It was early morning in a capital in remote Scandinavia, it was the 1st of December and life wasn’t only unfair. It was also very, very challenging.
In the newspaper anthropologists had claimed they could tell loser moms from winner moms just by looking at the advent calendars they made for their offspring.
To Mrs A this was disturbing news.
After endless counting, recounting and a thorough, yet absolutely delirious search of the car, she had to accept her defeat: Although she had two kids, she only had 47 little gifts. It was inconceivable, it was unheard of. That was until today.
The kids would be up any minute, and they would know!
And their friends would know – and a lot worse – their moms too; all these betrayers of good taste that had ever so unsmugly posted their calendar pictures for days on social media, showing off their darned happiness and their creative abilities of all sorts.
Come on! What adult and reasonable person would seriously sit down and make a fair-trade-organic-locally-sourced pumpernickel calendar and even be proud of it?
Hers were just plain. There was no particular theme, concept or higher goal to them. They weren’t low-carb, weren’t striving for world peace, weren’t even focusing on great moments in the life of Henrik Ibsen or evoking the history of classical music. They were just plain calendars with plain gifts like a chocolate, a new eraser and such. But that was peanuts. What counted right now, was that hers weren’t even complete.
She was the mommy that didn’t even know how to count her coloured pencils, lollipops and football cards and now it was too late! It was Sunday morning and even if the shops had been open she wouldn’t have had the time to go buy the last gift.
-Please, she said to God in a tremulous whisper. -Help me find the missing gift! I know it’s here! It must be here!
She shut the car boot and listened, but there was no answer – nothing to be heard except the occasional vehicle passing on the Main Street and the frantic pounding of her heart.
Was that the small of her back swaying? She closed her eyes and felt a burning sensation coming from behind. Clearly, someone was spying on the loser mom in her despair.
She didn’t want to find out. Didn’t want to turn around to see what she knew far too well. Didn’t feel like taking the realities in and wasn’t anyway capable of keeping appearances up.
And yet, like so many times before, she reluctantly turned around only then to open her eyes and gaze at the sights.
Up there, on a little hill facing her own modest house, with splendid views of the whole city, was the residence of the magnificent Nemesis family.
A big villa, yes, it was. But not too big. Nothing vulgar, just big in a nice way. Modern too, fresh-looking and likeable with innovative architectural details, the whole of it retaining a somewhat slight conservative look in all its enviable modernity. The garden was sizeable, with neat little semi-formal beds bursting with annual flowers and organic vegetables in summer and sporting tidy little conifers cheering up the neighbourhood in winter. It was a world of timeless elegance and effortless chic. A nice, decent world in perfect equilibrium, frictionless and sane.
Admittedly, it didn’t seem as if anyone was spying on her. No eyes to be seen, no moving shadows among the heavy designer curtains up there. She wasn’t sure if she felt good or bad about that, after all. Somewhere deep down she knew that Mrs Nemesis wouldn’t care to use any of her precious time on the local loser mom and somewhere even deeper she vaguely guessed she would have liked her to.
Right now, the Nemesis kids must be opening the first calendar gifts of the season. No gifts would be missing, and if Mrs Nemesis had forgotten anything initially, she would have remembered a couple of days ago as her calendars must have been all set and shipshape for some time.
Right now, as other not so fortunate and less privileged moms were having a major crisis in dark, frozen corners of the very same neighbourhood, the little Nemesis’ critters must be playing on a luxurious rug in their warm living room, and as he entered the kitchen Mr Nemesis would discreetly caress Mrs Nemesis’ good-looking posterior and they would exchange secret and knowing smiles. The irresistible fragrance of piping hot coffee was unquestionably lingering in the air and Mrs A didn’t want to think about it.
She turned her back to the winner of all winner moms and dragged herself back to her own home facing her own life, nailed by ruthless anthropologists as a despicable failure, a farce on two legs, a mother more than worthy of a lifetime honorary membership in the Worldwide Wannabe Club.
Energyless she sank down on a kitchen chair. From upstairs sounds emerged. It was the kids getting up, impatient to see their wonderful calendars.
-Dear God, she begged. -Maybe this is asking too much. I just can’t do this myself! But honestly, considering your long and varied Curriculum Vitae it shouldn’t be more than the humblest little slice of cake to you!
She bent forward and hid her face in her hands.
-I mean, you created the world in seven days! You separated light from the dark, you had dry land rise from the waters and let plants flourish and all sorts of animals proliferate.
Her underlip was trembling, she couldn’t help it.
-And you went into details and made seemingly useless small scale wonders like the tail of the peacock, and you had apples come in a multitude of coulour shades. Those were quite small wonders to you, but small wonders can still…
She broke down in sobs and her voice traveled from the gloomiest bottom of its range to its highest pitch as she continued:
-Small wonders can still be significant to those concerned! Significant!
In a whisper-thin voice she presented her wish to the Allmighty:
-Please don’t let my kids notice the missing gift! Make them concentrate on something else! I know you can do it! Please!
But God didn’t answer this time and she didn’t become any wiser. From the window she couldn’t miss seeing Mrs Nemesis get her cute children out in the snow dressed in heavy survival gear and little red Christmassy hats.
Smoke rose from Mrs Nemesis’ chimney. Of course – they must have lit a fire and sung a Christmas Carol or two before making their breakfast omelettes.
Her jaw muscles tightened. Her tears dried up.
-I will out-Christmas you, she muttered between her teeth.
Little steps on the stairs. Her heart was beating wildly.
To be continued tomorrow..
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