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Snowflakes and Secrets

A milestone birthday surprise

By P. K. GaniPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 7 min read
Runner-Up in Weekend Getaway Challenge
Snowflakes and Secrets
Photo by Katie Azi on Unsplash

We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cosy A-frame cabin. Scenes of old love songs flashed through my mind, complete with knitted sweaters and warm embraces. The kind that swept me up into an imperfect romance. I sure got carried away this year booking a winter getaway. What was I thinking? That his love would ignite at the fireside?

That's the thing with December birthdays, there's too much festivity in the air for folk to celebrate much else. And when you can arrange a soiree, the sweet smell of Christmas permeates the air, like an uninvited guest.

The clear dusk sky ahead is slowly darkening like the waves of emotion surrounding my broken heart. A heart that has held hope year after year to be loved and cherished as it once was when I was but a girl 'with her whole life ahead of her.'

"Mum, I need to tell you something" whimpered Lottie as she leaned forward to turn down the crackling song of good cheer and glad tidings. "I need you to know that it's been very difficult for me to do this without speaking to you first but Tommy insisted it was better this way."

"Is everything alright with the baby?" I asked in a panic as thoughts raced to Tommy's reaction at news of the pregnancy; one I was all too familiar with.

"Yes mum, this isnt about the baby, it's about something you should've done a long time ago, concerning another baby" adding softly, "your baby."

I sensed this wasn't something I'd want to hear along this dark and narrow road. "We're almost there Lott, let's talk once we get in."

I don't know if it was the drive or the dread, but for a fleeting moment, thoughts of getting older and none the wiser finally eluded me, though I don't know which was worse.

We came to an opening in the road before a short steep slope led to our cosy winter retreat. As we parked up close to the cabin, I looked around at the fresh blanket of snow beneath a tranquil new moon. As we stepped out the car with our lightly packed travel bags, the cold crisp air was bone-chilling so we hurried on in through the large glass doors. The rustic interior was perfectly homely and I was pleased to have kept this booking regardless of plans changing at short notice.

Once we settled ourselves in, Lottie got to work on kindling the fire whilst I busied myself in the kitchen. With only the bare essentials provided, I cooked us a quick pasta for tonight since Tommy would arrive in the morning to get in a proper shop.

No sooner had I savoured my first bite, having skipped lunch earlier in last minute preps, Lottie blurted out the last thing I expected to hear, "I've found my dad."

I was stunned. Of course she did. My years of silence weren't going to stop this girl in the age of information overdrive. Tears streamed down her face as I felt a sudden lump in my throat. She looked just like him...those tears the last time I saw him. I simply didn't know what to say.

Moving aside her plate she took a slow sip of her water and went on to tell me when their search began, and how they pieced together the right contacts from old photographs. There I was thinking she'd rummaged through the albums to learn more about me before I became 'mum'.

"You're from a different time mum, where it’s easier to ignore the truth than face reality. All these years I've wondered who, and why, but it wasn't just me you were hiding this from was it?"

If she knew this fact it only meant one thing. In a state of panic I got up to find my handbag and rummaged around for my cigarettes, an emergency stash for a 'non-smoker' then frantically searched for a lighter.

"You'll do anything to avoid this conversation won't you? There's a pot of matches by the fireplace. Please talk to me when you're done, this is important to me."

I grabbed a soft cashmere blanket from the sofa and stepped out onto the wooden decking. With the dimmest of lights shining out I was enveloped by the dark night sky, guarded by tall pine trees as far as the eye could see.

With a long and satisfying exhale of smoke, years of surpressed memories came surging back. His irresistible smile, and deep set eyes that penetrated my soul. He was my first love and I had let him go to hold onto my new love. It wasn't planned and I was far too young to 'ruin two lives' as my mother put it. She knew best as a single mum herself, so I followed her lead and we moved away before anyone could ask questions. Before he could reject us.

I noticed Lottie's shadow moving in the room behind me. I stubbed out the rest of the cigarette before joining her back inside. She handed me my plate of food, "it's warmer in here, let's sit by the fire instead."

"Have you met him?"

"Not yet."

"How did he react to this revelation?'

"He didn't believe me, until I forwarded on some photographs. Then he was awfully happy mum. Why didn't you tell him?"

