When I woke, I knew – even before I drew back the curtains – that it had snowed overnight.
The light was subtly different and there was an eerie, muffled quality to the early-morning sounds out in the village of Angelford, where the shop-owners were gearing up for another chaotic, till-ringing day of pre-Christmas cheer and gift-buying.
I slipped out of bed and crossed to the window. The snow glittered in the weak early-December sunlight, swathed like a smooth layer of white icing over our tiny front garden, making comical bulbous shapes out of the holly bush and the little rickety gate.
Standing there, I thought of that other Christmas long ago, when I was twelve. Our mad snowball fight. How I’d battled to keep the snowballs coming to defend myself, hurling them too soon in my excitement so that they ended up as little more than puffs of snow rising up into the air. I remember squealing with laughter as icy water leaked down the back of my coat, my hands numb and raw with the cold because, despite Mum’s best efforts, I wouldn’t wear my gloves.
The snow always brought the memories of that time flooding back.
Not that I ever forgot.
I’d tried to wipe it from my mind. Pretend it didn’t matter. But meeting my real dad when I was twelve, only for him to turn his back on me, wasn’t exactly the sort of thing you could blot out at will.
I’d spent four days with him that Christmas. Days that were full of kindness and laughter and learning all about exotic Italy, the place where he was born. And how to make the perfect snowball.
Alessandro Bianchi made me feel that I was worth knowing. He’d listened intently to the things I told him about my life and laughed at my jokes, such a stark contrast to the way my bullying stepfather, Martin, made me feel. Although it had happened years ago – I was thirty now, all grown up – I could still recall that breathless sense of wonder when Mum told me Alessandro was my real dad.
I’d had a sense that I was on the brink of something really special; that a whole new life was opening up for me …
How wrong I’d been.
My insides clenched and I turned away from the snowy scene.
It never did me any good to think about the time my real dad came to visit; to linger on those few days I spent with him, as Mum stood by, wary and watching, like a hen protecting her chick.
In my hopeful childhood innocence, I’d assumed it would be the start of something real and life-changing. But in the end, those few days of Christmas turned out to be sparkling but transitory, like the snow itself. All too soon they had melted away into nothing…
If you enjoyed that, then good news as you can pre-order Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 30th November 2017.