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Our Christmas Getaway

A Weekend Getaway Challenge Submission

By Dr. Constance QuigleyPublished 2 years ago 13 min read
5

We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cozy A-frame cabin. The excitement of Airabeth at being able to go on an adventure with Josh was contagious. Truth be told, it had been a while since either of them had been able to get out or adventure. Having the ability to imagine worlds beyond those that are encountered every day had rewarded them. Josh had long praised her ability to tell a story that captivated, amused, and moved others. After finding the challenge, she wrote about how they would spend a holiday if they were able to escape.

A few weeks prior to the holiday season, the contest contacted Josh to inform him that their submission had won. Airabeth had written a story so moving that she won a paid trip to the Colorado mountains. To their surprise, the drive was 23 hours from the coast to the windswept peaks of the white mountain ranges of Colorado. Here, they would get a weekend in the woods, just for them.

Long after the mountains grew from tiny aspects in the distance until they became round giants in the foreground, the car dutifully progressed. The hours passed by as the weather changed to offer a chill neither Josh nor Airabeth could have quite imagined. But the cold whispered a promise of precious time, cherished space, and a weekend they could only dream about up until now.

Airabeth's brown eyes danced with excitement as the world around them changed from 65-degree swamps and marshes to the bitter cold of 12-degree dense fir forest forests and long winding stretches of crunchy and sliding road.

“Are you still doing okay, Airy?” Josh asked.

Airabeth looked into the rearview mirror, meeting his eyes and smiling. “We are rolling along, and I think we are really close. ” she smiled.

Josh smiled back, "Me too," lifting his hand into view to say I love you in sign language. In response, Airabeth extended her hand to say "I love you.". The trees were all sparkling in white while the snow covered the ground, creating a wonderland quite different from the coastal beaches they were used to. As the darkness of the evening set in the trees became alive with the beauty of a Colorado winter.

Airy was bobbing her head to the music, her tan skin contrasting beautifully with the winter white highlights caught in the headlights outside the car. Her perfect ringlet curls bounced and bobbed with the music. Josh was getting lost watching her when his thoughts were interrupted by a familiar voice.

“In the one-quarter mile, turn right onto Love’s View Lane, and the destination will be on the right in 600 feet.” The navigation system robotically announced, interrupting Josh’s 90’s hip hop playlist.

Just as the navigation expected, the A-frame cabin came into view in a cleared yard surrounded by stone and wood statues that reminded Airy of an animation she loved. The property owner had turned the old tree stumps into gigantic robots, climbing out of the earth. It was a little eerie as the yard was dark and unfamiliar, but comforting because the lure about these giants was, they were forest spirits, earth guardians, and protectors. The anime robots' body parts were scattered and covered in moss and powdery snow. Greystones had eyes that were bright and welcoming.

Josh laughed, “I found another family that loves anime as much as you do, Airy!” She laughed with him and pushed the power button to shut the car off. After securing her hat and gloves, scarf, and buttoning her coat all the way up, she giggled nervously before opening the car door and hopping out. Josh watched Airabeth awkwardly run toward the door of the A-frame to unlock it.

There were three steps up. Josh watched her carefully climb up each step to get to the door safely. After fumbling with the holiday trees adorning the A-frames doorway, she triumphantly lifted her hand in the air to show she had found the key! The email stated that the key would be inside the ornament that was painted to look like the cabin. Josh cheered for her, aware she couldn’t hear him, but celebrating with her regardless. She got the door open, and the lights turned on.

Christmas was illuminated before Josh. There was a grand tree in the center of the house. The whole front of the building is tall crystal-clear glass with an ornate green door frame tucked right in the middle. A ten-foot wreath hung in the center of the glass wall. They decorated the entire house in the crisp greens of the forests, fir trees, reds, whites, blacks, and silvers of a traditional woodland holiday.

Josh watched Airabeth scurry from the car to the house several times, bringing in bags and cases, before the roof rack was clear. She spent a few minutes working around the stairs and the doorway. Josh laughed each time she slipped, more with relief when he saw her get back up or catch herself. When she was all done, she stood admiring her work. Josh knew the pose, as she stood with both hands on her hips.

Airabeth turned to face Josh and did a brief dance on the porch in the doorframe. Josh laughed and Airabeth raced toward the car. The rear door lifted and there was a sharp sound of metal as Airabeth pulled down the ramp. She climbed into the back and leaned over to kiss Josh on the forehead. She quickly pulled his hands into a pair of thick mittens, tightening them at the wrist with a drawstring. She pulled down his beanie and tucked his head into a big fluffy hood. Josh listened to her teeth chatter as she unbuckled his chair and hopped down the ramp. It was cold, Josh thought to himself as the outside breeze crept in and kissed his cheeks with an exhilarating chill.

