A/N: Hello everyone, this isn’t a continuation of the story but it’s related to Dr. Fred Williams. I just couldn’t move forward without writing this down…
A Wish and A Promise
He pressed the doorbell and looked around. The world was blanketed in white. The driveway he’d walked through contrasted with the snow piled alongside it. It had been cleared quite recently, but with the snow falling incessantly, it would soon be covered in white again.
The air he’d exhaled fogged in front of him. It was cold out and no one has yet answered the door. He could vaguely hear music and laughter inside. Fred tried the doorbell again, pressing it twice. He blew on his hands and rubbed them together. Was the doorbell broken? He contemplated going round the back when he caught a glimpse of long auburn hair. His head snapped toward it. Beyond the front gate, he saw the owner of the hair, a woman, help a boy who’d tripped to stand up.
Fred turned from the scene. It wasn’t her. She who filled his dreams and waking hours almost every winter. It was worse this year, ever since he’d seen the online story which related their history together. It was useless fighting against the tide of memories, so he let himself remember.
His first Christmas break in Roucan Academy, Electra snuck into his room on New Year’s Eve. They’d only known each other for a month and Fred was still getting used to her moodiness and her antics like popping out of nowhere.
His brows shot up at seeing her in his room. Electra sat at the edge of his bed, swinging her legs, and beamed at him when he entered.
He shut the door quickly and locked it. Girls were forbidden in the boys’ dorm, especially at this late hour. What if someone saw her in here? Worst of all, her father owns the school. If we get caught… I can’t get expelled again but I can’t get rid of her, he thought.
“What—” He cleared his throat. “Electra.” He pulled the chair by his desk and sat nervously.
“Frederick,” she answered in mock seriousness. Electra reached for the basket behind her. It held a flask and two mugs. She laid them out on his table, her skirt brushing his knees at the close proximity. As she poured the flask’s contents into the mugs, she said, “You haven’t been to the park the whole week.”
“I was busy.”
She gave him a sidelong glance. “Busy in school during Christmas break? Maybe that’s why Louis worships you.”
He snorted and rolled his eyes. “I’m not worth the attention.” If she only knew that he slept in most of his classes and played hooky, she wouldn’t want her little brother near him. “What are you doing here, anyway? Why aren’t you with Louis and—”
“They aren’t home,” she cut him off. Electra screwed the cap back on the flask and turned to him. She offered him the mug. The steam wafted toward him. Hot chocolate. “Can we talk about something else?”
The smile on her face didn’t reach her eyes. Fred noticed that it upset her whenever he mentioned Mr. Roucan, her own father. He bobbed his head and gazed outside.
She sighed, pulled an extra chair and sat next to him. “It’s a beautiful night, isn’t it?”
They drank their hot chocolates in silence for a couple of minutes. Fred didn’t know what to talk about. She was so mysterious and weird and… Who would believe anyone who says he’s busy doing homework during a school break? He sipped on his mug. It was a little bitter but sweet, nonetheless. She gave you hot chocolate. Be nice, his inner voice told him.
“What’s it like to have snow?” she asked.
Fred blinked at her. It was a trivial question but only brought back memories he’d rather not share. The result of having famous and workaholic parents was that he’d spent the holidays alone and friendless in boarding schools. The last time he’d been home for Christmas and New Year’s was last year. His parents just had to have a huge row. Dad stormed out of the house on Christmas eve. Mom had to put a brave face on the next day for the guests during dinner. In the meantime, Fred had to endure the looks of disapproval and whispers behind his back that spoke of his expulsion from school. Was that house even a home anymore?
He glanced at the girl who practically barged in his life and made it more complicated. Electra stared at the stars outside, the mug cradled in her long delicate fingers.
“Cold,” he replied.
She laughed. “Come on, Fred. You can do better than that.”
Warmth covered his hand. His gaze drifted to it. She had reached across the small gap between them and held his hand. Electra smiled sweetly at him, curiosity bright in her golden eyes.
He sighed and told his lie. “We have snowball fights. We build snowmen and make snow angels. We ski sometimes.”
“That’s really nice,” she said softly, her hand squeezing his.
