WFOL 2024


Match Game


by PearlAnn SnowStar

Sitting on the bed in his chamber, he looked at the Winterfest candle in his furry hand. “Charles, get ready to ask that question,” he murmured.

He stood up. At the same time, a young woman with blonde hair and fair skin came into the chamber.

“Well,” she looked at what he was holding, then showed him hers, “seems we have the same idea.”

He laughed. “Tammy, you should have called out. I could have been…”

“Indisposed?” She grinned as her cheeks turned red.

They exchanged candles, then gave each other a hug.

“Will you be my Winterfest special lady?”

She gave him a playful shove. “Of course, and for every year, silly. After all, I don’t want to see such a handsome man with any other.”

“Tammy, I’m just like Dad. I know I am not handsome.”

“And just like your Mom, I disagree.”

She looked at the Winterfest candle.

“What is it?” He noticed the sad look on her face.

She looked at him. “Speaking of your parents, I really shouldn’t say anything…” She paused, then continued. “Have you noticed how your Dad is becoming more like your Grandfather?”

“What do you mean?”

“He’s more serious and, I don’t know…sad?”

He nodded his head. “Yes, ever since Grandpa died, he became more serious and less fun. He had more duties to attend to. Plus, since he had the strongest, purest voice, he had to take charge at times.”

“That’s just it, he needs someone to tell him that, OK, maybe he had to assume new duties and such, but…”


“As a woman, I can see how his change in demeanor is affecting his relationship with your Mom. When she looks at your Dad, there is such concern and sadness in her eyes.”

He thought for a moment before speaking. “I did notice the same thing. He even started cautioning me about going slow with you. To make sure we know what we are getting into. That relationships can be…tricky.”

“That’s what I meant, he sounds more like your Grandfather then himself.”

“Maybe Jacob and Caroline talked to him about this.”

“You should speak to him about this and not assume that your brother and sister did. They each have busy lives, especially Jacob. He is about to graduate from college and marry Linda.”

He gently stroked her face. “OK, Tammy, I’ll talk to Mom about Dad. If Dad needs a talking to from me, he’ll get it.”

“Before Winterfest?”

He smiled. “Yes, but can I at least take my favorite girl by the hand and stroll through the tunnels with her?”

She giggled and put her candle down on the bed. Placing his candle next to hers, he reached out and took her hand into his. With fingers intertwined, they walked out of the chamber.

* * *

Vincent and Charles sat on a ledge in the Chamber of the Falls. They sat side by side, quietly observing the waterfall.

“I must go back, Charles, I…”

Charles sighed. “No, you are not going back now. Not now.”

Vincent looked at him. “Son, you know I have…”

“Duties and responsibilities. I know.” Charles looked at him. “I also know that Mom told me about Devin’s idea for spring.”

Vincent shook his head no. “It’s dangerous. What if the plane crashes? Or someone spots me with Catherine? And don’t forget, we’re not young anymore. We’re getting close to our sixties. We have to be more responsible.”

Charles raised his hand. “Stop right there. You are not sounding like my Dad but like Granddad.”

Vincent sighed. “Father was right in some ways.”

“So you must become like him? You even got Mom just shrugging and going along with this new you.”

“New me?”

“Yes. Ever since Granddad died, you’ve become more afraid of going Topside. Mom even noticed that. You’ve got to see that you’re losing your sense of adventure. I know that was one of the many things Mom was attracted to. And also, you are no fun anymore. Be careful, Dad, you could lose Mom this way.”

Vincent gave him a puzzled look.

“OK, you were always responsible and all, but you also were willing, at times, to take chances. You even told me that life is short, that if you got a chance to spend special moments with Mom, you took them.”

“I still do.”

Charles shook his head. “No, no, you don’t. If Jacob, Caroline, or I didn’t remind you last year about Halloween, you would have forgotten. Mom might have reminded you, but you could have blown off the holiday. Even now, you stay stuck down here, perusing schedules, doing chores, whatever. You can still go Above, but you spend more nights in the chamber Below than in the brownstone.”

“Your Mother is here with me. She hasn’t made any requests.”

“You know why she hasn’t?”

Vincent looked at Charles.

“She’s tired. She thought that after all that you two went through, after you admitted the dream you both shared was possible, that now that we kids have grown up, you would continue to spend more quiet time with her.”

“Yes, but you are all still young. Like the community, I may need to be there for any emergency, so why take any chances?”

“That’s getting old, Dad. See, you are sounding like Grandfather. I remember when we were young, how you had to still convince him it was safe to spend April with Mom at the cabin. Or to go out on Halloween. And if Jacob didn’t get the idea to go to the sci- fi convention, you and I wouldn’t have seen so many wonderful things, heard about wonderful worlds.”

Vincent looked away. “That was reckless of Jacob. Someone could have realized that you and I were not wearing a costume. And Devin helped him with this foolish plan. It was reckless and irresponsible. I have a duty to this community. To protect it. To be the guiding voice.”

Charles put his head in his hands. “Oh, my God, see what I mean. You sound like him.”  He looked at his Dad and placed his hand on his shoulder. He whispered, “Grandfather, stop possessing him.”

