This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.
Excitement started to show on the boy’s face. He seemed to always enjoy anything to do with his father, especially whatever his father would give or send him. He quickly unwrapped the package and found a toy replica of the train engine Tom Thumb. He immediately tried to push it across the floor and his mother reprimanded him to not scratch the flooring. You can tell that she, yet again, was displeased with her husband’s choice of gift. Actually she never seemed pleased with anything to do with her husband and did not hold back how she felt about her son. “Why your father gets you those types of gifts is beyond me.” Ian did his best to ignore her.
“Wow, what a grump!” commented Dave in a hushed tone, thinking that the people in the visions would hear him. He remembered sitting in the cramped spaces on the train ride that were pulled by the real Tom Thumb style engine.
The vision changed, once again, to another Christmas with Ian not looking much older, probably only another year. The tree was much smaller with less decorations but the star was still the major attraction of the room. There were less gifts under the tree. Another set of mittens and hat as well as stockings. There was no coat since Ian probably didn’t need another one. He hadn’t grown much if at all since the last coat his mother had made for him. He looked much weaker as he sat in his chair beside the table that held his cookie and cup of wassail, which looked to not have been touched. “Here’s a gift from your father. He apparently had it shipped from India, where he’s too busy hunting down tigers rather than being here with his family,” barked Mrs. Hodges.
As usual, Ian tried to ignore her but you could tell her demeanor wasn’t good for him at all. Ian quickly took the wrapping off the package. A thin dark leather box was before him. He carefully opened it and found the content to be a brass and leather spyglass. It took some time before he decided to take it out of the beautiful box. His eyes shone with cheer or were those tears he was trying to hold back. In a barely audible voice, he said, “I miss my father.” He picked up the object and started looking around the room through its lens. Tom happened to come in and the boy immediately called out to him to show what his father had sent him.
Tom showed happiness for the boy, “I bet you’ll be able to see a lot of things in the trees looking through that spyglass. It’s mighty pretty.” In the absence of his father, Tom came to pay Ian more attention feeling he needed to have some manly or father figure in the house and Mrs. Hodges didn’t seem to mind since while her son was occupied she could go about doing her business within the house.
“Well, this is the first time I think your father gave you something you can actually use. Tom is right, you’ll be able to look at many things outside in the distance without leaving the house, especially in these cold times.”
“Ahoy matey,” whispered Dave to the other three, all recalling the time on the cutter with a pirate ship not far away.
The last vision was a very somber one. There was no tree, no tea cake or tart and no wassail. Ian was probably around eleven years old. He was sitting in the chair with the star in his hands. Tears were rolling down his cheeks. “I miss you so much father,” he said to no one in particular.
The four weren’t sure if Ian was allowing them to see this next vision but they saw him when his father was brought home after being attacked by a tiger in India, he was placed in a bed in one of the upstairs rooms.
Ian was ordered by his mother to not visit his father because his father needed a lot of rest due to the injuries, which were severe. Every so often, the boy would sneak into the room to talk with his father. While his father still had any strength he would tell him about his adventures in hunting wild game. “Ian, I’m so sorry that I wasn’t always here for you, especially last Christmas. Please forgive me. I love you very much.” They both held hands and wept.
I told you to never come into this room to bother your father,” She yelled as she grabbed him by the arm and pulled him out of the room.That was the last time Ian saw his father. The vision returned to the boy sitting in the living room.
Tom walked by with what appeared to be a tubular object wrapped in heavy paper. “It isn’t much, but I came across this and I know you like horses.”
Ian carefully removed the paper and asked Tom to help him unroll the object. It was a poster of an Equestrian show that had occurred in New York the past summer. It showed a beautiful stallion with a rider in costume sitting on a saddle holding onto the reins as the stallion was vaulting. “I thought you could hang it in your room and look at the horse whenever you like,” explained Tom of the present.
“Thank you so much Tom. I love it and the horse is beautiful. Will you hang it in my room for me?”
“I would be glad to, Ian.”
“What have you there,?” cried out Mr. Hodges. She looked at the poster and asked Tom why he would give something like that to her son. He explained that he knew her son liked horses and when he happened to come across the poster, he thought of Ian and got it for him.
