Going Home For Christmas

The day dawns and bags are packed into the car. Tiny by some people’s standards but, just right for hym and hys pup. Hys pup had been dropped off the day before with food, treats and toys as well as a shirt hy had worn for more days than hy cared to think about. It could have sat up in a chair by itself and had gone from bleached white to worn grey over the days and nights it had clung to hys body.

The morning was filled with last minute checklists and spending some time on the computer and by early afternoon, hy was making final checks of windows, doors and heating before finally walking out the front door. Hitches would be minor, if they occurred at all. Finally the time arrived to be on hys way and hy shrugged one shoulder strap of hys backpack into place, picked up hys leather jacket and keys and so it began.

Locking the front door behind hym, hy walked to the car, slid behind the wheel and mentally said goodbyes to unseen faces behind net curtains, started the car and slowly pulled away. Christmas Carols playing on the CD player and the first cigarette of the journey nestled between first and middle fingers, smoke unfurling like a white flag of surrender. Surrender, hmmm … not such a strange analogy to use considering where hy was going.

Hy stopped to fill up hy car with fuel and having paid for it, moved hys car around to the side of the garage, checked the air pressure of hys tires, filled up the windscreen washer bottle and got back into the warmth of the car. Hy was eager to get back on the road.

The journey was not one into the unknown, in fact, if the little car had auto-pilot, hy was certain hy could have set it and dozed off and would have arrived safely. However, it possessed nothing of the sort and hy pulled out of the parking lot and headed north on the parkway.

Soon the traffic would become denser as cars and trucks from the County Seat merged in and the parkway upgraded to motorway. Six lanes of surging impatience all heading somewhere and wanting to get there yesterday. Drivers playing duck and weave to break the monotony of long-distance runs flashed past as hy cruised along at 55. Hy chuckled as people moved up close to the rear bumper of hys car only to remain there long enough to realize that no amount of their anxiousness was going to rub off on hym, before jerking on the wheel and veering their cars into the next lane and overtaking hym.

The lights of Taunton rose like the sun in front of hym. Not that far left to travel on this high-speed roadway. Soon hy would leave it to join the old road, a two lane country by-way now, but still well used by commuters and locals alike. Passing pubs and garden centers and the occasional take-away where teenagers gathered outside waiting for ample portions of chips to be fried and served, wrapped in yesterday’s grease-stained news.

The last roundabout lay ahead and the blue lights that lined the airport approach beckoned to unseen planes rose like Greek titans on either side of the road. Another landmark on hys journey. A quarter of a mile further and then hy could take hys mind off the other drivers and relax. This time tomorrow hy thought as hy smiled, turning the car into the drive of the converted farm guesthouse.

The room was basic yet perfect for what hy needed and with a fresh brewed mug of coffee in hand, hy settled down on the couch to watch unfamiliar television shows, and finding them somewhat boring. Scanning the channels, hy saw very little hy recognized which didn’t help, so leaving the TV on for background noise; hy picked up the newspaper and began to read.

The next thing hy knew hy was waking up. Hy glanced at hys watch and sat up, gathering hys cigarettes and lighter hy walked up the creaking wooden stairs to the angled window that broke the protective solidness of the roof. Turning the latch, hy eased it open and rested hys forearms on the roof. The air crisp with the winter night, hys breath, doubly smokey.

Hy wondered if it would snow and looking up at the clear night sky decided that the morning would bring frost, if nothing else. Hy enjoyed the cigarette, licked thumb and middle fingertip and squeezed out the glowing cherry. It was after midnight and only the occasional car whooshed past, its headlights silhouetting the naked branches of the silver birch saplings that formed the windbreak between the farmyard and the fields. Hy remained there for a few moments starring up at the countless stars before closing the window and locking the latch. Crawling into the bed, hy drew the quilt around hym and closed hys eyes.

Hy woke up to the incessant beeping of the alarm clock and cursed the annoying pitch of it. Quickly hy pressed the button and slid out from under the covers to go turn on the kettle and have the first coffee of the day. After hys shower, hy would pack away the clothes hy had driven up in, leaving them behind along with assorted bottles and cans too large to pass through security with yet part of hys daily routine.

