Saturday, September 17, 2011
Posted by Jonathan Martin
A week had passed since Amy and Peter had returned with the supplies from the Marquis, and Amy had been back twice to check on David, both times going with Peter, and each time returning with a new shopping cart full of supplies.
“So,” Aubrey began, “I’ve been looking at a calendar…”
“Yeah, I’ve thought about doing that too, but after being without one for so long, I wasn’t sure I could figure out what day it is. It sounded like a lost cause.” Zachariah said, taking a sip of his coffee.
“Well, I think tomorrow is Christmas.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well look, last night was a full moon, right? And this here calendar says that the full moon is on the twenty-third this year, so that makes today the twenty-fourth…”
“And tomorrow the twenty-fifth.” Zach’s eyes lit up. “We will have to do something?”
“About what?” Julie asked from the doorway.
“Tomorrow is Christmas!” Zach and Aubrey said together.
“It is?” Kyle asked, peeking out from behind his mother’s legs. “Do you think Santa will come?”
“Maybe so,” Zach said, smiling real big.
“Mommy, we need a tree!”
“For what?” Peter asked, pushing passed Kyle and Julie, heading to the carafe of coffee that sat on the kitchen’s bar.
“It’s Christmas tomorrow!” Kyle said with a big smile on his face.
“Is it now?” Peter raised his eyebrows towards the other adults in the room.
“Yep,” Zach replied, “I was just about to tell Kyle to go get his coat so we could go find a tree.”
“But it’s pink!” Came the expected protest from the young boy.
“And if you want to help pick out the tree, you will wear it. Maybe Santa will bring you a new coat tomorrow.” Julie told her son.
Kyle ran off into the back of the house, leaving the adults alone.
“Do you guys need any help?” Peter offered.
“Nah, we got it. Now Julie, aren’t you glad you saved that black coat we got the other day?”
She smiled, “Yeah, that’ll make a great present.”
Kyle walked in, wearing a pout along with his pink coat. “Ready,” he said sullenly.
“Let’s go, maybe while we’re out, someone will find stockings for us to hang!” Zach said, trying to cheer the pink-laden boy up.
Zach grabbed his coat, holstered a handgun and slung a shotgun over his shoulder before heading out the door, Kyle in tow.
A chill wind greeted the two with a threat of snow as the left the comfort of the front porch, heading to the barn, where the procured a saw and an ax before heading off with the hope of finding a suitable tree.
Wiping his running nose on his sleeve, Kyle bolted ahead as they approached the woods on the northern border of the property, causing a small flock of birds to scatter.
“Hey, come back here,” Zach called out, louder than he wanted to be. When Kyle was closer, he continued. “I know you’re excited, to tell you the truth, I am too, but that doesn’t mean we can just go running off making a ton of noise. Who knows who else, or what else is out here.”
“But…” Kyle began to protest but Zach cut him off.
“Look, while you are out here with me, you are my responsibility, and you are going to listen to me or we’re going to go back now.”
“No buts. Shush, did you hear that?”
Kyle, sensing the tension that had found its way into Zach, stayed quiet and dropped back behind the older man.
Swinging the shotgun down off of his shoulder, he dropped to the ground and discarded the axe and saw, crawling forward, farther into the trees.
Kyle followed suit, laying down on the ground, moving towards the nearest tree before bringing himself to his knees and peering around the trunk, watching Zach disappear over a small hill. The woods around him jumped to life as a single gunshot split apart the morning calm, followed by the panicked sound of wild birds, and then a second gunshot.
“Kyle, come here,” Zach called back.
Slowly, Kyle crept forward and found Zach standing over a dead bird, smoke still coming off of the shotgun. “Hopefully Aubrey or someone knows what to do with this!” Zach said excitedly.
“My mom knows how to cook a turkey, she showed me once, you just wait for the little red piece of plastic to pop out.” Kyle said through the smile that encompassed his face.
Zachariah laughed, “I don’t think this one has one of those,” and seeing the boy’s smile change to bewilderment, he added, “But maybe there’s one under all these feathers.”
“Zach, how about that tree?” Kyle pointed over the Zachariah’s shoulder, causing him to turn around.
Zach laughed again, looking at what would have been a perfect tree, had it not stood almost twenty feet tall. “Do you really think that will fit in the house?” He asked.
“Oh, yeah, probably not. What about that one?” He pointed at a lopsided tree that was a few feet to the left of his first choice.
“Nah, how about that one?” Zach said, carrying the turkey by it’s feet towards the small copse of pine trees they had found. Walking around the tree he had selected, Zach found a number of lower branches missing and shook his head at Kyle. “Nope.”
They spent the next half hour circling the trees before finally spotting one on the edge away from where they had shot the turkey.
Kyle’s eyes lit up as they approached the tree. “Yeah! This one is perfect!”
“Ok, let’s go back and grab the saw and the ax, and we’ll cut it down.”
They found the tools where they had been left, bringing them back to the chosen tree. Zach circled it once again, peering into the branches, and when he was certain no surprises resided within them, he crouched down and found a suitable spot to begin cutting. After a few strokes of the ax got him no where, he switched tactics and began to drag the saw back and forth across the trunk.
With sweat dripping off his chin, the tree finally fell away from him with a crack. “Ok, do you want to carry the bird or the tree?” he asked Kyle, who just stood there.
“Uh, I’ll get the saw and the ax,” Said the boy.
“Yeah, I figured,” Zach responded, picking up the turkey and dragging the tree behind him, trying to avoid anything that might damage it.