MONDAY: Family Christmas


Copyright is held by the author.

PHIL CHAMBERLAIN took in a deep breath and expelled it through a smile that almost split his face. He looked around the table, seeing faces he’d not seen in years altogether at the same table. Side by side. Touching each other.  Laughing and hugging and interacting just inches away from each other.

Together at Christmas for the first time in over eight years. Back in 2020, who’d of thought it would have taken that long? Eight long years.

“Hey, Dad!”

Phil looked down the table to his left where his eldest son, Kai sat with his wife, Aria. Next to them his other son Nigel, and then his daughter Jody and her husband. Their two kids, Raphe and Bart sat – or rather wriggled – across the table from them. Even Gran and Uncle Robert had made it for this momentous occasion. Every person who made his heart swell with happiness was right here sitting at this table – his table. All together again.

The table was laid with the traditional Christmas fare – a huge stuffed turkey, 3 kinds of stuffing (chestnut, his favourite!), white AND brown gravy with cranberry sauce, and cranberry jelly. The two brimming bowls of mashed potatoes were accompanied by mounds of sweet maple squash, sumptuous creamed Brussels sprouts, and a colourful medley of baby carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. Gabrielle had really outdone herself this time! His mouth watered.

He picked up his fork, then looked up and around the table again. Wanting more to drink in the faces around him, feast on their happy chatter. His eyes began to fill. He shook his head to stave off the tears. This was a time of joy – of happiness! No tears allowed.

He turned to Gabrielle on his right, who was smiling right back at him. A big warm loving smile. The kind of smile that made him look forward to waking up in the morning, just to see her lying there beside him. 

“A toast!”

That was Nigel. He was always one for getting the wine flowing.

“To good family, good Cheers, good eats — and good beers!”

Laughter rippled around the table.

Phil gave a happy sigh and sat back in his chair. He just wanted to watch and to listen and to feel his home alive again with warm breaths, and hugs, and kissed cheeks, and forks and knives clicking on their best china.

THIS is Christmas.

The main course led into coffee and tea, for the kids, hot chocolate. A nice time this, letting the meal settle, still seated around the table catching up on each other’s lives. He closed his eyes and just listened, the social ambience settling on his shoulders like a warm coat on a chill winter’s day. He felt wrapped in love.

Suddenly he heard a soft “bong” noise, an unnatural noise, like the half hour alarm of an old mantle clock. His eyes flew open, startled…and stared at an empty wall, three feet away from the tiny kitchen table he sat in. He weakly reached out his hand, then slowly dropped it down onto the table. Beside his plate of congealing algae bars and tofu slices.

His time had run out.

The tears began to flow, rolling down his cheeks unchecked. He dropped his head into his hands, mourning the loss of his life that was. And had not returned.

Would never return.

Sighing again, he raised his head and reached for the holograph machine. It was too short a time for all the money he had saved up for over six years and paid. But worth more than all the money in the world to him. While the medical field had not been able to catch up with the evolving super virus that still ravaged the North American continent, technology had advanced in attempts to cushion the horror, the loss.

And it did — it did.

Even if just for a little while.


Image of Tya (Cynthia) Colby

Tya Colby lives in Kitchener, Ontario. She has spent 30 years writing non-fiction in every way possible — radio newscasts, investigative reports, video scripts, radio and television commercials, magazine articles — to name a few. She dipped into fiction — specifically flash fiction — a few years ago. Her first attempt at flash fiction — an erotic story entitled “Ageless Love” — won first prize in a national contest, and has also been published in the short story collection, Moist. Check out her other stories, “Business As Usual” and “Ripples” — also published on CommuterLit.

  1. Well that cheered me up no end.

  2. That was the “thinking” story.

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