Jane was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. The register of her burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Tom signed it. Jane Perkins was as dead as a doornail. Yet the world went on and before the Houston family knew it it was Christmas Eve once more.
The Hatchetfield streets were lit up with fairy lights and a whole range of decorations. All except one house nestled into the corner of a cul-de-sac. The house’s windows glowed warm and inviting yet in comparison to the surrounding houses it seemed almost bare.
“No decorations?” Paul questioned raising his eyebrows as he slid out of the car. Emma shook her head.
“Apparently not.” She pulled some bags out of the trunk of her car before walking up the drive. “Don’t comment on it please?” she requested slowly “you know today will be hard for them.” Paul nodded.
“My lips are sealed.”
Emma pressed the doorbell and barely 10 seconds had passed before the door swung open to reveal the smiling face of Tim Houston.
“Hey Aunt Emma!” the boy grinned before seeing the man stood behind her “uh hi Paul.” Paul waved awkwardly at him while Emma slowly stepped into the house. “Dad said we could decorate the tree once you got here and then-”
“What you saying, Tim?” Tom called as he stepped into the hallway. “I didn’t say that.” Tim’s face fell.
“But you-” Tom shook his head.
“Not this year Tim. You know how your mom used to do it with you and-” he gulped down a lump in his throat before continuing. “And I don’t think we could do it right without her.” Tim nodded slowly.
“Mom would want us to have the tree though-” Tom cut him off.
“Tim. I said no.” Paul and Emma were still awkwardly stood in the doorway.
“So…” Emma started. “Shall we watch a movie? There was that Marvel one we never got round to watching last time” Paul laughed clearly trying to break the tension.
“Oh yeah that movie is great especially that bit at the end where they all come through the portals and-” he was cut off by Emma swiftly elbowing him in the stomach.
“But that is a spoiler right Paul? And seeing as Tim hasn’t seen it yet maybe we shouldn’t discuss the ending as much.” Paul nodded.
“Oh shi- right yeah. Uh sorry.” Tim shrugged before grabbing Emma’s hand and dragging her towards the living room.
Once the film had finished and Tim had been sent up to bed all that was left in the living room was Emma, Paul and Tom.
“Paul?” Emma turned to her partner. “I left my phone charger in the car somewhere. Do you think you could go find it for me?” Paul nodded.
“Okay sure.” He pressed a quick kiss to her cheek before heading out to the car. Emma turned to face her brother-in-law.
“Tom. What was that earlier? With the tree.” Tom’s eyebrows rose up quickly.
“What about it?” Emma sighed.
“Tim seemed so excited to decorate it and you took that away from him. Why?” Tom gave a great sigh before replying.
“Why do you think Emma? A year ago today his mother fucking died in a car crash. That was my fault. Sorry if I don’t feel very fucking festive.” Emma took a steadying breath.
“But surely you should put your feelings aside? For Tim? If he wants to celebrate, surely it’s a good thing? I know I’m not a parent but-”
“You’re right you’re not a parent.” Tom seemed almost angry now. “You don’t have a clue what it’s like and I’d appreciate it if you could just let me raise my son in the way I want.”
“But-” Emma protested.
“But what Emma? You think I should just pretend that this holiday is perfectly normal? Like I didn’t spend last Christmas in St. Damiens watching as my wife slowly died? I’m not celebrating Christmas Emma. Maybe if you’d actually taken an interest in Jane and her life for the past 10 years then you’d know. But instead, you decided to abandon her and go live some party life in Guatemala. You didn’t know Jane. You don’t know Tim and you sure as hell don’t know me so don’t go pretending you do.” Emma’s eyes were wide and the emotion in them was unreadable.
“I’m going to go.” she started. “Merry Christmas Tom.” the woman stood, grabbed her bags and left the room.
“Fuck Christmas” Tom muttered.
Emma left, slamming the front door behind her and Tom once more settled into the sofa taking swigs from the can of beer on the coffee table until it’s empty. He has another and another and another until finally he staggers up the stairs and collapses into his empty bed.
