This is the first story of my book of "12 Stories of Christmas" planned for publication by December of this year.
I would appreciate any comments, good or bad. This is the lightly edited first draft, so please forgive any typos or misspellings.
I would appreciate any comments, good or bad. This is the lightly edited first draft, so please forgive any typos or misspellings.
SOFIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
By Rena Yeager
© 2019 by Rena Yeager. All Rights Reserved
It was Christmas again, and 12-year-old Sofie stared out the window of the bedroom she shared with five other girls. Her three years in the Children’s Home had taught her only one thing…people don’t care about older children, they only care about babies.
With a heavy sigh, Sofie turned away from the window and sat down on the edge of her bed. She glanced around the room that she shared with 6 other girls. Decorations covered the walls.
“Hey Sofie, we’re gonna decorate the tree! Come and help!’ Sofie turned to see six year old Kerisa standing in the doorway, her eyes shining with anticipation of the Christmas holiday.
“I’ll pass,” Sofie answered. The little girl persisted.
“Awww, come on, Sofie. Please? It will be fun.”
“I said no, Kerisa. Leave me alone.” As soon as the words were out Sofie regretted them. She could see the hurt in the younger girl’s blue eyes. Her tone softened.
“I’m sorry. I just don’t want to right now. Maybe later.” Without another word, Kerisa turned and ran from the room. Sofie couldn’t help but smile at her friend’s excitement….she was like that at her age. But that seemed so very long ago, and things were different now.
Why did things have to change? Why did her mother have to leave her? These same questions had haunted her for three years. Questions that she had never found the answers for.
For the first 9 years of her life, it had just been her and her mom. They had been close, best friends, really. Her father had never been in her life, as he had left her mother before she had been born. Her mother seldom spoke of him, and she had learned at an early age to not ask questions about him.
“I thought I might find you here.” Sofie turned at the sudden voice. “Oh hi Dianna. What are you doing here?” Dianna Wellington sat down on the bed beside her.
“Just stopping by to see how you’re doing”, Dianna answered. “How come you’re not down decorating the tree with everyone else?” Sofie shrugged but remained silent.
“Honey, I know Christmas is a difficult time for you”, Dianna continued “I wish there was something I could do to help make it easier. I know…”
“You can’t bring my mom back” Sofie said, interrupting her case manager.
“No, I can’t,” Dianne answered. “But I would like to find a way to ease your pain some, help you to enjoy Christmas, start living again.” Sofie was silent for a moment, then turned to face Dianna.
“Are you serious, Dianna? My mom is dead and you want me to enjoy Christmas? She died right before Christmas. I hate Christmas! And nothing you say is ever going to change that! Now please just go away and leave me alone!”
“I said leave me alone.” Sofie ran from the room, slamming the door behind her.
Dianna sighed and slowly shook her head.
“There must be some way to help her” she told herself. “But how?”
In her 20 years as a case manager, Dianna Wellington had worked with children of all ages. She had encountered children with behavior issues, anger issues and many other problems.
And often she broke the first rule of her position…don’t become emotionally involved with these children.
Dianna sighed as she leaned back in her chair. She just couldn’t get young Sofie off her mind.
“Hey Dianna, you look deep in thought. Something on your mind?” Jerrod McNeil sat down on the edge of her desk, waiting for her to answer. Dianna was silent for a moment, a thoughtful expression on her face. She glanced up at her co-worker.
“Jerrod, let me ask you something. I’ve got a 12-year-old girl whose mom died in a car accident three years ago shortly before Christmas. Her father has never been in her life, and there are no known relatives so for the past three years she has been living at Little Oaks Children’s Home. Because her mom died around the holidays, she hates Christmas. I need to figure out a way to get her involved in the holiday activities, decorating, etc. I want to help her to move forward. She is angry, withdrawn and just so sad. I want to know how to help her.”
“Wow…that’s a tough one,” Jerrod replied. “Losing a parent at any time is rough, but during the holidays.”
“Any suggestions?” Dianna questioned. When Jerrod didn’t answer, Dianna continued. “She is the oldest child there. She is convinced that people only want to adopt babies.”
“The sad thing is, she is probably right.” Jerrod said with a sigh. “I wish I had a solution. It’s hard for the older children to watch the younger ones get adopted.”
“Even if I could place her in a foster home, at least she would be with a family. But none of our foster homes have openings right now. Sofie is such a sweet girl. Any family would love to have her. If they could just see beyond her age. How can we get people to just consider taking an older child? It’s just so unfair.”
“I know what you mean, Dianna. Sounds to me like you are breaking our first rule…getting emotionally attached to one of our children.”
“How can I not?” Dianna retorted. “These children don’t deserve a life in the system. They deserve loving families. I have been Sofie’s case manager for three years. How can I not love her?” Jerrod shook his head.
