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By:L.A. Casey

L.A. Casey


Today is Frozen's release day, but most importantly, it is also your ninetieth birthday. You have lived an amazing long life and you're still here, but you're fighting to stay with us. You're an incredibly strong woman, and every single one of us in our crazy, big family love you to pieces, from your eleven babies straight down to your forty-four grandbabies and your eighty-seven great-grandbabies. We love you. I love you. And I'm going to stick to my guns in this crazy writing world and do what you taught me to do: I'm going to go for it.

This is for you, happy birthday! <3

"Neala? Are you home?"



Be gone.

"Neala Hayden Clarke, you had better not be ignoring me!"

Would I dare?



"I'm coming, Ma! Keep your bloody knickers on," I called out in a raspy tone then proceeded to cough so hard I thought one of my lungs almost came up my throat.

I rubbed my chest as I crawled from my warm haven then shivered as the cool morning air surrounded me. I grabbed my housecoat, put it and my slippers on, and then folded my arms across my chest as I scurried out of my bedroom and towards my front door. I peeked through the peephole of my door out of pure habit. I knew who it was and when I spotted the overly happy face of my mother, who was dressed from head to toe in bright red, I couldn't help but roll my eyes.

I reluctantly unlocked my door and opened it wide.

"Heya Ma," I yawned.

She smiled as she glided past me looking like a jolly bull's target.

"Heya honey, did I wake you?"

Was she really asking me that?

She just had to bang my door down to get me out of bed.

"Nah, Ma. I've been up for hours," I deadpanned.

My mother clicked her tongue at me and gently swatted at my head with her red-gloved hand. I lightly snickered and playfully ducked away from her. I turned and walked down my narrow hallway and into my box sized kitchen. I glanced over my shoulder at my mother's attire once more and sighed.

"What the hell are you wearing, Ma?" I asked soberly as she followed me into the kitchen.

With cold shaking hands, I lifted the kettle from its holder, filled it with water from the tap, then set it back down and flipped the switch on the base turning it on.

My mother dramatically gasped, "It's Christmas time!"

That, in her mind, justified the monstrosity of an outfit she was decked out in.

"It looks like Santa puked on you, Ma," I said then squealed when she not so gently whacked my behind with her hand.

"You watch your mouth, and stop picking on me you little shite. I'm your mother, I should be revered."

Yes, your Highness.

I smiled. "I'm only messing with you, Ma."

I wasn't messing - she looked ridiculous.

"Good, now make me a cuppa."

"Yes, ma'am."

I made us tea and headed into my living room where we sat on the couch facing my plasma screen TV. I smiled as my mother kicked off her shoes and tucked her legs under her bum. We both sat the same way, and that wasn't where the similarities ended between my mother and myself. She was seventeen years older than me and the woman was hot. Well she was when she didn't dress like someone from The Grinch.

She was forty-two years old and didn't look a day over thirty-five. She was mistaken for my older sister nine times out of ten, and we had a bond where we were not only mother and daughter, but she was also one of my best friends. We both had frosty green eyes, long brown hair, pale porcelain skin and freckles sprinkled across our noses'. My father jokingly called us twins from time to time.

"Tell me, how did your date on Friday night go with what's-his-name?"

I sighed. "His name is Dan Jenkins and it went... okay?"

I phrased it like a question and my mother snorted. "That bad, huh?"


I nodded. "It was awful. His idea of small talk was shocking. He asked me if I was planning on having children anytime soon because I was nearing thirty and me eggs wouldn't be as reliable after I crossed over to the dark side and turned thirty. The man is a weirdo."

My mother burst out laughing and I found it both amusing and annoying.

"You just turned twenty-five, you have years yet to think of kids."

"Exactly. That's what I said, but this lad was having none of it. I bailed on him. I told him I had to go to the bathroom, then I ran for the door the first chance I got. It sucks, he seemed so normal went I met him at the bookstore, but it turned out he is a nut job."

My mother was now snorting from laughing so hard.

"It's not funny, what if I bump into him? He lives in the city centre but has family here in the village. I would freeze up because I'd have no clue what to say to him. I didn't say goodbye or give him a reason as to why I was leaving. I just ran out on him."

My mother wiped under eyes and smiled. "You could tell him you got a sudden bad case of the runs?"


I shook my head while she cracked up laughing at her sick suggestion.

"I'm sorry," she chuckled. "I couldn't help meself."

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Where is me da? How come he didn't come around to see me?"

My mother grunted. "He has his friends around for the match, it's early kick-off."

That didn't surprise me in the slightest. My father has been a hard-core football fan for as long as I could remember, he lived and breathed football like it was essential to his continued existence. Weekends, and even some weekdays, were a time that my father cherished. It meant football time, and everyone in our household had to respect that or God only knows what would happen.

Men and their sports.

"Must be an important match for it to be on a Wednesday," I commented.

My mothered uncaringly shrugged her shoulders. "He said something about it being the last game the club was playing before taking a break for the Christmas holidays or something like that. I wasn't really listening to him."

She never did, she hated football.

I smiled. "In that case do you wanna go do breakfast instead of lunch? I have to go to Smyths in the afternoon before they close for the holidays."

Smyths was a huge toy shop for children.

My mother frowned. "What did you forget to buy?"

I gasped with feigned shock, "Why would you think I forgot to buy-"


I groaned at my mother's motherly tell-me-now tone.

"A doll for Charli." I mumbled and avoided eye contact.

Charli was my niece. She was five years old, and was both evil and adorable, but she was also cute enough to make you forget how evil she really was. She told me a few weeks ago that she wanted a doll from me for Christmas, and I told her I'd make it happen. That was before I realised how hard it was going to be to the find the particular doll she wanted.

My mother widened her eyes. "Christmas is in six days!"

Don't remind me.

I winced. "I know, but in me defence, I ordered the doll she wanted online, but bad weather halted the order till January so I just cancelled it and got me money back. I tried other sites, but everywhere is either sold out or couldn't make any deliveries until after Christmas and into New Years."

My mother lifted her hand to her face and pinched the bridge of her nose. I'd bet my life that she wished she had something stronger than a cup of tea to drink right now.

"Nothing is ever an easy ride with you," she muttered and took a gulp of her tea.

I snorted because it was true.

"Are you saying I'm difficult?" I grinned.

My mother cackled, "Honey, you've been difficult since the day you were born. It's a trait you share with Darcy."

The smile that was on my face vanished and my grip on my mug tightened at the mention of his name. My mother knew good and well that any mention of him was not well received around me.

"Don't menti