What to say, what to tell her without putting anyone in a bad light. I searched for the right words, but all she sought was the truth. I was mere months away from becoming a grandma, and hours from a milestone birthday. Now was a good a time as any to lift this weight off my shoulders.

I began recounting the story of two high-school sweethearts. Of our aspirations for the far distant future. How the course changed for me but didn't need to for him

"Is he married?" I asked.



"I haven't asked and he hasn't said though we've been in regular contact for a while now. I know this trip wasn't first booked for us, but I'm glad your so called 'friend' couldn't make it, the unattainable man that he is. You have been there for me every step of the way, which is why I need you more than ever for this next one."

"What's going on?" I asked nervously.

"Tommy isn't travelling alone tomorrow."

Taken aback, "I wasn't prepared for this!" I exclaimed, with only simple glad rags packed for our short stay. "Why on earth would you invite him here?"

"I was supposed to meet him before Christmas, but when you called about the trip, we took a chance knowing it'd be the only time you'd be free to face this before you dive back into work."

There it was again, Christmas thrust into my face, everyone's major deadline in December, without a care for birthdays. Only, she had a point. I'd kept him a secret all her life, hidden from him for years. If not now, when?

We talked some more over mugs of creamy hot chocolate, about Lottie's recent conversations with her father. He sounded just like the person I knew all those years ago. I found myself eager to meet him, to start all over again as parents to Lottie.

I barely slept that night, and any shut eye I did manage, drifted me in and out of strange dreams. It wasn't long before I was awakened by a stream of sunlight through a small gap in the long floor length curtains. Despite a lack of sleep I felt oddly refreshed. Perhaps it was all the excitement of what the day would bring.

I took a relaxing soak in the fancy freestanding bath overlooking beautiful secluded woodland. It was a peaceful atmosphere with breathtaking views. This serene environment was magically healing, and my cares were beginning to slip away.

I made my way down for a nice cup of tea and toast. Lottie soon joined me, handing me a card, "Happy birthday!" I gave her a big hug to thank her for being here for me. "Your presents on it's way with Tommy" she added. "I look forward to it" I remarked and asked whether she had slept well. She was grateful at having gotten a good night's sleep, in contrast to the nesting mode she took on in refurbs back home.

"What time did Tommy say he'd set off today?"

"He didn't give a time, but he knows we're counting on him to help us explore the area properly and get some more food in so it shouldn't be long before they arrive."

My heart skipped a beat upon hearing 'they'.

"OK, I'll need your help picking a jumper to wear for this special occasion" I joked. With that I wrapped up warm to have a little wander around the cabin. I needed the fresh air. "I won't be long, just shout if you need me."

No sooner had I walked across to the side of the cabin, than I heard the approaching sound of snow slushing beneath loud winter tyres. As the sound drew nearer I realised it was too late for me to run back in so like the snow - and now Tommy's car - I froze in my tracks.

Through the frosty mist atop the mountain, I could only see Tommy from the side of the car and my heart somewhat sank. I gently headed toward him as he stepped out, and to my delight I heard another door close. And there he was, our eyes locked in a gaze.

Once again his smile captivated me as time stood still. In this moment we were seventeen again, paying no heed to the years apart. Come what may, I knew one thing for certain. Under the hazy winter sun, right before me was the best gift I could ever have hoped for in the month of December.

Short Story

About the Creator

P. K. Gani

I'm an avid reader exploring fragments of my imagination and revisiting moments in writing. I hope others enjoy what I piece together.

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Comments (6)

  • Kathleen McClenahan Como7 months ago

    Since I’m new, I am reading older stories and this was exceptional. It was an eye opener with new things happening around every corner.

  • this is such a great story! i loved reading it and i didn’t want it to end! it could be the beginning of a novel…if you wrote it, i’d read it!

  • I need my audience to spend as big as they can through pledges and tips for my sake. If you don't mind could you help me out in pledge and send a tip so I can return the favor eventually? I mean I'm broke I don't even have 20 bucks to my name until I get paid again. Anything helps, no pressure but please help.

  • Outstanding work. Keep it up! GO YOU!!

  • Lovely story and congratulations on your win. Well deserved!

  • Dalvir Mann2 years ago

    A sweet story where you manage to paint the scenes incredibly well, and depict the nervousness, apprehension but also teenage-like hope of reigniting an old flame very nicely!

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P. K. GaniWritten by P. K. Gani

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