“Ready baby!” He heard her call out to him. Josh turned on his chair and shifted the gear to reverse. The quiet outside the car was poetic, the world was still, except for the silent fall of tiny glistening snowflakes falling few and far between. The last of the millions of snowflakes that painted the world a glistening white and calmed the world. The wheelchair's quiet motor sounded unusually loud as he started to follow Airy to the A-frame entrance.

A high-pitched whine caught them both off guard. The wheels spun in the snow but would not go forward. Airy being familiar with the chair jumped into action and switched the chair to manual to push the wheelchair up to the cabin. The chair just dug deeper into the mud.

Airy stripped off her jacket wrapping it around Josh who protested about how she needed it. “I will be right back,” she said. Airy ran into the house, slipping twice as she fled. When she returned, she was holding a salt grinder and had a determined look in her eyes as she calculated her next move. With her teeth chattering she tried to pull the chair out of the slippery pits that caught him in the driveway.

The whole time Josh was demanding she take back her coat, and offering ridiculous guidance to make her laugh. “You can just unbuckle me and pull me into the house. I know its freezing, but I can’t feel it.” He waited for her to laugh.

“No,” he continued. “You could give me a gentle shove with the car.” That stopped her in her tracks, and she scrunched her nose, trying to look angry. What she had accomplished was looking adorable as her nose and cheeks were rosy and her skin glistened under the wet kisses of the increasing snowfall.

“Babe, if I don’t get a solution you will freeze! And you will feel it,” He had quite the jokester smile when she shook her head.

Airy poured the salt in front of each tire. She went behind him and tried pushing it while in manual. With no luck, she gave control back to Josh. “Let’s both push on three. One… Two… Three!” With everything she had she pushed. The wheels spun and covered her jeans in mud.

“Well, at least I get to die with the woman of my dreams.” Josh quipped. “You can tell my friends you rejected my advances, so I died to your icy rejection.”

“Josh!” Airy exhaled. “Let me get you out of the snow before another joke.”

“Airy, they say laughter can warm the soul. I was only trying.” Josh smiled. “Take your jacket back and I will stop.” Airy ignored him and ran back to the cabin grabbing the ramps she had placed in front of the stairs. Once they were wedged in the mud in front of each tire she started again, “On three, come on Josh. One… Two… Three!”

The tires spun for a moment and the wheelchair lurched forward. Within a few moments a freezing Airy, had set up all the ramps back on the stairs and positioned herself behind Josh’s chair to help support his incline up the ramps to the door.

Once inside, Josh was delighted to watch Airy bounce around, blowing hot air into her hands and stripping them both of all their winter gear. She raced over to him and kissed the winter chill from his nose and rosy cheeks. She was freezing, her fingers and cheeks as cold as ice. Airy pulled off Josh’s beanie and helped him remove his jacket. Josh was in his mid-thirties with a military crew cut and deeply brilliant hazel brown eyes. He was tall even in his wheelchair and had a beautiful smile.

Airabeth, also in her thirties, was wearing mud-covered jeans and a red flannel tunic shirt. When she was clean, she looked as if her outfit was the theme for the A-frame cabin. She danced in a circle. “Can you believe it, baby? We made it. Do you feel okay?”

Josh nodded, “You need to warm up Airy.” Take a shower I will be fine.

Shaking her head and dismissing his concern she asked “Want to take a roll around?” She lifted her eyebrows playfully.

“After you shower. I can wait. Get warm Airy, I need you,” Josh insisted.

The final point made, she sulked off down the hall dragging her luggage on wheels after her. About thirty minutes later she emerged with long wet curls wrapped in a heavy wintergreen bathrobe and big cartoon dinosaur slippers.

“Wanna take a roll around now,” she asked from under her lashes.

Josh laughed and held his arms up for her to come into his embrace. She snuggled close and he held her. “Thank you Airy for doing all of this.” He kissed her neck.

Airy kissed him back, “For you baby, I would have built this cabin.” She scrunched her nose and added while giggling, “It would have just taken longer to have enjoyed it”.

He laughed and followed her as she delightfully toured the A-frame cabin with him. In the stereotypical voice of a flight attendant, she began, “To our immediate left is the kitchen!” she exclaimed. “Built for two to be huddled close during long winter months, high up in the mountains,” she opened the cupboards noticing they were practically bare, “Where you are expected to drink tea and eat the broth. There must be a pantry back here.”

She continued walking past the sink and the small refrigerator. A small wooden door was cut into the kitchen wall. Josh and Airabeth made eye contact before she dramatically pulled the chain lock-free and opened the door. She squealed and jumped backward, slamming the door closed. It was so cold. The door opened to a wood pile stacked on the side of the house rubbing her arms for warmth. She continued her duties as a flight attendant. “That way leads the weary traveler to their certain doom.

She led him through the living room, circling the Christmas tree at the center a few times. In the back center of the house was a luxurious marbled roll-in shower. The back porch had a hot tub, but Airy insisted it was only in working order during the month of August and not in December. Then she pointed to the staircase and laughed, “And that good sir is an adventure for our next life,” she dropped her hand on the arm of his wheelchair with a dramatic thud. “Now it is your turn to work. You must see if we have internet access and discover what you want to do this weekend.”

