Fandom: Glee, pre-series
Word Count: 781 words
Summary: Artie's mother tries to make the Christmas after the accident a little more special.
Author's Note: Written for quettaser for Yuletide 2009. I know it's after Christmas now, but it was written before... :)
The accident happened in November of the year he turned eight. As the days passed in the hospital, Artie watched the decorations in the hallway change from autumn leaves, to turkeys and pilgrims, to evergreen boughs and Christmas lights.
And just as the seasons changed in the hallway, so did the feelings in his heart. He moved from shock, to hope, to fear, to sadness. And it was not as much over the loss of his legs (even at eight, he knew he didn't need legs to read or sing, his two favorite activities), as much as over other things.
His mother was there every day, survivor's guilt written on her face, to tell him news and do his school work with him. "Mom," he asked her after coloring a worksheet that had math facts decorating a Christmas tree, "am I ever going home?"
She patted him on the hand. "The doctors say it's soon, Artie. I hope it's soon."
"Will it be..." he began, almost afraid to ask, "...in time for Christmas?"
"Oh, Artie... I don't know." Her eyes dropped to her hands.
He hated when she was upset. He knew it wasn't her fault, and that it was tearing her up inside to see him like this. "It's okay, Mom," he said, threading his fingers through hers.
She sniffled and smiled through the tears that sprang up. "No, it's not okay, but I'll do the best I can to make this a real Christmas for you."
On Christmas Eve, his mom carried in a huge package, wrapped in sparkling gold paper and topped with a red bow. Artie's eyes went almost as wide as the frames on his glasses. "Wow, Mom! Is that... is that my new wheelchair?"
His mother laughed. "No! What kind of mom would I be if I gave you..." She shook her head. "This is something totally different." She set it beside him on the bed. "Go ahead. Open it."
"Unless you want to wait until tomorrow..."
He responded by ripping apart the paper on one side as quickly as he could, despite his bandages. Below the paper he could see these words: Yamaha 3/4 size guitar. He looked up at her with wonder.
"I know how much you love to sing, Artie... and you've always been good with... your hands."
It never mattered to him what he couldn't do -- and this guitar sparked dreams in his heart of all the things he could do. "Thanks, Mom!"
She helped him take the guitar out of the box, and set it in his lap. He strummed at the strings all at once, and then one at a time. It seemed like the most beautiful sound he'd ever heard. "I wish I knew how to play something..."
"You will. I'm going to get you lessons right away, okay? I even found a teacher who'll come do it here if he has to."
Artie pressed his fingers to the fretboard, testing out different notes. By ear, he played until figured out how to play up and down a chromatic scale. His mother watched him, happy that he had something to take his mind off of the terrible situation he was in. Finally, in a small voice, she asked, "Would you like me to play it?"
"You can play?"
"It's been a really long time since I touched a guitar, and I can only play a few of the chords." She carefully took the guitar from her son, and set it on her own lap. "But I practiced something."
She tuned up the strings, flat from being in a box after the store, and then strummed a G chord. She closed her eyes, and began to sing:
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
And though she paused between each chord change, fumbled at the C chord and dropped some of the more complicated chords, it sounded amazing to Artie's ears.
Where the love light gleams
Artie didn't know the whole song well enough to sing it with her, but he tried his best to follow her as she finished:
If only in my dreams
To this day, it's Artie's favorite Christmas memory. Artie looks over at his mom, resting with her eyes closed in the recliner after a long day cooking, and his heart is filled with love for her. Picking up his beloved Martin from the stand, he plays an arpeggiated strum on the G chord. And as his fingers pick out the melody to their special Christmas song, his mother smiles.