A Gift For Charlie | The Ink Well Prompt #41

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(Edited)

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The antique wall clock hanging beside a painting of a frail, petite woman on the wall chimed, a sound that was distracting in the quiet condo. It was 11 pm. Charlie gently touched the painting, tracing the lovely pearl necklace on the woman's neck. The first of many things she sold so she and her siblings could survive.

Charlie opened the balcony door and stepped outside into the cold atmosphere. Lights glittering from the tall buildings and houses scattered around the city added to the beauty of the cold night. It was a contrast to her melancholy feeling.

"You are always looking serious, ma chérie. Smile!" Charlie remembered her mother's words before they would both engage in a tickling match and laughs. Her mother was a vivacious woman who loved life, maybe a little too much and she was robbed of it. First by her vermin of a husband who moved to another city with a woman and then by cancer.

Charlie smiled in nostalgia as tears pooled in her eyes. The city was agog, Christmas was around the corner. Charlie wished her mother was there with her. Her sanguine personality and vivacity would light up the whole house, if not the city.

After eleven years of her passing and stepping into her shoes to care for her siblings who were grown and independent, Charlie felt lonelier than ever before. Did she make the right choices? She wondered. She wished Cathy and Lionel, her siblings, would travel home for the festive season but they have their lives now.

A cold burst of wind made her shudder, goosebumps spreading out all over her arms. She hugged herself when the sound of soft footfalls reached her ears.

Charlie quickly replaced the sad look on her face with a smile as she had often done for years and turned to glance at her youngest sister, Amy.

"What are you doing outside in the cold?" Amy scowled at her. Charlie grinned in response. "You know I am immune to the cold."

"Yea, right! Please come in. I don't want to freeze out here with you."

It was Charlie's turn to scowl. "I want to stay out here for a while. Why are you up anyway? Go to bed."

Amy scowled some more. "Stay out here a while? So you can kill yourself with sadness, thinking of mom?" Amy's eyes were already glistening with tears as she scolded her eldest sister.

Charlie, remorseful, stretched out her hand and Amy went into it. Both ladies held each other tightly for a long moment. "Okay, let's go in," Charlie said.

Shutting the balcony door, Charlie pulled Amy and they both sat down on the sofa. "I miss her so much," Amy said softly. Charlie exhaled and stared at her sister.

"Me too. Every Christmas, I can't help thinking about her. Remember how she spoiled us with gifts?"

Amy smiled in reminiscence. "She always made Christmas beautiful for us after Dad left."

The two ladies became quiet for a moment. Suddenly, Amy launched herself into Charlie's arms and held her tightly. Charlie's eyes widened in shock before she patted Amy gently on the back. Amy pulled back, tears had streamed down her cheeks to her chin.

"Hey," Charlie whispered softly, cupping her face. "What is it?"

Amy sniffed, "I never thanked you for stepping into mom's place after she passed. All these years, you put your life on hold for us —me, Lionel and Cathy. You took care of us. I know I gave you a hard time when Kevin proposed because I was scared and did not want to lose you… "

"Shhh," Charlie interrupted her. "You know you can never lose me…"

"Yea, I know now. But you could have been married and have a family of your own. Instead you stayed for us…"

"Look at me," Charlie held Amy's shoulders. "You are my family and Kevin and I would not have worked out. That's why I turned down his proposal."

Amy nodded, stood up and said. "Wait here. I've got something for you." Charlie laughed as Amy went into her room. "Whaaat? It's not Christmas yet." Charlie called after her.

Amy returned back with a small box wrapped in glittering red and green sheet held together with a twirled ribbon. Charlie could not believe her eyes.

"Open it." Amy entreated her. Charlie was all smiles as she pulled the ribbon apart gently and unwrapped the gift. Inside the wrapping sheet was a small vintage box. She glanced at Amy who inclined her head a little, urging her to open the box.

Charlie opened the box and gasped loudly, one hand covering her mouth. Inside the box was a beautiful pearl necklace, the exact replica of the one on the petite woman in the painting. She turned the clasp and saw the tiny inscription on it. It was the same one!

Charlie knew her eyes held unshed tears. "Amy, how did you get this?"

Amy smiled. "Lionel, Cathy and I put some money together, found it and bought it back for you. To say thank you. You always gave us gifts at Christmas, just like mom but no one ever gives you anything."

