Archive for December 13th, 2021

Advent 2021 – December 13

December 13 – Mal

As Doug, Ryan, and Tim made their way back to them, Molly noticed there were tear tracks down Doug’s face as well. She reached out and pulled her cousin-in-law into her arms, squeezing him tight. “I’m so glad you moved out here,” she murmured.

“Same,” he mumbled into her shoulder. “It was one of the best decisions we made, outside of getting married and having Ryan.”

As they stepped apart, Drew grabbed him and nearly crushed him in a hug, while Molly embraced Tim and Ryan.

“Family. Love family.” Ryan announced, and planted a wet kiss on Molly’s cheek.

I feel left out! Schrodinger cried in mock-anger. No one loves me!

“Down.” Ryan demanded, and when Tim set him on his feet, he put both his chubby arms around the CrossCat and gave him a kiss. “Family,” he said firmly. “Family.” Then he turned back to his fathers. “Up, please.”

Once he was settled back on Tim’s shoulders, they all turned their attention towards the tree, where a very familiar figure was making his way up the steps. Mal, his ever-present cigarette dangling from his mouth, his flannel jacket dusted with snow and ash, stumped up the stairs and smiled down at the Snow Queen, who barely came up to his chin.

“You know, Mal, I don’t think I’ve seen you outside of the Gate Station in years,” she teased him gently.

“Not true, Your Highness. I come to the Ball every year,” he said, and she laughed.

Isn’t she a Queen? Schrodinger asked. Shouldn’t that be Your Majesty?

“For anyone else, yes,” Drew said. “However, he’s always called her Your Highness and she’s never corrected him. I wonder if we’re ever going to find out why.”

Mal unwrapped the small package in his hands, and Molly saw the glint of golden glass. Jade apparently recognized it, as her eyes went wide and one hand came up to her mouth. “Are you sure?” she said, looking up at the Station Master in surprise.

“Couldn’t think of anything better,” he said, and to Molly and Drew’s shock, there was a glimmer of tears in his eyes as well. “She always loved to celebrate Christmas.” He held up a glass hard candy, swirled with gold and green, that flashed in the sun.

When Molly’s eyes cleared, the crowd around her was moving, and the Christmas tree in the center of the square had its traditional decorations on it. It was snowing lightly, and all the windows in the shops had brilliant window displays. 

Is that MAL? Schrodinger brought her attention to a tall young man, still in the same flannel jacket that the Station Master always wore in winter, a cigarette in his mouth. But he was walking with someone Molly vaguely remembered: a slender older woman, her hair perfectly white and coiffed, carrying two bags. Mal was carrying several more, and Molly half-wondered how he was going to deal with the cigarette when it was done without dropping anything.

“One last stop, Malcolm, and we can go home,” she said. “I just need the last gift.”

“Why do you even bother, Mother? We both know he doesn’t give a damn if you give him a gift.” Mal’s eyes were angry. “He’ll just smash it like he does every year.”

“One year he won’t,” she said. “Stay here. I’ll just run across the square and then we’ll head out.”

“Fine, I’ll wait here.” Mal watched her dash across the square, shaking his head. “Damn fool. One of these days, she won’t be here anymore, and he’ll have no one to bully.”

Who is he talking about? Schrodinger asked.

“Probably his father. They never really got along.”

So that’s his mother?

“Yes, I think so.”

The woman was as good as her word, and before they knew it, she was hurrying back to Mal. “All done! Now we can go home.”

“What did you get him?” Mal asked, more out of habit than out of any need to know.

She smiled up at him. “An empty box.”

“What?” That shook him up a bit.

“Okay, maybe not empty. There’s a piece of paper in it.” Her smile got even larger.

A fast stream of emotion ran across Mal’s face, starting with surprise and ending with wary hope. “Will he like it?”

She laughed. “He’ll hate it. Shall we go?”

As they walked off, the scene dissolved, and Molly and Schrodinger were back, watching Mal hang the golden candy ornament on the tree. “Mom would have loved this, you know,” he said to Jade. “After the divorce, she was able to truly celebrate Christmas the way my father never let her. It’s only fitting that the last ornament she made go on this tree.”