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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest (35) Theme: Christmas - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Dec 11, 2008.

    Short Story Contest 35
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: Christmas



    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries as replies to this thread. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a seperate thread. Sadly there are no prizes but honour on offer. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner.

    Theme: Christmas. Any interpretation valid.

    Suggested Wordlimit: 500 - 3000 words.
    Deadline for entries: December 27th 2008 09.00 (UK local)

    There is a 10% leniency with regards to the wordlimit. Please try to stick within the limit. Any piece outside of the suggested limit will still be entered into the contest but flagged as such, and eligibility determined by vote alone.

    The next contests will be themed 'Narrator With One Week To Live' courtesy of member marina and 'The Value Of Innocence' courtesy of member yellowm&M. If you wish to start work on these contests please go ahead, but do not submit an entry until instructed to do so.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seeming outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. Asuran
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    Asuran Member

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    This is perfect, I just finished writing a story about Christmas when I read this.

    A Christmas Song and Dance (715)

    “What time is it?” A young boy reclined on a couch; he was using his father’s leg in place of a pillow and leafing through the pages of a T.V. guide.

    The boy’s father stopped gently ruffling his child’s hair to squint at the face of his wristwatch. “Too late, buddy; nearly nine. C’mon, up to bed.”

    “But, Dad!” the boy said; his eyes appeared to grow five times bigger and bluer. “It’s not a school night. And it’s Christmas Eve too! ‘A Christmas Carol’ is on next; can’t I stay up just for that?”

    The voice, the eyes, it was too much to refuse. It had been for so long. “Alright, you can watch it. But straight up to bed for you after that.”


    “God bless us, everyone.” Tiny Tim’s voice – clear as a bell – marked the end of the annual NBC showing of ‘A Christmas Carol’ with the cast gathered together in good cheer and happiness. Togetherness, he thought, that really is the Christmas spirit, isn’t it? He grabbed the remote and clicked the television off.

    “Hey, bud, bedtime.” His son slept on the couch like an angel; golden hair shined in the light, crowning him with a halo.

    The man smiled. He hefted the boy into his arms and grunted as he carried him to his bedroom. He laid the boy upon the mattress, brushed a lock of brown hair from his eyes, and covered the boy. Christmas in the morning.

    Lights flashed through the windows and the man tiptoed down. He cringed each time a step creaked. It wasn’t as though he feared his boy learning that Santa Claus was not real; that had happened in a fiasco long ago. Once more in the television room, he carefully set a log in the hearth and lit a sheaf of paper beneath it. He sat back and waited for the log to catch and once it did, set about to his business.

    The warm glow of the fire illuminated a sparse evergreen in the corner of the room as the man carefully wrapped a photo frame in festive paper. He would make sure Santa came this year. He slipped it beneath the spread branches of the tree, a lone box.
    Then to the kitchen he stole, away from the bright strings of lights draped around other houses and their empty promises of gifts and merriment. What happened to the blue lights of ages past, he wondered, and their signal of expectancy and a promise of life and life to the full? They were replaced with the consumerism lifestyle of America.

    He forgot those qualms and busied himself about the kitchen. Two coffee mugs – with hand-painted candy canes and snowflakes, a milk jug, powdered chocolate, and finally a bag of marshmallows. The man stirred the powder and milk into mugs, placed the cups inside his microwave, and set it.

    While the whirr of the fan and the scent of chocolate drifted throughout the house, the man pulled a record from a stack on the island and placed it on what he thought must have been the last record player in the county. A scratch as it started up and then a slow melody floated on the air. A familiar melody.

    He took the hot chocolate from the microwave and rested it on the granite to cool, then began to dance. In his arms was a ghost, naught but a wisp of air. Yet his feet began to move ever lighter, the wear of time melted away, and he was back with her.
    Her laughter filled his memories and he could see her. She took his arms and started to lead, just like always. He followed her movements and fell into step. They waltzed through the night, long after the music ended and then a long electronic beep shattered the silence.

    He crept to the island where hot chocolate was waiting before two chairs. He settled down and took a stick placing it in a jar of oil. As the liquid climbed the stick and the scent of the oil rose to meet him, the man started to cry soft, slow tears. His voice choked as he tried to whisper. It came to him at last.

    “Merry Christmas, Ann.”
     
