Friday, December 21, 2007

Mossy's Backpacers #18

Max watched the rain lash against the window as he finished wrapping the red garland around the curtain rod. He had not seen a storm like this since he had left Vancouver.

With two days to go until Christmas the hostel was buzzing with last minute preparations. Kisho and Haya were busy decorating the bottom of the tree while Tim used his height advantage to trim its upper reaches. Diego and Nigel were in the kitchen baking various goodies, their faces already half covered with flour.

Another bolt of lightening briefly illuminated the night sky with the inevitable deep rumble of thunder following shortly after. It had been carrying on this way since noon.

“Oh! The weather outside is frightful!” Tobias announced as he came in the door with three grocery bags worth of eggnog. He looked like he had just taken a shower fully clothed.

“Tis the season to be jolly,” Max told him as he helped to place the cartons on the dinner table. Tobias gave him a decidedly unjolly look before going off in search of a towel and dry clothes.

Max smiled and returned to his position by the window to watch the storm once more. He had always enjoyed Mother Nature’s spectacles and it had been much too long since his last viewing.

“And so it continued both day and night,” Cate sighed as she appeared at his side.

“Over the hills and everywhere!” he replied happily. She frowned at him before turning away from the window to survey her handiwork. She was obviously pleased with what she saw.

“All is calm, all is bright,” she smiled as her eyes moved from candle to candle. Cate had spent the last hour covering every available flat surface in the common rooms with lit candles of all shapes and sizes.

Mossy had arrived not long before Tobias and had eyed them nervously before going to the office without a word. Cate had decided this indicated encouragement but Max had managed to talk her out of lighting even more.

Max glanced to his left to see the Christmas tree leap into life as Kisho plugged in the lights for the first time.

“A beautiful sight,” Tim declared as he stepped back from placing the final ornament on their hard earned tree.

“Of all the trees, most lovely,” Cate agreed softly. Max was not completely sure she would feel the same way if she knew the nature of its procurement but he kept that to himself.

He stood watching the twinkling lights for a few moments before joining the now relatively dry Tobias at the dinner table. Together they arranged enough mugs to serve the whole hostel across the table top.

“All I want for Christmas,” Diego declared with a laugh as he brought over two bottles of rum from the kitchen. Max took one of the flour dusted bottles and began adding a few splashes to each mug. Tobias followed close behind with the eggnog, giggling every time he overfilled one. Which was pretty much each mug.

“We’re happy tonight,” Nigel observed as he arrived with the cinnamon and nutmeg.

“Heedless of the wind and weather,” Cate grumbled in reply. But she brightened considerably after taking a sip from the mug a laughing Max had passed her.

Kisho and Haya soon joined them for a drink, then Tim and Mossy, and before long the whole hostel was crowded around the table. The Spanish sisters Sara and Magdalena, who had returned to the hostel only a few days prior, were the last to arrive. It was then that Max and Tobias realized they had fallen two short in their estimate of the number of mugs required for everyone to have a drink.

“We won’t leave until we get some,” they declared in unison, sending the boys scrambling to find two more mugs. They did so in short order and it was not long before the sisters were mollified.

Never one for crowds, even when he knew everyone there, Max soon drifted away towards the TV lounge to find a bit of personal space. But not too much, as Cate drifted after him and they stood in the doorway together watching the crowd at the table.

After a few minutes of comfortable silence, Cate turned toward him to say something but stopped short with a small laugh. Max glanced down at her to see that she was looking above him, so he followed her gaze to find a mistletoe. Directly above his head. He swallowed hard.

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night…

Max routed around for a moment until he found a nicely wrapped, large box. Then he opened it up, stuffed the voice inside it, closed it again and tied it up with several beautiful ribbons and bows.

He looked back down to see Cate smiling back at him, a bit shyly, but with a spark in her eye. She took a small step to close the distance between them.

Max glanced nervously at the dinner table to see if anyone was watching, but they were still busy chatting amongst themselves. Cate reached up and placed a finger on his cheek and brought his face gently back to hers.

As he looked at her the noise of the hostel faded away to nothing. Suddenly all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. It was just the two of them, inches apart, growing slowly closer…

Suddenly the front door was thrown open with a bang and all the noise and people came rushing back to his senses. When he turned to see who had caused the very, very unwelcome intrusion, Max almost dropped his mug.

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” Greg bellowed from the doorway, with Cindy grinning from ear to ear by his side.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another interruption with Max and Cate! Pretty interesting.