This is my submission for the Monthly Short Story Challenge on the Sims forums for the month of December. The theme for this month is “Gift.”
This is the first story in a new series I’m starting called “A Life to Live.” This series will consist of random short stories and vignettes featuring characters from my other stories. These pieces will be considered supplemental material since they will not be included in the main stories. Characters featured here will be anything from main characters, characters with supporting roles, and friends and family of main characters. Stories will take place at different points in characters’ lives. Whenever needed, I’ll include a short explanation about which main story it supplements and point readers to the applicable blog in order to read the main story.
As an example, “My Most Precious Gift” supplements my Immortal Legacy “Forever in Time” and takes place during Lenora’s growing up years. You may read “Forever in Time” by clicking on the link found in the Other Works by Me section of this blog. There, you can also read Lenora’s backstory and Bachelorette Challenge, her son Jonas’ Bachelor Challenge, as well as a couple of other short stories featuring the characters.
Thank you to LisaBee for inspiring me to begin this series. She began something similar on her blog, I thought it was an amazing idea, so I am borrowing the basic principal of it and creating my own set of short stories.
Total Word Count – 1953
Total Screenshots – 12
Gifts come in many forms. I learned the hard way that some come with a costly price. I loved being a grandfather. Every time my daughter and her husband visited, they brought my little granddaughter, Lenora with them. She was the light of my life from the first moment I laid eyes on her. She brought such joy to this Irishman’s heart with her little belly laughs and smiles. At the end of the visits when I was alone once more, I lamented not getting to see my wee Lenora as often as I’d have liked.
I adored being a grandfather, but never did I dream I’d be the one to raise her. With the tragic death of her parents, I was the only family left for Lenora; it was up to me to bring her up.
I reckon the ability to perform magic would be considered a gift by most people, but for me, it was a curse. It was magic that got my daughter and her man killed and I no longer wanted any part of it.The grief from her loss staggered me. Had it not been for the responsibility I had to Lenora, I might have gone insane. Most importantly, I wanted to protect wee Lenora from it. I made the decision to cast aside my wand and spell books that very night Lenora came to me. As I rocked her to sleep, I performed what I thought would be my last series of spells; I called forth every Spell of Protection I knew.
As the years flew by, Lenora grew into a beautiful, intelligent, and talented lass. She was such a happy and friendly wee thing, but life wasn’t always easy for her. With the gift of great intelligence came harsh lessons. She skipped a couple grades in school and was teased at times by the other children. I wish I could have protected her from that, but I had to learn that a grandda can’t protect his treasure from everything.
As bright as Lenora was, it was her creative endeavors she excelled in. Like my late wife, Anne, Lenora was musically inclined. I enrolled her in private music lessons where she studied piano, guitar, and voice. She was also a gifted storyteller and would always read me her masterpieces. With the passage of time, her abilities grew; I had no doubt she’d go very far in her life.
One day during her childhood after such a reading, I pronounced her story a work of art and gave her a big kiss. “Did ye really like it, Grandda? I mean, it’s full of princesses and fairies and stuff that just girls like.” She studied my face with big, hopeful eyes.
I chuckled and ruffled her golden curls. “Ye write lovely stories, Lenora my love, and if it’s fairies and princesses ye be wanting to write about, don’t let anyone sway ye otherwise.”
“I surely do love ye, Grandda Liam,” she said, throwing her little arms about me. “I want it to always be ye and me. Can I marry ye when I’m a grown-up lady?”
My eyes momentarily grew misty as the years seemed to roll away. Maggie, my wee girl wanted to marry her Da when she was Lenora’s age, something most wee girls entertained at some point in their lives. And now, here was my wee Lenora wanting to marry her old grandda. Some things never changed.
“Well?” she persisted, waiting for my answer.
“Och, lassie! Ye be wanting to marry a handsome young man when the time comes. I reckon nobody has ever married her grandda before,” I said, running a hand over her hair.
“Well then, I shall be the first.” She defiantly tossed her head, a look of resolution settling over her face.
“Now why would ye be wanting to marry an old bugger like me?” I asked.
She was silent for a few seconds before crawling into my lap and resting her head against my chest. “Because I don’t think I could ever love anyone as much as I love ye, Grandda.”
We shared something special, Lenora and I. She was a jewel, a rare gift that I was fortunate to have. Lenora was my world and I strove to make up for the losses she’d endured at such a young age.
We often think a gift will last forever, but that isn’t always reality. I learned this the hard way when Lenora became deathly ill at the age of thirteen. I’d always taken her excellent health for granted, figuring that it would be me who would leave this life first. This all changed when I began to fear I would lose her.
I’ll never forget the day my wee Lenora passed out in my arms. I kept her home from school due to her running a temperature and feeling nauseous. I guessed it was some kind of stomach virus and she’d feel better in a day or so. How wrong I was! I helped her up from where she’d been settled on the sofa to walk her to the bathroom. What little color she had drained from her face and she swayed on the spot. “Oh, Grandda…help me!” she whispered just before she went limp.
