Christmas Eve, 1917
The bell rang and since I had my hands full of flour I asked Josephine if she could get it. I know that most mothers wouldn't let their 5 year old daughters open the door, but Chippewa Falls – where we used to spend the holidays – was a very safe town.
"Mummy, mummy, they're here!" I heard her say two seconds later.
I felt somehow nervous about this meeting. After all, I hadn't seen my guests in almost five years. I quickly washed my hands and went to the living room.
"Rose!" Amy said when she saw me.
"Amy, you made it!" I said as I hugged her. "Fabri!" I now hugged her husband.
"Look at you! Oh, is this…? Josephine, you may not remember me, but I'm your aunt Amy. The best aunt ever, remember that."
"And this are your cousins: Nicolas, Laura, Giuliana and Carlo."
The kids went to play to Josephine's room and us the adults sat down to catch up with things.
"Loved what you did to the place. Jack always talked about the house, but he made it sound as if it wasn't in good condition." Fabrizio commented.
"It wasn't. He fixed it."
"And where's that husband of yours? Still drawing?"
"I have no idea. He left earlier and took Will with him. I don't know what he was up to, but he had that devilish grin that he puts when he's up to something that I wouldn't approve."
"I think I know what that might be…." The man commented, smiling. "But I can't tell you because he'd kill me."
I was about to make him tell me, but the bell rang and I went to get it.
"Rose, dear, how are you doing?"
"It's good to see you, Molly. Come on in, please."
I showed Molly and Joseph to the living room and called the kids.
"Josephine, I have to say this: you look even more beautiful than in the pictures. You must be a heart-breaker."
"Oh, please don't say that in front of Jack. He has some problems with that."
"Already? I'm sorry for you, Josephine." Amy said.
The bell rang again before I could even sit. This time it was Richard and his wife, Elizabeth. They had had to cut their honeymoon short so they could join us.
"I'm glad you made it, Richard."
"I wouldn't miss it."
We all sat in the living room waiting for Jack to come. I was starting to get worried.
Finally, we all heard the door.
"Go…o…o… Gooo look for your mum." I heard Jack saying. A moment later Will appeared.
"Will, what happened? Where were you?" I asked him kneeling by his side. "What happened?" I repeated when I noticed that his coat was wet.
"Daddy took me ice-fishing?" he said, smiling.
"Ice… Ice-fishing? Jack!" I shouted. To this day I couldn't stand the thought of cold water and I had thought that Jack would show some respect too. I couldn't believe that he had been stupid enough to take my baby ice-fishing in the middle of the winter.
"Don't tell me that you take him ice-fishing and he fell, because I swear I will… You are in trouble."
"Rose, relax, he didn't fall." Jack told me from the other room. "I did."
The Browns laughed.
"You fell? Again?" Fabrizio asked.
"Hey, it's not funny." My husband replied as he came to the room drying his hair with a towel and after changing his shirt. "I could've been killed."
"Well, you deserved it. I can't believe that you actually went there after everything that has happened. You, of all people…. You could have been killed, you know that?" I said.
"Rose, Rose, Rose." Jack said noticing that I wasn't mad; I was just scared. "I didn't. Relax, apparently I'm not meant to die in that way. But don't worry, I won't do it again. I've learnt my lesson."
When I was calmed enough, Jack said hello to our guest and we all went to have dinner. It was a lovely evening, full of catching ups and surprises. Well, actually, there were only two surprises, but they were both very shocking.
The first one arrived when we were just sitting at the table. The bell rang and we all shared confused looks. Jack went to open it.
"Honey, put an extra plate on the table. We have company." He said happily.
"Hope I don't interrupt." A man with an Irish accent said. He sounded familiar to me, but I couldn't tell who he was. Fabri did recognized him
"Tomy! I thought you were in Ireland."
"I got bored and came back to America. I remembered you had told me that you were going to spend the holidays here so I thought I could drop by."
"You are more than welcome. Have you met the Browns? This is Molly, Joseph, Amy, Richard and his wife Elizabeth. This is Tomy Ryan; he was on the Titanic with us. And this is Rose, of course. Do you remember her?"
"How can I forget her! She was the only thing you talked about that week! And by the way, I apologize: I was very wrong."
Jack, Tomy and Fabri laughed, but I didn't know why. I guessed that it was something about Titanic.
The other surprise was far less pleasant. We had finished dinner and we were having coffee in the living room. Richard was telling us how he had met Elizabeth when the bell rang again.
"I'll get it, I'll get it!" Josephine said as she ran to the door. I stood up to follow her but before I could get to the door she said.
"Mummy, there's an old lady who wants to see you."
"Old lady? I see you didn't teach your daughter the proper manners."
That voice! I couldn't believe it.
"Jo, go play with the kids." I muttered.
"Are you so afraid of me?" the woman asked me.
"Jack!" I called, without even bothering to reply.
"What is it, Ro…." I went towards Jack and held his hand tightly for support. "What are you doing here?"
"Can't a mother want to see her daughter?" My mother asked.
"No, you can't."
"Mr. Dawson, I think that that's up to her. Only Rose can tell me to go away, and even if she did, I wouldn't listen to her."
