And the road – it seemed so much shorter commuting into work with Jinny. Then it decided to rain. Oncoming vehicles loomed out of her in the gloom. A lorry suddenly whooshed past, deluging her, with the tree swerving with the force of the leviathan’s tailwind.
Edith was nearly in tears from the pain in her shoulders and she felt so hot she thought she could die. On she trudged, counting her steps, promising herself a quick breather after fifty. But she only stopped when thirty minutes later, she let the tree slide down in front of her and leant it against the garden gate. She felt almost sick with the effort she had made but she dragged her prize in through the front door and along the hall to the front room.
It was dark now, but as a car’s headlights swept across the back wall she could see everything that she loved in the world in this one room. She smiled as she quietly set down her bag and eagerly shuffled off the fetid coat.
Minutes later she was wrestling with the tree and then the lights. In the gloom she hung small decorations onto the spiky branches, their twisted silken threads and the resin fragrance a connection to memories of the past. Earlier times in another small living room, a fire blazing out from an ugly tiled fireplace, the ceiling covered in a hazard of polystyrene tiles, every few years the sofa changing from blue to green to coffee crème leatherette, all faux Ercol and aspiring working class attitude.
Hearing a small sound, she bent down to switch on the tree lights.
On the sofa lay her teenage daughter, a baby half cradled in her arms, the cat curled at her feet.
The young girl blinked and opened her eyes, awkwardly pulling herself up into a sitting position. She looked up at the other mother, bathed in the fairy light as the infant let out a soft wail, making Lily turn to her and gently kiss her face.
Edith bent down to the battered box and added another bauble to the tree. Lily grabbed the moth-eaten crocheted blanket from the back of the sofa and wrapped it around the baby.
“Fire tonight, Mum?”
“I think we can have a fire tonight, Sweetie”.
“Yeah, we’re definitely having Christmas, Lily. With bells on.”