A Child at Heart
By Angela Guidolin
Anna’s necklace is simple, just the thin gold chain her grandparents gave her on her christening, and the long hankered for heart-shaped moldavite pendant her cousin Laura donated her on her birthday, almost a year ago.
Anna couldn’t believe her eyes when she opened the small cream box. Moldavite, one of the most powerful crystal on Earth, the one that brings about accelerated spiritual transformation and therefore changes in its owner’s life faster than any other crystal, was finally hers.
In her late forties, divorced, with two teenage children and a stable job, she longed for an improvement in her dire financial situation and for a partner with whom to share the rest of her lonely life. Slender, tall, fair-skinned, sporting a maze of curly strawberry hair, she was still pretty and made men turn their heads. The wrong men. Those who wanted one-night stands and were too scared of romance. At last, she was offered a chance to fast-forward her life.
She sat at the oak kitchen table, alone. Since her children were always out on Saturday night and she had nowhere to go, she had got into the habit of writing in her journal for hours after dinner, summing up her thoughts on the events of the week.
This Saturday night, though, Anna can’t bring herself to do it. Instead, she holds the thin moldavite in her hands.
“So, what have you brought me so far dearie?
A blazing row with my now former bestie, hence no more friends who are single with whom to go out. Well, at least I know how envious of me she was, so envious to criticise every aspect of my life. Every time I was down, she would kick me even lower. Maybe I should thank you for this fight dearie. And the strange thing is that I don’t miss her much.
No more men in my life. Ok, those I had before were no good, but now it’s the desert!
No financial improvement. I thought my job interview with Delizie went well last week but no, no joy there either,” she sighs. “I blew another golden opportunity. Or did I? An extra hour to commute, long hours and less time for my children for sure. Maybe it’s better this way. Maybe it was your way to protect me from lower vibrations. ” Or maybe I’m just kidding myself and I did blow a golden opportunity to earn more money.
She squeezes the green crystal, then kisses it softly and wears the necklace again. Dreaming is for free, after all.
“Time for my journal,” she whispers to herself.
Wait, what have I written? Anna shakes her head in disbelief.Well, why not? It’ll be fun to write a letter to Santa after 30 years.
Anna smirks, remembering the simple things she would ask as a child: a Cicciobello doll, a board game, a special dress … Life was easy then, with Mum and Granny taking care of everything. She sighs, grabs the fountain pen with red ink that she uses on special occasions and carries on writing.
“First off, thank you for fulfilling my previous requests.
Secondly, I hope you don’t mind my writing to you although I’m not technically a child anymore but hey, I’m a child at heart. I hope this counts!
Thirdly, I would like to ask you to bring me an extraordinary adventure, one that changes my life forever. Actually, one that helps me feel I’ll always be able to provide for my children. By the way, have you heard the things they asked me for Christmas? I hope not, otherwise you should add my name to your Naughty List. Yes, my answer was a bit snappy. Ok, no, much worse than that, more like ‘What the …? Who you think I am? Do you want me to rob a bank?’ I know, bad parenting but I was having a very tough day with unexpected bills to pay on top of everything else. I’ll work on it, I promise!!!
I thank you in advance for taking my wish into consideration.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
A bit too formal, but it will do.Anna guffaws, and her tired, uptight body quivers. Gosh, I needed it, a good laugh.
She stretches her toned arms, yawns, and glances at the round black and white clock above the cooker hob right in front of her. Already 11:11 pm, where’s the time gone? The kids should return home soon, I’d better hurry now that the bathroom is still vacant.
Knock knock. “Mum, are you awake?”
Knock knock. “Mum, Merry Christmas!”
Knock knock.Who could be so early in the morning? “Mum, cousin Laura has arrived. Are you awake? ”
“Yes, Elena, I am. I’m getting up. Merry Christmas to you too sweetie. Oh, Laura, yes, gosh, she’s already here? Offer her something while I’m getting dressed please, will you?”
“Coffee, tea, water, pandoro. It’s easier if you ask her. She doesn’t bite, you know,” Anna replies from behind her light brown bedroom door, giggling. “I’ll be quick.”
“Yes but I was getting ready to go to Daddy’s… Never mind.”
“Ciao Laura, sorry to keep you waiting.” Anna walks toward her. She’s sitting on the dark grey sofa in the sitting room, sipping a cup of coffee. They exchange a loving embrace.
“Merry Christmas dear cousin! You all right? ”
“Yes, I just overslept. I was having a weird dream. By the way, excuse my attire, it’s not very Christmassy,” Anna smiles while pointing at her tracksuit.
“No problem. I just wanted to give you a card and a little something for you and the children.”
“You shouldn’t have. I didn’t get you anything, I’m sorry,” Anna’s lips downturn. “I’m saving up to pay for Gianni’s school trip to Rome in May.”
“Don’t sweat it. Here, take the gift and place it under the Christmas tree. You can open it all together tonight after Elena and Gianni are back from their Dad’s place. If you can resist the temptation of opening it, that is.”
“Thank you, I like challenges,” says Anna accepting the heavy, round-shaped gift that had been hiding under the wooden coffee table, and carefully lays it under the decorated fir by the main entrance.
“This card is just for you though. It’s got nothing to do with Christmas, however I felt compelled to get it for you. I feel so silly,” Laura says handing a bright red envelope over to Anna.
