2 years and 2 months later
It is night. We are looking at the exterior of a fairly large, although not huge, ranch house in the country. Snow is all around and on the roof. The house is covered with Christmas lights.
We then are inside the house, specifically the living room, approaching a fireplace. Behind the glass doors of the fireplace, we see a roaring fire. We hear the song It's a Holly, Jolly Christmas playing in the background. The mantle of the fireplace is decorated with a green garland. Other than that, the only things on the mantle are four photographs, three on the left side, and one on the right. We continue to approach the fireplace until our view is centered on the three photographs on the left side of the fireplace mantle. Each of the pictures is in a black frame. The center photograph is of Pamela Fitzgerald, who is beaming. The photograph to Pam's left is of Ginger, who is smirking more than smiling. The photograph to Pam's right is of Brigitte, who is scowling and rolling her eyes in her photograph. Our view then moves to the right along the mantle until we come upon the right side photograph. It also is in a black frame. It is a photograph of the late Bailey Downs High School counselor and English teacher, Mr. Wright.
"Henry, dear heart," we hear a woman's voice say. "Remind me why we are going out into the cold again? It's barely 0 degrees out there."
Our view pans back from the fireplace, and we see an attractive woman enter into the living room, in her late forties or early fifties. She is struggling to put on her gloves, and is already bundled up.
"Because it's fun, Charlie," We hear Henry's voice say from another room. "Now hurry up."
"Charlie" manages to get her gloves on, and then we follow her through the living room, through a connected den and dining room (which contains among other things the stereo that is playing the music) through a door into a kitchen. At the kitchen is a back sliding door.
"You married a crazy person this time, Charlene," Charlie mutters to herself as she walks through the kitchen and pulls open the sliding glass door. As a blast of cold air hits her, she goes "Eyugh!".
We follow Charlie as she walks on a snow covered patio, with snow covered patio furniture. Her breath mists around her and the snow crunches under her feet. Then, Charlie turns a corner and there, standing out in the middle of an open back yard, is a huge pine tree. The pine tree is well lit with multi-colored Christmas lights, which reflect beautifully off of the snow on the tree. A 15 foot ladder is standing next to the outdoor Christmas tree, and standing next to the tree and the ladder, holding a cardboard box, is a beaming Henry Fitzgerald.
"It's about time you got out here," Henry says. "You are in for a real treat."
"You mean you're going to let me go inside and watch you from there?" Charlie says.
"No, I'm going to let you help decorate the Christmas tree," Henry says.
"Most people have their Christmas trees inside, dear heart," Charlie says as Henry takes an ornament out of the box and hands it to her.
"Put the ornament on the tree, dear," Henry says. "And something wonderful will happen."
Charlene sighs, producing a puff of mist as she does so, but she takes the ornament, walks a short distance around the tree, and hangs the ornament.
"And you've been doing this ever since you moved here," Charlie says.
"Yep," Henry says. "This is the third year."
"And why do you do this?" Charlie asks as she goes and picks another ornament out of the box.
Henry, stretching out to put another ornament in the tree from the second step of his ladder, smiles slightly to himself.
"The idea came to me when I was thinking about a conversation I had with Ginger," Henry says. "I just get the feeling that Ginger and Brigitte watch me out here. You know, they both used to love to decorate the Christmas tree, even though they pretended not to."
"Uh huh," Charlie says as she puts another ornament on the tree. She then turns to walk around the tree to get another ornament and her eyes go wide. Her breath hitches a bit in fear.
"henry?" she whispers. "Henry!
Then we see what Charlie sees. Standing in front of her, just inside the circular multicolored glow created by the reflection of Christmas lights on the snow, are two huge black wolves watching Charlie curiously. We hear Henry's footsteps crunch on the snow as he approaches from behind Charlie.
"Oh," Henry says. "They're here."
"What?" Charlie asks. "'They're here'?"
Henry steps up so that he is standing next to Charlie. He puts his arm around her.
"Yes, Charlie," Henry says. "They're here. These wolves have been coming to watch me decorate this tree since I moved out here. I call the female Brigitte, and the male Hunter."
"You named a female wolf after your daughter?" Charlie asks.
"Why not, I had to call her something." Henry says. "Now where's Ginger? Sometimes she's hard to pick out in the snow."
Henry looks around, then stops, smiles, and gently turns Charlie so that she is looking away from the two black wolves and in the direction he is looking.
"There she is," he says. And sure enough, a huge white wolf is standing just inside the glow a short distance away.
"Uhm, Henry, they're wolves," Charlie says. "Don't you think we should be going inside?"
"Of course not," Henry says. "They're here to watch me decorate the Christmas tree. Or this year, they're here to watch us decorate the Christmas tree. Get another ornament."
"Henry…" Charlie says.
"Go ahead," Henry says. "It's OK. I haven't been eaten yet."
Charlie smiles nervously and picks another ornament out of the box.
"Stay close to me, won't you Henry?" Charlie asks.