“I’m just sayin’ that you shouldn’t get to attached. You know that. That’s one of the first things they tell us when we get a case.”
“Well, I need to find a way to help her to like life again.” Dianna stated. “Maybe even to enjoy Christmas again. “
“Does she ever talk about her Mom? Jerrod questioned. Dianna shook her head.
“No. Whenever I bring her up she shuts down.”
“Poor kid. I can’t even imagine how she must feel.” Dianna glanced at her watch.
“I’ve got an appointment. If you come up with any suggestions let me know. Christmas is only three weeks away. I would like to make this Christmas special for her.” Jerrod nodded.
“I’ll see what I can come up with. See you later.”
“Yep.” Dianna said quickly, then hurried from the office.
Dianna glanced at her watch as she rushed into the Mystic River Café, and smiled when she spotted her friend at a nearby corner table.
“Abigayle Marks!” Abbie stood to greet her friend with a hug.
“Dianna! How nice to see you again, what’s it been, three years?”
“Something like that,” Dianna answered. “I bet the twins are really growing.” Abbie nodded.
“They just turned ten. Ian David is our wild child…. outgoing, loves to be outside, loves sports. He’s just like his father. Isabella Dawn is more reserved, likes riding her horse and curling up with a good book. Ian David prefers a large group of friends while Isabella prefers one or two good friends. She’s more like me.” Abbie took a sip of her coffee.
“When you called, you said you had a situation?” Dianna nodded.
“Yes, I have a 12-year-old girl. Her mom was killed three years ago in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Her father has never been in her life and she has no known family. So she was brought to Kiddy Korners Children’s Home. In the three years I’ve known her, she has been somewhat withdrawn. She shuts down when I or anyone else talks about her mother, or the accident. She doesn’t interact with the other children. Or at least not any more than she can help. She is among the oldest children there, and she believes only babies and the youngest children will be adopted. Our foster homes have no current openings, so I have no choice but to keep her at Kiddy Korners.”
“Wow. Poor kid. I know how she feels.” Abbie said softly. Dianna nodded.
“That’s kind of why I called. You lived several years in a children’s home as well. I thought maybe you would have ideas or suggestions as to how to help her. I want to find a way to get her to start enjoying life again, find something she enjoys doing. Her mom died shortly before Christmas so she…”
“Hates Christmas.” Abbie said, finishing her friends sentence.” Dianna nodded again.
“Yes. How did you move forward after you lost your parents? I mean, what helped you?” Abbie was silent for a moment as she thought back to her own childhood.
After losing her parents in a house fire at the age of ten, and with no family members able to take her in, she was sent to live in a children’s home as well.
“I thought the world had ended.” Abbie said softly as the memories came flooding back to her. “I was angry at everyone…my parents for leaving me, God for taking them. I was sure I would never enjoy life again…and I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I mean, my parents were gone, what more did I have left?” She paused for a moment, took a deep breath, then continued. “Everyone at the center tried to help, but I didn’t want their help. They couldn’t take away my pain, they couldn’t mend my broken heart. It was like I had built a wall around myself. I was determined that no one would break down my wall.”
“I can only imagine how awful that must have been for you,” Dianna said sympathetically. “Sounds so much like Sofie. So what helped you?” Abbie was thoughtful for a moment as she thought back to the darkest days of her childhood.
“Ian, do you remember my friend Dianna Wellington?” Abbie asked as she slipped into bed beside her husband later that night.
“Yeah, she’s a social worker, right?” Abbie nodded.
“Yep. I had lunch with her today.” Ian put down the book he was reading and turned his attention to his wife. Abbie continued.
“She was telling me about a case she has, a twelve-year-old girl.” Abbie told him the story of young Sofie, and why her friend had asked for her help. “I was her at that age.” Abbie said softly. “And it got me to thinking.”
“Thinking about what?” Ian questioned.
“Christmas. And the twins. Have you seen their Christmas lists?” Ian nodded. “Yes, looks like the toy department at Walmart.” He chuckled. “I don’t think Santa’s sleigh can hold it all.”
“I think it’s time they learn the real meaning of Christmas, that it isn’t all about gifts, that it’s about helping others, doing good things for others. They need to learn that not everyone is as well off as they are, not everyone has the means to get what they want for Christmas.”
“That’s all fine and good,” Ian replied, “Do you have something specific in mind?” Abbie slowly shook her head.
“No, not yet. But there has to be something we can do for that little girl.”
“Are you thinking like taking her in or something?”
“No. Maybe. I don’t know.” Abbie answered with a yawn. “I’ll have to sleep on it and see what I can come up with. With only a few weeks until Christmas, we need to get our plan in motion. Teaching them to be kind to others is a gift we can give to them, one that they will have for the rest of their lives.”
