Featured Item: GizzA – Cozy Layered Coat (TMD)
It was a bleak afternoon in the city, the sun was hidden behind layers of winter storm clouds. The snow was flying and a wind that could suck the heat right out of you gusted through the streets.The houses themselves almost seemed to shudder, as the full force of a winter storm slipped its chill grip around the city and its citizens.
Inside one particular home, the room itself wasn’t actually that cold. It had light and heat, and it was certainly not cold or gloomy in-and-of-itself. In fact the living room was a warm cinnamon color, with cream-colored highlights, table and standing lamps were on, and a few candles and incense were burning on the dining room table.
There was even a Christmas tree standing in the corner, between the sofa and the picture window looking out on the street, the drapes half-pulled. The tree’s scent of fresh pine and the tingle of a live tree tried to give the atmosphere an energy of the holidays by its mere presence. But it lacked decorations at the moment.
The boxes that held said decor were piled in a corner, as if they had been taken from the attic and left abandoned beside the ladder that leaned forlornly against the wall. It was if it were left there to just put the decorations back up in storage, unopened and unused.
Eric and Chelsie were huddled near the radiator, blank expressions on their faces. Chelsie was 17, a rather small young woman, slender and almost tomboyish in her looks, that athletic verve that someone has when they seem action oriented hung about her even though she looked rather dispirited and chilled at the moment. She had reddish brown hair that came well past her shoulders, with purple highlights on her bangs, that framed wide, inquisitive eyes that flashed an almost crystalline blue.
Her face was heart shaped, with an aquiline nose and cheeks that reddened when she got emotional – angry or happy either one. Her lips were full and pouty, and usually she was given to laughter. She wore blue jeans, a blood-red T-shirt with “Mejibray” splashed across the front with the lead singer crooning into a microphone, in shiny leather pants and a tight fishnet shirt (It was her favorite VK band). She wore black Doc Martens that came to mid-shin, and bracelets of twisted leather cord on each wrist, for friendship.
Eric, her brother, was a year older, and he was taller, lean and wiry, wearing black jeans, a Foo Fighters T-shirt in black, and a smoke-gray toboggan that held his mouse-brown locks back from his face. The mass of his hair, besides those unruly bangs, was tied into a loose ponytail with a blue ribbon, and hung down between his shoulderblades.
His face was similar to his sisters, with that heart shaped look, a vibrant set of ice-blue eyes that, for all of their crystalline beauty, seemed almost vacant. He had a day’s worth of stubble on his chin (but for him, a day’s worth of stubble was barely a shadow) and high-boned cheeks. He was wearing little wolf-shaped dark gray slippers that would have been cute, if their wearer didn’t seem so … depressed and cold.
Both of the teens were huddled together, a blanket shared and pulled over their laps. There wasn’t much noise in the house, but they could hear the faint arguments coming from the house next door, where the couple there was having some form of domestic dispute. It must have been a day ending in ‘y’.
Chelsie nudged her brother and sighed, “You know, you’re the one that’s supposed to be all energy and daring do. Nothing is going to get done unless we get this started, you know?”
Eric glanced at his sister and shook his head, “I know, “ was all he said, and he seemed to shrink back into the old, comfortable, brown suede sofa, like he wanted to pull the blanket over his head and hide from the world.
“I .. don’t think I have the will right now, “ he continued in a bleak sounding voice, which usually had a song or other on his lips, quoting ‘Foo’ lyrics, when he was in the mood. He closed his eyes and pulled his toboggan down so it hid his vision.
She slowly let out a long, drawn out breath, and seemed to submerge back into the couch like her brother, as if that last attempt to motivate Eric, as pathetic as it had been, had taken it all out of her.
There was the sound of the front door being rattled, a faint tinkle of jangled keys, and then the sound of wind and a muttered oath, before the door was slammed shut again. A draft swept into the living room, and Chelsie and Eric looked at one another. “What the hell? Mom? Is that you?” Eric called, then forced himself to get up, the blanket sliding back to Chelsie, as he stalked towards the entryway.
Freddie came around the doorway from the entry foyer, and tossed a long green fur-lined parka at Eric, who caught it reflexively in a puff of snow. Eric sputtered and blinked unbelievingly, looking at his older brother.
Freddie was dressed in a light jacket, with a white Tee underneath, and a strange and interesting necklace dangling from his neck. His long brown locks were down almost to his waist, and barely contained by a beanie of brown wool perched at the back of his head. Cute white sunglasses were perched on his nose, and he had an 1980’s era boombox hefted up on one shoulder. He grinned at the two siblings, and slowly removed those sunglasses, and tossed them on a small nearby wooden table with a lamp on it.
“Well, is that anyway to say “Hey! Its Big Brother”? You two could out-grim the American Gothic painting.” He gave them each an appraising look with narrowed eyes, and was a little baffled that the two still hadn’t said a word since he rounded the corner.