I rushed Lenora to the hospital, but there was nothing anyone could do. She’d contracted some mysterious illness that nobody knew how to treat or cure. I took her to doctor after doctor but it was always the same. Lenora’s system was shutting down, the pain she was feeling would get worse…and she would be gone in less than three months. We were given medication to treat her pain, but that would keep her comfortable for only so long. All I could do was take her home and care for her there. Neither of us wanted her to die in a cold, lonely hospital.
On Lenora’s good days, she felt almost normal and made the most of them. However, on her bad days, she was weak, riddled with pain, and sometimes even delirious. It shattered my heart to see her this way. The worst was when she shivered with chills. I gathered her close and held her as gently as I could so as not to hurt her. I was afraid to sleep for fear I’d awake to find she’d slipped away; that was something I could not bear.
“Och, Grandda! Ye look so tired,” Lenora said one day while resting. “Ye mustn’t make yourself ill on account of me.”
I tucked the covers more snugly around her and kissed her forehead. “There will be plenty of time to sleep. Hush now, girl, and don’t worry about your old grandda.”
“I wish ye wouldn’t worry so about me,” she whispered.
“It’s Grandda’s job to worry about ye.” I turned my head to keep her from seeing me weep. I had always tried to keep any sadness from her but somehow, she always knew when it struck. This time was no exception.
Lenora reached for my hand, squeezed it hard, and stroked her thumb across my knuckles. “Ye don’t have to hide the tears from me. I’m not a wee child anymore.” She drew in a labored, wet sounding breath. “I’ve had a lot of time to think, time to wish for a few things before I die. But, the biggest thing I wish for is that ye would’t be alone after I’m gone.”
I sobbed her name as I took her into my arms. “I’ve been alone before, but this time will hurt the most. I will miss ye every day, sweetheart. I love ye so much, Lenora. Grandda will always love ye.”
“I love ye too, more than anything. Ye are the best grandda anyone could ever have.” She clung tightly to me and I to her. Lenora was all I had, and she was slipping away. What was I going to do if…when…I lost her? How in the name of all things holy was I going to cope without her?
Lenora’s condition steadily worsened after that. There were no more good days, just awful, bleak ones. When she wasn’t knocked out from the painkillers, she tossed and turned, moaning senselessly. She often writhed in pain and begged for it to be over. It drove me nearly mad with grief to see my beloved granddaughter in such a state.
I knew the end was near one rainy Wednesday. For the first time in years, my mind drifted to the magic I’d so easily discarded. I’d put away the magic to protect Lenora, but now, I wondered if I’d made the right decision. I opened my mind, recalling the Spells of Protection and Healing I thought I’d never use again. I was in such a desperate state to keep Lenora with me that I was willing to grasp at anything that might help. I took Lenora’s wee limp hand, gathered myself, and felt the magic rising up within me as though it were waiting for this very moment. I began to chant in an ancient language that only very skilled witches and wizards knew. The magic poured into Lenora, and I watched for any changes in her condition. I did this over and over, putting as much of myself into it as I could, but Lenora lay as lifeless as ever. The only sign that she was still with me was her shallow, labored breathing.
There was only one thing left to do; I’d have to call her. When I gave up magic, I broke off communication with my mentor, Mathilda Blankenship. Mathilda was, perhaps, the greatest witch that ever lived. If anyone could help my Lenora, she could. But, would she come?
Ignoring any sense of pride I might have felt before, I called Mathilda, praying she hadn’t changed her number. To my immense relief, she agreed to come right away. “It’s good tot hear from you, Liam, even though these are the worst of circumstances.” I immediately felt ashamed of myself for discarding her as easily as I’d discarded my magic.
I resumed my chanting, but Mathilda stopped me. “I cannot stand here and do nothing as she lies dying. If she dies…if she dies, I have nothing.” My voice broke as I sank to my knees and reached for Lenora’s hand.
From the instant Mathilda touched her, Lenora rallied. I sobbed in relief when Lenora was able to take in a full, unencumbered breath. When a tear rolled down Lenora’s cheek, Mathilda wiped it away, then admonished me. “You have summoned me in time. She will not die. Mind what you say, for she can hear you.”
Lenora recovered day by day. As new vitality seeped into her, I, too, felt a renewal of my own existence. As Lenora grew stronger, I realized I’d been given several priceless gifts, thanks to Mathilda. Mathilda, herself, was a gift and one I would never again ignore. Secondly,, she gave me the gift of freedom. I learned it was wrong to keep magic from Lenora. It was a part of us and she had a right to claim it. Lenora’s ailment originated from a curse that was unknowingly passed to her during her mother’s pregnancy. Magic was the only thing that would save Lenora’s life and I had almost been too late to call upon it Lastly, and the most precious gift of all was having my Lenora back as good as new. Each day with her was always a blessing, but now, I would cherish her even more. A rare gift is one that has been returned after fearing that it had been lost forever.
Author’s Note: Thank you to Blams for making some requested poses for me.