Charlie could not stop the flood of tears and the hiccups that followed. She had often wondered when she would get a Christmas gift again and now her siblings surprised her.

The two ladies held each other in a tight hug as it began to snow outside.

The End.

Photo: Unsplash.com



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34 comments
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Bang, I did it again... I just rehived your post!
Week 82 of my contest just started...you can now check the winners of the previous week!
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I just could not stop reading. Thanks for this beauty.

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Thank you for reading.

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Your story is like a beautifully wrapped gift to readers. It is subtle, moving and well developed.
Thank you for sharing the story with the Ink Well community and thank you for engaging with authors

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Thank you @theinkwell for the compliment, encouraging words and support. 🙂

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Beautiful story!! I'm glad that Charlie received the appreciation she needed in the form of a very special gift. Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed this very much.

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Indeed Charlie deserved some appreciation for her love and sacrifice for her siblings. Thank you, thank you! I'm happy you liked this story. 😊

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Very nice story..
It's really good she got rewarded specifically at the end..I enjoyed it m. Well done.

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For a person who worked hard to ensure her siblings made it, she deserves some reward for the familial sacrifice. Thanks for reading. 🙂

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This is a nice story with the classic charm of a Christmas story, with its nostalgia and happy ending, @kemmyb.

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Yes, yes! We love happy endings for Christmas stories! Thanks a lot for reading. I appreciate your visit. 🙂

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Very very nice story,, it's heart touching.. You know you brought tears in my eyes.
Thanks dear.. Stay blessed!!

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You know you brought tears in my eyes.

Oh dear! Hehe, I'm glad you like this story. Thanks for always visiting and reading my stories. I'm encouraged! 🤗

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I could feel the emotion all through the story. Charlie is a very strong woman.

And your way of writing, very, very good.

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Thanks a lot @b0s for the compliment. I agree that Charlie is a strong woman to have shouldered the responsibility of bringing up her siblings after her mother passed. I appreciate your visit and kind comment. 🙂

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You're welcome

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This is A beautiful story. And this is A really real life scenario that actually got me thinking about my life. As A kid, my parents always had Christmas gifts for me, and I never give them anything in return.

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Thanks @doziekash for reading. I had to point that part out because especially in this season, some people just love giving and somehow, they don't get gifts in return. Well, I'm sure you'll get your parents something nice this time. 😉

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This was so awesome ❤️ I'm glad Charlie got something of her mom's back :)

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Me too! Imagine getting back a treasured item that one sold off to survive. Priceless! Thanks for your visit. 🙂

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I liked the story, esp the part where Charlie touches the painting. It felt palpable

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Hehe, I'm happy you liked this story. Thanks so much! 🙂

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How beautiful ... well done ... THIS is the kind of family understanding we need more of in the world, RIGHT NOW!

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Thanks so much for reading. You are right. We need this kind of understanding all around the world. Sacrifices go a long way to strengthen relationships and it did for Charlie and her family.

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The story is very well written and developed in such a subtle way. Nice work.

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Thanks a lot for reading and for your kind comment. 🙂

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Very nice story @kemmyb. Having her mother's pearl necklace returned was the perfect surprise gift.
You can tell that Charlie is a very special person to have taken such good care of her siblings and put her own life on hold.
Shameful father to have abandoned his family, I hope he gets his own well deserved "gift" at some point, and it won't be a necklace.

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Oh yes! The pearl necklace was the perfect gift. It was a message of love saying her siblings appreciated her sacrifice and care.

Shameful father to have abandoned his family, I hope he gets his own well deserved "gift" at some point, and it won't be a necklace.

😂😂 Nope! It won't be a necklace!

Thank you @blueeyes8960 for reading and making me laugh with your comment. Hehe. I appreciate your visit. 😊

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Glad I made you laugh! Always a pleasure to visit your blog. Keep up the good work girlfriend!

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This is a beautiful story of family coming together and staying together, after a tragic loss, and the amazing sacrifice of the oldest sister. It's wonderful that her sister finally acknowledges everything that she has done to take care of the younger siblings, and the gift is amazing. A great take on the prompt!

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Thank you @jayna for taking the time to read and for your kind comment. I love stories of family reunions and I'm glad this one fits well with the prompt. 😊

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I love reunion stories too. It's a great time of year for those themes.

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