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A Moment in Time : An Immortal Love Story

CHAPTER 1 : CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS

The Erkskine mansion was decorated in full grandeur. Christmas trees decorated with lights, stars, bells, candy sticks, flanked the long pathway to the door.

Fiona’s eyes shone with wonder as she took in the decorations. Each of the trees was decorated tastefully following a pattern. The lights used in decorations created a unique blend of dazzling colors.

“Wow! This is so beautiful…” She exclaimed, craning her neck to get a better view.

“Yeah, This is even better than last year… there were only five Christmas trees but this time there are ten…” Mairi said forcing herself to tear her eyes from the decorations to count them…

“Not ten, eleven….” Fiona said bouncing with delight. She dragged to the place where the path forked into the garden to get a better view.

Mairi’s jaw unhinged as she craned her neck to look at the twenty feet Christmas tree. Fairy lights were wrapped around its branches like snakes, candy sticks that hung from the branches looked like giant walking sticks, large bells and multicolored balls added more glamour to the magnificent tree.  A large star rested at the top of the tree.

A well-dressed waiter walked up to them and said, “Fiona ma’am, Mrs. Erkskine has called for you.”

Fiona’s face lit up at his statement and she chirped, “Mom has called, we will go right away. Where is she?”

“There… just below the Christmas tree…”

Fiona held Mairi’s hand and rushed in the direction of the tree. Her curly black hair blew in the wind as she ran along the path.

She slowed down when she reached the garden. Soft music was playing in the background and guests were standing in groups chatting merrily. The waiters were busy serving drinks and starters.

Fiona stopped in front of a tall fair lady dressed in a black gown and said in a slightly breathless voice, “Mom, You had called?”

“Yeah, Fiona… I wanted to greet you. Merry Christmas, hun.” She said hugging her slightly.

“Merry Christmas, Mom.”

“Who is this, Annis?”

“This is my daughter, Fiona, and Fiona this is Mrs. D’ Melo…”

“Hello, Aunty, Merry Christmas…” Fiona greeted with a bright smile and turned back to Mrs. Erkskine.

“I have kept your gift in Bridget’s bed. Go and take it.”

“Wow! Thank you so much, mom. What is it?”

“You wanted Bridget’s sweater, right. I have kept it on her bed for you…”

Fiona squealed in delight and said clapping her hands, “I wanted that for so long. Thank you so much for giving it to me.”

Then, she rushed to find Mairi who had got lost in the crowd of guests.

“Mrs. Erkskine as far as I know you have only one daughter, Bridget. Where did she come from?”
“She is from the nearby orphanage. She has been living over there since the age of nine years. She doesn’t have a mom… so one day she started calling me, ‘Mom’… I don’t mind it really…”

“You have a very big heart, Mrs. Erkskine…”

“Ah! Now… don’t make me blush…” She said and then they got immersed in their regular dose of gossip.

***

“Mairi! I have been looking for you for such a long time… come quickly…” Fiona said as she pulled her towards the door. She dragged her all the way to Bridget’s room without even giving her a chance to speak.

“Will you tell me what the matter is?” Mairi asked, pulling her hand away.

“Mom has kept a gift for me on the bed, look there…” She said pointing to a beige sweater on the bed.

She picked it up, placed it against her chest, and looked into the mirror. “This is so beautiful… I so love its color. You know the day I saw Bridget wearing it, I prayed to God that she gets bored of this sweater soon and see God fulfilled my wish…”

Fiona’s face beamed with joy as she admired herself in the mirror.

“Don’t you feel bad that you are using old clothes, Fiona?”

“So what if they are old… they are new for me… See the gown I am wearing. How is it?”

“It is pretty… I love the patchwork on it…”

“This is Bridget’s gown… mom had given it to me during the holidays. Does it look old from any angle?”

“Not at all…”

“Isn’t… I did the patchwork myself. Don’t worry this sweater will look good on me too.”

“Bu, Fiona… the sweater is torn…” Mairi said in a sad voice.

Fiona’s face fell too but just for a moment. She said brightly, “I have the perfect sticker to go with it… I bet it will look amazing…”

“Hey, Mairi! Can you take this with you… I have some work…” Fiona said glancing at the clock. There were only five minutes for the clock to strike twelve.

“Sure, hun but come soon… It is almost midnight….”

Fiona thrust the sweater in her hands and ran towards the staircase. Taking two steps at a time, she climbed the stairs as fast as she could.

The cold wind slapped her face as she emerged on the terrace. She ran to the brink of the terrace and gazed at the sky looking for the brightest star.

“Merry Christmas, mama…” She whispered, holding the pendant around her neck.

Cheers and chatter could be heard below as the clock struck midnight.

Fiona gazed at the star for a while and said, “I miss you so much, mama… I have a gift for you… guess what ?”

She halted for a few seconds before continuing, “You haven’t changed at all, have you? You couldn’t guess even today!

Mama… your daughter has passed the test… She has been selected for a full-time scholarship that too from the Royal High School… Aren’t you proud of me?

I know… I know… It is a new place… but don’t worry, mama… I will be careful… I will focus on my studies and make you proud… Alright… now I have to leave.

I think Mom is calling me… Merry Christmas mama…”

“Fiona! Fiona! Where are you?” Mairi’s voice sounded as she walked on the terrace…

“What are you doing here… Come quickly… Mrs. Erskine has been looking for you…” Mairi said as she dragged her away.




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