“Well, I think that’s a great idea.” Ian gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, then turned out the lamp on the nightstand beside the bed.
Ten minutes later, Ian had just closed his eyes and was drifting off to sleep when Abbie suddenly sat up and shouted, “I’ve got it!”
“Whatever you’ve got, don’t give it to me.” Ian chuckled at his own joke. Abbie swatted him on the arm.
“No, I think I have an idea. We could give the kids at the center an old-fashioned Christmas…you know, hay rides, Christmas Carols around the bonfire, the whole 9 yards.” Ian was silent for a moment as he pondered the idea.
“That’s a good idea. Now how about we get some sleep?”
“I’ll call Dianna tomorrow. I’ll bet she will have some good suggestions for the kids.”
“I’m sure she will. Now lets let it rest til morning.” Ian said as drifted off into peaceful sleep. Abbie smiled to herself as she snuggled under the warm blankets and closed her eyes in sleep.
The next few weeks were a flurry of activity for the Marks family as they prepared their farm for “An Old-Fashioned Christmas”.
Finally, the day before the big event had arrived.
“So Mom, tell me again why we are doing this.” Isabella continued brushing her horse while Abbie hung up red and green crepe paper on the walls and in the stalls.
“Your dad and I felt that it would be good for you and your brother to experience what it is like to help others and to learn that not all children are as fortunate. These children don’t have parents who love them or a house with their own room. We wanted to reach out to these children, give them a day they will remember for the rest of their lives, show them they are special, that someone cares.” Isabella was quiet for a moment as she thought about her mother’s words.
“Did someone do that for you after Grandpa and Grandma died in that fire?” Isabella asked softly.
“When I was sent to the children’s home, I had to switch schools. My first friend was a girl named Hayley. She invited me to spend a night at her house. Her parents just sort of unofficially adopted me. I was invited to all of their family functions, vacations. They showed me that it was okay for me to love again and open my heart to be loved again. They could never take the place of my parents, but they cared about me like my parents did.”
“Whatever happened to them?” Isabella questioned. “Why haven’t I met them?”
“Well actually, honey, you did when you were little.” Abbie answered. Isabella shook her head. “I don’t remember them.”
“No, I don’t suppose you would. Hayley got married several years ago and moved to Germany with her husband in the Army. We write to each other a few times a year and exchange pictures.” Isabella was thoughtful for a moment.
“Do you think maybe I can be friends with some of the kids that come tomorrow?” Abbie smiled.
“That’s very possible, Sweetheart. Let’s show these kids the best time ever.” Arm in arm, Mother and daughter left the barn and headed towards the house.
Dianna arrived at Kiddy Korners promptly at 9am Saturday morning, the day of the big event. She smiled as she entered the Commons area. The room was loud with the excited chatter of the children.
“Oh Dianna, I’m so glad you’re here.” Kathryn, known as Kat to the children, came rushing down the stairs and into the Commons. “Someone says she refuses to go. I can’t get her to budge.” Dianna sighed.
“And by someone you mean Sofie?” Kat nodded.
“I’ve tried everything I could think of. I guess I could stay back with her.” Dianna shook her head.
“No one is staying back with her. She is going.” Dianna said with determination. “We will be right down.” Kat was doubtful, but only shook her head in exasperation. Sofie was a strong-willed little girl, and often stubborn. Once she made up her mind, it often couldn’t be changed.
Dianna didn’t bother to knock on the door. She opened the door and entered the bedroom. Sofie was lying on her bed, staring up at the ceiling. Dianna sat down on the edge of the bed.
“Wanna talk about it?”
“Talk about what?” Sofie asked softly, knowing perfectly well what her case manager was talking about.
“I’m pretty sure you know what I am talking about. There is a room full of kids downstairs waiting to load the bus to go to the farm. And here you are, alone in your room making everyone else wait for you.”
“They don’t have to wait. I’m not going.” Sofie answered.
“And why not?” Dianna questioned. “It will be fun. My friend and her family went to a lot of work to give you children a fun day, a day away from your daily routine and activities. I’m sure you will have a good time, once you get there. You need to give it a chance, Sofie.” Sofie was silent for a moment, then sat up.
“Well, I guess I could go along and help watch the younger kids. But that’s it. Don’t expect me to have a lot of fun. A farm has nothing but a bunch of stinky animals. I’m sure the kids will love it.” Dianna tried to hide her smile.
“Fair enough. Now let’s get downstairs and load the bus.” Sofie slowly followed Dianna from the room still unsure about this farm day.
“Mom, when are they going to be here?” Isabella asked, staring out the window. Abbie sighed.
