A knife sat on the edge of the table. It seemed unusual. Mama was always so careful. A simple butcher knife with a carved wooden ash handle, but if one of the boys had gotten a whole of it, it could have proven disastrous. I learned later it was papa’s negligence. He had set the whetstone to the blade and sat it on the table for mama to store away. With her head in consternation, she had forgotten the knife, and my snatching it simply saved one possible disaster.
The path veered snakelike, leading to the post office. I pressed the clasp, unlatched the door, and the bell jingled when the top of the door whupped it. Placing three coins in front of the wicket, I said to the postman, “I would like to buy a stamp, sir.” He secured and dropped the coins in the coin box, and I licked the glue on the stamp and pasted it on the front right-hand corner of the envelope. Then I deposited it into the slotted metal mailbox.
Walking home, I resisted the bitter cold with the wool scarf mama knitted for me, but the wind assaulted me with such vigor, I nearly froze in my tracks. I walked backward and forward at times just so I could keep to the path. When I arrived home, I curled in a blanket in front of the stone-hearth, toes, fingers and nose tingling and burning. While thawing, I studied the variety of colours in the flames and spent time reflecting on the events of the past week.
The turkey papa selected, roasted to a crispy brown, the odour embracing every nook. Mama’s plum pudding aroused my taste-buds with a sweetness which made me drool at the thought. Nevertheless, the best time was Christmas Eve at the Thackeray’s and meeting Sarah. Mr. Thackeray’s reputation as bank manager was widely acknowledged and now his son, Charles Thackeray 11, continued in his father’s footsteps. Therefore, Mama need not worry about my going to the Thackeray mansion–the name being rock-solid. Mama permitted me to spend time at Sarah’s once the Christmas festivities ended. Every day from Boxing Day until New Year’s Day, Sarah and I skated on the pond. With Sarah’s help, I learned to glide across the slick surface. The fine art of stopping and twirling I hadn’t yet managed and to stop, I would topple into a snow-bank. Once Christmas holidays concluded, homework and chores absorbed much of our time; hence, we allotted one hour skating time each day together. Friday evenings, Mama agreed with our arrangement to extend our time together, but Sarah would have to walk me half-way home.
One Friday evening, following an exhilarating skate, Sarah and I sat down on the bench to catch our breath. We no sooner sat down when Sarah whispered with her hand pressed against my ear, “Hush, Lucy. I have a secret I must share. Can you keep secrets?” Her emerald eyes glinted in the semi-darkness, and she seemed distraught. when she spoke.
“You can trust me, Sarah. I wouldn’t tell a soul,” The thought of keeping secrets intrigued me … but at that very moment, sparkling shiny icicles hanging from the rooftop caught my attention. My throat, dry and parched, yearned for something to drink. A full moon bounced bright reflections off the snow, the temperature at freezing point with a light breeze. Dogs barked in the distance, the air refreshing and invigorating and I not wanting the evening to end. Tramping through the snow and snapping off some icicles, I returned to the bench and handed one to Sarah.