The first Christmas markets in Germany have opened. A good reason to present an excerpt of our Lesbian Christmas Anthology Gingerbread Hearts.
For today we’ve chosen an excerpt of It’s in the Pudding by Emma Weimann.
Here’s the blurb for you: As Christmas approaches, Ida vows to make a fresh start and open her heart to new possibilities. Her mother’s old Danish tradition gives her just the chance she is looking for: the person who finds the almond in the Christmas pudding has one wish. However, a trip to the dentist wasn’t what Ida had in mind.
And here’s what happened when Ida went looking for the almond.
* * *
“All right.” Ida’s mother took a big spoon and looked at her grandchildren. “As every year, there’s an almond hidden in the pudding. The person who finds it gets to make a wish. An old Danish tradition says that the wish will come true next year.”
The children nodded enthusiastically.
“And each year, someone else gets the first helping. This year, it’s Ida’s turn. Then comes Christina. And Christina gets to choose who’ll be next. Only Tobias will be last because he had his turn last year.”
Linus, the oldest of Tobias’s children, groaned. “But I wanted to be first.”
“It’ll be your turn next year. I promise.” Ida’s mother caressed his light brown hair.
Oh, that’s right. It’s my turn this year. Ida stared at the bowl of almond pudding in the middle of the table. Her mouth watered. Almond pudding was her favorite dessert ever since she had first tried it as a child. And her mother’s pudding was the best. She had tried to make the pudding using her mother’s recipe, but it just hadn’t been the same. Maybe it only works on Christmas. Maybe it needs the right mix of sentimental feelings and sugar that adds the right amount of spice to the pudding.
“Here you go, darling.” Her mother handed her the spoon.
“Thanks.” Ida pulled the bowl toward her. Come on, little almond. Where are you hiding this year? She tried to discover any uneven patches in the pudding. Where do I put the spoon? She had just one try. If she didn’t find the almond on the first try, chances were the person after her would find it. That would be okay too. Christina deserved to have her wish come true—even though Maria would not be happy if, in addition to a new baby, a new puppy would be moving in.
“Hurry up, Ida. We all want to take our turns sometime today.” Tobias held his spoon in his fist. The expression on his face looked like that of a bad-tempered pug.
Maria looked at him through narrowed eyes. “Last year, it took you five minutes to decide where to put the spoon.”
“Hey, whose side are you on?”
“On hers.” Maria pointed at Ida.
“Me too.” Ida’s mother folded her hands on the table. “And now be quiet and wait until it’s your turn. Everyone else will take their turns before you anyway.”
Ida grinned at Tobias and wiggled her brows. Having strong women in the family was great.
“Hurry up,” Ida’s father mumbled.
All right. She would do something that would cause a storm of indignation. With a quick move, she drilled her spoon into the middle of the pudding and heaved a big portion of it onto her plate.
“Not from the middle, child. Now the pudding looks awful,” her mother said.
“Mom, Aunt Ida is destroying the pudding.” Linus’s eyes nearly fell out of his head.
Ida forced herself not to look in Tobias’s direction. She didn’t want to see the expression on his face. With relish, she put the first spoonful of pudding into her mouth—and encountered a hard object. I can’t believe it. She traced the object with her tongue. Wow. “I got it!” A relationship. I want to be in a happy, life-long relationship next year. She bit down on the almond. Gosh, this is hard. She bit down again.
Something crunched awfully in her mouth.
Ida closed her eyes. Oh, shit. Her stomach roiled. She spat the almond onto her hand. The skin was still attached. And a few strange pieces. And a bigger piece of something. The filling. “Oh. Shit.”
“Ida!” Her mother sat up straight.
Ida felt the tooth with her tongue. “The fillin’ ’s gone.” She felt along the tooth again. “An’ a piece of the tooth.”
“Oh no.” Maria looked at her with big eyes.
“Aunt Ida.” Christina tugged on Ida’s shirt. “Aunt Ida, does it hurt a lot?”
Ida laid the almonds with the filling splinters onto her plate. She’d lost her appetite anyway. “No. I think that’s the tooth with the root canal. It doesn’t hurt. But the tooth is damaged.”
“And that now of all times, when no dentist is available.” Ida’s mother rubbed her face. “Horst, check in the newspaper to see if there’s a dentist on call for emergencies.”
Ida’s father obediently stood and hurried into the kitchen.
“Nonsense.” Ida shook her head. “It doesn’t hurt. It can wait.”
“No, you can’t.” Her mother furrowed her brow. “It might not hurt now. But who knows when pain will set in. It’ll be even more difficult to find a dentist in the middle of the night. Maybe he’ll be tired and drunk by then. You better take care of it now.”
Maria put her hand on Ida’s shoulder. “Let’s go to the bathroom to check it out.” She glanced at Tobias.
He nodded and turned toward the children. “Okay. The order is canceled for now. Who wants dessert?”
Christina shoved her plate away. “I don’t want damaged teeth.”
The brothers looked at each other and slid their plates over to their father.
“I’ll take Christina’s portion and mine,” Linus said.
Stefan nodded and pushed his plate more toward his father.
Christmas dinner sat heavily in Ida’s stomach. Going to the dentist. On Christmas Eve. She wondered if you could exchange wishes. The only wish she had now consisted of three words, “Please don’t drill.”
* * *
Enjoy the read.