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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Twelve Days of Christmas - Day One!

Hey, everybody!

First off, I just want to let y'all know I've been toying with my blogger template, *trying* to make it Christmasy, so if it looks a little funky, I'm sorry. XD I'm trying to figure it all out.

I am super excited to announce that…

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS BLOGGING THINGY HAS BEGUN!!!!!

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Guys. Christmas is in twelve days. What? I feel like just yesterday we were counting down to 2016, and now the countdown to 2017 is nearing. It's crazy. Time passes faster than you think!

Anyway, back on subject, Faith P. has been kind enough to (once again) host the Twelve Days of Christmas blogging thingy! (I have no idea what to call it, I guess a party would work, because it kinda is!) XD

Check out her blog for more info and links to other bloggers’ posts during the next twelve days. I'm so excited for this!

I don't have posts planned for every single day, but at the very least, every other day. :) And I'm going to start off with part one of my Christmas story this year, Home for Christmas. (Such an original name, right?)


Ahem. Without further ado, I present to you…


Home for Christmas - Part One:

I'm dreaming tonight of a place I love
Even more than I usually do
And although I know it's a long road back
I promise you…

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents by the tree...

***

“Look lively, Taylor!”
Thirty-two year old Brad Taylor jerked to attention. The U.S. Army patrol leader was watching him, a frown lingering on his elliptical-shaped face even as he turned to continue march in front of their unit. 
Brad followed the others, allowing his mind to return to where it had been just moments before. A small smile twitched on his face at the thought of his beautiful wife, Alycia, and his two young daughters. The smile grew as he thought about how he'd be seeing them soon. 
December had already arrived, and Christmas was drawing near. Brad was beyond excited that he'd get to spend the holiday this year with his friends and family. The last year he'd been out on deployment during the special occasion. 
But not this year, he reminded himself joyfully. 
He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn't realize the group had paused in their march, and he nearly stumbled into the soldier in front of him, earning another glare from the unit leader. 
“Sorry,” he apologized. 
The soldier, a young man by the name of Jim Lorance, shrugged and offered a smile, but didn't respond. 
Jimmy was still slightly new to their unit, and a bit unusual–or at least, that's what most of the others said of him. 
Brad didn’t agree. Jimmy was just a kid, barely in his twenties, with a quiet, reserved personality. He wasn't one to speak unless directly spoken to, and even then, he only responded with a one or two word answer. The band encircling the fourth finger on his left hand told Brad about the only thing he knew about his comrade, and even that was more than he had told Brad with his mouth. The only other fact about this young soldier he knew was the coincidence that he, too, lived in Washington State. 
Brad shrugged off any more thoughts about Jimmy and let himself wander back in his mind to his family. He was thankful he had been able to receive a ticket on the earliest flight available for his departure date. 
“Taylor!”
Brad reluctantly pulled his thoughts from his family and focused on putting one foot in front of the other.
Christmas this year is going to be wonderful, he promised himself. 

***

The girls and I can’t wait to see you! The days seem to stretch into years when you’re not home.
All my love,
Lyss


