This is not a feel-good Christmas story.
This takes place just weeks after the incident that occurred during Trixie and Honey’s freshman year of college. I don’t want to give away anything, just in case you haven’t been keeping up. I did want to warn you to not expect a happy story. I’m jumping back in time from my last entry. There may/may not be clues to what is going on with Trixie in Revenge Part One. -Teresa
Have Yourself a RISKfree Little Christmas
The sun was not up. That wouldn’t happen for almost two hours. She reached over to make sure that the alarm had not been set. Satisfied that she could slip out of the bed without waking her husband, she carefully rolled off of her side of the mattress.
In spite of the darkness she knew exactly where everything was. Years of repetition made it possible to move about in the absence of light, finding what she needed in the blackness. The house shoes went on first, then the robe. In a matter of moments she had exited the bedroom and was standing in the hall. She closed the door noiselessly behind her. The small lamp by the top of the stairs was now aiding her vision.
She padded down the hall, past the other bedrooms. A smile tugged at her lips. Behind those closed doors were her children. They were all home for the holidays, safe. Well, they were home, at least.
The trip down the stairs brought the living room into view. All was the same as when she retired the evening before. The Christmas tree lights were still on. The proverbial debate over whether the lights should twinkle or not had been settled. As always, to keep up with tradition, the lights were blinking.
Christmas cards from friends and relatives were displayed on the mantel, with the photo card from the Lynches in their matching outfits of royal blue and gold standing out the most. The small nativity to the left of the hearth glowed in the tiny light that hovered over the infant Savior.
She almost missed the dark shape as she passed through on her way to the kitchen. Then it moved- slightly, but it moved. She stifled a yelp. After what had happened weeks before, even she had become a little paranoid about her surroundings.
Giving her eyes time adjust to the low light, she was able to identify the shape. It shifted, and pulled itself up into an even tighter ball.
Dear Lord, has she been there all night? She hasn’t left the couch in hours. She drew her lips into a tight line from the worry and heartache that she was feeling, and had been feeling for several days. I wish I could tell her everything was going to work out, and she would feel safe again. Why her? What makes people act like him? How did he turn out that way? At least he’s in jail, and he will go to prison for the rest of his life, I hope.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” filtered from the stereo’s speakers. It slowly faded, only to restart on a loop, the haunting lyrics mocking the listener. That is NOT what she needs to be listening to. Surely that hasn’t been playing over and over. Even the smooth voice of Dean Martin was unable to lift the melancholy mood of the piece.
Her first instinct was to turn off the player. Changing her mind, she reached out to comfort her only daughter. She hesitated. What more can I do? We’ve tried everything. She’s got to sort this out. She can’t sit in helplessness forever. Surely something can bring her around.
From his position on the floor near the curled form of the young woman, Reddy raised his head. He thumped his tail. His brow was knitted as if to show that he too was worried, and he gave a slight whimper to voice his concern.
“I know old boy.” She quietly soothed the loyal Irish setter. “I feel the same way.”
Forcing herself away from the living room she went into the kitchen and turned on the coffeemaker. It had been set to begin brewing later in the morning. She was up earlier than usual since today was a special day and not a typical workday.
She yawned, stretched and began assembling the ingredients for the omelet casserole. Luckily she didn’t have to worry about the cinnamon rolls. They were the pop-in-the-oven type. Christmas mornings were too hectic to make a large breakfast. A quick and easy to prepare meal had become the norm.
She had just begun removing the band off the frozen orange juice when a light tapping came from the porch door. She held her breath and peaked through the curtains.
A very anxious Jim stood on the other side. His hair was sticking out from all sides of his snow-covered stocking cap. He was in an obvious need of a shave and looked as if he had not slept.
Moms unlatched the door and ushered him in. He appeared to be out of breath.
“Jim, what’s wrong?”
He inhaled deeply and let it out slowly before answering. “I…I got a phone call…from Bobby.”
“Bobby?” Mom’s glanced into the living room to the opening of the stairs. “When? How?”
Jim placed his hands on Mom’s shoulders. “He called a while ago and left a message on my voice mail. I was awake and had slipped outside to see if it was still snowing. Out of habit I checked my cell phone for any missed calls. That’s when I heard Bobby’s message. He was worried about Trixie. He had snuck downstairs to get a peak at his presents when he saw her. From his description, I can understand why he would be concerned.”
Moms covered her face with her hands. “I’m worried about her, too. We all are.” She motioned in the direction of the living room. “I don’t think she’s moved all night.”
Jim craned his neck to see Trixie staring blankly into space, her knees tightly drawn to her chin. Her face showed no emotion. He could barely discern her blinking.
He let out an exasperated sigh. “I thought she was in better spirits when I left. She promised me she was going to bed right after…”
He kissed Moms on the cheek and gave her shoulders a reassuring squeeze. “Excuse me. I’m going to see if she is willing to talk.”
Talk. That is something that Trixie had not been doing much of for the past few weeks, at least when it came to certain subjects. Since the attack, she had become very closed off to discussing what had occurred.
As Jim sank wearily on the couch, he attempted to pull Trixie to him. She resisted. She would not budge from the tight ball she had wound herself into. Jim resigned himself to sit beside her, his hand on her back, gently rubbing between her shoulders in a circular fashion. He leaned forward and began whispering reassurances in her ear.
Moms turned her attention to making breakfast. She said a silent prayer that Jim would finally be able to break through.
A hushed, “Has he been here all night?” startled her from her thoughts.
“He just got here. He was worried about Trixie.”