“Charles, what are you talking about?’

“You are Grandfather now.” Charles put his hand down.

Vincent continued to look at him uncomprehendingly.

“Dad, if you continue like this, you’ll lose whatever courage and strength you had built up with us, with Mom. You’ll start going back to what Mom calls the insecure, terrified person, afraid to dare to dream. The one that pushed her away when she got too close. The one who wouldn’t even kiss her or go into her apartment until a disaster nearly tore you two apart. Mom said you are going back to the person who felt as if they were doomed to be alone and unloved. The one who only lived to protect the world of your Father.”

“Father was right in many ways. I still have to be careful. So do you.”

“Dad, look, maybe this is your way of grieving over his going to the spirit world. I hope and pray that if Grandfather is watching over you, he is concerned that you are repeating his mistakes. I can understand that you realize that you must be responsible and lead the Council in his place.”

Charles sighed. “These past few years, Mom and you haven’t really gone Above much, not even to the brownstone. You let Mom go off with her friends and get this look on your face as if you feel you are losing her. And maybe you are.”

Vincent looked at the falls. “She and I still love each other.”

“So, do something for her now before it’s too late. Get back your courage to say no to Grandfather’s dire warnings in your head. Even as a kid, I remember how he used to scowl when you did something too ‘risky’.”

Charles let his Dad ponder on what he said before he continued.  “Dad, picture this, you continue to become more stern, more serious, more gloomy. You start to refuse to take risks. To dare to grasp life and say ‘I can do this’. Just because I am different does not mean I can’t be loved and have adventures. You said that to me when I was young, when Grandfather started in on me, to be careful, that it was not safe. So now, since you are ‘possessed’ by his spirit, I’m going to exorcise you of it. You need to grab Mom and live and love and dance in the moonlight Above.”

Vincent looked at his son in shock. Charles said firmly, “Or else, you’ll be in your nineties and moan about never having done things when you could. And Mom, who loves you so much, would never really push you hard, and would also feel many regrets. Of spending more time with duties and community and never dancing with her beloved, when they could have.

“Dad, Winterfest is coming up. All you have done is assign tasks, schedule things, and made sure the candles were sent to the Helpers. Have you even offered Mom a candle this year? Last year, you nearly forgot.”

Vincent got up. He looked at his son. “And I forgot this year.”

Charles looked up at him. “I know that Mom could give you your candle first, but she likes it when you take the lead. Take the lead in the dance again, Dad. Let others help you out with the remaining chores and spend some time with Mom Above. Before it’s too late.”

Vincent smiled. “My son is so like me.”

Charles stood up. “And you’ve got to stop being too much like Grandfather. I loved him, too. But he was very controlling and restrictive and overly protective. Sometimes the lion must leave his lair and dare.”

Vincent hugged him. “I will think about what you said, but first I’ve got to get that Winterfest candle to Catherine.”

Vincent started to leave. Charles called out. “And if anyone tries to stop you, you tell them you have a more important mission.”

Charles was with his siblings and Tammy in the brownstone apartment. Jacob and Linda were on the couch, Caroline sat on the floor with her knees crossed like a yogi. Charles sat in the recliner with Tammy on his lap. They were all giggling.

“I’m so excited about Winterfest,” Tammy said, looking into Charles’ eyes.

Jacob groaned as Linda shoved him gently with her elbow.

“Oh, boy,” Caroline moaned. “My brothers and their lovers. You guys are getting so mushy now.”

They started laughing.

Tammy rested her head on Charles’ chest. “And I’m so proud of your brother.” She patted his chest. “Whatever you said to your Dad, he’s starting to return to his true self. Serious, quiet, but ready for any adventure with your Mom.”

“I was starting to get a bit afraid,” Caroline spoke up. “Dad seemed to lose himself after Grandfather died.”

“He was possessed by the ghost of Father,” Jacob piped up in a somber tone. “‘You must not be so reckless. You’re an adult now with a growing family.’”

Linda gave him a look.

“Well,” Jacob said, “we all miss Grandfather, but let’s face it. It was so rare to see him even crack a smile.”

Caroline rolled her eyes. “It wasn’t that bad. Grandfather did occasionally smile and wasn’t so somber all the time.”

The apartment door opened. Vincent walked in with a smile on his face, as he looked at the young adults.

“Dad, you’re back!” Jacob got up. “You’re alive again, you’re alive!”

Catherine came into the apartment behind Vincent, and closed the door. “Jacob, you should respect your Father and not make fun of him.”

Jacob placed a hand on his forehead. “Charles, quick, now you have to exorcise Mom.”

Vincent and Catherine looked at Jacob, then at Charles. Charles couldn’t help but chuckle. “I should have been a priest.”

Vincent took Catherine’s hand into his. “Catherine, it’s all right.” He looked at her and grinned. “Charles and I had a good father/son conversation recently.”

Catherine raised an eyebrow.

“Seems I was possessed. So many things to do after Father died. I…let it all get to me.”