Quietly, he thanked the internet and mass media for the material. Fred stole a glance at her. Her eyes rested on her half-filled mug and sadness tainted her smile. She withdrew her hand.
His own shot out to stop her retreat. “Maybe we can visit the Alps next winter,” he blurted out. Fred forged on at Cheska’s surprised expression. “Or the next one. My mom has a house there in France but she rents it out to tourists. I ‘ll have to ask her in advance to have the place ready for us.
“We could go there if you like. We’ll get Louis to join us, too.”
Her smile grew and her eyes shone. “Really?” She thought for a moment, then added meekly, “Can you invite your friends too?”
He bobbed his head, kicking himself inwardly. Fred didn’t know if he could persuade his parents to let him bring friends in the chalet. Mom would probably be ecstatic with the idea knowing that he wasn’t turning into a loner but Dad, well… Maybe, this isn’t such a good idea.
“Okay,” Electra said.
She looked so happy that he didn’t have the heart to take it back. He’ll just have to be on his best behavior for the rest of the year before he could ask Dad. Goodbye to cutting classes.
Electra leaned her head on his shoulder, their fingers intertwined, and began humming a melody.
She never got to answer him as fireworks lit up the night sky. In the distance, they heard the bell from the chapel welcome the new year. In his peripheral vision, she shifted and pecked him on the cheek. “Happy New Year, Fred,” she said, leaning on his shoulder again.
“Happy New Year, Electra.” He rested his head on hers and they watched the fireworks display in the darkness of his room.
A steel gray-haired man with a beard came round to the front and saw Fred. “Dr. Williams, how long have you been here?”
“Not long, Tom. I forgot my key and the passcode,” Fred said sheepishly, scratching the back of his neck. “I rang the doorbell.”
“Ah. I just fixed it,” Tom pointed a thumb to the direction he’d come from. “You could have just entered through the back.”
“I-I was going to. I just – I thought I saw someone I knew.”
Tom studied the doctor. He’d seen Ms. Kruger’s only son grow from a boy to an adult in the family pictures. It was a shame they never stayed for the holidays in this house before. Dr. Williams would have loved the numerous sports activities the valley could offer.
Fred’s first visit in the chalet was ten years ago. He came walking in with a cane and with Ms. Kruger. He had a lost look about him as he stared at Mont Blanc through the window. Ms. Kruger was also at a loss on how to help her son back then. But Fred gradually recovered. The cheerful smile he had as a small child, however, never returned. What would Tom give to see a real smile on the doctor’s face?
The doctor wore that same lost look before Tom called out to him. “Forgive my forwardness,” he entered the password on the door and opened it, “is it a woman?”
Fred halted in the threshold and looked over his shoulder. He shrugged. “I didn’t get to fulfill a promise I made to someone.”
“Ah. Perhaps, it’s not too late to make it up to her.” Tom closed the door behind him.
Fred didn’t answer. How he wished he could do just that, but she was gone. He hung his jacket and scarf on the coat rack and paused.
She might still be alive, though. How do you find someone who’s been missing for a decade? James might know, his inner voice urged.
“Thanks, Tom. Have a Happy New Year.” He extended his hand to his mom’s caretaker.
“Bonne année, doctor,” Tom shook hands with Fred and clapped him on the back.
“Fred,” Ms. Kruger called. “There you are. We’ve all been waiting for you.” Fred was engulfed in a warm hug.
“You smell like fruitcake,” he said when she pulled back.
“My darling boy, you really should work on charming the ladies.” She tapped his nose playfully. “Why don’t you take some tips from your friend Paolo? He’s always out with beautiful women. Just don’t become a player like him,” his mom added as an afterthought. “Now go inside. I’ll be right with you in a minute.” She released him and spoke with Tom in French.
Fred entered the living room and greeted his mom’s friends and relatives before heading to his room. He took out his phone and emailed his secretary to free a week in next year’s schedule.
Copyright © 2014-2017 Cecilia Beatriz. All rights reserved.
A/N: I hope you liked this special chapter. If you do, click on like and/or share this story with a friend. 😉
Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year! 🙂