The Inklings: Chapter 40

To read the story from the beginning go here.

Emily picked John up on Christmas morning and John was very grateful. John knew his place was out of Emily’s way, plus he had so many presents to carry that he didn’t know how he would have managed if he’d had to take the bus, and John was feeling so scared about seeing all his relatives again that he didn’t want to arrive alone.

John had presents for Emily’s kids on hand when he squeezed into the back of the car to sit between their special booster seats. He’d bought a recorder for the eldest and a drum for the youngest and soon wished they hadn’t opened them in the car. Emily took many deep breaths but managed to stay calm. Her husband Greg wasn’t as strong and after 5 minutes of tooting and banging he fiercely told his kids to stop unless they wanted to get out and walk.

John couldn’t help feeling pleased with himself when he arrived at the Christmas party not only with presents for all but able to recognize everyone, even children he’d never met. This was thanks to Emily having used her photo album to show him what everyone looked like.

But then John’s brother Tim arrived. That was a surprise for everyone because Tim had been living overseas and hadn’t told anyone he’d be back for Christmas.

As John watched his relatives give his brother Tim a warm welcome he couldn’t help feeling jealous. Tim had brought everyone electronic gadgets as gifts that were made in his factory – the factory he had started in order to make the electronics he invented.

“That could have been me if I hadn’t stuffed up” thought John because he knew he’d once been just as smart as Tim.

Tim looked so happy, healthy and young for his age, while John had aged prematurely. One Aunt unkindly remarked that anyone would think that John was Tim’s father.

John was very glad that Fanta hadn’t been able to come with him. He imagined that Fanta would prefer Tim to him. All Emily had said about Tim was that he was a workaholic and single. “At least Tim doesn’t have any kids” thought John. “That would make me really jealous”.

Eventually Tim noticed John and came over.

“Hey!” exclaimed Tim when he realized who John was. Tim gave John a hug and John wondered what his parents had told Tim about him. Did Tim know he’d turned over a new leaf?

Perhaps John was just imagining it, but he felt that Tim was treating him with pity and John resented that. They’d once been equals, and good friends.

“It’s so good to see you!” said Tim. “I didn’t expect it. You look really well. How have you been?”

John didn’t open up and talk to Tim the way he would have liked to. He just gave brief answers to Tim’s questions and didn’t ask any in return. It wasn’t long before the very popular Tim was dragged off by one of their uncles to talk about the latest technologies. John sat down on the stone fence of the backyard and watched his relatives enjoying their Christmas like he wasn’t one of them.

“As if I could just buy my way back into the family with clever Christmas presents” thought John and he wished Tim had invented a remote control that would let John fast-forward the rest of the day.

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