“They will be here soon. They won’t get here any faster by you asking me every five minutes when they are going to be here. Where’s your brother?” Isabella shrugged. “Beats me. The last time I saw him he was…. HERE THEY COME!” Isabella shouted. She turned from the window and bolted out the door, letting the door slam shut behind her. Abbie slowly shook her head, but couldn’t help but smile at her young daughter’s excitement.
“Ian David! They’re here! Let’s go!” Abbie shouted. Ian David came into the kitchen.
“Awww Mom, do I have to go out there?” He took a bite of his apple. “It’s Saturday, I always hang out with the guys. Can’t Izzy just play with these kids?”
“Ian David, we have been through this. You can give up one Saturday out of the year to help give these kids a Christmas to remember. These kids don’t have families or a home of their own. Think about how fortunate you are for what you have, and how you would feel if you were in their shoes…they can’t just go off and spend a Saturday with their friends, their friends are the kids they live with. Your Christmas list is a mile long. These kids are lucky if they get even just one gift.“ Abbie put her arm around her young son as they walked outside together. “We have the means of doing something nice for these kids, and your father and I felt that it would be a good experience for you and your sister to learn what it is like to give instead of always receiving. I know you would rather be with your friends, but I’m asking you to do your best to help these kids have a good day….and without an attitude.” Ian David sighed, knowing perfectly well there was no point in arguing. It would be a losing battle.
“Okay, I’ll do what I can to help them have a good day.” Abbie smiled as they arrived at the end of the driveway just as the bus came to a stop.
Dianna Wellington was the first to get off the bus. She smiled, and greeted her friend with a hug.
“Hello Abbie. I can’t tell you how excited these kids are.”
“Hi Dianna. You remember my husband Ian and the twins Ian David and Isabella.” Dianna nodded as she shook hands with Ian, then the twins.
“So nice to see ya’ll again. I can’t tell you how thrilled we are to be here. Thank you so much for what you are doing for these kids.” Ian smiled.
“We are glad to do it. We have hayrides, a little petting zoo area, and later as it begins to get dark, a bonfire for roasting marshmallows.”
“Can the kids get out of the bus now?” Isabella questioned, patiently waiting. Dianna smiled.
“Ok kids, come on down!” Within seconds, loud excited laughter filled the air as 50 children bounded down the bus steps followed by six adults. “Let me introduce you to the staff that will be helping out today. That’s Kathryn, but she prefers to be called Kat, Next to her is Dylan, then Luisa, or Lu as she prefers, then Skye, Wesley and Seth.” Abbie smiled warmly as she nodded hello. “Nice to meet all of you. Thank you so much for coming today. “
“Ok kids, listen up.” Ian said loudly to be heard above the excited chatter. “The goal for today is to be safe and have fun. We will start by giving you a tour of the farm so you will know where things are. If you need to use the bathroom, there is one in the barn, and up at the house. If you need to go to the house, you must not go alone, Either my wife, or I , or one of my children or your staff will go with you. Now, lets start with the barn and we will introduce you to the horses.”
“Can we ride them?” Eight-year-old Shayla asked in a loud voice. Ian nodded.
‘Yes, anyone that wants to ride will get a chance to do so.”
“Cool.” The little girl said softly, her brown eyes dancing with excitement. As the young children followed Ian to the barn, Isabella noticed a young girl walking slowly behind the others. Her head was lowered, and her steps were hesitant. Isabella pulled back from the others and approached the girl.
“Hi. My name is Isabella. What’s your name?” The girl looked up but remained silent. Isabella noticed the sadness in the girl’s blue eyes.
“Welcome to our farm. I think you will like it. We have lots of animals, and tonight we’re gonna have a bonfire and roast marshmallows and sing Christmas songs, and…”
“I didn’t want to come,” the girl said angrily. “They made me. I don’t like stinky animals. I don’t like Christmas. And I don’t like you. Now just leave me alone.” Isabella stared in disbelief as the young girl turned and ran towards the house in an effort to get away from Isabella and everyone else. To get away from the world. As far as she was concerned, her world had ended the day her mother had died. Tears burned her eyes and blurred her vision. She arrived at the house and sat down on the porch swing. In the distance she could see Isabella still watching her. For a moment she felt bad for the way she had spoken to her, but quickly shook it off…. she didn’t care. She didn’t want to be here. She looked around at her surroundings and noticed the grove of trees behind the house. She glanced quickly towards the barn, glad to see that Isabella was no longer watching her. She got up and ran into the trees, knowing soon they would notice her missing and come to find her. She hadn’t gone very far when she noticed a tree house built among the trees. She smiled to herself.
“They will never find me here.” She climbed the ladder and slipped inside her newfound hideout. “Perfect.”
Isabela had given up on watching the young girl, and hurried to catch up with her dad and the other children. As she arrived at the barn, she ran right into Dianna Wellington.
