Arwin awoke to the sound of knocking on the door. What time was it? Was it morning already? Was that the mayor knocking at her door? She sat up in bed and found Suzie asleep next to her. And she was in Suzie's bed in their apartment too. So the adventure in OZ had just been a dream.
The book she had been reading to Suzie, the night before, fell to the floor. She never did get to finish reading it. Suzie stirred in her bed and made a soft cooing sound like a tiny bird. She was so cute asleep. The knock on the door got louder and Arwin rubbed her eyes and stood up. She glanced at the clock. It was still early. She let Suzie sleep and picked the book up off the floor and left the bedroom closing the door behind her.
It was her neighbor, Iliana, from across the hall. She had locked herself out of her apartment... again. Luckily the last time she had given Arwin a key.
"I'm sorry to wake you Arwin. I left the house in such a rush last night I forgot my purse," said Iliana. "I worked the night shift and I've just gotten home."
"It's ok Iliana," Arwin whispered. "I fell asleep reading to Suzie. I had to get up anyway. Last night was our first night together, all legal. She was exhausted and fell asleep while I read to her." Arwin smiled as she talked to Iliana. She knew Iliana liked her and that the "forgotten key" was just an excuse to visit.
She invited Iliana in and made some coffee. As they sipped their coffee Arwin told Iliana about her dream of OZ. "WOW what a story that would make," said Iliana. "You should put that all into a book. I'm sure the children would love it. You made it sound so exciting." Arwin said that she would think about it as she walked Iliana to the door. She asked her to come over later in the week after Suzie was all settled in. The three of them could have a nice dinner together. Iliana said "that would be lovely" as she opened the door to her apartment and disappeared inside.
Arwin put the book she had been reading to Suzie back on the bookshelf. Suzie was still fast asleep. It was a great book, if she said so herself. This first book "Santa's Christmas Adventure," had been such a hit with children that her publicist asked her to write another. She couldn't refuse and her second book was just as popular. That story was about her and Suzie. It was called "Arwin's Christmas Adventure." It was about how Arwin had driven the Santa Bus and met Suzie and adopted her. Most of it was true... She HAD adopted Suzie from an orphanage... and it HAD taken a year to do so, but Arwin had added some magical elements to her story, so that the children would like it better.
Now she had her third books' inspiration. All about her dream in OZ. She needed to write it down while it was still fresh in her head. With Suzie asleep she could get a little writing done before she awoke. The outline was all she got done before Suzie came in the room rubbing her eyes and inquiring "Has Santa been here yet?"
Santa??? Oh my... Arwin had totally forgotten all about Christmas. Today was Christmas. Luckily she had wrapped Suzie’s' presents the day before and had hidden them in her room.
"I think so Suzie dear. You go wash up and then we will have breakfast and open our presents." Suzie jumped up and yelled "Yippee!!!" gave Arwin a quick hug and was off to the bathroom. As the bathroom door closed Arwin quickly got up and grabbed the presents from her bedroom and shoved them under the tree. She made sure the "Santa" ones were right up front.
Suzie came out of the bathroom with eyes beaming. This was her first Christmas with her new mother out of the orphanage and she was sure it was going to be the best one ever. She was happy for the first time in a long time. Arwin was the BEST mother for her and they got along wonderful. She sat next to her mother and waited patiently for Arwin to bring her their breakfast. She ate quickly and started examining the presents under the tree. She saw many presents from Santa but the huge one from her new mother caught her eye in the back of the tree. She took the present and shook it hard. She heard her mother giggle behind her.
"Can I open this one first mommy? Pleaaaaaaase???" She begged.
"Don't you want to open the ones from Santa first," asked Arwin?
Suzie shook her head no and Arwin nodded her approval. Wrapping paper flew everywhere. Arwin laughed. Inside the box was another box... More wrapping paper flying.... Another box... more wrapping paper... Still another smaller box and more wrapping paper. The floor was flooded with empty boxes and wrapping paper and Arwin could hardly see Suzie.
"Sheesh Mommy... Are ALL the boxes empty???"
"You gotta keep looking Suzie," Arwin laughed. Multiple nested box presents was a family tradition in Arwin’s' family... and... Suzie WAS part of the family. Best she learned it now. Three more empty boxes later Arwin’s' heart skipped a beat. It had taken her 2 hours to wrap that present and now was the moment she had been waiting for.
Little fingers shook the tiny box. What could it be? Suzie carefully untied the bow and opened the box. Her eyes grew wide with surprise. "Earrings... Just like the big girls wear," she exclaimed! They matched the necklace Arwin had bought her last Christmas. "OH Mommy they are wonderful!!! This is the BEST Christmas ever." She hugged her mother til she couldn't breathe.
"I have a present for you too Mommy," said Suzie as she reached under the tree. Arwin had been so busy stuffing presents under the tree she hadn't noticed the one Suzie had hidden under the tree skirt. Clever girl. She handed the present to Arwin who opened it carefully to find a beautiful picture hand drawn by Suzie. "That's you and me mommy by our very own Christmas tree." Arwin was overwhelmed. It was the first time she'd gotten a present from Suzie and this one was special. She got up and hung it on the refrigerator. Suzie smiled when she saw her picture displayed on the fridge. She really WAS home.
More presents were opened and the rest of the day was spent at Arwin’s sisters' house and her family. Suzie was happy to be part of a family and Arwin was happy to have someone of her own to love. Her life was good. She had 2 published books doing well and an idea for a new book. Arwin knew, no matter what path her life took, with Suzie in her life, she would never be lonely again.