Brian sat at the table and shook his head. “She’s been like this for days. According to Honey, one minute she was happy-go-lucky, bouncing off the walls. The next minute she was like that. She actually did better than any of us thought she would the first few days after it happened. It appeared that Trixie would be her old self, especially during Jim’s visit that following weekend. However, it was after that when things turned bizarre, as if something snapped. She would get up several times in the night to make sure their doors were locked and the computer was unplugged. She jumped every time the phone rang or someone came to the door. She insisted that she was being followed or watched. And poor Dan, Trixie had him running to the room every time she got spooked. Honey was beside herself with what to do. At least it sounds like she was able to hold it together to take her finals. Honey and Mike both thought she seemed confident while taking them.”
“That was very sweet of Daniel,” Moms smiled. Then her face was once again serious. “What are we going to do? She can’t stay like this forever.”
He studied his folded hands. “I think she needs professional help.” He hesitated before adding, “And that may also mean medication, temporarily.”
“I do know that the police detective gave her a card with the name of a crisis counselor, and the college’s counseling service also contacted her. I don’t suppose she took either one up on their offer. Did Honey say anything to you about Trixie getting help?” Moms asked hopefully.
“She told me Trixie won’t ask for help. You know how stubborn she is. She likes to try to handle things on her own. Since she refuses to discuss the matter, Honey and I can’t decide if it is because she can’t remember anything or if she is afraid to remember. Whichever it is, combine that with the anxiety and depression, she’s going to need something to bring her back to normal.”
Moms gave a reluctant nod. “I suppose we will need to make the decision for her, after Christmas, and hopefully, before the arraignment. Maybe Dr. Ferris can help us. He might be able to recommend someone for Trixie to see.” She noticed that Trixie had finally relaxed and was leaning into Jim’s shoulder. Her eyes were closed as if she were asleep.
Moms pointed to the living room and held her finger to her lips to signal to Brian to keep silent. Mother and son wordlessly turned their attention to breakfast.
They had taken the omelet casserole out of the oven and replaced it with the cinnamon rolls when Jim joined them. “She’s finally sleep. She kept waking up with a start. Then I would have to calm her back down. As long as it stays quiet, I don’t think she will awaken.” He checked his watch. “It’s still a few minutes before the sun comes up. I’m going back home to shower and shave. Cook has a light breakfast planned. Then, we’ll open presents. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
Moms reminded him to save room for turkey and dressing. Jim promised to bring an appetite.
He grabbed his coat and stocking cap, stopping to check on Trixie once more before leaving. He pulled the cap down lower on his head and had started off the porch when he came face to face with a hooded figure.
Dan spoke first, his tone verging on accusation. "Are you just now leaving? You stayed all night?" He took a step forward.
Jim tensed his body as he justified his early morning appearance. “No. Bobby called me. He was worried about Trixie. I came over to check on her. I’m on my way back home to clean up.” He tightened his jaw. “And just what brings you here at this hour?”
Dan chose not to answer; rather he stuck out his hand to shake, in an effort to cool tensions. He knew the past few weeks had been rough on Jim, and he was well aware of Jim's resentment of his assuming the role of a surrogate boyfriend. Besides, he wanted to be in a good mood when he made the phone call that a certain someone was expecting later that morning.
Jim accepted the olive branch and gripped Dan’s hand firmly. “Sorry,” he apologized. “I know you went through your own problems as a result of the attack. I can’t thank you enough for being there for Trixie. I hate to think what would have happened if you all hadn’t broke into the room.” His gripped tightened. “I also am grateful that you were able to be there when she started….”
“Freaking out?” Dan finished as they released their clasp. “It sometimes happened three times a night. I’m glad she’s home now, where she feels safe.” He realized what he had just said and corrected himself. “At least she should eventually feel safe.”
Jim gestured behind him with his thumb. “Go on. Moms and Brian are up. It’s a lot warmer inside.”
Dan started to walk away when he turned, “And Trixie?”
“She’s asleep on the couch, for now.” Jim forced a grin. “I’m going home to clean up and to get her Christmas present.”
Dan returned Jim’s smile, “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. You got her….” Dan winked. “I’m sure she’ll love it. Merry Christmas.”
Jim watched as Dan ascended the porch steps.
“Yeah, some merry little Christmas this turned out to be,” Jim whispered. Tightening his coat around his body, he started back down the lonely path to the Manor House.
I know. This is WAY short for me. There are a couple of things that will come into play later on, seven years later.
I realize that this is a depressing story. It occurs just weeks after the initial attack on Trixie. There is much that she can’t remember. She’s obviously been effected by it. One wonders what else is playing in the back of her mind. Had something else happened since the attack? Was something said? A threat perhaps? I wonder.
There are several that I want to thank:
Andrea/Moon-Spinner, Apriliz, Lindsay… your proof reading, encouragement and ideas helped mucho.
Apriliz, your suggestion of a song was perfectly, perfect. It was also a major help with the title. THANKS
Amber thanks for your continued support.
Cheryl/Ryl, thanks for the preview help and editing. You’re a blessing! I am so relived that you seem to understand where I am going with this.
By the way…
Here are the original lyrics to the song. I knew the song was kind of depressing. I never knew how much until now.
Historical Lyrics to "Have Yourself a Merry Little
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Through the years, we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
Composed by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane
Courtesy of MGM Music
If you own the rights to Trixie or the above song, please don’t sue me.
I actually attempted to hit a few of the Happy Holidays VIII elements. Did you catch them?