On Christmas Day
He crouched down by the keyhole and peered through. The room behind was brightly lit but he found it difficult to get a good view of what was going on inside. He strained against the door, pushing his body as hard against it as he dared. He had been told to stay out until it was over. His Dad had sat him down and said in that no nonsense Yorkshire way of his that it was best for him not to see his mother like that, but he wanted to know what was going on. He wanted to see with his own eyes, and he hated being excluded.
There were noises, strange noises that he didn't like the sound of. He could hear even from his own bedroom across the hallway his mother's cries. They varied between soft groans and harsh shrieks. Over the top of her he could hear his father uttering soothing words of encouragement, telling her that it would be all right, telling her that he loved her. And all the time he sat by the door of his parents room, wrapped in his thin dressing gown; heavily darned socks adorning his feet, waiting.
In the outside world the sun was beginning to come up on a new day, and not just any day either, today was Christmas day. He'd always loved Christmas, the excitement, the presents, all the twinkling lights and of course the food! Christmas was a wonderful, magical time, a time his mother loved and his father made special for her. This Christmas was different though. This Christmas, instead of waking early and rushing downstairs for presents he had been startled awake by the sound of a car pulling up outside the house.
He didn't see who got out of the car, he was too snug beneath his bed clothes to crawl out from under them and go to the window, but he lay still and listened as his father's heavy footsteps pounded down the stairs and opened the front door. He heard them exchange pleasantries, his father and this other man, before two sets of feet ascended the stairs and went through the doorway of his parents room.
It was only then that curiosity got the better of him and he slid from under his blankets and made his way to the door. It was odd to have a visitor before the sun had even risen and even stranger for a early visit on a holiday. Only certain people with special jobs would visit at times like this. He knew his mother had been sick over the last few months, and that she’d been to her doctor’s surgery a number of times. He also knew that doctors were the type of people who made emergency house calls, he knew that well.
So this was it, he thought as he settled against the door to his parents room to try to view the proceedings, this was what his whole family had been talking about constantly for weeks on end. The day when the Spiller family altered forever. He had known it was going to happen, he’d been warned, and he’d seen the way his mother had changed recently. But hearing his mother crying and yelling from behind that door was something he hadn’t been prepared for.
Nearly two hours passed and still he stayed crouched by the door, trying to find a comfortable position to stop him from getting pins and needles. The cries and the voices had intensified in volume to the point where they were constant background noise to his thoughts and his imaginings of what was going on behind the door.
And then the cries stopped.
He moved closer to the door and pressed his left ear right up against it. Silence. It was over. He could feel his heart beating loudly in his chest, what was happening now?
Suddenly there was a scream, a wail, loud like an air raid siren. What was going on?
He nearly fell over when the door opened, and from his position kneeling on the floor he looked up to see the large figure of his father, his eyes glistening with fresh tears that he had no desire to hide. It was the first time he’d seen his strong father cry, and he cocked his head to one side as he watched those brown tear filled eyes that sat above a broad smile.
His father knelt down and offered out the bundle in his arms towards his inquisitive son.
“Look, Stevie, here’s your new baby sister!” his Dad said, folding back the blanket to reveal a tiny little face with big brown eyes and a fine tuft of light brown hair. He reached out and pressed her nose, it squashed into her face at his touch and she gurgled in response. She was fascinating. And he began to see why his mother’s pregnancy had been such a big deal.
“Wow!” he breathed in response. His dad guided him into the bedroom and he clambered up on the bed and snuggled up against his mother.
“I’ll give you guys a moment together before we go down to the hospital, all right?” The midwife said as he collected his belongings and exited the room. He glanced back to the bed as he closed the door. All four of the Spiller family together, happy, just as they should be on Christmas day.