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The Holiday Separation

a fiction story by Angela Raines

 

 

Clara hummed as she prepared the meal for Christmas. She’d invited some of her customers to join her for dinner.

Still memories returned to haunt her. It had been 9 years since that fateful Christmas eve.

She and her brother Tom had retired to the loft where they slept. They had come to Kansas to live with an Aunt Elsie and Uncle Oliver after the death their own parents. They weren’t any real relation them, but they the couple had agreed to take them in.

Tom was already asleep, but she was still awake when she heard Elsie and Oliver talking.

"We can’t keep both children" Uncle Oliver had said.

"It would be difficult to separate them, but I see no other way. There is just not enough money to take care of both."

Clara stifled a sob and covered her head. At 13 she knew she would be the one going. Right then she decided to take her fate into her own hands. She had always looked older than her age .

Packing her belongings into a bundle she waited until her aunt and uncle were asleep. Leaning over she looked at Tom and whispered " I will always love you. Take care and don’t worry about me."

Tom roused and she told him to go back to sleep.

Creeping out she headed to the road. She knew she had to get far away before they realized she had left. She regretted leaving Tom but felt that he would be safe. Elsie and Oliver truly loved Tom.

She hitched a ride with a tinker and was many miles away before the sun rose. She headed to Colorado, changed her name. The tinker said that a young lady could get work as a house maid in the town of Colorado Springs.

While working for the Dickerson's, her first employers, she increased her cooking and sewing skills. She was a good employee and saved her money.

At 17 she went out on her own. Now at 22 she had her own restaurant, small though it was and people who cared about her as she cared about them. She loved the small one bench , three table place here in the mountains.

Still she missed Tom and wondered what had happened to him. She thought about writing but in the early years was afraid they would come after her. Then so much time had passed it was too late. The one thing she had done was send Tom gift every year for Christmas, anonymously.

Enough of remembering, Clara thought. Friends were starting to arrive, bringing gifts of jam, doilies, and wooden trinkets. Soon grace was said and they dug in with joy at the feast she had prepared.

Expecting young Jamie to arrive, Clara hurried to the door at the knock. She had asked him to stop by for she wanted to send some of the food with him. His wife was near to the delivery of their first born.

Instead it was a stranger.

"Hello, are you Clara Johnson?" the young man asked.

"Why do you ask?" Clara gasped.

"I am looking for a Clara Johnson, and the livery man told me there was a Clara who owned a restaurant and gave me directions."

Seeing the look on Clara’s face, the young man hurriedly spoke. " I decided to take a chance and come here hoping to find the person who has been sending me gifts."

Clara’s eyes misted and the years fell away.

The End

 

copyright 2007 by Doris A. McCraw writing as Angela Raines


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