“I asked Tom to hang it in my room so I can look at the horse.”
I don’t care what you do with it, just don’t put it where I’ll see it, ” she demanded and walked out of the room.
Ian gave Tom an extra special hug and thanked him.
“Why is she so mean?” Asked Ian. I think she hates me. She has taken all of the things my father gave me and has hidden them. When I asked what she did with them she said she put them away for safekeeping. I think since I’m not strong enough to climb the stairs to go play in the rooms, she has hidden them up there. Ian looked around to make sure his mother wasn’t close enough to see or hear what he was about to do or say. “Tom, would you do me a large favor and hide this star somewhere in my old room upstairs? I’m afraid that she’ll take that away from me as well and I don’t want her to destroy it. I hope, someday, someone worthy of it will find it and put it on their tree.”
Tom replied, holding back tears for the boy, ” I don’t think she hates you, Ian. I think she hates how her life has turned upside down. When she and your father married, she was very spoiled. He bought her many things and brought her to many places. When he started becoming more involved with his business and venturing to meetings as well as game hunting, he left her alone often. She wasn’t getting things she wanted and started becoming resentful. I was hoping as time went on she would become accustomed to how things were, especially once you came into her life. She spent so much time with you, enjoying doing things for you. I thought she had turned a new leaf, but I saw she’d have to turn over a new tree. I’ll take care of the star for you,” Ian put the star back into the box and gave it to the kind man who had befriended him in his father’s absence and watched him go up the stairs.
The vision ended. There were no further Christmas visions.
The four found themselves in the large bedroom where they had found the star. All faces were wet with tears and felt for the spectral boy that had given them grief while unknowingly they had given him joy. “I wonder what would happen if we kept this star, maybe to put it on our Christmas tree,” said Jake.
Miri wiped her eyes and said matter of factly, “Ian wants us to keep it and there will be no further events.”
THE BEGINNING OF FALL IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
A new school year had begun. Jake greeted new students and staff as well as welcoming back the old ones to his high school. Miri received twenty new students to her third grade. It was a large class but she looked forward to getting to know every single one of them. It would be a welcome change after the harrowing events she, and the others, at the house went through during the summer. Meanwhile, Dave continued with the renovations of the individual bedrooms at the house to bring them up to par for a B & B guest room and Amy, his fiancee, continued with her photography business, and looking forward to helping Miri with the B&B once it was opened. She would still continue her photography business hoping that the B&B would bring her more business from weddings and reunions. Once the B&B renovations were completed, Dave hoped to get to the renovations of the carriage house, turning the second floor into a spacious apartment for he and Amy. All in good time.
All appeared to be getting back to a normal routine for the four, however, every so often, Miri would have dreams of Ian calling out to her stating that he was cold and wanted to be closer to his father. The dreams were confusing but she tried to put them out of her mind. There were no visions, only the child’s voice. This went on for about a month, and finally, on a Friday evening in October she finally broke down and told her husband. “I really thought after the last event we had that all of this would be behind us; behind me,” she said, appearing to be in a melancholy mood.
“Maybe it’s still bothering you because you were the first to be aware of the child, after reading those diaries,” Jake said trying to console his wife. “We need a diversion. I know what we can do! Since it’s a long weekend thanks to Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday We could go apple picking. I recently read in a local paper that a favorite fall activity in the Poconos, without a doubt, is apple picking with many varieties to choose from. It’s such a fun way to spend some quality time with friends and family while enjoying that fresh autumn air and hearing that crunch of leaves under your feet. So, why don’t we go spend some of that quality time at the local orchard. I bet Dave and Amy would love to join us. It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend, why don’t we go tomorrow.”
“Sounds like a great idea and I hope it helps me put Ian to the very back of my mind; so far back that he never comes forward again.” said Miri hopefully.
The four visited a couple of nearby orchards, each with delicious varieties of apples. The two women could be heard talking about which apples would be best for pies and other pastries that they would love to make for the B&B once opened. “Hey, don’t forget we two love being your guinea pigs,” laughed Dave. “They would need some work, but I think you have some type of apple trees on your property in the back of the garden, which by the way, I’d love to start clearing once I get the renovations to the house completed.”
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