A clatter sounded out in Tom’s room waking him with a start.
“Oh shit.” A familiar voice hissed. Tom felt a chill go down his spine. That voice was so familiar… but it couldn’t be could it? Slowly Tom sat up and looked directly into a face that he knew so well.
She looked exactly the same yet entirely different at the same time but one thing was undeniable: Jane Perkins was standing at the bottom of his bed.
She was glowing slightly. Not enough that she was painful to look at but enough for Tom to see her clearly in the dim room. Her face was pale but her lips were a deep red. Her dark hair was loose and floated eerily around her shoulders. Wrapped around the woman’s entire body were tendrils of colour that writhed and moved as she stood. The tendrils of blue, pink, purple, yellow and green almost encased her.
“Janey?” the man gasped out. The woman smiled at him.
“Hi Tom.” The man’s eyes were so wide it looked like they were about fall out of his head.
“But- How are you here? You’re-”
“Dead? Yes well done.” She stepped towards him and her body simply passed through the bed. Her lower half disappeared into it entirely. “I’m a ghost, Tom.”
“No.” He shook his head. “This is just some drunken hallucination. I’m dreaming? It’s not real.” Jane rolled her eyes.
“Believe what you want Tom. I’ve come to warn you-” She was cut off as the tendrils surrounding her glowed suddenly and the woman winced.
“Warn me? About what?” He looked into his wife’s blue eyes. They were deadly serious.
“This town Tom. It’s not normal. Things happen here and people get hurt.” The man frowned.
“What are you even talking about Janey. Hatchetfield isn’t dangerous the biggest news story we’ve had in years is that squirrel-” The woman shook her head.
“No Tom I can’t explain. They-” she winced once more. “They won’t let me.”
“I can’t say. Tom you can help save this town but not like you are and that’s why tonight you’re going to be visited by three other spirits. They’ll help you.” Tom furrowed his eyebrows.
“Help me how?” Jane sighed.
“Really Tom? Not letting our son celebrate Christmas? Arguing with Emma like that? You’re so sullen Tom. You could be a true warrior of light but not if you stay like this.”
“A warrior of wha- Jane you’re not making any sense.” The woman in front of him seemed to tremble as she inhaled as if in fear and her head whipped around as if to see some villain Tom couldn’t see.
“I have to go.” she turned to him and quickly spoke. “3 spirits. You can help people Tom.” And as suddenly as she appeared she was gone.
“Jane?” Tom called quietly conscious of Tim in the next room. “Janey?” but the man found himself speaking to his dim and empty room. “How much did I drink that I’m seeing things?” the man muttered as he fell back onto his mattress and was soon fast asleep.
Tom was once again woken by a bright light flooding his room. Just as before he shot up in his bed almost dazzled by the bright light. As his eyes adjusted, he was slowly able to make out the figure of a young girl who seemed to be the source of the light.
Her hair was all white and hung down from her head in two braids. She wore dungarees with a large overshirt. She looked almost human yet her body and her outfit looked like they had all had the colour sucked out of them. She was as white as paper except for a small dribble of some blue substance from her mouth but the girl quickly wiped it away.
“I- I know you.” Tom gasped out. “You’re that Foster girl. Lex’s sister.” The girl gave no indication whether she agreed or not but smiled at him.
“I am the ghost of Christmas Past.” she stated her voice was melodic as if she was singing the words rather than speaking them. “I have come to help you Tom just as your wife said.” She held out her hand. “Let me take you into the Christmas of your past.”
Tom slowly moved out his hand to touch hers and suddenly he was transported to an old gym.
The Hatchetfield High gym was decked out in streamers and a variety of snowflake decor. He instantly recognised it.
“This is the winter formal of my junior year.” He turned to the girl who nodded.
“Over there.” she pointed. Tom followed her gaze to the entrance where a young, teenage Tom Houston had just entered the gym. He was in good shape: the newest addition to Hatchetfield High’s football team and was slowly gaining a name for himself amongst the student body.