“No need to feel silly. If I told the dream I had last night…, well it felt as if it were real, as if I were having a lucid dream. I was flying aboard this black triangular alien starship throughout the universe and beyond.” Anna’s face lights up. “I was shown my lives in other universesand that made me realise that the one I’m leading now is not so bad after all. So you see, thisis silly, aliens don’t exist. I’m not sure the multiverse is a thing either. I should thank Santa though, I bet it was his way to deliver the gift I asked for,” Anna jokes, her cheeks red and her eyes sparkling. “What really struck me is what these aliens, who I couldn’t see but only perceive, told me before I woke up…”
“Oh yeah, true, you asked him for an adventure!” Laura interrupts her. “Nevertheless, … Nevertheless, I think it may have been the moldavite, actually. You still wear the pendant I gave to you? ” Laura asks half-serious, opening wide her crystal blue eyes.
“Every day. Why?”
“There’s something I didn’t tell you ‘cause I didn’t want to freak you out,” Laura tucks her straight, chestnut fringe under her deep red headband. In a lower steady voice she continues, “Moldavite, as you know, has an extra-terrestrial origin, because it formed millions of years ago when a meteorite struck our planet.”
“It facilitates contact between the wearer and alien entities.”
Anna springs up from the armchair near Laura and fetches the pendant from her bedroom.
“You think it was true then? That it was not a dream?” Although Laura was over fifty, a combination of healthy lifestyle and good genes made her look much younger. Or perhaps it was her insatiable curiosity that kept wrinkles at bay. “Well, ‘Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.’ Right?” Anna winks. Laura can be puzzling at times. When they both were much younger, she would say something against the grain just to see how the people around her would react. Evidently, you haven’t changed cousin.
Laura nods, a serious expression plastered on her face. Staring at the pendant on Anna’s hand, she confesses, “I’ve become acquainted with many an alien race, since before I purchased my first moldavite. I’ll tell you more next time we meet if you want. I must hurry back to my parents’ to finish preparing lunch with my mum and Sofia. I made vegetable lasagna yesterday so I just need to bake it. However, we must prepare the rest to make it a proper Italian Christmas. You can join us if you want. It’s just me, Sofia, John, Mum and Dad this lunchtime. You’re very welcome, you know.”
“Thanks, I’ll be at my brother’s.”
“Good. You won’t be alone.”
“No, I won’t.” Anna places the necklace around her neck and then clutches Laura’s warm hands.
“You’re still coming with us to the New Year’s Eve do in the town centre, aren’t you? There’re going to be plenty of people we both know. Also, there’s someone I’d like to introduce to you. I bumped into him a few days ago. An old friend from secondary school, Mario Furegon. He’s a bachelor and works near your firm, by the way. You may have seen him already. As tall as you, balding but with a warm personality. I had a crush on him, but don’t tell John!” Laura chuckles.
Noticing Anna’s “Oh please no,” look, Laura clarifies, “It’s not a blind date, I haven’t mentioned you. He just happens to be free and is happy to spend it with us that evening.”
Anna rolls her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. I believe you.”
“Anyway, I’m so happy the three of you managed to fly back from the UK to pass the holidays here.”
“Me too. It feels good to be in Italy. I haven’t spent Christmas here for a while. I missed it,” Laura says, a smug smile on her face. She pats her cousin’s leg and starts to stand up.
“Wait, let me read your card before you go.” Anna carefully opens the envelope, while Laura flops back on the sofa with a “ooups”.
Depicted on the A5 blue card it’s a black triangle flying at warp speed between universes, represented by transparent spheres filled with what looks like galaxies. At the centre, a bright yellow star surrounded by a motto.
Anna sniffles. “This can’t be happening, it just can’t.”
“You’re waffling. You don’t like the card?”
“No, it’s not that. The writing, here. It’s what I heard before Elena woke me up this morning. I was still on the triangle. Read it.”
Spreading from one end of the card to the other, in capital golden letters was the motto,
“Own your destiny and be a star.”
Later that evening, Anna, Gianni and Elena, sitting on the rug near the Christmas tree, unwrap Laura’s gift.
The teenagers are disappointed. It’s just a big, empty glass jar. Why would cousin Laura give them something like that?
Anna bits her bottom lip, stands up and fetches her red ink fountain pen, other two pens and a block notes. She gives a sheet to each of her children, and explains,
“It’s a gratitude jar. Write down everything you are grateful for and then drop it in the jar. Do it every time you feel grateful for something. We’ll empty the jar next Christmas.”
Thank you for gifting me a wonderful adventure among the stars a year ago.
That adventure made me understand that I’m not a victim of the circumstances. I can make things happen if I have enough faith in myself. That yes, I can own my destiny and be a star.
I feel it especially when Mario holds me in his arms and kisses me in public places. And when we talk about our future together as a family, my children included.
Well, I just wanted to thank you for reminding me that I have what it takes to manifest a wonderful life for myself, with God’s help of course. By the way, I had to buy two extra gratitude jars in April, so now Elena, Gianni and I have one each, and they are almost full! J
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your child at ❤
Anna looks at the moldavite pendant lying on her bedside. I know, I should thank you too. If I had landed that job at Delizie a year ago, Mario and I would not have had the chance to see each other again so soon after New Year’s Eve, never started dating… Also, as Laura said, perhaps you are the one behind my ET dream/encounter.
But writing to Santa is much more fun!
Angela is a science fiction author and lives in Folkestone (UK) with her child. She has published A New Beginning in the Folkestone 2014 Anthology, Homecoming in the American SF magazineNebula Rift in 2014, and the SF romance novella Across Spacetime in 2017 with Fountain Blue Publishing.
If you have liked this story you can visit her website https://www.angelaguidolinauthor.co.uk and enjoy her monthly blog.
In the past Angela participated in the Advent Calendar, read her post The Magic and Curse of Christmas