“Oh Isabella. Have you seen Sofie?”
“I don’t know who Sofie is, but one girl ran towards the house. Says she doesn’t like Christmas. Or stinky animals. Or me. She…” Dianna sighed.
“That’s Sofie. Where did you say she went?” Isabella pointed towards the house, then noticed that the girl was no longer sitting in the swing.
“She was there a few minutes ago. I don’t know where she went. She looked really sad.”
“We’d better find her. Will you help look for her?” Isabella nodded.
“Ian David will help too. I’ll get him.” As Isabella ran towards the barn to get her brother, Dianna looked nervously around the farm. Where could the girl have gone? It was a large farm and many places a young girl could hide. Sofie was a clever little girl, and could easily hide where she wouldn’t be found. Dianna felt sick at the very thought of the girl somewhere out there alone.
“Oh Sofie. Where are you?” She whispered softly. At that moment, Ian and his children came running from the barn.
“Abbie will stay with the kids. We’ll go look for Sofie. Dianna, you stay by the house in case she comes back. We’ve got lots of hiding places that could entice a child.” Dianna nodded as Ian, Isabella and Ian David separated and went in three different directions.
Isabella had been walking through the woods for about ten minutes when she stopped and looked around. No sign of Sofie anywhere. She continued walking, then stopped again, this time listening carefully when she heard soft cries coming from a short distance away. She glanced around.
“The tree house,” she whispered. “Why didn’t I think of that?” She hurried over and climbed up the ladder. She spotted Sofie huddled in a corner, arms wrapped her knees, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“What are you doing here?” Sofie questioned. “The idea was for me to get away from you. And everyone else. Can’t you people just leave me alone?”
“My dad and brother are looking for you too. Ms. Wellington is worried about you.” Isabella answered as she sat down on the floor beside her. “Why are you crying?” Isabella asked gently.
“Who says I’m crying?” Sofie retorted.
“I know crying when I see it,” Isabella answered. “What’s wrong?” Sofie was silent for a few minutes. Isabella seemed like a nice girl. But could she trust her? Was she someone she could talk to? She really had no one in her life that she felt that she could confide in. Maybe Isabella would be that one person.
“What’s wrong?” Isabella asked again.
“Three years ago right before Christmas, my mom was killed in a car accident. By a drunk driver. Ever since then I’ve hated Christmas. It was Mom’s favorite holiday. But after the accident…” Sofie’s voice drifted off.
“What about your dad?” Sofie shrugged.
“I don’t have one. Well, I do somewhere I guess but I’ve never met him. Mom never talked about him or told me who he was.”
“Wow. I can’t imagine not having dad here.” Isabella said softly. “What was your mom’s name? I bet she was pretty.” Sofie nodded.
“She was. Her name was Kaylie. Kaylie Rose. She was my best friend.”
“So you’ve been at this children’s place ever since?” Sofie nodded.
“Yeah. I’m 12, and most of the kids are younger. Most people don’t want to adopt kids my age.” Isabella was silent for a moment as she thought about what the young girl had said. Sofie seemed like a nice girl and she felt sorry for her. She didn’t know what she would do if she didn’t have her parents or her twin brother. She shuddered at the very thought.
‘Sofie, you should come back to the farm. We’re missing all the fun.” Isabella smiled. “I’ll introduce you to my horse.” Sofie took a deep breath. Isabella was a nice girl and she couldn’t help but like her. “Please Sofie. You’ll have fun. Your mom would want you too.” Sofie knew Isabella was right. Her mom would want her to enjoy this day. She hadn’t thought of that.
“Okay, I’ll go.” Sofie said softly.
“I can’t wait for the bonfire” Isabella said with excitement as she and her new friend left the tree house together.
“This was a wonderful idea, Abbie.” Dianna told her friend later that afternoon. “And such a special treat for these kids. We’ve always given them a Christmas party, complete with Santa Claus. But this is by far the best Christmas ever for them.” Abbie smiled.
“It is good for my kids too. At first, Ian David wanted no part in this. He wanted to spend the day with his friends like he does every Saturday. But look at him. He is having a blast.” Abbie pointed to where her son was tossing a football around with several other boys. Dianne glanced around until she spotted Sofie sitting on the ground chatting with Isabella.
“Looks like Sofie made a friend in your daughter. She usually sits off by herself. “Abbie looked over to where Dianna was looking.
“Izzy was hoping to make a friend here today. She has a few close friends, but is more content riding her horse or curling up with a good book.”
“Most of the kids at the center have their own little groups but Sofie seldom spends time with the other kids. She spends a lot of time alone in her room. She is shy, reserved. In the three years that I have been her case manager, this is the most I have seen her interact with anyone.” Abbie nodded in understanding. She had been that way too after the death of her parents. She had been afraid to get close to anyone for fear that they too would leave her.