Josh pointed outside and said, “No internet.” He pouted slightly. “And I want to walk again.” He smiled. “No, well then I guess you get to hear my life story again.”

She kicked her feet out of the raptor head slippers and started pulling out the sofa bed. Once the bed was out she opened up one of the travel bags. She pulled out a special air mattress, wedge pillows, and air pumps. Within moments, she had created a makeshift medical bed.

“Baby, want to put on some Christmas music?” Airy asked as she tested the remote function on the secondary air mattress. Josh agreed and started scrolling through his downloaded items. "La, dee, da, dee da” an iconic hip-hop song echoed through the cabin. Airy looked over her shoulder at him with an eyebrow raised.

Josh shrugged. “It's as close to Christmas as I have downloaded. But this is a sick album, babe!” He added, smiling. Airy nodded, rapping along as she worked on putting together the travel lift and shower chair.

It took until almost two in the morning for Airy to set everything up and be ready for her two-day adventure with Josh. They enjoyed a light snack of miso and rice before she made her way to the bathroom to set out the medical supplies for the weekend. The album was ending for the second time when she finally started unbuttoning Josh’s shirt to start the transfer process.

At three, they were both in bed. Airabeth was snuggled into Josh listening to him breathe. The C-pap helped regulate his breathing and helped lull her to sleep. His hand held hers and she enjoyed seeing the stars twinkle off the lightly falling snow. “You are my favorite man,” she whispered. Josh gently tightened his grip on her hand, bringing her hand to his heart.

The next morning Josh woke up to Airy making breakfast and singing softly in the kitchen. Upon seeing him her smile grew and she hopped over with a glass of orange juice. She helped him get his C-pap mask off and adjusted his position. She gave him his morning meds, two kisses, and his orange juice before she scurried back to the kitchen for dishes. When she returned, she had made oatmeal, a side of warmed apples, pears, and plums in cinnamon, and a pot of tea.

It was nearly dinnertime when Airy got Josh out of the shower, dressed, and into the chair. Their day was leisurely and wonderful. They laughed and played together as they had before the injury. It was a flirtatious afternoon without any expectations from work, life, or family. For Airy it was the least stress she had seen for Josh since before the accident. Airy had greater responsibility and work when they were away from home, just using the travel gear made their routine four times longer than normal, but for peace of mind and time away it was worth every little struggle.

As they fell in love with each other again backed by heavy Colorado snows. They enjoyed the quiet in between conversations. They enjoyed the closeness afforded by the distance from their home. They got to look at each other uninterrupted. Back on the coast, their house was full of children, family, friends, and staff. As a quadriplegic, Josh had a lot of assistance to daily life. The activity of their home was 24 hours a day for the last decade, every single day.

Here in the thin mountain air that tasted fresh and crisp, they had each other. On the porch when they dared to adventure into the cold, snuggled into one another and tightly holding mugs of rapidly cooling teas they shared a laughter that set them free of stresses that many other people could never understand. There, high in the mountains, they shared their lives in a more intimate and private way than they were ever permitted to share among the chaos of medical need, parental expectation, and the whole of the social requirements for a quadriplegic and his spouse.

They would have to pack in the morning. Josh would DJ as Airy would wake up around six to begin the arduous task of loading everything into the car. Then they would need to figure out how to get Josh into the car without damaging the property but also protecting Josh’s life. But it wouldn’t matter, because Airy’s story won them two days together. Josh’s fight for life gave them another year. Airy and Josh’s life is different. Their struggles are different. But their desire to get away is the same as everyone else, and this Holiday they were the lucky ones.

That night, before Airy put on Josh’s C-pap he asked her to bring him his tack box from his chair. She smiled and walked over to get the tack box. It was easy enough to unbuckle. With it in hand, she returned to Josh.

“Airy, will you open it for me?” Josh asked, showing her his hands out of habit.

She smiled and started unfastening the locks, knowing his hands had changed too much to navigate the locks post-injury. Inside instead of emergency meds, there was a small gift box.

“Merry Christmas Airy,” Josh whispered.

As Airy opened the box, Josh said “for Christmas this year, I wanted to ask you to be my wife for another ten years?”

Inside the box was a ring box. Airy looked up and gave Josh the answer he hoped she’d give.

Short Story
5

About the Creator

Dr. Constance Quigley

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

No Advice Given. Constance Quigley, DM-OL, owns all work contained here. The work is fictional and is not based on fact.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (3)

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  • Gina C.2 years ago

    Beautifully written story! I really enjoyed the romance of it. 🥰 Great job!

  • Great Story 👀👌❤️💋🌹💯🍷📖✒️ I love how she was still In love with him after the Injury!

  • Beautifully detailed story. I really enjoyed reading it.

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