Holly and Ivy…

28 Nov

Today on the GSP Christmas Promo we welcome back Lisa Farrell.

Lisa Farrell has been writing for as long as she can remember. Much of what she writes is speculative fiction, but she tries other things from time to time. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia.
          Lisa’s Blog: http://lisafarrell.blogspot.com/
         FACEBOOK:  http://www.facebook.com/lisafarrelluk

The seasonal book we are highlighting in this post is Holly and Ivy.

Ivy doesn’t get excited about Christmas, but her mum won’t let her spend the holiday alone and miss out on the magic. No matter that her mum has technically departed the mortal world… Witches have their ways.


Ivy slammed the door and let out a stream of curses that would have made her old mother proud. Her commute was bad enough without the Christmas shoppers clogging up the tube. She kicked her shoes off and stomped into the kitchen to find something to dull the memory of her day. Half a glass worth of white was still in the fridge, but it just left her feeling cold. Fergus padded into the kitchen and sat between her and the door.

“All right, I’ll feed you,” she said. “No need to give me that look.”

Fergus’ tail twitched as he watched her pour dry food into his bowl. He seemed to be judging her. Mum had always spoilt him, fed him carefully cooked chicken and fish. Now he had to make do with brown flaky lumps that smelt faintly of mouldy cheese.

“Tell you what, I’ll shop tomorrow,” she said, “get you some posh cat food, stuff they advertise on TV.”

Fergus ignored her and wandered off towards the bedroom. He had heard such promises before. Ivy shivered, but she could tell from Fergus’ behaviour that she was alone in the flat. She would have a hot shower; that might cheer her up. It was the weekend now. Hooray.

The shower wasn’t enough to warm her. She turned the water up as hot as it would go and scrubbed herself briskly. She felt like she was turning into some sort of ice queen, she’d been alone so long. She didn’t have any close friends in London, and as for men . . .

Ivy wrapped a towel around herself and scowled at the wet footprints leading to her bedroom. She’d know the shape of those gnarled toes anywhere.

“Not fair, Mum,” she muttered, following the prints. “I was naked in there, funnily enough.”

There was a sprig of holly on her bed, and Fergus was purring contentedly on her pillow.

“What do you want?” Ivy asked, picking up the holly to examine it. Three juicy red berries shone in the light. “You think I should decorate? Christmas doesn’t cheer me, so if you’re trying to make me feel better, just let it drop.”

Something just out of her line of vision fell from the bookcase to her left and hit the floor with a thump. Ivy jumped despite herself, startling Fergus. He lost his usual composure, leaping from the bed and streaking from the room.

Ivy’s lips were clamped shut as she retrieved the book from the floor. She was determined not to speak ill to the dead. “Ha ha,” she muttered, replacing her mother’s old copy of A Christmas Carol on the shelf. “I get it, I’m Scrooge. Now I’m going to bed, so leave me alone.” She donned her nightdress a little self-consciously and climbed into bed. As she closed her eyes she thought she saw the curtains flutter, though the window was firmly closed.

“‘Night, mum,” she whispered.

It wasn’t until she was buying cat food the next morning that the thought occurred to her. Perhaps her mother didn’t want the flat decorated. Maybe she was nudging Ivy to remember her. This had always been her mother’s favourite time of year. Her only daughter could surely take the time to pay her respects.

“All right, mum,” she said, though she was alone. “I’ll come see you today.”

She hurried home to feed the cat, and then set off at once. Every minute that passed seemed to make her little mission seem more urgent, until she was fighting the urge to speed on the icy roads. She didn’t drive often these days, but being on the familiar roads seemed to erase the last few months of her life and she almost forgot her destination was the graveyard, not the old house.

She parked behind the church and stepped out of the car to find herself knee-deep in frosty nettles. Thankful for her jeans, Ivy quick-marched back up the road. She knew where the holly grew round here, and though there probably wouldn’t be any berries left now she could take some for her mum. It was the thought that counted.

The world felt bigger here, where fields stretched away on each side and the sky was wide. So different from her new home. The air smelt so clear, and tasted like ice water at the back of her throat. She reached the line of trees and slowed her pace, looking for the bush they’d walked to together, years ago.

Berries shone. She couldn’t believe it; the bush was full of them.

“Looks untouched, doesn’t it?”

She started, her hand flying to her chest of its own accord. A man was standing between the trees, a tall, dark, handsome stranger. If her mum had somehow set this up, she might have just got it right for once.

“Oh, sorry,” she said, quickly stuffing her hands into her pockets. She didn’t want to come across like a Jane Austen heroine. “I didn’t see you there.”

The man stepped out of the trees. Ivy took in his deep brown eyes, square chin and broad, muscular shoulders. For a moment the silence was awkward.

“Picking holly?” he asked, pulling a small pair if shears from his pocket. “Me too.”

“Well there’s plenty for two here,” she said, laughing unnecessarily. “I don’t need much anyway, and I’ll be out of your way.”

She hadn’t thought to bring any shears. She pulled at a small sprig, but it wouldn’t break. She felt her face growing hot and red.

“Here.” The man leant past her and snipped the sprig free. She gasped as his hand brushed hers, and a sharp tingle passed up her arm.




5 Responses to “Holly and Ivy…”

  1. Sheila Deeth November 28, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    Oh, cool. This one sounds good.

  2. Dawn Colclasure November 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    It sounds really interesting! That cover rocks. 🙂

    • annepetzer November 29, 2012 at 6:48 am #

      I Know the cover is great!

  3. chalaedra November 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    This one is a really fun read.


  1. Holly and Ivy… « Chalaedra's Weblog - November 28, 2012

    […] Holly and Ivy…. […]

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