“I remember this dance.” The man spoke to the spirit. “It was when I finally got with-” He whipped around to face the back of the gym and there she was. “Becky.”
The teenage Becky Barnes was exactly as Tom remembered her. She wore a silver dress and her hair tumbled over her shoulders in soft waves. She looked positively radiant. Tom silently watched as his younger self moved over to the girl.
“Do you maybe want to dance?” He asked her. Her face lit up instantly.
“I’d love to” The young boy took her hand and as Tom watched he lead her to the dance floor.
Suddenly the gym disappeared and Tom found himself around the back of the school. It was later that same night. In front of them, the young Tom and Becky were slowly dancing in the moonlight as Tom leaned in to press his lips to hers.
“You loved her?” The spirit asked. Tom nodded.
“She was my everything. God Becky loved Christmas so much. She would go all out you should have seen it.” The ghost nodded slowly.
“But you let her go.” They were no longer at Hatchetfield High. They were in Tom’s childhood home. He and Becky sat curled up on the couch, they were older now, Tom was a high school graduate.
“When do you leave?” Becky asked softly her eyes fixed on the cheesy Hallmark movie playing on the tv screen.
“The new year.” Tom replied. The girls eyeline shifted to look at him.
“We could stay-” Tom shook his head.
“It’s for the best Beck. I’m gonna be far away, you’re going to still be here you’ve got your whole senior year ahead of you and college after that. I love you, Becky, I probably always will, but this is for the best I promise.” Becky returned her gaze to the TV screen clearly blinking back tears.
“So we’ve got until the new year.” Tom nodded.
“Yeah until new year.”
The scene fades and the girl turns to Tom. His face is pained as he watches the tears slowly drip down Becky’s nose.
“You regret it.” The girl commented. Tom shook his head.
“No. I mean yes. But no” He looks at the young Becky Barnes once more. “It was for the best like I said.” The ghost slowly raised her eyebrows and hummed.
“Whatever you say. We have one more stop to make. I think you know what it is.” At her words, Tom’s eyes go wide.
“No- not- please don’t make me go back to that night- I- I can’t I-” but the scene has already shifted.
Tom and the ghost stand outside an old stone brick house on the edge of Hatchetfield island. The front door opens and some people emerge. There’s a young boy who couldn’t be more than eight, a young couple that are clearly his parents and two elderly people.
“Get home safe ok?” The elderly woman says to the couple. “And we’ll see you in a few days.” The man, Tom Houston only a year younger nods.
“Yes Mom. You and dad enjoy yourselves tomorrow yeah? Have a good Christmas day.” The elderly woman nods and looks at the man who’s stood silently next to her.
“We will thank you dear.” she hugs him before turning to the woman stood to next him. “Merry Christmas Jane dear” she hugs her as well. As they’ve been saying their goodbyes, the young boy moved down the stairs and was kicking the slushy snow on the path.
“Tim!” Jane calls. “Come say goodbye to your grandma.” The boy moves back up the stairs and hugs the elderly woman.
“Bye Grandma.” He grins up at her. The small family then move to the car that’s parked at the roadside. As the family walks down the garden path to the car, Tom watches unable to move, he's stiff and his eyes are full of pain.
“Please don’t make me watch this.” The young ghost looks at him, her eyes full of sorrow for him.
“My priority isn’t to comfort you, Tom. I’m sorry.” The boy scrambles into the backseat of the 1968 Foxbody Mustang while the two parents move towards the driver's seat.
“I’ll drive.” The younger Tom insists and the woman sighs before climbing in the passenger seat. She fiddles around in her bag before producing a tape.
“Can I play this?” she asks. “It’s for one of my patients a tape he made-” Tom shakes his head.
“Nah Janey come on it’s Christmas you don’t need to work tonight.” The woman frowns slightly but puts the tape away.
“Yeah, you’re right.”
