‘Well that’s alright then because the sprouts are burnt too.’
‘Even better,’ Laura said, grabbing the plastic bowl, full of flour. She threw a handful in Martins direction.
His shoulders, covered in a fine white mist, wobbled like a bouncy castle. He grabbed the open bag from the side, pitched a handful of fine white powder in Laura’s direction. She jumped aside, just in time, and it covered the floor instead.
‘Missed me!’ Laura said, about to take revenge.
The open bag in his hand, Martin emptied it over her head. Flour swept across her shoulders and on to the kitchen floor.
‘That’s it, You’re in for it now!’ Laura said, holding the plastic bowl aloft.
‘You’ve got to catch me first.’
Laura poked out her tongue, and was about to make her next attack, when Tabitha arrived in the doorway.
‘Nanny Bingo and Grandad are here. They’ve brought a big bag of presents from Santa!’ Tabitha cried.
‘Lucky for you Martin, but I’ll get you when you least expect it,’ Laura said, and ran into the corridor.
‘You’re covered in flour,’ Martin’s Mum said, with a sparkle in her eyes.
‘Laura!’ Martin’s dad, his double but with long grey hair swept over his forehead, brought Laura into a generous embrace. Laughter lines interlinked on his brow. ‘Beautiful as ever.’
‘Hi Dad, careful you’ll get covered in flour, I was about to beat Martin, but you arrived just in time to save him.’
‘As if I care about that.’
‘Grandad!’ Tabitha screamed.
‘Have you been a good girl for Santa?’ His mock tone always had Laura smiling.
Tabitha wiped the pastry from her mouth. ‘I’m always a good girl Grandad.’
Martin’s dad pulled out an enormous bag, with a picture of Father Christmas on the front.
Santa spoils her rotten,’ Laura said, grinning at the assortment of presents, which now resided on the floor.
‘There’s a few goodies for you and Martin too – silly Santa he delivered them to the wrong house,’ Martin’s mum said.
They were better than the presents she had been given as a child. Expensive, practical, and never out of their boxes, they weren’t to be played with. Her mum had bought gifts, which were opened in the comfort of her bedroom. One year it was a stuffed owl, called Tufty. She sought comfort in its soft fur as the day turned into night. It was the only item she had wanted to take with her, the day she left home. It now resided on her pillow, as a permanent reminder of how far she had come.
Laura linked arms with Martin’s mum.
Laura smiled and patted her mother in law’s arm tenderly. ‘I am, the dinner not so much.’
‘Let’s have our burnt offerings and then we’ll open your presents,’ Martin’s mum said.
‘Nanny Bingo, let’s go!’
Laura watched as they left the hallway and went into the front room, where Martin laid out the table. Christmas crackers and bowls of vegetables covered the brightly coloured cloth. In the middle, the charred turkey was the centre of attention.
Resolute not to mar the day, she lived in the moment. Whatever happened she needed to make Tabitha’s memories of Christmas great.
They wore a selection of coloured hats and laughed at the same old jokes in the Christmas crackers, as if it were the first time they heard them. The rest of the day was spent opening Tabitha’s presents, while lounging in front of the television with a box of chocolates.
Asleep on the armchair and Tabitha was curled up on Martin’s lap. She held Buddy and her rag doll. Laura watched as her chest rose and fell.
There was nobody in this world more important to her, than her little girl.