Claire Beauchamp is walking through the snow after, the fluffy substance almost reaching her knees as she’s heading to her front door. It’s that time of the year again and besides the snow and coffee, she hates everything that comes with the season. Christmas . Not her best friend. Not since Frank left her and she spends most of her time loathing the twinkle of fairy lights and fake smiles on everyone’s faces. It’s the reason she mostly takes off the whole month so she can spend her time alone, in front of the fireplace with a book in her hands.
She sighs as she finally arrives at her front door, rumbling in her bag for the key. Her cold fingers try to find the object in question when her gaze lingers on something lying in the snow. She squints at the thing lying there, stopping her search for the keys as she walks to her mailbox.
It isn’t unusual that the postman would drop letters on the ground. Claire has been used to it since she moved into the little cottage in the woods. She is grateful for it, as peace and quiet are more than welcome in her life and she thanks the man she inherited from once again. Her Uncle Lamb.
As she arrives at her mailbox she bows down to remove the envelope from the snow and walks back without looking at it, to the door now with more luck finding the key in her purse. She exhales a breath of relief when cold is replaced with warmth and once work clothes are replaced with a comfortable legging and a sweater, she lies down onto the couch. Her gaze is lingering on the letter she found and she rolls her eyes knowing it probably is the bill from the garage as her car had a major meltdown last week.
Wanting to put the heavy feeling you get when you look at a huge number you have to pay behind her, she opens it, realizing that no company logo is printed on the white paper. Handwritten letters glare at her and with confusion she turns the ripped open envelope in her hands, realizing it is addressed to an Ellen Fraser , her neighbour. Well, almost neighbour. Claire knows there’s a cottage further down the path, occupied by the woman, so she’s guessing that this letter must belong to her.
Claire is tempted when she sees two words on top written in perfectly readable letters saying Dear Ma and she can’t control her eyes from reading everything below.
I hope you’re well and this letter arrives at you in time, but since you somehow live in the past and own no phone or whatsoever, I have no other choice than communicating with you the old-fashioned way.
I’m freezing here in Scotland but what’s new? I don’t think Boston’s better.
To come to the point, I will be in Boston from November 30 on, with Jenny and Ian packed in my luggage. Just a wee joke. So we hope you prepare enough of your famous meals we all miss so much. Da misses it too.
I know you don’t like me mentioning him but I think you should give him another chance. He’s suffering. I know you are too, but Christ, why can’t you get a phone and we could talk about this, like normal people? I’ll add my phone number at the bottom in case you do decide to get one to yell at me for mentioning Da.
Take care of yourself and we’ll see you soon,
Your favourite child,
PS: The +44 before the phone number is the country code so you can reach me.
PPS: Please get a phone Ma.
Claire’s smiling softly at the letter, thinking about what she is going to do with it. She has three options, she thinks, one is walking to the cottage hoping the woman wouldn’t watch her drop a ripped open letter into her mailbox, calling or texting the number on the bottom, letting her son know that the letter has been lost, or she throws it away.
Option three seems to be the most comfortable option but Claire is not sure she could live with that thought, even though the family would anyway arrive in… Claire is looking at her calendar and rips open her eyes. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ. Tomorrow.
She doesn’t see another choice rather than walking to the cottage and drop off the letter. A bit of glue and Ellen Fraser won’t even notice.
Claire puts on her coat and Ugg’s and enters the cold again, filling with dread. She didn’t imagine herself going back out here as all she wanted to do was read a book in front of her fireplace, enjoying her first afternoon of her needed holiday. As she walks, she takes in the sight. Trees covered in snow with every step leaving a mark in the thick snow beneath her. It is so quiet around her, she could hear the snow falling down, closing her eyes for a moment.
“Can I help ye?” A voice suddenly appears and Claire realises she stands in front of the cottage in question. She looks up to meet the grey gaze of who must be Ellen Fraser. Her long red hair slowly turns white from the falling snow, while her arms cross around her small form as she shivers from the cold.
“I’m sorry, I…eh… I got a letter which was addressed to you.” She says, holding up the envelope in question. The woman glares at her and for a moment Claire thinks she has something on her face, when Ellen smiles at her and reaches out for the letter.
“Thank ye.” She says and Claire nods with a sly smile. “Will ye care to join me fer a coffee?” Ellen asks and Claire’s smile fades. She must look surprised as Ellen’s smile only grows. “Dinna be afraid, lass, just to thank ye fer bringing me my mail.”
“I don’t know…”
“I always wondered who lives up in the other cottage, now I ken.” Ellen says and Claire knows she can’t say no so she nods.
There’s something mystical about Ellen Fraser, something warm that makes Claire forget about the cold winter breeze hugging her. She likes to be alone but having the opportunity to talk to someone outside her work fills her with an overwhelming emotion that makes her heart race.
“Have a seat… Oh dear, I havena asked yer name, I’m so sorry.”
“Claire, my name is Claire.” Claire answers as she’s looking around. The cottage is decorated simply, picture frames everywhere and she knows that Ellen Fraser is anything but lonely. A heavy feeling is placed into Claire’s stomach and she brushes away the dread of being alone.
“Have a seat, Claire.” Ellen says after a bit, holding two mugs in her hands with a big smile on her face.
So she follows the woman’s order and sits herself onto the small couch in the centre of the living room, taking her mug thankfully into her hands without knowing that her life is about to change in unexpected ways.