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Love For the Holidays

by Michelle Heron | Score: 5900

Rushing in the front door, my wet boots squeak on the shiny floor as I enter my old building. Hearing the sound echo off the bare walls I shook off as much rainwater as I could while the lobby door slammed behind me with a boom.

Shit, I wasn’t aware it slammed like that.

Collecting myself, I removed my hood before frantically pressing the elevator call button. 

Freakin’ slow elevators, I mumbled under my breath as I thought about all the times mom and I uttered the line any time she’d have to work late due to the massive dinner rush. Pressing the call button a third time, the elevator finally stopped on the main floor.

Entering the car, I pressed the number four button to take us to the top floor. Glancing over my right shoulder, I swear I’d never get used to riding this elevator alone, instead of with my mother.

Bringing me to our old floor, my old keys felt heavier in my hand as I walked down the hall to my mother’s apartment. Stopping outside the door, I was about to knock like a visitor when I realized she’d never be home to answer it.

Slipping the key into the lock, I turned with sorrow as the tumblers unlocked. Pushing the door open, I left my wet boot prints behind on the worn out carpet and entered my mother’s apartment for what might be the very last time.

Reaching for the light switch on my right, the entryway to my mom’s place lit up.  Feeling a cool breeze brush beside me, there must have been some water in my eyes because I swear I saw movement. 

Shaking the thought away, I hung up my keys on the key ring beside the door and locked up behind me. Standing frozen in the doorway, the apartment hadn’t changed much since my mother was admitted into the hospital - other than most of her plants appeared to be dead.  

It all kind of felt symbolic. Like now that she was no longer with us, the plants had no reason to flourish without her. Kicking off my boots, I placed them on the shoe we kept by the door. 

Walking further into the room, I couldn’t help myself from looking closer at the things my mother and I created over the years. Even when I moved in with Blake two years ago, I still spent most of my Saturday nights painting in my old room - now that we’d totally converted it into a studio, which usually left me spending the night and my entire Sunday cooking and catching up on all the things we did during the week. 

An image of my mother sitting there in her purple chair while I swung on the hammock played before me. 

How was I going to get over her loss?

How was I going to live my life alone? Sure, I had Blake but it wasn’t the same. We’re not related.  

Thinking I was the only living Morcei, now that my mother had passed, I laid my mother in her final resting place, only to learn that I had a living relative, a grandmother somewhere in a place called Grant Falls. 

Stunned by the news, I said there had to be some kind of mistake. There’s no way my mother would hide the fact that I had a grandmother, she just couldn’t have.

But her lawyer looked at me with heavy eyes and let out an even heavier sigh. “I don’t know what to tell you Miss, Morcei but your mother’s mother is very much alive, in fact she’s living in South Carolina right now,” he extended me an envelope of a property with a mixed matched couple standing in front.

“When your mother found out she was sick, she reached out to me to find your grandmother.”

“And the man in the picture?” I ran my thumb across the same smile I usually saw reflecting in the mirror.

“That’s William Dell, your…”

But I cut him off. “My father…” 

My mother’s lawyer nodded the confirmation.

“How recent is this photo? Because my father has been gone my entire life.”

“This photo was taken three months ago.”

My eyes shot in his direction. “That’s impossible.” I shot up from the chair. No, my father’s gone. My mother said so herself.” I began to pace. “And yet I never knew I had a grandmother either,” I mumbled to myself. “So, you’re telling me I not only have a grandmother but that my father is alive too?”

“It looks that way, Miss Morcei,” Anthony replied, whipping the sweat from his brow.

Shaking my head with disbelief, I was still in shock from the news. Setting my purse on the dining room table, I took in the various different photos my mother had lined up on the homemade clay shelves we built. Staining them and adding a gloss coat that matched the eat-in kitchen, I remember how proud we were when they turned out just the way mom imagined them.  

Moving towards the desk my mother built for me to do my homework at as a child, I ran my hand along the wood surface as memories of myself at various different stages in life sat here with my homework. 

Wiping away a tear, I now wondered what my life would have looked like if my father were with us? Mom had to work so hard just to keep food on the table, that’s why she learned how to fix and build some of the things we either needed or needed fixing. off the internet instead of purchasing the things we needed in the store.

Homemade was better anyway. I mumbled my mother's favorite line.

Taking note of the plants that had perished, I moved through the apartment to my childhood bedroom - which was now completely transformed into a studio.

Cracking the door open, the smell of my acrlic paint hung heavily in the air.

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