A short story written for the No Dialogue Contest, December 2020.
| A Christmas Visit
Every year, Melissa made the journey to visit with her parents on Christmas Day. The snow that had fallen during the night would have made the journey challenging, but she had done it before, whatever the weather. This year the visit was forbidden.
The government had declared that there would be no visits to other people's homes. With the virus still rampant, they had decided that it was far better to bring in a blanket ban rather than to leave it open to interpretation.
Melissa frowned and rubbed at her eyes. This year would be the first that her mother had spent alone after her husband had died in the spring. There was the phone, of course, but it wasn't the same. There had been a catch in her mother's voice that morning, a sound that had told Melissa how upset her mother really was.
It was a miserable day. In spite of the rules and regulations there was still the feeling that she had let her mother down badly. Staring out of her window at the snowy streets, Melissa came to a decision. She went up to her room and rummaged through drawers, looking for the special things she needed to make the surprise complete. Only when she had found everything did she head outside to her car, locking the door to the house behind her.
The rules said that there was to be no indoor visits, but there was no mention of outdoor ones. If she drove slowly and carefully there would still be enough time for her to put her plans into action before the light faded completely from the sky.
Melissa did not like driving through snow at the best of times, but with the light beginning to fade she had fought the impulse to turn back time and time again. Breathing a sigh of relief, she eased the car to a stop several houses back from where her mother lived. The snow was powdery and it muffled all sound of her footsteps as she walked along the pavement, then turned up that very familiar sight.
The drapes were pulled across the windows. Stepping into the deeper snow, Melissa began to work, forming a large mound of snow for a body, then topping it off with a smaller ball of snow. She smoothed the two together, just as her father had taught her to do, then looked around for a couple of sticks to use as arms. They weren't easy to find, but eventually, after digging down deep near the garden's edge where the trees stood, Melissa uncovered a couple. They weren't perfect but they would do.
Finally satisfied with her work so far, Melissa began to rummage through the bag she had carried with her from the car. Two buttons for eyes that she was sure her mother would recognize from the cardigan she had worn on her visit just one Christmas ago. She wrapped a scarf around the snowman's neck, and placed a beanie on its head. Her mother would definitely recognize those as they had belonged to Melissa when she was a child.
There was just one thing left to do. Melissa pushed her hand into her coat pocket and pulled out the jewellery box. Perhaps it would have been more sensible to push her mother's gift through her letterbox, but after looking around and seeing how empty and deserted everywhere was, Melissa carefully positioned the brooch to act as the snowman's nose.
Wiping tears from her eyes, she walked back down the path and climbed into her car. She gave her mother's house one final glance before turning the key, putting the car into gear and driving away. They might not have seen each other, but her mother would know that Melissa had paid her a Christmas visit.