"Sure," says Henry. They both walk a short distance, and standing next to one another, hang their ornaments on the tree. Snow shakes off the branches and a little falls on Charlie's head.
"Gad," she says as she brushes off the top of her head. Henry turns around and then his eyes open wide.
"Ginger," he says. "Did you bring a guest?"
Sure enough, standing nervously outside of the reflective glow on the snow is a huge grey, silver, and black wolf, even larger than the other three.
"Is he yours, Ginger?" he asks wonderingly.
As if in response, the Ginger wolf chuffs and turns and walks and nuzzles the great grey wolf, who nuzzles her back, but then still hangs back as his white mate returns to her position within the reflective glow.
"He's very handsome," Henry says.
He then reaches out and takes Charlie by the shoulder and draws her to him.
"I imagine that this is a surprise for you as well," he says to the gathered wolves. "This is my new wife, Mrs. Charlene Elizabeth Franklin Wright Fitzgerald. She's the widow to Mr. Wright at the high school."
The two great black wolves walk around the tree and approach the human couple, as if they are interested in getting a better look at Henry's new wife. The white wolf's head goes down, but then she walks towards the couple as well.
Henry drops down to a knee in front of the two black wolves. One of them approaches him and Henry runs his hands through the ruff of hair on her neck.
"Hello, Brigitte," he says. "How are you this fine day?"
The Brigitte wolf nuzzles into Henry.
"Henry, what are you doing?" Charlie says. "That's a wild animal who can take your face off. Stand up."
At that moment, the white Ginger wolf comes up and nuzzles Charlie's left hand. Charlie squeals and turns to look at the Ginger wolf, her face terrified. But as soon as she sees the Ginger wolf's face, Charlie's expression changes to one of wonderment.
"You…you look so sad," Charlie says. "Why do you look so sad?"
Her fear apparently forgotten, Charlie drops to her own knee and touches the Ginger wolf's face. We see that the expression on the Ginger wolf's face is indeed sad. As the wolf steps forward and lightly licks Charlie's face, Charlie, probably without even realizing it. reaches up and lightly strokes the side of the Ginger wolf's neck.
"Henry," Charlie asks. "Why do you think this wolf-"
"Ginger," Henry cuts in.
"-Ginger, looks so sad?" Charlie finishes.
"Maybe she did something she really regrets," Henry says. "Maybe you remind her of whatever it was."
"Well whatever it was, it's OK," Charlie says softly to the white wolf. "Do you hear me, it's OK."
At that, Henry and the Brigitte wolf exchange a look.
"I know this will sound crazy to you," Henry says. "But I like to imagine that the female wolves are the reincarnations of my daughters."
Charlie smiles, she is now rubbing the Ginger wolf's ruff more and more vigorously. The Ginger wolf still regards Charlie with sad, bright blue eyes.
"I don't think that's crazy at all," Charlie says. "This is incredible."
Henry looks at the Brigitte and Hunter wolves.
"I was thinking about naming Ginger's new mate Patience," he says to the Brigitte wolf. "Because I think any beau of Ginger's is going to need it."
Both black wolves chuff in response to Henry's words, as if they find them amusing. The Ginger wolf's expression changes to one that looks like annoyance as she turns to look at Henry.
"I think she understood you," Charlie says with a laugh.
"She probably did at that," Henry says.
The Hunter wolf turns and makes a noise that sounds like a bark stifled through his nose. Then he steps aside, to reveal behind him a tiny bundle of black fur.
Henry's eyes go wide.
"Oh my," he says softly. "Oh my! I assume congratulations to you two are in order?"
In apparent response, the Brigitte wolf goes and noses the little black cub towards Henry. Henry starts to reach towards the black cub, then pulls his hand back slightly, looks at the Brigitte wolf, and says:
The Brigitte wolf responds with an eye roll that is very reminiscent of the human Brigitte.
"I'll take that as a yes," Henry says with a soft chuckle. Then he reaches towards the little cub. The cub immediately rolls on its back and begins to growl playfully.
"You have a girl," Henry says with soft excitement. He rubs the cub on her stomach, and she playfully tries to bite his glove.
Henry looks up at the two black wolves.
"Would you mind if I call her Pam?" he asks. In response, both the Brigitte and the Hunter wolves step forward to gently lick Henry on the face. Then they both nuzzle him until he falls back on his butt. Henry laughs as the wolf cub now named Pam jumps on him. Our view pans away, where we see that Charlie is still rubbing the fur of the Ginger wolf. As we continue to move back and up we see the lighted tree, and Ginger's big grey mate Patience lying on his side in the snow, calmly watching the family reunion before him. We hear Henry laugh, and a playful growl from the cub. Then, as we continue to move up and away, we see the ranch style house standing at the end of a country road. We start to move away more rapidly. We see the house and the outdoor Christmas tree, and in the upper left hand corner of our frame we see the distant lights of the city of Bailey Downs. To the right in an unbroken line, not too far away from the house, is the darkness of the forest. In the night sky, there is a full moon.
Well, that's it, folks.