On The Islands At Christmas – A Cedarbee Island Short Story


I wrote some of this last year, it was really supposed to stay at around 1,000 words but this evening I got writing and now it’s ended up much longer. If you didn’t already know, I’ve been writing a series of books set on/around a fictional island called Cedarbee Island, the first book is called Marissa Moves to an Island (that title may change) and the second is called The Vanishing Island, both of which are still being edited.

Characters from both stories are in this since many characters from the first book appear in the second, I thought this might be a nice way to introduce people to some of the characters in them – this story is set after the first two books. I hope you enjoy!

On the islands at Christmas - a Cedarbee Island short story title image

The snow crunched underfoot as Marissa set off along the lane towards home, she glanced up at the trees, snow covered branches surrounded the edge of the beach. A gust of wind sent a flurry of snow down from one of the branches near the side of the road. Getting her keys from her bag when she reached the cottage, Marissa unlocked the front door and went inside.

The sound of her phone filled the hallway, she grabbed it from her bag and answered it after quickly checking who was calling.
“Have you left the office yet?” Trish asked from the other end of the phone.
“Just got home,” Marissa left her shoes by the door and continued through to the kitchen.
“Okay, I shouldn’t be long, I’ve just left work.”

When Trish arrived home Marissa was still in the kitchen, “fancy a hot chocolate? Seems like the perfect weather for one.”
“Sounds good,” Trish went back to the lounge and left her bag by the sofa.
After pressing the switch for the kettle, Marissa stood looking out of the window on to the garden, waiting for the kettle to boil.

Marissa filled two mugs with chocolate powder, boiling water and milk, she went through to the lounge and passed one to Trish.
“Thanks,” the mug instantly warmed her hands as she took it from Marissa, “what time did you say we’d be over on the island?”
“About half six.”
“That gives us a couple of hours to get the tree decorated.”
Once they had finished their drinks Marissa went up to the attic, Trish went to help her get the Christmas decorations out.

There was a stack of boxes in one corner, some of which housed the decorations. The larger, longer box next to them contained the tree. Marissa undid the box and took out the pieces of tree.
“Where’s the stand?” Trish knew it hadn’t been put back in the box the previous year.
“I…” Marissa looked around her, “it could be in that box over there, it never fits back in this one.”
Trish went to the box, “no there’s not even Christmas stuff in this one.”
Marissa started to carry a piece of the tree back towards the stairs, “what’s in there?”
“A mixture of things, I think I saw a book in there?”
“I’ve not actually looked through much of this stuff since I moved here.”
“Actually I think it’s over here,” Trish found the stand wedged between a couple of other boxes. She pulled it free and they headed back down the stairs.

Once the tree was up Trish went back up to get the lights, they were in the box nearest where the tree had been, the box underneath it was full of small Christmas decorations and baubles. She decided to come back for them after and instead balanced a pile of tinsel in her arms with the lights. She set off back down the attic stairs, then across the landing but the tinsel decided to break free and cascaded over the banister onto the floor below, “oh…”
“What happened?” Marissa came back through to the hallway from the lounge and saw the tinsel everywhere, “I mean, I guess that’s a new way to decorate, no need to hang it up, it’s decorated the stairs itself.”
Trish laughed, “it tried to make a break for it and succeeded.”

They got the lights, tinsel and other ornaments down the stairs and finished decorating the tree, taking it in turns to put things up around the lounge. When they’d finished they stopped and took a moment to look around at the room, “well I think that’s done and just in time, we’d better get ready, it’ll soon be time to leave,” Trish had just noticed the time on the clock on the mantelpiece.

When they left they made it just in time for the ferry, Marissa drove them up to Autumn’s when they got to Cedarbee Bay, she drove up the sweeping driveway to the old house, Autumn hadn’t even known of its existence until she’d visited the island one day and had ended up at Cedarbee Bay.

“So how many people are you expecting?” Marissa asked when they got there.
“Well apart from me, you and Trish there’s Paisley and Travis who are already here, Rosemary, Gerald, Es, Heather, her husband” she listed off the names of people she’d become close to from the island. She’d also invited Sophie and Greg plus Natalie.

Sophie worked with Marissa, they’d started a business together when they’d moved to the island, Natalie had started working for them a few months later.

Paisley came in from the other room, “place looks great doesn’t it?”
Marissa agreed, “it really does,” baubles hung along tinsel across the top of doorways giving them a festive vibe.

