Jackie Klaus just wanted one quiet, restful Christmas away from all of her family...will she get it?
It had been a long night and the morning sun promised only more of the tumult that was Jackie Klaus’ nightmare. She’d been riding for what felt like forever in the stiff seat of a Greyhound bus next to others on their way home to, no doubt, happy holidays.
She stepped out onto the platform. It had been two years since she’d seen the dirt roads and prickled pines of home. But here she was, with a half-empty suitcase, ready for whatever her past could drag up.
The gray of an Indiana day soon took over the morning sun. It was damp, chilly and the dirt roads muddy from melting snow. She walked down the lane to her house. Everyone had headed north to be with the rest of the family for the holidays. Hundreds of Klaus’s partying and working together. This year Jackie had just wanted to have some peace. No noise, no questioning, no looks of sympathy. It had not been her year. Divorcing from John after only two years of marriage. Well, she was glad she was not a “Frost” anymore anyway. Everyone made fun of her name, “Jackie Frost” married to John Frost, who also went by Jack Frost, ha-ha. She’d rather be a Klaus any day then be a part of that frigid family.
Jackie saw an old red Ford coming down the lane from the house. Sputtering and puffing the old truck wobbled towards her slowly. She knew it was old Mr. Freeman, a good friend of the family.
“Hey, Jackie girl. I just came from the house. The gas heater has been lit, so you will have heat and hot water within an hour.”
“Thanks Mr. Freeman.”
“Your Aunt Holly left some of her famous holiday cranberry salad and food in the frig for you.”
“Thanks Mr. Freeman.”
“Your Aunt Thistle left you a turkey breast, rolls, and a box of that stuffin’ stuff to make for yourself.”
”Thanks Mr. Freeman.”
“It’s sure weird to see a Klaus in town for Christmas. You are all usually gone off by now. Oh…I also left Otis up at the house to keep you company. He’s old and grumpy, but that old huntin’ dog will still bark at anything that comes within his seeing range.”
“Thanks Mr. Freeman.”
“OK little girl. Call if you need anything.” Mr. Freeman touched the brim of his cap and rolled up his squeaky truck window.
Jackie stood back and waved as Mr. Freeman drove away. She took off her mitten and put it her in mouth so that she could open the latch to the chain link gate, as soon as she pushed the gate forward she heard Otis in his old husky voice, coming towards her, “Ruff, ruff, ruff.”
“Hey Otis you old poop. Where’s the squirrels Otis?”
The old brown skinny hound dog came up to Jackie and licked her hand and waited for her to pat his head. He turned back towards the house. As she fumbled in her coat for the door key the wind rustled the eaves, and some icicles dripped off the porch, other than that there was just silence.
She switched on the light by the front door, even though it was morning, the house looked dim. She put down her bag kicking off her boots. She noted the old decorated silver foil Christmas tree in the corner of the living room with the revolving light placed at the bottom of the tree. A few presents were under it and a note was on the coffee table. She recognized her Aunt Holly’s writing. Jackie read and crumbled the note and headed for the tub.
The rest of the day, Christmas Eve, she spent lounging in a long bath, sleeping in her old big soft bed, reading books, eating cookies, and stroking Otis’s head. Life was good.
Around 11:30 PM Jackie stretched and yawned. She reached over for the remote and clicked off the TV. Otis raised his head and gave a deep, “Ruff.” Just then there was a knock on the door. Jackie sat up, “Who is it?” She asked.
“It’s your Uncle Chris. Jackie open this door.”
Jackie jumped up and ran to the door grabbing her robe, “Uncle Chris, what are you doing here? I wanted to be alone for Christmas this year. I just want to hang out here.”
“Nonsense girl. You are a Klaus. You’ve never been alone at Christmas in all your life and you are not going to start now. Anyway I wanted to show you my latest toy. Wanna see it and take a spin? Put on your boots.”
Before Jackie could answer, her boots were on and Uncle Chris had taken her by the hand and led her outside.
“So what is it?” She asked.
”Did you hear me pull up?”
“Surprisingly no, and neither did Otis until you got to the door.”
“Come check this out.” Uncle Chris led Jackie to the side of the house. Even in the dark she saw this huge glider with a giant monarch butterfly across the top of it. She just looked at Uncle Chris puzzled.
“This is the latest thing the new Monarch Wing Ultraglide. It has room for two, my bag in the back, ultra silent, ultra easy to stop and go. You haven’t been out with me for a ride on Christmas Eve since you were a little girl. How about just a quick ride, just around the state and I promise I will bring you right back.”
“Ok, I’m in. Let me get my coat.” Before Jackie could say another word, a warm red and white jacket with a fur hood was around her. Uncle Chris smiled with that little twinkle in his eyes. “Let’s go.”
“But how do we get a ultraglide to take off?” She knew better then to ask because after all this was Uncle Chris, he had the edge on every kind of transportation.
“We hold on, we run and when I say jump, jump and sit. So let’s go, 1 – 2 –3 run, run, run and sit!”
The two plopped back into their small metal seats and the monarch ultraguide lifted gracefully into the air. Jackie sat back feeling a cool evening breeze on her face, not cold at all. The wind made the wings of the ultraglide fly easily, and there was nothing else but the quiet of the night, the stars above and just peace.
“Where are the guys?” Jackie elbowed Uncle Chris teasingly.
“Taking a hay-break in the barn.”
“Chris Kringle you are too much.”
“Ho-Ho-Ho Merry Christmas little girl, and God bless us everyone.”