“And she has no other family?” Abbie asked after a moment. Dianna shook her head.
“None that we know of. Her mother was estranged from her parents, and there is no info about her father. She says her Mom never talked about her father at all.”
“What will become of her if she doesn’t get adopted?”
“Once she turns 18, she can no longer remain at the center.” Abbie shook her head.
“That’s so sad. I mean, she seems like such a nice little girl. All she needs is someone to love her, take care of her, and show her that it is ok to love again without letting the memory of her mother die. “
“Yes, I agree.” Dianna answered. “But the older children tend to be overlooked. Many people go for the younger ones. They miss out on a lot of wonderful children who just want to be loved and have a family of their own. Like Sofie.”
“What about a foster home? Couldn’t she be placed? At least then she would be with a family.” Dianna sighed.
“Right after the accident she was placed in an emergency placement foster home until a bed became available at the center. But that was just short term. 90 days. Then she moved into the center. She needs a family and a home to call her own. They all do.” Abbie nodded.
“Looks like Ian is getting the bonfire ready.” She said. “The kids have been looking forward to this.” Dianna smiled.
“Not just the kids…I have been also.”
“Let’s go round up the troops” Abbie said with a laugh. Dianna joined in the laughter as the two longtime friends headed across the yard to gather the children for the long-awaited bonfire that would end their fun day at the Marks farm.
Ian poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down across the table from his wife. The morning chores were done, and they knew very shortly that their quiet time alone together would come to an end.
“Well, I would say yesterday was a huge success.” Abbie commented. Ian nodded in agreement.
“Even Ian David seemed to enjoy the day. Not bad for someone who was dead set against participating.”
“And Izzy seemed to really enjoy that girl Sofie. Dianna said that Sofie is usually withdrawn and seldom interacts with the other children, so she was thrilled to see her hanging out with Izzy.” Before Ian could say another word, they heard the thundering footsteps of the twins having their usual morning race down the stairs.
“I won!” Izzy shouted as she took her place at the table. Ian David stuck his tongue out as he took his place beside his sister.
“Perfect timing. Breakfast is ready.” Abbie said as she got up to dish up their plates. Ian took a sip of his coffee.
“So, what did you two get out of the day yesterday? Ian David, you go first.” Ian David was thoughtful for a moment as he thought about the boys he had spent time with the day before.
“I met some real neat guys. Todd, Seth, Trevor and Taige. [THESE NAMES MAY BE CHANGED]. They like sports and video games.” Ian David paused, then continued. “I kinda feel sorry for them though. I mean, they live with all these other kids. They share a room with five other kids. They have no time to hang out with friends. They can’t go anywhere without a staff.” Ian nodded in agreement as his son continued. “And they don’t have parents to tuck them in at night. It’s really sad, Dad. I wish I could play with them again. They were really fun.”
“We’ll see what we can do.” Ian answered, then turned his attention to his young daughter. “How about you, Izzy? What did you get out of the day?”
“It was great Dad,” Isabella said without hesitation. “I met this cool girl named Sofie. She’s twelve. She’s lived at the center for three years. Her mom was killed in a car accident three years ago. She’s never had a dad. Don’t know why.” Abbie opened her mouth to speak but Isabella continued, barely taking a breath. “Her mom was her best friend. And she had the coolest name. Kaylie Rose. Isn’t that the most beautiful name? She said…”
“W…what did you say her name was?” Ian asked, interrupting.
‘Kaylie Rose.” Isabella repeated. Abbie immediately noticed the change in her husband’s demeanor [MIGHT CHANGE THIS WORD].
‘Ian, what in the world is wrong with you? You look liked you’ve seen a ghost”
“Uh…nothing. I’m fine. I…uh…I forgot something in the barn. Excuse me.” Abbie and the twins stared after him as he hurried out the door. Ian David looked at his mother.
“What’s with Dad?”
“I have no idea.” Abbie answered. “But I’m going to find out. You kids stay here. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” With that, she bolted out the door. Isabella looked at her brother and shrugged.
“Parents. Sometimes I just don’t understand them.” Ian David nodded in agreement.
Abbie glanced around the barn and spotted her husband at the end of the long row of stalls, staring out the window. She watched him in silence for a moment, then slowly approached him.
“Hey Cowboy” she said, a definite note of concern in her voice. “What happened in there?” When Ian didn’t answer, Abbie continued. “Honey, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost. Even the kids could tell something was wrong. Please, Ian. What is it?” After another moment of silence, Ian finally turned to face her. Abbie was taken aback by the look on her husband’s face, a look she had never seen before. Tears glistened in his baby blue eyes. Ian reached out and took her hands in his.