Brad sighed contentedly as he skimmed the letter for the hundredth time that night. He knew he should be sleeping, but he couldn’t seem to drift off. 
The mail had arrived when the unit had returned earlier that evening, and the eyes of every one of the weary soldiers had lit up at the sight of all the packages and letters.
Carefully folding the papers, Brad slid them back into the thick envelope and, clicking off his travel-sized flashlight, slipped it underneath his pillow along with the family’s letter.
Tomorrow! his mind called out to him. By this time tomorrow, he’d be on his way back to his Washington State hometown. 
He allowed another cheery sigh to blow past his lips, and he pulled his blanket up to his chin.
His eyes barely closed when a strange sound from nearby reached his sharp ears.
Brad sat up in a quick, fluid motion and squinted through the darkness, glancing around curiously.
Surely the noise wasn’t what he thought it was. Was somebody else in the barracks actually crying?
Brad swung his legs over the side of his bed and listened attentively. The soft cries were coming from the bunk at the very end of the room; the bunk next to his.
“Jimmy?”
The blond soldier startled at Brad’s whisper and the sudden soft light from the tiny flashlight.
Brad frowned at the tears coursing down his fellow soldier’s face. “What’s wrong?” he questioned.
Jimmy shook his head and swiped a quick hand across his tanned cheeks.
“C’mon, Jim, tell me what’s up,” Brad coaxed.
“It’s nothin’.” Jimmy turned his face away.
“It’s obviously somethin’ if you’re crying over it,” Brad pointed out, surveying Jimmy’s face.
The younger man clamped his mouth shut, and Brad raked a hand through his short, nearly black hair. His eyes caught on the wrinkled paper and envelope Jimmy clutched in one of his hands. He motioned toward it. “Bad news?”
Another tear ran down Jim’s cheek. “From my wife,” he admitted.
“What happened?” Concern was etched into the older man’s calm tone.
Jim hesitated.
“I’m your friend, Jim,” Brad said. “You can tell me.”
“It’s...it’s my daughter,” he finally choked out.
Brad’s brown eyes widened in surprise. “You have a daughter?”
Jim nodded. “A beautiful little girl,” he replied, the tiniest hint of a smile passing over his face. “Chloe.”
He turned sober again. “She’s three, and she’s had cancer since she was one. The doctors were shocked that she’s lasted this long, but–” he choked back a sob, and had to pause for a moment to regain his composure. “We’ve been hoping things would get better, but it's been going downhill the past few months especially. Then, just this week she seemed to be doin’ better, and all of a sudden…” He swallowed. “They’re not expectin’ her to make it to Christmas, and likely even before that.”
Brad felt frozen as the information hit his ears and tried to settle into his mind. He hadn’t even known Jim had a child, much less a three year old girl who was dying of cancer.
Maybe that had to do with his quiet, reserved attitude and lack of interest in the others’ conversations.
“Your wife–she told you all that in the letter?”
Jim shook his head. “Just that things had been…” He searched for the right word. “Hard. Then we talked tonight, and that’s when she broke the news–”
He broke down into silent sobs again, and Brad felt his heart aching for his comrade. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be overseas with either one of his daughters in the hospital.
“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” he asked. “You could’ve gotten emergency leave.”
“They didn’t realize just how bad she was doing until yesterday. Things the past week had been looking better, and then tonight everything just plummeted.”
“But you’re flying home tomorrow, aren’t you?” Brad asked. “You live in Washington, too, don’t you?”
He nodded tearfully. “I wasn’t able to reserve a ticket soon enough. They’re all booked up. I have to wait another day for my flight. And they don’t know how long it will be before–”
Brad sucked in a quick breath. His ticket was for tomorrow afternoon’s flight. Alycia and his daughters were expecting him.
He caught himself mid-thought. How could he be so selfish in wanting to be with his family celebrating the holidays a day sooner when the man sitting in front of him might never see his three year old again?
He felt a pull in his heart, and he knew what God was telling him to do. 
“Jim,” he said suddenly.
The soldier glanced up at him, tears still welling up in his blue eyes.
“I’m going to the airport tomorrow, and I’m getting them to transfer my ticket over to you,” he said, his voice full of determination. “I don't care what we have to do to convince them.”
Jimmy’s eyes lit up hopefully, but he immediately shook his head. “I can’t. You want to be home with your family.”
“Jim, this is important and you know it,” Brad told him firmly. “I won’t take no for answer. You go home. Be with your wife and Chloe.”
Jim’s eyes portrayed a gratitude words couldn’t. “Thank you,” he whispered, so heartfelt that Brad felt tears welling up behind his own eyes.
“I'd like to know when you get back,” Brad said as an afterthought. He searched for a stray piece of paper and something with which to write. “Here's my number,” he said, scribbling in the dark. He held the loose paper out to Jim. “Call me when you're home and get a chance.” He offered a small smile. 
Jim nodded slowly, accepting the paper. “I will,” he whispered. “Thank you again.”
“Get some sleep.” Brad reached over and patted Jim on the arm. “You’ll be on your way to Washington tomorrow morning, bright and early.”

***

Hope you all enjoyed the first part of my story on this first day of the Twelve Days of Christmas!! See you all tomorrow! :D

~Livi Jane (Ollie)




14 comments:

  1. LIVI! You added the lyrics to "I'll be Home for Christmas" to this!!!! *cries*
    I loved the first part of the story! Brad is so sweet . . .!!

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    1. Haha, yeah, I did XD
      Thank you!! (And sorry I'm just getting around to replying!)

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    1. I'm guessing that's a compliment, so I'll go ahead and say thanks! :P Hope that amidst the tears you're enjoying it! ;)

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  3. NOOOOOOO!!!!!! *wails* poor Jimmy!!
    Can't wait to read the next part!!! :)

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Kaitlyn! I know, my poor characters. *sniffs*

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  4. I loved the start of this story! When are you posting the next part?!?

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    1. Hey Rebekah! Thank you!! Sorry I'm just getting back to all of the comments; part two is now up! I'm planning to post a part about every other day during the 12DoC. :)

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  5. Aw, way to bring out the feels ... Looking forward to the rest! :)

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    1. Thank you, Victoria! Hope you enjoy reading the rest of the story! :D

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  6. THIS STORY. Oh my goodness, Livi, your writing is AMAZING!!! :D I can't wait to read more of what's already shaping up to a lovely story :)
    Thanks for participating in the linkup! (And I love your Christmas background!! <3)

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    1. Aw, thank you so much, Faith!!
      And my pleasure! Thanks for hosting it; I'm having a ton of fun!
      (And thanks, I like it a lot, too!) ;)

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