Paul's Xmas

Clementine beamed back at her.

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Copyright © 2015, Michael M Wayman

She sat on the counter top and peeled potatoes, parsnips and sprouts. She thought that roast turkey would be boring, but it was traditional. However she had a plan, she had collected the juices from the bird, it had been hours in the oven, to make a good brown sauce, no packets for her.

Paul's Mother sat at the kitchen table, drinking a glass of sherry. She stared at Clementine, she was odd, she brought happiness into the house. She remembered when she first met Clementine, Paul had said that he was bringing his new friend to Sunday lunch, he said it in a funny way, would his friend be a boy, was Paul...?

No, Clementine was definitely female, but very small and did not speak or hear, she had a leg in full plaster with crutches, but she was as light on her feet as a dancer. Paul's Mother realised that Clementine was not a little girl but an adult woman and that Clementine did not know that her name was Clementine, Paul had given her that name; but she did know the truth about Paul's Dad.

Clementine did the cooking, Clementine repaired more things in the house in one weekend than Paul's Dad had done in ten years. Paul's Mother knew that she must – was it the alcohol or the festive spirit? She stood up and gave Clementine a big kiss. Clementine beamed back at her.

Clementine had discovered the delights of cold turkey and pickles, but she knew that the B in Boxing Day was B for BAD, something bad always happened on Boxing Day, a plane crash, a natural disaster or the birth of a politician. How she knew this I do not know.

The four of them were sitting on the sofa watching TV. Clementine sat on Paul's lap and Paul's Dad said nothing as usual, but quieter than usual.

Paul's Mother remembered visiting the bank just before Xmas to get money from the machine. A man at the counter pulled out a gun and demanded money. Clementine ran towards him, the plaster cast on her leg had long been removed, and kicked him hard in the knee. He fell to the ground, but he waved his gun at her and shouted that he was going to kill her. Clementine just smiled, how did she know that the gun was a toy?

There was a grinding of wheels, Paul's Dad stood upright, more grinding sounds, he fell on his face. His left foreleg slowly rose and sank every few seconds. “I'll have to buy a new one.”

“What do you mean? Buy a new one what?” cried Paul.

Paul's Mother lay back on the sofa, “I'd better tell you the truth, Paul. Your Dad died when you were two, a car crash, he was a good man, I missed him much. You needed a dad, I needed a man, so I bought him.”

Clementine realised that the two of them needed to be alone. She picked up the remains of the android and carried them to the recycling centre.