Tom and the ghost watch as the car slowly pulls onto the road and starts driving. Tom winces. The ghost takes Tom’s hand and the two slowly glide along above the car. Soon the car reaches an intersection, the two watch as the car slowly pulls out and suddenly it’s as if the scene is playing in slow motion. The car in the middle of the road, the other car speeding towards them, the way the driver tried to slam on the breaks but skids on the ice hurtling towards the other car.
There’s silence for a moment. Then screaming.
The driver's door opens and Tom falls out on all fours. There’s a cut on his head gushing blood. He coughs and tries to catch his breath for a second before turning back to push his seat back. He leans into the back of the car and pulls out Tim. The boy is the one screaming. Tears fall down his face free. He’s terrified.
“Tim,” Tom says panicked. “Are you okay?” Tim nods, there are a few scratches on his face but he’s otherwise ok. He looks at the wreckage of the car.
“Mom-” Tom looks back at the car once more. He and Tim were on the other side of the car but Jane was sitting right where the car collided with them.
“Oh god Jane.” Tom says his voice pained.
Tom and the ghost watch as his younger self rushes to the other side of the car and finally lays eyes on his wife.
“I- Tom?” The other driver starts. Tom doesn’t even look at him, he’s too focused on Jane.
“Call an ambulance” he yells before starting towards the wreckage. He pulls Jane from the car. She's limp like a ragdoll, unconscious. She’s bleeding and broken and Tom goes into autopilot. The elder Tom watches in pain as his younger self pulls off his overshirt and presses it to Jane’s side trying to stem her bleeding.
The ambulance arrives and the EMTs pull Tom from Jane’s body rushing her off to the hospital. Another EMT tries to tend to the cut on Tom’s head but he pushes her away.
“Get Tim first. I need to get to the hospital. Jane- she-” The EMT puts her hand on his shoulder. “We’ve got your son sir. He’s being taken care of. He’s in the ambulance. We’ll take you there but I really need to look at this cut.” Tom nods and allows himself to be guided as if in a trance into the ambulance.
The ghost goes to follow along with the ambulance but Tom grabs her arm.
“Please,” he begs. “Please don’t make me relive it.” The girl's eyes are sorrowful as she says,
“I’m sorry Tom.”
Suddenly they’re in a hospital, the room is full of medical professionals of all kinds. They’re all shouting to each other and in the corner, younger Tom sits. His eyes are fixed on the heart monitor attached to Jane. It beeps slowly.
And then it stops.
Both Tom’s shatter as they watch the doctors try to save Jane. The long tone of the heart monitor searing into his mind. The doctors try the defibrillator once, twice, three times. But nothing changes.
Jane Perkins is dead. She’s gone and-
Suddenly Tom is in his room again and the ghost has vanished. He sits on the edge of his bed and puts his face in his hands.
“Oh Janey” he sobs.
At some point, Tom must have fallen asleep because he’s suddenly woken up by something prodding him in the arm. He opens his eyes to find a teenage girl looking down at him. She appears to look almost entirely normal except for the green aura surrounding her. Tom’s eyes go wide as he recognises her.
“Lex?” he questions but the girl shakes her head.
“No. I’m the Ghost of Christmas Present. I was sent by your wife to help you, Tom. We’re going to take a trip through this Christmas.” She holds out her hand, Tom sighs before taking it.
Tom finds himself standing in a familiar hallway. He turns to the ghost.
“This is Emma’s apartment,” he says slowly. The ghost nods.
“Yes and here.” she points as the elevator dings. “is Paul.” Paul wears a cheesy Christmas jumper and a Santa hat is pulled firmly on his head. His arms are full with an assortment of all kinds of things. He knocks on the door and Emma opens it her face lighting up instantly.
“Hey sweetheart” Paul beams back at her, leaning down to kiss her before entering the apartment. “I’ve got all sorts of supplies for us” he says as he places his armful of packages on Emma’s kitchen counter. “And I invited around a few of my friends too. Alice is spending Christmas with her mom and Sam is working today so Bill and Charlotte are gonna come around about 10. There a few others too.” Emma smiles and kisses his cheek.
