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Rated: 13+ · Prose · Contest Entry · #2248574
Surprise, surprise! The Writer's Cramp contest April 17, 2021
She never saw it coming. When she thought she’d seen every shocking antic or action her beloved daughter Erin could present, there came the most memorable of all. The two of them had climbed many a rocky path, conquered the steepest hills, in the quest to re-establish the closeness they both desired so deeply.

After hours of preparation and the briefest time of finally being able to relax, Katherine gave the beautiful table setting a final penetrating check. Mentally ticking off each important facet, her eyes critically swept the gleaming silver cutlery and condiment servers, sparkling glassware (her best, of course), sweet, small, ‘oh so special’ season’s characters with holly between them, winding down the centre of the table to her traditional Christmas centrepiece of glittering baubles and flowers with golden tinsel winding amongst them; candles in their heavy, silver, candleholders; and around the room, casting their own, unique glow and warmth over the scene.

The heavily decorated tree delighted her senses and tickled precious memories. Before the rest of her family arrived, and with a furtive glance over her shoulder to ensure no-one was witness, she touched one of her daughter’s two presents once more. It was a puzzling square, prettily wrapped, sitting inside a gorgeously decorated carry-bag. She couldn’t resist another small lift and jiggle. This enigma totally piqued her curiosity. Heavy as… but whatever it was didn’t move within the parcel. It was obviously well-packed. But what is it? Katherine couldn’t remember a time when she’d been more intrigued. Like a born-again child, she thought, and smiled somewhat ‘goofily’ as she thought of presents past.

Many years of experience in patient waiting for a great number of things saw her sail with apparent calm and charm through the countless culinary delights of the Christmas feast. All her usual delicious foods arrived and were savoured, with much raising of glasses to toast everything her family could think of… and more. The old European tradition of dancing around the Christmas tree could no longer happen since the huge tree had taken up towering residence in a corner of the room, so the replacement some years before, resulted in the current singing of old, much-loved carols instead.

Finally, when Katherine was getting tinily tight-lipped with anticipation, the time came for the current Father Christmas helper (this year the granddaughter, dressed in a cute seasonal apron, a set of reindeer antlers on her head, and shiny red nose) to give out the presents. THE gift Katherine had anticipated so eagerly sat in front of her, at last! A strange breathlessness accompanied a clutching feeling of her heart. A glance at Erin revealed eyes dancing as she had not seen them for the longest time. What kind of skullduggery is this? Katherine wondered, as she began some laborious unwrapping of several layers, and shared a knowing grin with Erin, saying, “Now I wonder where on Earth you could have learned that frustrating trick?” And all the family laughed. Every one had been a recipient of multi-layer wrapped gifts over the years, all from the current laughing victim.

When she finally reached the box and opened it, as suspected, much packing material still confronted her. Pulling and pushing that aside, she uncovered… a rock?!? An ordinary rock?!? THIS was what she’d been agonising over? Greatly confused, she stared at her daughter, spreading her hands and grunting, “HUH?” — not understanding why Erin was almost helpless with laughter.

Mopping her eyes, Katherine’s daughter gasped, “Lift out the rest of the packaging. There’s a special message for you underneath. Look! And then I’ll explain.”

Sure enough, the removed material revealed the words, YOU’RE MY ROCK. And quick as a flash, Erin was out of her chair, laughing and hugging Katherine. Now it was time for mother to ‘tear up’ as daughter expressed her gratitude for all the years of keeping her grounded and being there for her, time after time when her personal going became too rough for her.

“You ARE my Rock,” she said, and a tear or two slipped down her cheeks, too. “I don’t know how many times I believe I wouldn’t have made it without you, and your strength.”

As she laughingly and lovingly hugged Erin many times in the ensuing evening, Katherine told her daughter many times, how this present had been THE most novel ever; a delightful and treasured surprise… such a rock-solid demonstration of her feelings. And over and over, exclaimed she never saw it coming.

(756 words)

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