The Year I Voted for an R for President
Portable Magic

Uncle Daddy Vester

An excerpt from 2015 NaNoWriMo, posted for someone I thought might like to read it. 1286 words. Paris is six, Charlotte is ten, Ava is eight and a half. Ricky is the dog. Shannon is their mother. Sylvester is their uncle. Their father, his triplet twin, died a few months ago, and he's moved back home to Central Kentucky to help out for awhile.

 

After supper was cleared, Ava and Charlotte dumped the bags of craft supplies onto the dining table. Shannon started to protest the chaos, but they began swiftly organizing the various items she bought, lining it all up neatly and ready to use. “This is how we will begin,” explained Charlotte.

Sylvester said, “Well…I thought of an idea, if you don’t mind my interfering. But it’d require giving up your kitchen table for awhile.”

“Ooh, what is it, Uncle Vester? Are we going to make the table a craft, too?” Paris asked eagerly.

“Oh, not exactly. Only I was thinking about what you said about wishing for snow for Christmas. How about we move the table into the living room, maybe against a wall, and turn it into a winter wonderland? Besides making ornaments for the tree, I mean, of course. It would be blanketed with fluffy snow, and could have little trees and a whole scene spread out over it.”

“Yay! Snow inside! Oh, can we, Mommy? I really want to! I can help move the table and make snow.” Paris started bouncing around, chanting, “snow inside, snow inside, snow on a table snow inside.”

Shannon grinned and nodded, and Sylvester said, “How about you and I work on the snow table, while your mom and sisters make the tree ornaments?”

Ava said, “Good, because hers will be all crooked anyway, and have weird colors on them.”

“Ava!”

“Yes, Mama. I mean, sorry. But I think it’s a good idea, and this way, everyone can be happy doing the parts they want to do.”

The table had leaves that folded down on each side. Sylvester and Shannon lowered one leaf to move it from the kitchen to the living room, while Paris held onto the opened side. They moved the couch in at angle, and set the table behind it. Then Paris carefully draped a dark green tablecloth over it, a rarely used wedding gift from one of Shannon’s aunts. She and Sylvester pulled fiberfill apart and piled it onto the table for snow. Then they set to work making trees. These were pieces of artificial pine branch garland pushed into wine corks Shannon had saved over the past couple of years. Sylvester showed Paris how to shake a little glitter over them without getting too much on herself, or the floor, or Ricky, who was watching as he rested near the fireplace hearth. They did this by dipping a small paintbrush into the glitter container, then carefully tapping the end of the brush to allow some of the glitter to fall just where they wanted it to be. Ricky was not wearing all that much glitter when they finished. And the glitter on the fiberfill made it look as though moonlight was reflected on the surface.

Sylvester said, “When there’s a fire burning, it will look even more pretty.”

“Let’s light one now!” Paris said excitedly.

“Well, you know, we’ve had a very warm day. I think we’d get hot in here if we lit a fire now. So would Ricky.”

Paris looked at Ricky and considered things. “Yes, you’re right. Ricky would not like the fire tonight. We can wait. Let’s do the animals next!”

Sylvester said, “Animals?”

“Sure, it can’t be a snowy forest without animals in it. I’ll go get some!” She hopped up and then looked back and said, “I’ll be right back.”

She returned lugging a large plastic bin. “They’re all in here. I thought you could pick some out that you like.”

“Wow! Some of these are ours; mine and Nicky and Jasper’s!” Sylvester couldn’t believe what he was looking at.

“Yes,” Paris said. “Grandma gave them to me last year for Christmas. And we put other things in, too.”

Inside the bin were little plastic farm animals and wild animals, but also Stormtroopers, tiny girl dolls which looked like puppets (those are Mama’s, Paris told him. They are all called Polly,) cats and dogs with oddly human faces, and a collection of fruits and vegetables with faces on them.

“Lots of these things would be silly in our forest. But we can put in some of them, right?” Paris looked a little worried.

Sylvester said easily, “It’s our forest, so we can put in whatever we like. It can be an animal refuge forest.” So they added chickens, cows, goats, a camel, rabbits, a bear, and a fox. The elephant seemed too big, so it stayed in the bin with the other wild animals.

“They won’t eat each other, because it’s magical, and they all get along. Here is Princess Tianna, who will watch over them and make sure they’re okay. And then Santa Claus can come.

“Do you think,” she added, “Tiny Santa Claus would like if we decorated one of these trees? We can put little presents under it, and a star on top.”

(She tells Sylvester she’s glad it’s just the two of them. She always feels like her sisters watch everything she does, which sometimes makes it harder to do. Then talks with him about Daddy and whether he has a Christmas wherever he is.)

“I don’t know, sweetheart. None of us gets to know such things. People say that the best way to keep someone alive when you love them is not to worry about where they are, but keep the best memories of them with you. You can look at pictures and remember him and the things you did together. They’re all still real, and we’re all here to help you share them.”

Paris snuggled into Sylvester’s lap and said, “Sometimes I get confused. Because you’re my uncle and you look like my daddy. Only you grew this beard. Daddy never had a beard.” She stroked his face and tipped her head in thought. “If you were my daddy, would you still be my uncle, too?”

Sylvester did not know how to answer such an odd question. After a moment’s hesitation he asked, “Do you miss having a daddy? Does it still hurt?”

Paris nodded. “You look like Daddy, but you act like Uncle Vester. Maybe if you were my daddy, you’d be just like him, and it would be like having him back.”

They sat together for a few minutes. Then Sylvester said, “I never was much like Daddy, you know. I was always quiet and he was always laughing. Sometimes yelling.”

“Daddy yelled at you? I don’t think that’s nice. He never yelled at me or Ava or Charlotte. I don’t think he yelled at Mommy.”

“Brothers are different with each other, you know. So are sisters, sometimes. But we were good friends. Anyway, the thing is, if I was a daddy and not an uncle, I’d still just be me, like I am right now. Do you understand?”

Paris said, “I guess I do. But…” her voice dropped to a near-whisper, “do you think maybe you could be my uncle daddy? Like how you’re my uncle, but I could be sort of like your little girl, too?”

“Oh, Paris, I would be honored.” Sylvester whispered, too. “Is it a secret?”

“No, I just don’t want Ava to laugh at me.”

Sylvester said, “Maybe someday she’ll want to be my little girl, too. Do you figure that would be all right?”

Paris pondered this for a moment. “I guess so. We all still wish we had our regular daddy.”

“Okay. Let’s go see how they’re doing with their ornaments.”

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