Exclusive Excerpt from In This Bed of Snowflakes We Lie
by Sophia Soames
Everyone is cheering, hastily moving up on the sofa so bums can find seats, the kids excitedly wriggling around on the floor, and baby Lottie once again gets placed on Oskar’s lap. He doesn’t mind. He doesn’t mind at all.
“Babies are good for the soul. Did you know that it is a medically proven fact that having a baby in your arms will lower your blood pressure and calm you down? However tense or anxious you may be, you will automatically direct some of your oxytocin stash towards the baby to ensure the baby is safe and loved. The body is quite amazing, don’t you think, Oskar?” Erik’s mum has squeezed herself down between Oskar and Uncle Asbjørn, who is almost bouncing up and down with excitement, holding a giant black bin liner in his grip.
“Really?” Oskar stutters, but he thinks she may have a point as he pulls Lottie to his chest, sniffs her hair, feeling a little bit silly as he does it, but he can’t help himself. He likes it. He likes it almost as much as the fact that Erik’s head is leaning on his shoulder again. It’s comforting. Safe. And, if Oskar is very honest with himself, it does funny things to his stomach. Like the butterflies that flap around in there whenever he looks at Erik. Not that there is much fluttering room left after everything Oskar has stuffed in his mouth since breakfast.
“She likes you too, Oskar.” Emmy laughs and throws herself on Holger’s lap. “And honestly, it’s nice to have all these other people to help entertain her. Gives my arms a break.”
“Silence!!!” Uncle Asbjørn hollers, and everyone sits up straighter, giggling nervously. The children on the floor all cover their faces in anticipation.
“Thank you!” He continues, “Oskar, since you are our newest addition to the family, let me start by apologising. You have done nothing to deserve this.” He bows his head, and everyone laughs, including Oskar, because to be honest, Uncle A looks so excited that he will probably combust if he is not allowed to go on in peace.
“Oskar, I spent my entire working career dressing people, styling people for formal occasions and events. And now, when I am retired, I am finally allowed to have some fun. And you lot very kindly allow me to indulge in getting back at you for all the pranks and grief you give me throughout the year. So, the yearly tradition continues as I, the great Asbjørn Hansen, stylist to the stars, get to dress you all for Christmas dinner.”
He does a little bow again, as the family cheer and roar.
“Last year we were all dressed as Christmas Stormtroopers, except Mum and Dad who were Princess Leia and Darth Vader. It was bloody brilliant. We will have to show you the photos.” Elise is squealing with laughter.
“The year before we were all characters from Frozen. I loved that. I have worn my Elsa dress to parties. It’s just gorgeous.” Emmy sighs, all dreamy, whilst Linus actually looks up from his phone.
“My Olaf costume doesn’t fit anymore. Such a shame. It was absolutely epic.”
“So, what on earth have you got planned this year, Uncle A?” Erik actually looks a little worried. Fidgeting slightly under the cushion he has firmly wedged on his lap.
“Well, you have all been awfully brilliant this year, so I thought I would be kind. I read somewhere about this thing called ‘Furries’.”
“Fuck,” Emmy blurts out. “Can I impose a total Facebook ban, please. No photos anywhere.” And Elise slaps her over the head.
“No swearing in front of the kids.”
“It is all going on my public Insta, I absolutely insist! Now, back to Furries.” Uncle A continues, his giggles threatening to tumble out of his mouth with every word, holding back laughter as Holger is about to explode into a knitted Santa, and Geir is burying his head in Elise’s back.
“I have decided, that for this year we should all be comfortable for Christmas Dinner, so we are all going to be Furries. And before you drag me off and shout at me, we are not going to be the adult variety of Furries. There will be no X-rated action in these suits. Let me indulge you, my darlings, into the super-soft wonder that is animal onesies.”
“Onesies were kind of in three years ago, Uncle A,” Linus sighs.
“I know, young man, but Uncle A can do whatever he likes. So, suck it up and get dressed.” Uncle Asbjørn laughs and starts throwing out neatly wrapped parcels around the room.
Oskar has laughed. He has laughed a lot in his life, but he has never laughed to the point of feeling like he is about to throw up all over the baby on his lap. Because, seriously, Erik’s Mum is dressed as a giant unicorn, complete with a horn on her head. And she is clearly loving it, dancing around the room with her husband, who is dressed like a giant bear. There is a strange looking raccoon, a giant koala, Elise is a squirrel, and they are all in hysterics trying to figure out what on earth Holger is, whilst Geir is a spotty dog, and Linus is looking remarkably smug in his jet-black gorilla outfit.
It’s Erik though. Erik who stands there in his giraffe onesie, looking like he should be on a catwalk in Milan. He looks pretty amazing, just standing there taking in the chaos around him, whilst everyone else is wiping their eyes and trying to gather up the masses of wrapping paper on the floor.
“So, we have to wear this for dinner?” Oskar asks as he unfolds the soft white fabric on his lap, which Lottie is trying to get her teeth into. Lottie, who Oskar has quite masterfully managed to dress in her ladybug onesie. She is already trying to get one of the antennae in her mouth, the hood on the onesie half covering her face as she tugs and drools and squeals.
“Nope.” Linus smiles. “The rules are, you pretty much have to live in whatever Uncle A dresses you in for the rest of Christmas. Rules are rules. If you are part of this family, you pretty well must live with the fact that you can’t leave the house until after New Year’s, because you are probably dressed up as something weird.” He laughs evilly at Oskar. “Good luck with that, Mr Cat!”
“Remember that year when we were all dressed up as cartoon superheroes? It was bloody hilarious!” Erik’s dad is walking around in his bear suit, like it’s the most normal thing in the world, whilst Oskar places Lottie on the floor so he can slide into his suit.
Oskar is now dressed as a cat. A giant, white, soft cat, and Emilia is jumping into his arms shouting, “We are almost twins, Oskar. I’m a tiger and you are an arctic big cat! Like a polar cat!”
And suddenly it’s just a little heavy. A tiny bit too much. A bit overwhelming as he hugs Uncle A, and high-fives Ludwig in his racoon onesie, whilst still carrying Emilia around with her arms tight around his neck.
He needs a breather. Just a little space.
He looks over at Erik. Erik, who is laughing and dancing baby Lottie around the room.
Erik, who is dressed like a giraffe and who Oskar wants to hug. He wants one of Erik’s hugs. His strong all-consuming hugs where his hands never stop moving over Oskar’s back, and his face is buried in Oskar’s neck. He is a little bit shocked at admitting that. That he likes it. That he likes it so much he is actually shaking a little just at the thought of stealing one. Of maybe doing what Erik had said. Tapping him twice on the arm and begging to be just taken away from here, just for a little while, so he can calm down. Remember who he really is.
Because, right now, he has no idea who Oskar Høiland is anymore.