Hys luggage was taken from hys car and loaded into the station wagon that would drive hym to the airport. All that remained in the room was hys backpack.
The smells of a full breakfast cooking seeped from the chimney of the AGA in the kitchen and hy closed hys eyes breathing it in. Chickens clucking in the nearby farmyard heralded a new day and the traffic on the road was picking up. Most of the cars headed into Bristol though now and then, the odd few would pass by as if playing follow-the-leader towards the airport. Chuckling softly to hymself, hy dropped hys spent cigarette down a drain at the roadside and wandered back down the drive to the backdoor of the farmhouse. Suddenly, hy was looking forward to breakfast.

Pushing open the outside door, hy stepped in, greeted by warmth and delicious aromas. The Lady of the house smiled from the kitchen as hy walked in through the next door and pointed to the huge pot of coffee saying that it was all hys since everyone else wanted tea. Hy thanked her and picked up a large mug, added sugar and milk and then pouring the coffee slowly into the mug as hy gently stirred the hot liquid. Hy loved watching the colour change from coal black to rich caramel.

Sitting down at the long farm table, hy enjoyed the kind of orange juice hy used to drink as a child. Hys mind flashed back to the rolling, cutting in half and pressing the juice from the home grown fruit and how the mix of sweet and tart felt on hys tongue. Hot buttered toast with jellies and jams, the biggest yellow igloo of scrambled eggs hy had ever seen on one plate and just a few mushrooms. These along with the coffee started hys day, even though hy had now been awake a while.

It was so good to find someone in England, or anywhere else for that matter that knew how to scramble eggs. Not hard and not runny, just fluffy like little golden clouds and firm enough that you felt like you weren’t eating pudding or yoghurt. Perfection indeed and then, hy spied the homemade pecan pie and hy thought hy had died and gone to heaven in a BMW. It was her grandmother’s recipe and she offered to write it out for hym so hy could collect it upon hys return. Hys smile would have lit a midnight sky.

A glance at hys watch told hym that hy had time enough to run back to the room and take care of a few things before it was time to leave, so thanking the lady profusely, hy walked out of the warm farmhouse kitchen into the witch’s tit air and quickly ducked into hys room. Last minute checklist covered, hy had nothing to do but wait and a soft knock on the door dispelled that notion too.

The timing was impeccable. No queue to stand in and not long to spend upstairs in the boarding area either. Hy was inwardly thankful of that. Up until now, it always seemed that hy had to wait hours in the thrumming with noise seating area. An arena of comedies and tragedies it was and the drone of makeshift whispers, descant screeches of over tired children and inane prattling always gave hym a headache. But this time, hys flight was called after only 30 minutes, or so it seemed.

Hy walked out of the terminal and the 100 yards to the plane, climbed the mobile staircase that anyone who has flown before should be familiar with, if only by sight and sat in hys favourite seat. Hy liked being at the front of the plane. Not only did it afford hym plenty of legroom, but as a rule, the young stewardesses liked to chat and hy didn’t mind listening and though hy didn’t recognize it, hy probably flirted too. Angelika always said hy did.

A brief period spent reading before hy let hys eyes close and soon, the pilot was announcing that hy was beginning the descent and giving the weather conditions and then, someone exclaimed that there was snow and hy felt like bouncing in hys chair … but didn’t. Hy was so happy that hy had not even noticed that the plane was taxiing up to the extending walkway until the chime of the seatbelt sign sounded. Hy stood and collected hys coat and backpack from the overhead storage and disembarked.

Hy made the “guess where I am” phone call, the one hy loved making almost as much as hy loved receiving and made hys way to passport control, greetings and thanks offered in the native language and through the door to baggage claim. After what seemed a lifetime, pulling hys suitcase behind hym, hy negotiated the maze of customs agents without being accosted and stepped through the automatic doors into the crowd of waiting relations, friends and airport staff.

It would be long now and the memory of her smile would become a reality once more. Hy slid into the backseat of a local taxi and gave the driver the address. Hy watched the familiar surrounding glide past as hy was chauffeured through the snow-lined streets. Closer and closer until finally, another “guess where I am” sort of phone call and there she was. Hys journey was complete. Hy had come home for Christmas.

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