Autumn reappeared after a few moments with a few more people in tow, Rosemary from the inn, Gerald who ran the local library, Es or Esemerelda as was her actual name who often helped out at the inn and Heather plus her husband who run the cafe on Cedarbee Bay, they must have walked up together.

“I thought Sophie was coming over with you two actually,” Autumn shuffled around some artificial flowers in a vase.
“She said she was going to get the next ferry, Carly her daughter turned up early because of the snow,” Marissa took off her coat and left it by the door, Trish did the same.
“Do they know their way up here?” Paisley asked.
“They haven’t actually been up here before, I did tell Soph to message me when she got here, I could drive down to meet them, I think Natalie is coming over with them too.” Getting her phone from her pocket, Marissa checked for any messages, just then one popped up from Sophie ‘just got here, which way is it?? I remember something about a lane at the beach down the other end of the town
be easier if I come down and meet u, is Natalie with u?
yh she came over with us, okay see u in a bitx
“That was Sophie, I’ll be back soon,” she said to Trish then left the house to drive down to pick up Sophie, Greg and Natalie.

The headlights on Marissa’s car lit the lane back down to the town, as Christmas songs played over the radio in the background, she parked up down by the harbour, “thanks for coming to get us,” Sophie said as she got in the car.

As Marissa drove back through the town with them, small flurries of snow started to fall on the windscreen.
“Oh is that snow?” Natalie looked out of the window, there hadn’t been any snow here when they’d first arrived.
Sophie peered out the window at it too, “I think it is.”

People were mingling around chatting together when Marissa returned with them, “oh good you’re back,” Autumn said when she saw Marissa, she said hi to the others too, “we were just about to get the food out,” Autumn looked around for Paisley, “Pais, come and help me in the kitchen could you?”
“Sure,” Paisley went to the kitchen with her.

The fireplace was on the wall in front of them as they entered the lounge, to the left of it stood a tree around five foot high, decorated in glittering lights and various baubles and ornaments that twinkled against the lights that surrounded them. To the left of that along the wall next to it there was a run of bookshelves, half filled with books, the sofas were to the right in the room. They ate, they drank and they chatted as the evening wore on.

As it got later people started to leave, Autumn carried a pack of cards and three dice into the lounge, Rosemary had brought them over from the inn with her earlier, it was always a great game to play, “anyone fancy a game?” Autumn held the cards up in the air to them.
“Sure, if I’m going to win like last time,” Paisley said.
“Yeah, go on then,” Marissa had played the game before when she was over on the island with Autumn.
“Oh is this the game you were telling me about, when I was on the phone to you that night?” Trish asked, intrigued, it had sounded a lot of fun.
“That’s it, so how many people want to play?” She sat down by a coffee table in the centre of the room. Out of everyone left they all wanted to join in.

Sophie checked the time on her phone, “just one game for me and Greg though, we’ll need to leave soon if we’re going to get the ferry back tonight.”
“Okay, let’s pick teams,” Paisley looked around the room.
“Marissa, you’re with me? Last time you played you won,” Autumn started sorting the cards into piles for the different letters.
“Okay,” Marissa sat down at the table next to her.

Autumn quickly explained the rules of the game for anyone who hadn’t played before, but they soon got started, twenty minutes later and Paisley and Travis were already leading by about twenty-five points. Sophie and Greg overtook them at the last minute and ended up winning.

As Sophie and Greg left they thanked Autumn for a lovely evening, “Natalie, you coming with us?” Sophie asked on her way out the door.
“You can stay if you like, I know Marissa and Trish are?” Autumn shuffled the cards again.
“Yeah okay, I’m enjoying this, what about work tomorrow,” she looked between Marissa and Sophie.
“We’ll probably both be late in,” Marissa shrugged, then turned to Sophie and Greg, “you’re going to be okay walking back?”
They said they would, after Sophie and Greg left they had another couple of games then Paisley and Travis left too and it was just Autumn, Marissa, Trish and Natalie, “okay, one last game before we call it a night?
Marissa shuffled the cards while Autumn went to get them fresh drinks, they decided to quit playing in teams now it was just the four of them.

