A Gifted Christmas: Part Three
A visit to the Christmas market takes an unexpected turn.
You can read parts one and two here.
“Look, there’s a space.” Mum pointed at a gap between two large cars.
Dad quickly parked and we left the car, only to be met with cold wind carrying the smell of roasting chestnuts and the sound of carols.
“Did you bring the bags?” Mum asked me. I grinned and held up the canvas carrier bags we always used when shopping at the Christmas market.
Victor, Aunt Lorraine and the others were waiting by the entrance. All of us were wearing hats, gloves and scarves as well as our thick winter coats.
“All right!” Aunt Lorraine announced gleefully. “Usual drill: wander around, get presents for people, keep in touch via text and then meet up at seven to visit the food stalls.”
I handed over all the bags (except my favourite) to Mum and gave everyone a goodbye wave. “See you later!”
“Why don’t you girls keep each other company?” Victor suggested. “Cedric, you’re with me.”
“What? Dad, I’m fifteen!”
Aunt Lorraine gave him a warning glance.
“Do you want to be hanging around the jewellery stalls?” Terri asked Cedric, who shrugged and shook his head.
He probably wouldn’t want to visit the glassware stalls either – or one that had scented candles, if there were any. If I’d even get to visit them. Perhaps I could convince the twins to let me go on my own.
The look Aunt Lorraine was giving Sally and Terri told me that wasn’t going to happen. I smiled brightly at my cousins, and we walked off together.
Walking through the crowd at the market was like being squeezed through a tube of toothpaste. Somehow, Terri, Sally and I managed to stay close to each other.
“OK, see anything you like?” I asked. Maybe if they told me something they wanted for Christmas, I wouldn’t have to think about what they wanted.
“Hold on.” Sally had taken hold of my elbow. She was avoiding my gaze. “Can we…can we talk for a moment? There’s a bench just there, under that tree.”
We sat down, the twins either side of me. I stared down at my hands, wishing I could rub them together; it was cold even with the thick gloves. Neither Sally nor Terri was looking at me.
I hated awkward silences. “All right. You wanted to talk.”
The twins glanced at each other.
“Look, Louisa,” Sally began, “we haven’t exactly been…what we’d like to say is…”
“We’re sorry. For everything.”
“Are you?” They’d apologised to me before, and they hadn’t meant it; they’d just been saying what Aunt Lorraine had told them to say.
Terri nodded. “We are. We’re sorry for bullying you – for everything we said and did. We’ll never do it again, I promise.”
I didn’t know what to say.
“For the record, Ed’s going to apologise to you as well, and Cedric. Mum and Dad delivered a lot of home truths after the last Christmas you spent with us.”
Wait. They’d known about the diary incident? I never told them about that.
“Aunt Laura was so angry.” Sally shook her head, looking down at the wet ground.
“How did they find out?”
“They saw Ed’s face and confronted him about it.”
Oh. Yeah, that would do it.
If he was holding a grudge about that, I could be in serious trouble. I’d expected retribution at the time. But why hadn’t anyone talked to be about it?
“Mum said that if I thought you were worthless because you’re Giftless, then I must think she’s worthless because she doesn’t have a Gift either. I can’t believe I even said that to you now.”
I wanted to ask them why they’d been so awful, but the answer was obvious: Edmund. Sally, Terri and Cedric had always followed his lead.
To be fair…I hadn’t exactly stopped Maisy from saying all the things she did. I’d protested, but I didn’t oppose her. So what did that say about me?
“We can’t erase what we said and did to you,” Sally said, “but we’d like to start over. If you’d like that.”
They looked so hopeful.
I nodded slowly. “Yeah. I’d like that too.”
“So you forgive us both?”
It’s nice getting hugged by two people at the same time.
“Let’s get shopping,” I said when the hug ended. “We’ve got a lot of presents to buy!”
We got up and headed right into the sea of lights.