“Well, we’d better get ready then hadn’t we.” A few hours later, Emma’s apartment is full of people.
The atmosphere is electric with people smiling, drinking and laughing. It’s a wonderful sight. Everyone seems so happy and festive, it’s infectious to the point where even Tom finds himself smiling. The ghost chuckles and Tom turns to her.
“What?” she shrugs.
“Nothing. Just that grin on your face. I thought you hated Christmas?” Tom shrugs.
“I’ve never seen Christmas like this. Emma she…” his voice trails off as he realises, “Oh.” the ghost nods.
“Yes you sent her away.” Tom sighs as the ghost takes his hand once more.
“We’ve got another place to visit,” she says and Tom frowns.
“Can’t we stay a little while longer?” the ghost laughs and shakes her head as the room around them starts to blur and suddenly they’re no longer in Emma’s apartment.
Instead, Tom finds himself standing inside a small trailer. A small and shabby yet grandly decorated Christmas tree stands in the corner. The door opens and a boy walks in carrying two brightly wrapped gifts.
“Are we ready to fucking Christmas?” Ethan calls as a girls head pokes around one of the doors.
“Hey Ethan.” Lex grins walking up and kissing him. “Merry Christmas babe.” Ethan smiles down at her.
Tom looks at the Lex in the trailer before turning to the ghost next to him. He starts but the ghost holds up a finger.
“Don’t ask” she says. As the couple kiss, a young girl follows Lex out from their room and gasps at the decorated tree.
“We got a tree?” Hannah turns to Lex and Ethan who have broken apart now. “I thought-” the girl smiles at her sister’s joy.
“Well, you thought wrong Banana.” Ethan walks over to Hannah and puts his two gifts under the tree.
“And it wouldn’t be a real Christmas without some gifts now would it?” Hannah beams at him.
“Can we open them Lexi?” she turns to her sister. “Please?” Lex’s eyes are alight with joy at her sister's happiness.
“Sure we can. Let me just make our Christmas dinner. How does pizza sound?” she pulls out two frozen pizzas from the trailers freezer. Hannah nods.
While the pizza cooks, the trio gather around the Christmas tree to exchange gifts. Hannah pulls a gift from under the tree and checks the tag.
“This is for you Lexi from Ethan.” and hands the girl the gift and sits waiting patiently for her to open it. Lex smiles and slowly tears through the wrapping paper. She pulls out a small box that opens to reveal an ornate lighter. She leans across to Ethan and presses her lips to his.
“Thank you.” she smiles at him before turning back to Hannah. “Ok Banana, what’s the next gift?” Hannah pulls out another gift from the small pile and once again reads the tag.
“It’s for me,” she says. “From Ethan.” the two elder teens watch as Hannah tears into the wrapping paper revealing a neatly folded red, white and black flannel shirt. She turns to Ethan her eyes bright.
“I love it!” she turns the fabric over in her hands. “It’s so soft. Thank you, Ethan.” Ethan smiles back at her.
“I’m glad you like it Banana.” Hannah once again turns to the pile of presents and pulls the biggest gift from the pile.
“It’s for me again but this one is from Lex.” Lex smiles and nods.
“Open it, Hannah.” Hannah tears open the wrapping to find herself holding a bright white ukulele. She gasps in delight.
“It’s so pretty!” she turns to Lex full of excitement “How did you afford it- You said-” Lex waves her hand.
“It was for you Banana don’t worry about it.” Hannah leaps up and gives her sister a hug.
“Thank you, Lexi.”
Tom and the ghost stand in the corner watching the joyous scene. Though Emma’s Christmas party was much more extravagant and busy than this small Christmas gathering, Tom can still feel the same Christmas electricity flowing through the room. The joy of people being together, the joy of Christmas. The ghost takes his hand once more.
“We have one more stop to go to.” she says and once again the scene begins to blur before it fades away.
The electricity of the last few stops seems to fade away as the scene constructs itself around Tom and he finds himself in his own kitchen. Tom turns to the ghost.