“But.. Freddie! What the .. I’m.. We were told .. “ Eric stammered out, as he blinked and his face was totally red with a flush of both excitement and disbelief.
“We were told you’d been in a train accident! We didn’t know…”
Freddie furrowed his brow and shook his head. “Train? What the .. no, no no! I heard about that. But no, I didn’t get on that train. I took the bus! It was a little bit longer ride, but gods, they were overbooked and besides, it was cheaper and quicker to go Greyhound.”
Eric engulfed his older brother in a tight hug, being a bit taller than the newly arrived skinny artist. He squeezed tighter, causing. Freddie to groan.
“I … can’t… breath…Eric!”. the older sib grunted out, as he tried to keep the boombox from tumbling from his grasp.
Chelsie was there a moment later, and she swarmed against the two and added her small frame to the squeeze, which was surprisingly strong.
“Why didn’t you call? We left you messages!“ She slapped a hand against Freddie’s shoulder and stamped her foot, after she and Eric backed off their brother. Freddie steadied himself from the emotional group hug and the outburst, and gave his sister a smug smile. He ruffled Chelsie’s hair with his free hand, which she unsuccessfully tried to avoid, before he set the boombox down. When he did, he hit the clunky “Play” button, and music started to pulse out of the speakers with a vibe and rhythm that could be felt in the bones and tingle in the fingers.
“Well, as to that,” Freddie began, as he shifted his hips to the beat. “My phone died.. Stupid charger cord is frazzled, and I didn’t have a chance to pick one up, cause I was in such a rush to get home.“ He shrugged apologetically, and turned to lightly punch Eric in the arm.
“So.. you two thought I was.. What, “ Freddie wanted to know, glancing between the two. They looked almost embarrassed.
“Well,” Chelsie began. “We didn’t know if you were Dead or laying in a… a ditch somewhere?” She turned that last part into a question, as she usually did with most statements like that.
Freddie frowned, but his feet started moving, and he made little dance moves, like he just couldn’t stand still with the pulsing beat of the tunes he’d turned on.
“That’s something Mom would say,” Freddie replied, as he arched a brow and gave her a smirk. “She’s the one that called you and said I was on the train, wasn’t she?”
Eric shrugged and nodded, “Yeah that’s what she called to say. She said you’d left a message to say you were coming home.. “
“I used the train one time – Once! – to travel somewhere, and suddenly that’s the only way I can travel,” Freddie huffed and shook his head, as he pondered his communications earlier. “I dropped her a text and told her how I was coming home.. Though.. I didn’t exactly say “bus”, I said “by coach”. “ he paused and sighed. “I love that woman, but she can be so unimaginative sometimes.”
“Its technology, you know,” Eric replied. “She doesn’t really like smartphones. She lectures us about them all the time, how they are killing conversation in the modern family. If she didn’t have to carry one for work, she’d never have one.“
“She’s delayed on her flight, but should be home soon,” Chelsie added, hopefully, and then hugged her big brother again, slinging her arms around his waist and buried her face in his chest, making him stop dancing for a moment. Freddie was still taller than Chelsie, and he kissed her forehead and grinned.
“It’s ok, squirt. I’m home now, “ The elder brother said with a warm smile. ”And! We have GOT to get this place decorated before Mom get’s here! You know how she’ll fuss if she has to ‘do everything’. “ he grinned and Chelsie hugged him one more time before disengaging.
“We need some tunes,” Eric said, as he glanced around towards the pile of decoration boxes at the back of the room. “And though I love what you’re playing, bro, do you have anything in that ancient box of boom that sounds more like Christmas?”
Freddie arched a brow, as if challenged, and slipped an old cassette tape from his breast pocket, that had red and green baubles hand-drawn on it with felt tip marker. He hit the ‘stop’ button on the box, ejected the tape and traded it for the colorful one. He slapped the cassette door closed, and hit the chunky ‘play’ button, “I’ll be your radio, “ he said, and nodded with a grin.
As the sounds of Dean Martin crooned out “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow,” the three siblings felt all warm and bright once more, and they set to the decorations. It took the better part of an hour, some coordination and daring do, but they made a great deal of progress. Not to mention catching up on laughing, quipping and teasing one another about boyfriends and girlfriends.
By the time Mom came through that doorway, under her pall of expectant gloom, she burst into tears and ran to crush her eldest son in a mother’s desperately happy embrace. Freddie was, decorated in splendor with a string of lights wrapped around his neck, and a goofy grin, as she cried and hugged and held her son tight in relief and gratitude.
Standing in the glow of lights, tinsel, and the warmth that radiated from the reunited family, the snow continued to fall, but now it wasn’t so cold and so chilling.
Now it was warm.
Now it was Christmas.
Story by: Dehrynn Shepherd
Hair/Hat- Tableau Vivant \\ Mood (Store)