Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Seasons new year.

I promised y'all a twofer for holiday ficlets this year, didn't I? 

Last week I posted the Pipe Woman's Legacy and Elemental Keys mashup. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

I said I'd do one for Seasons of the Fool this week. It turns out that I did a ficlet for Seasons last year. I went back and re-read it -- and despaired, kind of. It was so hopeful. We we banking so much on the vaccines letting us return to our normal lives -- or I was, at least. But here we are, with variants come and gone (the original virus and beta) and one virulent variant (delta) now being supplanted by an even scarier one. 

I don't know that I can muster as much hope as I did last year. But I'm going to take a crack at it, because I promised I would. Here we go.

Julia looked out the window of Dave's summer house in Michiana -- or rather, hers and Dave's since their marriage. It was New Year's Eve, but she wasn't feeling very festive. She had hoped for snow, but there wasn't any -- just some icy patches along the side of the road. The woods looked wan, devoid of their customary winter blanket.

Her grandparents' cottage -- the house where she'd grown up -- was dark. She and Dave had agreed that it made better sense to gather in the larger house this year. The whole family would be here tonight. They needed more space to spread out. 

Well, everybody would be here except for Randi. Her college suitemate had tested positive at the end of finals week, so Randi was spending most of her winter break quarantined at home in Chicago. Rich was fine, but his high school would be doing remote learning again starting next week. Little Raylee was still going to school for now. At least she was finally vaccinated. When she got her first shot, Julia had been the one to cry -- with relief.

Ed Starek had refused to get the shot; the virus claimed him in September. Now his house was up for sale.

The only lights she could see were in Ms. Elsie and Ms. Thea's windows. She glanced down at the two COVID test kits she held.

Dave came up behind her and put his arms around her. "I thought you were leaving," he said.

She leaned back against him. "I was." She weighed the test kits in her hand. "Do you think they'll do it?"

He chuckled. "That's the fourth time you've asked me. Just go. You won't know 'til you've asked them."

"I know." She sighed. "Let me get my coat."

Down the street she trudged, test kits in her pocket and mask firmly in place. She knocked on the door. "Just a minute," Ms. Thea called, the door muffling her voice. After a moment, the latch clicked and the door opened. "Julia," Ms. Thea said, her eyes smiling above her mask. "It's so nice to see you."

"I've missed you both so much," Julia blurted, her own eyes filling with tears.

"There, there, dear. Come in." Ms. Thea opened the door wider. 

"Are you sure?" she said, even she stepped inside.

"If you don't stay long, it's fine. They're saying fifteen minutes now, aren't they?" Ms. Thea gave her a hug and shut the door. "Else, look who's here."

"Oh, Julia," said Ms. Elsie, emerging from the kitchen. She donned a mask in a hurry and enveloped Julia in a hug.

Julia cried into her shoulder for a moment as Ms. Thea patted her back. Then she stepped away. "Well, about that fifteen minutes. Dave and I wondered whether you'd like to come over tonight for a little while. It'll be just the family. Randi's quarantining at home, but Rich and Raylee are here. And Tim and Jen are coming."

"Oh," Ms. Thea said, looking at Ms. Elsie.

"The only thing is that you'd need to do this first," Julia said, fumbling in her pocket for the test kits. She held them out. "I'm sorry. But we're having everyone do it."

The ladies smiled. "Put those back in your pocket," Ms. Elsie said. "We've already tested ourselves so we could go to the senior center tonight. They're moving up the clock so we can toast the New Year at eight!" 

"But I'd rather be with you and your family," Ms. Thea confided. 

"So would I," Ms. Elsie said. "It'll be a lot more fun than drinking sparkling cider with a bunch of old people."

Julia laughed. "I'm so glad you're coming."

Ms. Elsie said, "The cards were right, weren't they, Thea?"

Ms. Thea nodded. "Yes, indeed. The Tower is still falling, but the Wheel of Fortune is ever turning. We'll just have to be careful."

"That's the ticket," Ms. Elsie agreed. "We'll see you tonight, Julia."

Lynne Cantwell 2021

These moments of careful blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

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