a while until the battery stopped working and the radio died. It was suddenly colder the moment the fans stopped blowing hot air in their faces. Jenny already had her coat on which was lucky because when she wasn’t wearing it, it lived in the boot. And she would have been very cold if she’d had to go out to get it. Her mother calmly picked up her coat from the back seat. And then rather uncalmly tried to put it on without standing up. But when her mother had picked up her coat something had caught Jenny’s eye. Underneath it was nestling today’s paper.
“Maybe we could do today’s crossword”.
“I’ve done it already”.
“Oh,” Jenny was disappointed, she always liked doing the crossword with her mum.
“Well there’s one clue that I haven’t got.”
“Oh,” Jenny suddenly perked up, “what is it?”
“It’s, ‘You may have seen a cakewalk, but have you seen plenty of this’, it’s nine letters.”
“Hmm,” I don’t know.
“Mmmm,” me either.
Jenny and her mother waited for an hour, and nobody came. After a while Jenny started shivering. And a little bit later her mother started doing the same.
“What will we do if nobody comes?”
“Somebody will come.”
Suddenly a light reflected on the front window from behind. Another car was arriving. It slowed and a guy jumped out.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, just, our battery’s out.”
“Okay I’ll give you a jump.”
The man walked round to the front of the car, and opened the bonnet. But before he’d looked for too long he came walking back to the window.
“I don’t think it can be your battery. What happened?”
“We were driving and the car suddenly slowed, and stopped. The after a while later the fan stopped running.”
“Well that makes sense. You’ve got a hole in your radiator. The battery must have run down trying to keep the two of you warm.”
“So will we be able to get it going again.”
“Not without a tow-truck. I’m sorry can I take you somewhere where we can call someone?”
“That would be great. Actually the only reason I’m here is that I’m trying to take Jenny to school.”
“Actually me too, my son’s in the back in there,” he pointed to his car, “Tom keeps telling me that school is cancelled for today. But I’m not sure exactly how that helps me. If he can’t go to school then I can’t go to work.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Look, should we try and drop them both off and then see if we can call somebody from there?”
It was a plan. Jenny and her mother abandoned the car and got into the jeep that belonged to their knight in metallic silver. As she got in the back Jenny was sitting next to a boy that she didn’t know. The boy spoke.
“Are you Jenny?” he said.
“Yeah, how did you know my name?”
“You’re in the year bellow me.”
“You’re new aren’t you.”
“That’s right but I…”
“People have been talking about you.” He clearly realised that it sounded bad, so he said, “nothing bad, they’re just interested because you’re new.”
“Do you do crosswords?”
“Um. Sort of. My dad taught me I think.”
“Yeah my mum taught me.”
“Oh. Why are you asking?”
“Just because my mum has a clue that we can’t work out in today’s crossword. You haven’t done one today already have you.”
“Not at all.”
“No, we usually do the Saturday one.”
“Oh. Well this clue, this one we can’t get.”
“Well it’s, ‘You may have seen a cakewalk, but have you seen plenty of this’, it’s nine letters.” Jenny realised right after she’d said it that she’d almost been doing an impression of her mother when she was saying the clue.
“Well, I think I know the answer.”
“Well…? What is it?”
“Well, I think it must be ‘Abundance’. Yes that must be it.”
And somehow, with the half smile of the realisation of the joke in the answer, accompanied with the steely determination of his jaw that he would in the end be right about what he had just said, even though he was overly polite about it in the way that he described it, Jenny loved Tom in that moment. Even though she had no real idea of what love really meant or if this, as such, was it. She knew that this was something, and only years later would she realise and tell people that she’d fallen in love with Tom from this moment.
[Check back next Friday for Part 2]