Maddie

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After all the guests were tucked away and sound asleep that night, I dragged my purchases down the stairs and spread them out across the large dining room table. I then placed six plastic bins on the far side of the table, labeling each of them with their intended tree. The things I didn't plan to change I sorted out into their corresponding boxes. Things like lights, some of the garland, a few ornaments. That was the easy part.

What remained was a towering stack of papers and a mess of art supplies. After a lengthy mental pep talk and a quick trip to the kitchen to grab some liquid courage, I began work on the various ornaments, garland, and tree toppers I needed.

A large chunk of the work was making decoupage ornaments out of the photocopies I made. I'd also construct a few ornaments of the key pictures by themselves, framed by popsicle sticks, ribbon, glitter, or whatever else I had on hand that wouldn't make it look too tacky. Since the decoupage would have to spend a lot of time drying, I decided to start there, lifting what had to be an industrial sized tub of Mod Podge on to the table.

I thought to turn on some music. It was strange how that had suddenly become a thing. It was always playing in the background, every store, every cab ride, even out on the square music was pumped through speakers lining the park. I'd never noticed it before, but now I found my ears straining to pick up the cheery chimes, the melodic voices, and the soft notes of Christmas carols. They had become the running soundtrack to my quest to finish these trees. However, I decided perhaps playing music just beneath my guests' rooms was not the best call and so the only sound to break the silence was the steady tick of the grandfather clock, constantly whispering the waning hours of the day and proclaiming the arrival of tomorrow.

It was some time after the cry of midnight that a cup of coffee landed before me and it took my weary eyes a few minutes to realize it hadn't simply emerged from some lucid dream that I floated in and out of as I added another pasted ball to my army of ornaments.

"Why?"

I rubbed my eyes, only to realize my mistake when my glue soaked fingers caressed my cheek and left a streak of sticky residue.

"Why what?" I asked, looking up at a sour-faced Jordan, who held his own cup of coffee in his hand. I knew there could be several things he'd want to know the reasoning behind. Why was I even still here? Why hadn't I found a hostess or host to watch the place? Why did I have to sell the house? Why did I look so unhappy if I just landed a huge payout?

Of course, Jordan still didn't even know I'd signed a contract.

"Why are you doing this?"

That really didn't help me narrow things down. I mean, why was I doing this? Why was I selling the house? Why did I keep reading the journal? What could I possibly gain by delving further into my family's history? They were all gone. Why did any of it matter?

I'd forgotten he was there as I stared into my lap, my eyes heavy with sleep and my thoughts even heavier.

"Why do you keep bothering with these trees if you just want to leave so badly?"

Now that he reached his point, my wary mind had something to hold on to and I looked up at him from the tops of my eyes. How did I tell him I didn't know either? What was compelling me forward at this point? Any sane person would go upstairs and slip into bed, especially now that I was actually sleeping in a bed. Just that thought, that memory of feeling the soft contour of the pillow top mattress hugging my aching spine, should have been enough for me to throw my hands up and tell Jordan that I simply didn't know, before heading straight to my room. But I didn't do that. I just shook my head and sent my eyes to the boxes sitting at the end of the table waiting to be filled.

Her Christmas Legacy *COMPLETED*Where stories live. Discover now