This Christmas story takes place on Station 86, during the December in between Seeming and You Can’t Trust The AI. Godfrey and Ki are planning on celebrating the season with Sennett, April and Mason by enjoying Christmas Eve dinner together. But Sennett, who’s just lost her mother, is not quite in the Christmas spirit.
“Damn it, Mason, will you hold up your end?” Sennett snapped, carrying one side of a heavy metal box.
“Sorry,” Mason said, adjusting his hold on the other side. They were carrying the Christmas holographic from the storage room, struggling with every step. It was covered in a years’ worth of dust, and Sennett was sure that she was going to drop it any minute.
“Why do we have to use this one?” Mason asked, “It’s so outdated. Don’t you have one that comes out of a two inch by two-inch projector?”
“Yeah,” Sennett said, “but I wanted to use this one. Set it down here.”
They carefully placed the box on the ground, next to the wall screen. April, who’d been sitting on the couch watching them, clapped her hands in excitement. “Can I turn it on, Mommy?” she asked.
“Okay, Baby,” Sennett said, stretching her back out. “Go ahead, and then we’ll go get the lights up on the front of the house.”
“Yay!” April said. She hurried over to press the red button on the front of the hologram. A fir tree appeared, decorated in twinkling lights and red bulbs. Snow fell around the tree from the ceiling, dusting the limbs and making them glitter.
“Gorgeous,” Sennett said, giving the tree an approving nod.
“I still think it’s an outdated piece of junk,” Mason said.
“Can you not?” Sennett whispered. “It was Mom’s.”
As soon as the words came out of her mouth, she wished she hadn’t said it. Mason’s face fell, and he said, “Oh.”
April hadn’t heard Sennett, thankfully. She looked up at them, beaming. “Can we make cookies tonight?” she asked.
“Probably,” Sennett said, pulling her face back into a smile. “Godfrey and Ki are coming by, I bet that’s something he’ll be into.”
“Bet he wants to make them from flour or something like that,” Mason said, sniffing a little. He turned away from April so she wouldn’t see his tears.
“Come on, little woman,” Sennett said, reaching a hand out for April. “Let’s go get those lights up.”
April hurried outside, Sennett just a little bit behind her. She glanced back at the tree, wanting another look at it.
Suddenly she was a child again, no more than seven. She was sitting on the floor while her mom pulled the hologram out, and set it in place. “Do you want to turn it on, Baby?” Mom asked.
“Yeah,” Sennett had cried and rushed to turn the tree on. “Mommy, what’s that stuff falling on it?”
“It’s snow,” Mom said, smiling. “It snows on Earth when it gets cold.”
As if the first memory had opened the gates, others came flooding in. The first year Mason had lived with them, four years old and still unsure that this was really going to be his family.
They’d sat together by the tree on Christmas morning. Sennett, twelve years old and a little unsure about this new little brother, had watched his eyes light up when Mom had handed him present after present to open.
“Are you sure they’re really for me?” he’d asked.
“They have your name on them,” Sennett had said.
“There are so many, though,” he’d replied. Then, he’d found the gift from here. It was just a stuffed bear, something she’d gotten just to please her mother.
“I, I’ve never got a teddy bear before,” he said, awed. Then, much to her surprise, he’d launched himself at her, and given her a fierce hug. “Thank you, Sennett!”
“You’ve never had a teddy bear?” she’d asked. Mom had given her a serious nod. It was a reminder, for Sennett, that Mason’s life had not been a good one before he came to live with them. Sennett had realized, for the first time, that her own life might have been far different. She didn’t know who her birth parents were, after all. She might have never had a teddy bear either before Thorn became her mom.
“Mommy, come on!” April cried, pulling Sennett out of her memories.
“I’m coming,” Sennett said, her voice thick.
When the lights were up there was nothing left to do but wait for Godfrey and Ki. Sennett left April in the living room to watch a Christmas movie and went into the kitchen. She was just pouring a glass of wine when Mason came in. “You okay?” he asked.
“Eh,” Sennett said, “not really. It’s the first Christmas without Mom.”
“Yeah,” Mason sighed, leaning against the counter. “I’m trying to be happy in front of April, but it sucks.”
“I know it,” Sennett said. She took a sip of her wine. This was the kitchen she’d made Christmas dinner in with her mom. The kitchen where she’d asked Lo, stammering and terrified of what he’d say, to marry her on a Christmas Eve a long time ago. In this house, she and her mom had made their own family.
Just then the doorbell rang. Sennett answered it, admitting Ki and Godfrey.
“Merry Christmas!” Ki cried, giving Mason and Sennett hugs. “We brought crackers, and Godfrey made a ham.”
“Yep,” Godfrey said, holding up a box that was giving off a strong scent of baked ham and cloves. “Where can I set this down?”
“In the kitchen,” Sennett said, “this way.”
They made their way into the kitchen. Godfrey’s brows were furrowed, and his mouth was thin. “What’s up?” Sennett asked.
Godfrey sat the ham down on the counter and started opening the box. It was a few minutes before he asked, “Was your mom okay with you marrying Lo?”
“Yeah, she was,” Sennett said, leaning against the counter. “She loved him, actually.”
“That’s good,” Godfrey said, “that’s really good of her. You were lucky, you know.”
Sennett took a few more glasses out of the cupboard. “Want to tell me what happened?” she asked, pouring wine.
“My dad didn’t call or write,” Godfrey said. “He won’t answer my calls. He hasn’t talked to me since Ki and I got married. I thought maybe he’d at least, I don’t know.”
He looked up at her. “It’s Christmas, you know? I thought maybe he’d talk to me.”
Sennett put a hand on Godfrey’s shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she said.
“Thanks,” he said, giving her a small smile. “And thanks for having me here. I really appreciate it.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Sennett said, “Christmas is for family. You’re family.”
“Well, not really family,” Godfrey said, “but I appreciate the sentiment.”
“Hey,” Sennett said, “in this house, family is family. We don’t make distinctions because of blood here. My mom taught me that.”
Godfrey took a glass of wine and smiled. “Yeah. I think I like that idea.”
“Come on, before April opens all the crackers,” Sennett said, heading into the living room.
Copyright © 2017 by Nicole C. Luttrell
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