“Oh come on, another five points and I’ll be in the lead,” Autumn exclaimed as the game got going again, it was Marissa’s turn next. She rolled the dice and ended up with another ten points, “how did you just get ten more points?”
“I think that means I’m winning now,” Marissa picked up her glass and took a sip of her drink.
Natalie got five more points, “no, now I’m in the lead,” it was a very close game but Marissa ended up winning.

By the time they finished playing it was getting on for one am, Autumn tidied the cards and dice away and they stayed in the lounge chatting for a while.

When Marissa and Trish eventually went up to the spare room, Natalie stayed on the sofa. The house had plenty of rooms in it but Autumn had only turned one into a spare room when she’d done it up, a lot of the other rooms were still empty.

Marissa materialised from the spare room at nine the next morning, she could hear the sound of talking coming from downstairs, she went down to find Autumn talking to Natalie in the kitchen.
Natalie looked up when she heard footsteps across the hallway, “morning.”

“Morning,” Marissa looked out of the window and saw a layer of snow covering the garden outside, “the snow settled out there then.”
“Rosemary was telling me last night she hasn’t seen snow here for about fifty years,” Autumn glanced out of the window too.
“Wow, really?” Marissa turned towards the door as Trish joined them, “I didn’t realise you were awake.”
“Woke up when you got up,” she yawned, “is there coffee?”
“Kettle’s just boiled,” Autumn got her and Marissa a cup, they sat round the table together.
“You going into work this morning?” Marissa asked Trish
“Only for a couple of hours, most staff are off from tomorrow.”

Marissa pulled her coat tighter around her as she stood in the porch of the house half an hour later, waiting for the others, the early sun glistened on the dusting of snow across the driveway. Marissa surveyed the driveway a moment, she wondered how much might be on the other island now, if it would even be drive-able.

When they got to the ferry it was deserted, people obviously preferred the warmth of their houses that morning and hadn’t ventured out in the cold to travel across to the other island.

“Wonder how much snow’s at home?” Trish asked as the ferry started across to the other island.
“I was just wondering the same,” Marissa looked across the water.

The snow on Cedarbee Island was much the same as when they’d left, it hadn’t melted but no more had arrived, “I’ll drop you off at your car,” she said to Natalie, “don’t worry about rushing back though I’m not sure what time I’m going to be in myself.”
“Okay, thanks for the lift,” Natalie said as she got out of the car. Marissa drove back home with Trish.

When Marissa finally made it to the office she was the first one there and it was getting on for half-eleven. She unlocked the door and went inside, they didn’t really have much left to do, just a few things to finish up before Christmas, especially since they took such a long break, they wouldn’t be back in the office until the eighth. It was something they’d decided on when her and Sophie had started the business, work through most of the year then take time off into the new year. It seemed to work well so they’d stuck with it for the past two years, though they’d also taken a break during the summer since Natalie had started working for them.

Natalie went to unlock the door after a few minutes then found it was already unlocked, she pushed the door open and went inside, “Sophie not in yet?”
“No she messaged me before she’ll be here in a bit, to be honest there’s not much to do today anyway.”
“What needs doing first?”
“Well I was thinking of tidying up emails… make sure all replies have been sent out that need to be, check on anything else that needs to be made a note of for the new year, it’ll be easier when we get back if we have stuff ready to go.”

Marissa went into her office and tidied around the room, she organised a few piles of paper into folders and stuck them into the cabinet in the corner, she sat down at her desk for a while and checked for any new emails. Natalie appeared round the doorway, “just picked up on a message someone left on the phone,” she told her the company had said they would send over an email?
“Oh yeah, I just got one from them just now, I’ve replied with a time for next month, it’s in the calendar.”

Sophie turned up in the office at midday, she hadn’t arrived empty handed though she’d brought with her Christmas sandwiches from the cafe down the road, “hope you’ve not had lunch yet?”
“No, ooh these look nice, thanks Soph,” Marissa took one of the sandwiches, Natalie did too. Marissa told her about the meeting she’d just booked in for the new year. “So how’s Carly?”
“Yeah she’s good thanks, got a new job now, and a new boyfriend, miles better than that last one.”
“Well that’s good, tell her I said hi,” Marissa took a bite of her sandwich then picked up her phone as she got a notification on it.
Sophie sat on the sofa in the main office, “last night was good.”
“Oh me and Natalie were just saying that, Autumn sure knows how to throw a party, that house too, the decorations were amazing.”

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Victoria, 33, from Devon, welcome to my lifestyle blog!

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