"Shocking." I commented sarcastically.
"Rose, you are my daughter. Please, talk to me!" Ruth begged.
I looked at her. The truth was that I hated this woman and I didn't want to see her ever again, but she was my mother. I guessed I could at least talk to her.
"It's okay, Jack. I can take it from here." He kissed my forehead and went to the living room. I showed my mother to my room. "You have five minutes." I told her when I had closed the door.
"After five years you give me just five minutes?"
"You should be thankful I give you that much."
"Fine. Rose, I know I was the best mother and you have all the right in the world to be mad at me, but you need to know that I've changed. Rose, I've spent the last four years looking all over for you. I hired private investigators who kept me informed of your life, but everytime I got to a place you had already left."
"You hired private investigators? I thought we were broke! Where did you get the money from?" I asked.
"Cal gave it to me on the condition that I never told anyone about his behavior towards you. If someone found out about the way that he treated you, he could be in trouble, so he preferred to lose some money rather than his reputation."
"And why did you look for me? I was dead."
"There was a ceremony to honor the ones who peril on the Titanic, do you remember? A year after the sinking."
"Yes. I remember." I replied.
"Well, I went to the ceremony and there I ran into Molly. Turned out that she wasn't any like I had thought she would be. She saw how bad I looked and offered to give me a hand. But since I wasn't getting any better she told me that you were alive on the condition that I would never look for you. She offered to tell me about you, but in return I had to promise that I wouldn't visit you unless you wrote to me first."
"I can see that you keep your promises."
"Rose, I was desperate. I needed to see you. I wasn't going to come in, but I saw your daughter threw the window and…. Oh, Rose, I'm so sorry!"
My mother started to cry and I, even though I tried to ignore her, couldn't help but kneel next to her.
"It's…. It's okay, mother. I forgive you."
She hugged me and I started to cry. We stood there for quite a while, apologizing to each other. I had never thought that I missed my mother so much. And besides, she had changed a lot.
"Hey, everybody, it's almost 12 o'clock. It's almost Christmas!" I heard Jack saying.
"Go, they must be waiting for you." My mother told me, whipping her tears.
"I'll go, but you are coming with me. Didn't you say you wanted to meet Josephine and Will?"
"I'd love to."
We both went to the living room. As soon as I opened the door I noticed Molly looking angrily at my mother.
"It's okay, Molly. You did right in telling her. I should've told her."
"So you are not mad?"
"No, Molly, I'm not mad. Relax."
"Five seconds till Christmas." Jack announced, looking at his watch. "Four. Three. Two. One. Marry Christmas!"
We all raised out glasses and toasted.
"Now…. Kids, did you hear that? I think it was Santa! Wanna check out if he left any presents?" Jack told the kids.
"Yeah!" they all replied at one time.
"I think that I heard him in the front yard! Come, let's go."
"Put on a coat first!" I told them before they left.
"Mummy, you're boring!" Will told me.
"I'm…. I'm boring? Fine, don't put a coat on. But I warn you, if tomorrow you catch a flew, Daddy's going to look after you. I won't cook you my 'special-soup'." I replied, looking at him.
"Okay." He said and ran outside.
"See, I told you. Put on a coat or you'll catch a flew. But, no, you wouldn't listen. And now what? You have to stay in bed for a whole week while all the other kids are playing outside. I hope you've learnt your lesson." I said as I put my hand on his forehead to check if he had fever.
"Yes. Can I have some of your special-soup?"
"No, you can't. I told you that I wasn't going to make you any soup."
We heard some noises in the house so we guessed that everybody was back to have lunch. It was the week after Christmas and Fabri and Amy where still staying with us. My mother was also home. That morning the DeRossis had taken the kids skiing.
"Mummy, mummy. We played snow-fight! I hit uncle Fabrizio pretty badly!" Will told me coming to the room.
"That's unfair! I am the king of snow-fighting!" the patient said.
"How are you feeling, daddy?" Josephine asked as she sat on the bed next to Jack.
"Bored! I'm sick of being lying here while you are all outside having fun." he replied.
"That's what you get for not listening to mummy." Our son held.
"What? You didn't put a coat on either and you're not sick."
"Perhaps he isn't sick because he didn't fall through thin ice." I commented. "Well, it's time to eat. Daddy needs to rest, kids, so come, let's go."
"I love you, did you know that?" Jack asked me before I could follow our kids. I walked back next to his bed and kissed him.
"I know you do, but you are not getting any of my special-soup." He smiled at me. "I love you, too." I answered.
He pulled me closer to him and kissed me again.
"Fine! I'll make you some soup. How do you do it? I can't say no to you."
"I tend to have that effect." He simply said.
"I'll be right back."
I went to the kitchen to help Amy with lunch, but on my way there I had to take part in one of the very common arguments between Josephine and William. This time, apparently, Will had tried to steal something from his sister and she had caught him. I frowned at the familiar scene before walking towards them.
God, did I love my life!
And? Did you like? I wasn't sure about the ending... You know that endings have always been my weakness, but I'm proud to say that I like this story. Maybe tomorrow I'll wake up and say that it is the worst I've ever written, but for now, I'm happy.
Thank you for reading!