“Abbie, what I have to say isn’t easy. I…I don’t know where to start…”
“Ian, you’re scaring me. Please just tell me.” Ian took a deep breath then slowly let it out.
“I know I maybe should have told you this before, but it happened long before we met. I had just bought this farm when I met this girl. We seemed to hit it off and started dating. She…”
“Why are you telling me this now?” Abbie asked, interrupting.
“We…we were together for four years.” Ian took a deep breath, then continued. “Then one day she just left. I didn’t know where she had gone or anything. About a week later, I got a letter from her saying that she wasn’t cut out to be a farmer’s wife, and she was sorry.” Ian paused as the memories came flooding back to him.
“But Ian, I don’t understand why you are bringing this up now. I mean, we’ve been together fourteen years. What happened then has nothing to do with now. Everyone has a past. And that’s where it needs to stay…in the past.”
“Her name was Kaylie Rose.” Ian said slowly. Abbie stared at him for a moment.
“What? Kaylie Rose? Like Sofie’s mother?” Ian nodded.
“Kaylie Rose McKenna.” Abbie sat down on a nearby hay bale. She opened her mouth to speak but words were stuck around the lump in her throat as she read between the lines of what her husband was saying.
“Are…are you saying that Sofie is your daughter?” She finally asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“I’m saying it is a possibility” Ian said quietly. The silence that followed was deafening.
“I need to wrap my head around this.” With that, Abbie fled from the barn, leaving her husband staring after her.
Ian took a deep breath, then opened the door to the bedroom. It had been a couple of hours since he had shared his suspicions with his wife about the possibility that he could be young Sofie’s father. He found Abbie sitting on the window seat. “Um….honey, can we talk?”
“Ian, I’m sorry I ran out the way I did. It’s just that…”
“You don’t need to explain. I understand. It was a bomb I dropped on you. When Izzy talked about Sofie and told her mother’s name…. Kaylie Rose is not a common name. It had been so long ago. A part of my life I had pretty much forgotten about. “
“She was part of your past. I get that.” Abbie stated, “What happened before we met…is in the past. But if you think you are her father, we need to find out for sure. “
“When Kaylie left…I didn’t know she was pregnant. Really, I didn’t. I…” Ian’s voice trailed off.
“I know you didn’t.” Abbie said softly. “Because if you had, you would have done whatever you could to take care of both Kaylie and the baby. You wouldn’t just let her go. I know you.”
“What…. what if we find out I am her father?” Ian asked quietly. Abbie took her husband’s hands in hers. “Then we will bring her home. Where she belongs. “
“You…would raise another woman’s child?” Abbie smiled.
“I would raise your child. Sofie needs her father, she needs a family. For the past three years she has lived in the children’s center because she had no known relatives. But if we find out that you are her father, she needs to be with us. She needs two parents and siblings. She needs our love, Ian.” Ian put his arms around his wife. “Thank you, sweetheart. Thank you for being supportive. I know it can’t be easy knowing that I have another child…”
“It happened years ago, Ian. We all have a past. There’s nothing to be sorry about.”
“You are amazing, Abbie. What do we do now?” Ian questioned.
“Shortly before you came in here, I called Dianna to find out what we need to do. She and Sofie will meet us tomorrow to take a DNA test. Then we will know for sure.” Ian sighed heavily, feeling as though a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
Abbie slowly opened her eyes, trying to determine what had awakened her. She reached over for her husband, but her arm hit his empty pillow, She squinted in the darkness to glance at the clock on the nightstand beside the bed. 3:40am.
“Ian?” When she received no answer, she put her robe on and wandered out into the dark hallway. She glanced around, then noticed the light underneath the door to the computer room. She paused outside the door for a moment before opening it and stepping quietly inside. “Ian? What are you doing up at this hour?” Ian turned his chair to face her.”
“I was just thinking. Sorry if I woke you.” Abbie shook her head.
“You didn’t. I woke up and you weren’t there. A penny for your thoughts?”
“I was just thinking. We should get the test results back this week sometime.” Abbie sat down in the chair across from him.
“How do you feel about this?”
“I don’t know. An email is going to tell me whether or not I have another child. Sofie is twelve years old. She will soon be a teenager. I don’t know anything about raising a teenager. How do I parent a child her age when we are basically strangers to each other? We know nothing about each other.” Abbie reached over and took his hands in her own. “Honey, if Sofie is your child, we will raise her together. We will learn together. We will make mistakes, just like all parents do. But we won’t treat her like a stranger. We won’t treat her any differently than we do the twins…. once the honeymoon period is over, anyway. We will give us all a chance to get to know each other.”
“And what about the twins? This will disrupt their lives also. They are used to it just being them. I don’t know how they will deal with having another kid around. I don’t know how Izzy will like having to share her room, at least until we can figure out a way to give Sofie her own room.”
