The doorbell rang. The family was decorating the tree. They looked at each other.

-Bella, can you open the door, please?

Said the mother of the family.

Bella, the seventeen-year-old daughter, opened the entrance door. A lady with pure white hair was standing there, her back to the door.


Said Bella.

The old woman turned around.

-Oh hi. Is this… Jean's family’s house?

-It is.

Replied Bella and looked at the woman hesitantly.

-Oh, my name is Emma.

She reached her hand toward Bella Jean.

They shook hands.

-Who was at the door, Bella?

Called father from the living room.

-Uhm…A lady called Emma.

The lady with a green knit jacket was still standing there, smiling.

Mr. Jean came to the door. Followed by Betty, the younger daughter.


Said father, pushing Bella to the side.

-Hi. This is Emma.

She reached her hand one more time.

-I’m your cousin.

Father looked puzzled.

-My cousin?

-I’m Antony’s daughter, your great uncle.

-I know Antony. I haven’t met him though.

-He passed away three months ago.

-Oh yeah, I heard that.

Emma was still standing outside, a big bag next to her. Mr. Jean stared at the bag, then to Emma.

-How can I help you, Emma?

-Oh, I’m a family of yours. I came to spend the holiday with you guys.

Bella’s eyes got wide open.

-Stay with us for the holiday?

Father punched her arm to make her quiet.

-Come on in Emma.

She stepped inside, carrying her bag with her. Mom was already standing in the hall, looking at the scene.

-Honey, this is Emma. Antony’s daughter.

Father introduced her to mother.

Mother was looking confused.

-Hello. Welcome. Peter? Can I have a word?

The left the room. Emma went to sit on the sofa.

-Kids. Come and get your gifts.

Betty was running to the lady when Bella keep her sister’s arm.

-Thank you but we must wait for our parents first.

Emma, on the other hand, didn’t look upset by this answer. She bent over and took out two wrapped gifts and placed them under the halfway ready tree.

Parents entered the living room.

-Uhm… Emma, am I right? Well, you’re welcome at our house, but you can’t stay here.

Said mom, while playing with her fingers.

Emma looked at them and put two other gifts under the tree.

-But I don’t have any other relatives here. I came from the north. It’s a long way, you know?

-We know. We understand.

Said the father. Mother rolled her eyes for him.

-We didn’t expect anything from you.

-These are for kids, it’s Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year.

The old Emma, with white hair and a green knit jacket, smiled at the family.

-Mom? Can I open mine now?

The mother looked at Emma. She said:

-Of course, you can darling. I brought them to you.

She nuzzled Betty’s head.

-Go get whichever you like.

Betty ran to the tree and tore apart one of the four gifts.

-Wow. It’s a tablet. OMG, it’s amazing.

Now Bella was tempted to open one too.

-Why don’t you go get one too young lady?

Said Emma to Bella Jean.

Bella looked at her parents. They were just looking silently.

Father said:

-You didn’t have to do that. I mean, expensive gifts.

-I have never my young cousin and never had the chance to buy you any gifts. Now I have that chance for your children before it’s time for me to call it a night.

She smiled again. Bella went to the tree, shyly.

Betty was already done opening the second one when she screamed:

-Mom, dad look at this. It’s the last version of Xbox.

She started bounding, jumping up and down.

Bella saw the worried look between mom and dad, but she opened the third gift.

-An iPhone?

-No. Emma, we cannot accept these.

Said mom to the new relative.

-Why not? I’m old, and I may die any of these days. For who should I spend my money then?

-Your family I guess.

Said the mother.

-I don’t have any. I never got married, stayed at home took care of my parents. Now they are gone. He was ninety, but I don’t think I would have the chance to live long like my father.

She giggled.

-It’s an Apple watch, I can’t believe it. The one I wanted.

Mother walked to the tree, breathing heavily.

-Give me those.

She grabbed all four gifts and returned to Emma with hands full.

-We don’t know you. With all the respect, we can’t accept these.

-Honey, can we talk?

This was the father, speaking eventually.

They left the room again.

-Why doesn’t mom want us to have gifts from this nice lady?

Asked five-year-old Betty from her sister.

Bella didn’t answer because the old lady was staring at them.

Parents entered the room after a while.

-You can stay here tonight.

Said the mother.

-And thanks for the gifts, they are…expensive, and lovely.

Said the father.

Betty ran happily to grabbed hers from mom’s hands.

-Thank you, I must say. I won’t bother you and will leave tomorrow morning as soon as I woke up.

-Can we finish the tree now?

Said Bella.

They all got busy with the tree when Emma said all of a sudden.

-How big is this house?

Everyone turned to Emma, except Betty.

-Excuse me?

-How big is this house?

Repeated Emma.

-820 ft.


She said looking around.

-you can even change remove this wall and have a bigger living room.

She got up and started looking around the house.

Mom and dad exchange a weird look.

-Is there anything to eat tonight?

Emma called from the kitchen.

The mother left the room and prepared the food.

-My aunt, your mother Peter, was a very good cook.

She pushed her plate back.

-You didn’t like my food?

Asked mother.

-Too salty. You should make some changes to your spices.

She replied then her eyes caught Betty.

-If you’re not going to finish that food let your mother clean the table so we can go get some rest.

Father’s mouth dropped.

-Excuse me Emma, but you can’t talk to my children like that in my own house.

Emma took a strange look at the father then she got up.

-I need to sleep. Where’s my room?

-You don’t have a room. I’ll bring you some blanket and pillow downstairs.

Said the mother.

-Blanket? What am I? a young woman? I have a backache lady. I must sleep on the mattress.

-We don’t have an extra bed.

-yeah but your daughter can sleep on the sofa tonight.


Said Bella with wonder.

-No, my children will sleep on their beds.

-Honey, she is our guest.

the Mother left the table. Then the room.

-Well, I had heard you married to the devil.

Father stood up angrily.

-Get out of my house.

-Your house?


-I’m your cousin. It’s the same house our fathers bought together.

-My father didn’t buy this house with your father.

-Oh, they did darling. When your father was young, jobless, with no money.

-This house is under my name lady. Get out.

This was the mother.

-Oh, darling. Dear cousin, your wife has taken out the house from you?

Father was shaking of anger.

-You didn’t hear me no?

He went to Emma’s bag and grabbed it.

-You leaving or want me to throw you out?

Emma got up.

-Well. Your dad did the same to my father. No wonder you never met him. You weird, rude family.

She took her bag from father’s hand and turned to Bella.

-You ugly girl. Never wonder why you don’t look as cute as Betty? God knows who your parents were when these two adopted you.

Bella stood up. The mother covered her mouth. Father sat down.

-Yeah, you stupid cousin. You never knew me. I knew you so well. Your stupid children are poor. I feel pity for them for getting too excited about just a gadget.

Everyone was shocked still from the uncovered truth about Bella; however, Betty was still enjoying her food. When she was done she looked at Emma.

-I’m done. You can go have some rest now.

Emma didn’t answer her and walked to the door when she heard Bella from her back.

-Even if you were right my parents chose me to be in their family rather than you. Leave and take your stupid gifts with you. We are not allowed to use the gadget in this house because we respect family time.

Emma was already outside when they closed the door in her face.

December 27, 2019 03:32

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