“What are we-” but he’s cut off by the ghost pointing to the dining table.
Tim sits there in concentrated silence. His tongue is slightly poking out as he attempts at wrapping a present. The wrapping is messy and uneven but the care and love Tim is putting into it seems to make it all the more worthwhile.
“Who is the gift for-” Tom starts but watches slowly as his son gets up from the table and follows as he walks up the stairs, coming to a stop outside Tom’s room. The boy places the present outside and presses a hand to the door.
“Merry Christmas Dad.” the boy smiles sadly before turning and returning to his room.
Tom is suddenly filled with emotions at his son's act.
“He got me a gift?” he asks the ghost who nods slowly.
“He’s your son he loves you.” As she speaks the scene around them once again begins to blur but this time, Tom finds himself back in his room and the ghost has gone. He slowly sits down on the bed and waits for the next ghost to arrive…
He didn’t have to wait long. Only minutes after the second ghost left, Tom felt a cold chill sweep through the room and he turns to see a ghostly presence emerging from the shadows and Tom is immediately taken aback by his appearance. The ghost looked almost identical to Ethan Green but his skin was ghostly pale, he had dark circles under his eyes and there was a wound on his head which seemed to be bleeding deep red blood which disappeared in ghostly tendrils as it dripped down his face.
“You must be the final ghost.” Tom said slowly, somewhat terrified by the appearance of his former student. The ghost makes no reply but holds out his hand for Tom to take and he does.
The room shifts once again and Tom finds himself once again in the trailer of the Foster family. But there’s no tree this year. Instead, the room is bleak and empty. The only thing that even indicates it’s Christmas at all is the abandoned Hatchetfield Gazette on the coffee table.
The door to the trailer opens and Pamela Foster walks in.
“Nanners!” The woman calls out. “Come get me a beer.” The woman sets herself down on the sofa and turns to the news channel. Nobody comes. The woman sighs and calls again. “Hannah Foster. Get your ass in here!” The door to Hannah’s room opens and the girl steps out. She’s much thinner than she was the previous year, her hair is lifeless and there are dark circles under her eyes. In one hand she clutches the white ukulele from the following Christmas.
“Get me a beer girl.” Pamela orders and Hannah drifts over to the fridge and pulls out a beer and takes it to her mother. The woman smiles coldly at Hannah and takes a swig. “Good now we don’t want you getting lazy now, do we? It’s laziness that got your sister and that no good boyfriend of hers arrested.” Hannah starts but Pamela cuts her off. “You know I’m right Nanners. Now hurry along before I lose my temper.”
Hannah turns to leave, heading once more into her room where she sits on the edge of the bed and looks down at the ukulele on her lap.
“Oh Lexi.” The girl sighs. “I miss you so much. This isn’t fair.” As she speaks tears begin to roll down her nose and she curls up in a ball sobbing. Tom watches on stunned.
“What happened? Lex and Ethan, they were arrested? How? Why?” But the ghost doesn’t say anything and instead once again takes Tom’s hand and the scene begins to shift again.
This time Tom finds himself once again in Emma’s apartment. But it is not the bustling party of joy that it was last year. This year the apartment feels colder, barer, sadder. Emma stands at the stove slowly flipping pancakes. Her shoulders are tense as she cooks. Paul exits from one of the bedrooms and presses a kiss to her cheek.
“He out yet?” the woman shakes her head.
“No. He refused to.” Paul hums before taking one of the pancakes from the stack.
“You can’t blame him. First Christmas since his dad…” he trails off. Emma sighs as she moves some pancakes onto a plate and walks down to stand outside the spare bedroom.
“Tim?” she calls. “I’ve made you some pancakes bud. I’ll leave them outside the door for you ok? And when you’re ready if you want you can come out here and we can open presents? Yeah?” There’s silence for a moment before a voice calls out from inside.
“Just leave me alone Aunt Emma!” the woman sighs once again, placing the pancakes on the ground and walking away.