“She will adjust. She might even like having to share her room. They got along well when all the kids were here. Let’s not create problems until the problem arises. Tomorrow is Christmas. Just think how wonderful it would be for Sofie if we find out you are her biological father and we can bring her home for Christmas. What a wonderful Christmas gift that would be for her. And for us.” Ian smiled. He couldn’t help but admire his wife’s support and enthusiasm.
“Thank you, Abbie, for being so supportive. I know this won’t be easy for you. I mean...”
“I know what you mean,” Abbie said softly, interrupting. “But Sweetheart, you are my husband and I love you. And if the test shows that you are her father, then her place is here with us. Even if I am not her biological mother, that doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t love her. The important thing is that she is with you, her father. She spent three years with no parents or family. If she is your child, we need to bring her home.” Tears glistened in his eyes as he put his arms around her. He tried to speak but couldn’t around the lump in his throat. But he knew words weren’t necessary. His wife knew what he was trying to say.
Later that afternoon found Abbie sitting at the kitchen table, a cup of coffee in her hand. Her mind was a flurry of thoughts about the possibility of bringing another child into their home. Part of her was excited at the thought of having another daughter, but another part of her was wasn’t quite so sure. It would definitely mean some major changes in their lives. She slowly took a sip of her coffee. Her thoughts were interrupted by the slamming of the front door, and seconds later Isabella ran into the kitchen. “Mom, do you think Sofie really is my sister?” Abbie slowly shrugged her shoulders.
“I don’t know, Honey. It is a strong possibility. How would you feel if it turns out she is your sister? It would mean making a lot of changes.” Izzy was quiet for a moment as she thought about her Mom’s question. “Well, I really had fun with her when she was here. I felt sorry for her too. I mean, she lives with all those kids, she has no family or anything. I can’t even imagine living without you, Dad and Ian David. Or living any place besides this farm. Or having my own horse.”
“It would mean sharing your room. At least till we could figure out something else.” Izzy shrugged.
“That’s okay. I’ve always wanted a sister,”
“Well, I didn’t.” Izzy and Abbie glanced towards the door as Ian David entered the room, slamming the door behind him. “One sister is enough.” He added. “Does she have to come and live with us?”
“Yes, we’ve talked about this, Ian David. If we find out that she is your father’s daughter, she will come to live with us. How would you like to live in a place with no parents or family, and then find out you have a father, but you still have to live in the children’s center?”
“How about you, Mom? How do you feel about it?” Izzy questioned. Abbie smiled.
“I think this will be a big change for all of us. But we need to be supportive of your dad. It will be a huge adjustment. We will all need to work as a team to make Sofie feel welcome and make her feel like she is part of the family. We will need to give her time to adjust to us too.” Unknown to any of them, Ian was standing in the kitchen doorway, a piece of paper in his hand.
“The results are in,” he said softly, barely above a whisper. His family turned to face him, waiting for him to continue. Silently he took his place at the table. He glanced at Abbie, then at his children.
“Read it, Dad.” Isabella said eagerly. “Is Sofie our sister?” Ian took a deep breath, then read the words that would change their lives forever.
“Dear Mr. Marks: In the case of twelve-year-old Sofie Melissa McKenna, the probability of you being her biological father is 99.99%.” Silence followed as each member of the family let the news sink in. “I’ll call Dianna,” Abbie said, finally breaking the silence. She excused herself as she left the room to make the call. She returned a few minutes later. “I told Dianna we would pick Sofie up this afternoon. She will meet us there.”
“Doesn’t give us much time to get ready for her,” Ian stated.
“Maybe not, but she needs to be home for Christmas.” Ian David scowled.
“I had a lot of things on my Christmas list, but I don’t remember a sister being one of them.”
“Well, I think having an older sister will be awesome,” his twin retorted. Ian looked sternly at his son. “I expect you to behave and welcome her into our home. After all, this will be her home too from now on.”
“Yes, Sir.” Ian David answered, then excused himself and stomped up the stairs to his room. Izzy couldn’t hide her excitement. “Can we go get her now? Do we get to tell her that she is my sister? Do you think she will like it here? I can teach her to ride my horse.” Abbie laughed.
“Slow down, young lady. We will go shortly. I’m sure she will like having you for a sister.” Izzy jumped up from the table. “I’m going to tell Schatze all about my sister,” she said, referring to her horse. Without another word, she ran outside. Abbie looked at her husband, who was still staring down at the paper he held in his hand. She walked around the table and put her arms around him.
“Let’s get ready to bring our daughter home.”
“Thank you, sweetheart, for accepting my daughter.” Abbie smiled.
“From this moment on, she is OUR daughter.” With that, Ian and Abbie walked hand in hand upstairs to begin preparations to welcome their new daughter into their family.
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