In a city in the North, she was the housekeeper for the handsome detective. She didn’t like him much. She was snowbound at his house overnight. He was gone on an assignment. She was bored that night and looked for something to read. She found a book with crumpled pages called The Book of Spells of Misfortune. Curious, she opened it.
She found a spell she would like to cast on him but she didn’t believe in that stuff. She started chanting it for fun. She heard something and there he stood. He had turned into a pillar of ice.
He lived in this ramshackle hotel. He’d caught the ferry to it a year ago after he lost everything in a craps game on the mainland. He couldn’t afford anything else. Now someone wanted to talk to him about painting a landscape.
He found the fine-looking lady at the bar. He bought each of them a drink. She had horses and wanted him to paint them in a pasture on her horse farm.
He briefly dreamed he could still do it. Now his hands shook and the muse was gone.
“Mama, look at the hats! Magnus needs a new hat,” cried Josefina. Their family had just moved to Northern Michigan from Sweden.
“Child, we cannot afford a new hat. Come along.”
Josefina and her mother walked toward the apartment where they were living in Marquette, along the waterfront, through the tunnels of deep snow. As they stopped to go inside, a man cleared his throat behind them. They turned and saw someone they knew as Father Christmas standing there with two handfuls of hats from the shop.
”Happy Christmas,” he said, as he gave them hats for the whole family.
The cabin was deep in the heart of Appalachia. She was a city girl and he had worked in the city for years. They weren’t on the same page any more. They had been fighting, constantly bickering. He was desperate to save their marriage.
He surprised her with a trip to the cabin for a simple, country Christmas. She didn’t think she’d like it. Just the woods, a tree, their dog, and them. It was awkward at first, but then they began to talk. They rediscovered what they loved about each other at that cabin in the woods that Christmas.
They arrived at Shelter Bay on the south shore of Lake Superior. It was almost dark. The old cabin looked out on the beautiful lake and had cots around the wall, under all the windows. It was 1956.
The little girl needed to use the bathroom before bedtime. She was only four. Back then, the only bathroom around the old cabin was an outhouse. The little girl and her mother made the trek. They weren’t familiar with the Michigan backwoods.
When they came out of the outhouse, they were met with a surprise. They stopped still. Porcupines surrounded the outhouse!
April was up at 5 a.m., fixing Keith’s breakfast. Eggs and toast. Marriage didn’t seem good to April. He never made her feel loved. She tried all kinds of things to endear herself to him. This morning, she had even cut little heart shapes out of his toast.
Keith walked into the breakfast room and sat down without speaking. She served his breakfast. He started to eat and looked at the pieces of toast.
“April,” he said, “if all the bread has holes in it, take it back to the store.”
April threw the skillet on the floor and walked out.