Catherine smiled and leaned against him. She looked at Charles. “I was getting worried too, but…”

Charles got up, holding Tammy carefully in his arms. He gently kissed her and placed her on her feet as Jacob and Caroline made kissing noises.

Linda laughed. “Is this what I have to put up with for in-laws?”

“Get used to it,” Tammy said. “The lion family is a close bunch.”

Vincent let go of Catherine’s hand and walked up to Charles. In a quiet voice, he said, “I gave Catherine her candle.”

Catherine walked over to Charles. “And I’m so happy. I thought that now that I was getting old and it’s been twenty-seven years, your Dad might have gotten bored with me.”

Vincent looked at her in shock.

Catherine grinned. “But one of our children had a good talk with him and got him to be more of himself.” She looked at Vincent. “You still have your insecurities as we all do, but after all the work I put in to get you to be brave and live, I really thought you were falling into old habits.”

“So did we!” Jacob, Charles, and Caroline said at the same time.

Vincent looked at his family. He smiled as he placed his hand on Charles’ shoulder. “Thank you, Charles. It seems that our history repeated an old pattern and I failed to recognize it. You really are like me.”

Charles shook his head. “I have your traits and good looks, but I am my own person. As you said, we must follow our hearts.”

Charles turned to look at Tammy. “I can’t wait for Winterfest.”

“Oh-oh, Dad, I know that look.” Caroline looked at Charles. “And now he is giving me that look of ‘please be quiet’.”

Vincent and Catherine looked at each other, then back at Charles, who was blushing.

“What?” Vincent asked. Catherine quickly placed a finger on Vincent’s lips.

Jacob grabbed Linda’s hand. “It’s almost time for Winterfest. Let’s grab our candles and go Below.”

“That’s right,” Catherine said. “Some of the Helpers will meet Vincent and me here. We will guide them down.”

“Oh, no,” Caroline piped up. “No, Dad, not after all my bro did to convince you to act more like yourself and let someone else help out.”

Jacob and Linda opened up the apartment door that led Below. Jacob motioned to Vincent and Catherine to come with them.

“Jacob, Linda, the Helpers…” Vincent started to say.

“Know me,” Caroline spoke up. She turned to Charles and Tammy. “You two, go with them. I’ll make sure to get the Helpers Below. On second thought, give me a moment with bro, here.”

Caroline and Charles waited until the family left, then Caroline turned to Charles. “You’re going to ask her, aren’t you?”

Charles grinned. He moved toward the door. “Why, Caroline, that is the most reckless thing to do. A life with Tammy is not possible. It’s just a dream. A silly dream.”

Caroline grabbed a pillow and tossed it at him. “Do we have to have a conversation now, too?”

Charles just laughed as he walked out the door. Winterfest this year was indeed going to be memorable.

* * *

Vincent sat by the desk, reading his journal. He started to smile. He looked up to see Catherine walking into the chamber, using her cane.

“My beautiful heart,” he said.

“My beauty is long gone. My hair is gray…”

He shook his head. “You’re still beautiful.”

She walked up to him and, looking over his shoulder, noticed the journal. “Do you need a moment?”

“No, I was just reading some past entries and came across the airplane trip.”

She sat on the bed. “The one that nearly didn’t happen. I remember. That was our April anniversary. Devin managed to find a friend who flew a private plane and who could be trusted to keep a secret. We met up with Devin at the cabin and he took us to the small Connecticut airport.”

He laughed. “I was so nervous. I almost didn’t go. You and our children kept encouraging me.”

She started to chuckle. “Then, right at the airport, I started to chicken out.”

“But we did go.” He paused and stood up to carefully walk over and sit by her. He held her close.

“The moon was full.” He spoke reverently. “Devin knew.”

She looked at him. “And you, it was only for about an hour, but you looked like you were in a magical realm. You were enchanted by the moon, the stars, the lake, the spectacular views from the air.”

He looked at her. “I realized that if Charles hadn’t had that talk with me, I would, right now, be regretting not going.”

She gently brushed his cheek with her fingers. “Like you did about not going to the cabin when I first asked.”

“I made up for it.”

“Yes, but only after so many dangerous events.”

“And it was special.”

She nodded. “’Sometimes we must leave our safe places…’”

“And walk empty-handed among our life paths.”

She looked at him. “That’s not what Brigit wrote.”

He grinned. “I changed the ending.” He kissed her forehead. “That Winterfest was special.”

“Yes,” she agreed. “Charles proposed to Tammy in front of everyone.”

“He still is so brave.”

“I’m glad he accepted to help you out with the Council and to take your place when you won’t be able to.”

He grinned. “Plus, he firmly told me he won’t be possessed by Grandfather when he does.”

They softly laughed and snuggled closer together.


  1. I like this picture of C. and V. and their now adult children. It’s so good that Charles opened V.’s eyes to how similar he became to Father, how he took over his eternal fears, and I’m glad that V. dared to continue to fulfill his dreams and simply continue to live! Our beloved couple full of love, respect and devotion, it couldn’t be otherwise…simply beautiful.

  2. PearlAnn, it’s always fun to read your stories of what a future could be for our favorite couple! Your collection could be another complete tv series! Thanks for sharing it.


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