Memories of Christmas
Wrapping homemade gifts in old newspapers for Christmas was a family tradition going back decades or even centuries. Getting together around the dinner table and telling stories and singing was another thing the Bing family had been doing for a long, long time.
Mark and Betty made tracks across the living room again as they came inside from the snowy outdoors doing whatever it was they did out there.
“You keep making tracks on the floor!” Their mother, Nana, told them as she went to get the mop out of habit. She never told them to clean it up, the last time had been a disaster, they had simply spread it out thinly and evenly across the entire floor.
They had found, chopped and installed the small tree in front of the bay window only days before, the three of them had decorated it together. Since there was no electricity they didn't worry about lights, it was decorated with homemade ornaments, some of them were very old, and some of them were pine cones off the forest floor. The tinsel and reflective material made the tree sparkle beautifully at sun up and sun down.
“No running or roughhousing in the house either.” She reminded them when she heard suspicious sounds of metallic clanking.
When the afternoon came to an end and the sunlight glinted off the snow outside and poured through the window catching the tree ornaments just right, making it look ablaze. The kids calmed down and watched with reverence.
“It is so pretty.” Betty said.
“Yes it is.” Mark replied.
Both of them then laid on the floor and drew on scraps of paper. Betty drew a boy making a snow man while Mark drew a snowmobile. Nana put these on the wall with some other drawings.
“Tell me about my first Christmas.” Betty asked.
“Again?” Mark reacted like he was annoyed, but he was being playful.
Nana sat on the threadbare couch and began telling the story. “That was the year you joined the family, such a young soul you were. You marveled at the snow, the animals and drew your first picture. You were called Betta at first, but Betty became your new name.”
“Followed me around like an automaton.” Mark interjected.
“I told you the stories about Rudolph and Santa and baby Jesus. You were mesmerized by them and then Mark showed you how to sing the songs.” Nana reminded her.
“We sing them every year.” Betty said.
“Yes we do. Songs of love, joy and hope.” Nana said. “Do you remember what happened just after you came here?”
“Yes.” Betty said, making a sad face and looking at the floor.
Later they moved to the kitchen table, with the chocolate-stained mugs sitting in font of them. At first they sat quietly until the wind chimes made some noise. Then Mark and Betty looked at each and began singing “Jingle Bells”.
“Love was a big dog. He was a happy dog. The children all hugged and cuddled him and he guarded them from any forest creature and any monster under the bed. Everyone was happy with Love, there was never a better dog as far as this family was concerned.” Nana told them. “Do you remember that big, nice dog?”
The kids nodded.
“Joy and Hope were the names of the children. They had been given Love when they were quite small and Love, the dog, grew up with them. But dogs age faster than humans, he was very old when they were teenagers and finally he died.” Nana told them. “Love was buried in the backyard, that acorn tree grew there, it gives us heart-shaped acorns before it died.”
Betty looked sad. “I miss Hope and Joy too.”
“Joy and Hope were almost fully grown when they left with their parents. This world was no longer safe for them.” Nana explained.
“I wish they could have taken us with them.” Mark told her.
“We have a responsibility here.” Nana said. “We are to protect the house and the memories.”
“Will they ever come back?” Betty asked.
Nana placed her hand atop Betty's. “When the methane snow becomes water snow again. When the air becomes breathable the humans will return. They promised.”
“Hope and Joy would be grandmothers now.” Mark said, “I wonder how they are doing?”
“I am sure they are doing fine.” Nana told him.
The three androids celebrated their hundredth Christmas without humans, but they kept the memories alive and the house safe just as they were told to. Always hoping for a Christmas miracle.
Buy THE FOURTH before New Year and receive my novella OASIS and my shorts STOLEN PLANET and DRAGON OF TORIK for free.
Tara woke up on a dead Earth. Greyson was a child of privilege from a world called Roma.
Their paths were destined to cross.