The ghost and Tom walk directly through the door and find themselves in the small spare room Emma has in her apartment. Posters of cars and trucks litter the walls and on the bed sits a small solitary figure. Tim Houston sits crying. In one hand he clutches a small object that Tom recognises instantly.
“My watch?” he questions the ghost. “Why is Tim living with Emma? What’s going on? Where am I?” The ghost stares at Tom with sad eyes before once again taking his hand.
The scene quickly fades and Tim is gone instead replaced by the four walls of what is clearly a prison cell. A lone figure sits in inmate overalls in the bed. His beard and hair are long, shaggy and unkempt and he sits slowly muttering to himself.
“She was a car.” The man rambles. “She was a car and she made me do it. She made me kill her.” he keeps repeating this mantra to himself over and over, almost as if it’s the only thing he can think of. Tom is confused and turns to the ghost.
“What does this have to do with me?” The ghost merely points to the man in the cell and Tom walks forward to look directly at the man’s face. He leans down to look and stares directly into his own eyes.
“No-” he gasps, horrified. “This is some cruel joke. It can’t be-”
Suddenly, the other Tom is gone and Tom finds himself alone in the cell. There is no ghost to be seen. He glances down to find himself dressed in the prison overalls.
“No.” he shakes his head. “This is just a nightmare, Tom. Wake up, wake up, wake up.” but the man is trapped in the scene and watches slowly as the cell walls move in, getting smaller and smaller, slowly crushing him and just as he feels like he’s about to suffocate-
Tom wakes up.
He glances out the window and sees light streaming through the curtain. He checks the clock, the time reads 6:15 am.
“I still have time!” he grins, running downstairs. He grabs the box of decorations from the storage cupboard and slowly gets to work, stringing up lights and tinsel and wreaths. Soon the house looks the most well decorated it's ever been. It’s beautiful. “Right what else?” Tom mutters to himself before having a realisation. “Yes presents and a Christmas feast right!” the man rushes from the house and clambers into his car.
As he’s driving down Main Street, Tom sees three familiar figures walking at the side of the road. As he pulls up next to the Foster sisters and Ethan he calls to them,
“Lex, Hannah, Ethan! Merry Christmas.” the three smile at him and he’s met with a mumbled chorus of Merry Christmases back and suddenly Tom has an epiphany. “Hey kids do you wanna help me out for some cash?” he asks pulling out his wallet. He pulls out all the cash he has and presses it into Lex’s hand. Her eyes go wide.
“Find a store that’s open,” he instructs them. “Buy the best Christmas feast you can get. All the classic stuff you know? Then bring it to my house. All three of you are invited of course. I’m having a big Christmas party. Buy what you can and keep the rest of the money for yourselves okay? I’m going to go buy presents for my son.” The three kids nod and rush off.
Tom soon returns from the store his arms full of presents for Tim and carefully places his gifts under the tree. He then picks up his phone and dials a familiar number.
“Tom?” Emma’s voice is sleepy as she picks up the phone “What’s up?”
“Emma” the man starts. “I want to apologise about yesterday. I was dumb and I made a mistake. Can you forgive me?” Emma is silent for a moment.
“Tom it’s okay I get it don’t worry. I miss her too.” Tom smiles slightly.
“Anyways I’m having a Christmas party if you and Paul want to come. You can invite friends too, Paul has some friends at work, doesn’t he? Let’s celebrate Christmas properly.” he waits on edge before Emma replies,
“Of course Tom we’ll be there.”
After he hangs up Tom hears movement from upstairs and moves into position. Tim slowly moves downstairs rubbing the sleep from his eyes and he freezes when he takes in the scene before him and then he gasps.
“Dad?” he asks “What happened? I thought-” Tom shakes his head.
“I was wrong Tim. You deserve to celebrate Christmas it’s what your mom would have wanted.” Tim grins and rushes to his dad pulling him into a hug.
“Merry Christmas Dad.” Tom smiles and strokes his sons head lovingly.
“Merry Christmas Tim.”