  3. Doug J
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    Doug J Active Member

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    It Is So Hard to Finish These Christmas Letters (993)

    This task can be easy or difficult. For the guy in my story - it's kind of difficult. I would very much appreciate any and all critiques. I have been around a while, but not a lot of writing experience.

    12/15/2008

    FINISHING UP THE CHRISTMAS LETTER

    It was just half way through the month and already the weather gurus were predicting that this was going to be the hottest August on record, at least according to the truck driver that delivers our UPS packages. Judging from the two tones of brown that he was sporting on several areas of his uniform, especially under his pits and along the back of his shoulder blades and spine it sure did seem disgustingly obvious that was one hell of an August. So, it was hard to believe that this weekend I would be starting the annual Johanssen Christmas letter.

    In years past I was hot as a pistol. The letters were ingenious in the physical construction and content. How long have I been doing this? Almost 10 years? Wow. That’s a long time to maintain quality and creativity. A couple of those years I missed not because I didn’t have an idea – but because I had too many ideas. Or the level of complexity was too much for even me to fathom in order to get the 100 of them in the mail. But I learned from last year’s slip up – start early.

    And I remember saying that very thing last year when mid-January snuck up on me and I was still gluing and stenciling the failed – but totally inspired creation that would have cost me almost $3.00 each to mail – but it would have been worth it. It sure would have been great to get the accolades from the family and hear them gush about how amazed they were as the events of the year unfurled in the form of puffs of smoke (card stock cut in the form of clouds!) from a realistic old fashioned train that when moving the lever circled the pop-up Christmas tree. Man! That would have been my best yet.

    But as I said – the year ran away from me. I could gave done the old, “well it supposed to be a Christmas card, but now it’s a card wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day” bit again. The last time was kind of embarrassing. “Geez,” I told myself, “Jeremy, you will have to start right after the Fourth of July next year.” So, yesterday, there I was, ready to start – and I would have told the UPS driver all about it, but he seemed like he was in a real hurry.

    Yep, this very weekend would be – or rather – was supposed to be the start of the next great Christmas Letter. I had told myself over and over again that this year’s idea would need to be a bit easier from the construction perspective. After all, no sense in going to all that trouble only to just not get it done again; you know what I mean? Yep that was my plan.

    But Ray Blaziak had to open his big mouth. Of course, I didn’t say anything to him but perhaps some of my other confidants were bragging about how this year they would be getting one of my custom Christmas card creations and he may have overheard. I sometimes see Ray talking to some of them, especially that newer girl Juanita, who seems just great; but I know Ray can turn her into a nasty person just like he has done so many others.

    I told her I would definitely put her on my mailing list and just to whet her appetite I told her about my best letters: like the one that you had to fold a bunch of ways to so that you could read the story; or the one where you had to scratch off the White Out to reveal the answer to a question about an event that happened to me during the year. She seemed really impressed and let me talk on and on about those classic ones.

    I knew Ray did not understand, and I would never add him to my mailing list no matter how much pleaded. And I’m not stupid – he might think that I’m stupid – but I’m not. Come on, I knew all along that he was not totally serious when in the lunchroom he got on his knees and tugged on my pant leg and said, something like, “please, please, please with sugar on top; please send me one this year.” Juanita said he was making fun of me, and she was at least partially right, but I also knew that Ray was probably a lonely insecure bully and that getting one of my cards would have just blown him away. Yeah, it would have just blown him away.

    But then later that night he actually looks me up. I wished he would not have confronted me the way he did. I mean sure I’ll find a real clever and serendipitous way of working it all in to the Christmas letter and that part will be fun, but why did he have to come up to me when I was all alone? All the other times we were always in front of people – and I was embarrassed a lot of the times – but then I would walk away and give him just the nastiest look – so I at least had the last laugh.

    He knew – I know he knew – that I wouldn’t have tried anything in front of all those people. But talking to me when I was alone? He was asking for trouble. He should know that I would have no problem with getting away with it. It’s just not that hard – never has been. But now, I won’t be able to start my world famous Christmas letter until the next weekend since I evidently have some cleaning up to tend to this weekend. I just hope nothing else will come up to delay my start – this year I’ve got just the best idea. Oh, yeah, the best.

    It’s just so hard to get these Christmas letters done.
     
  4. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doug - thanks for the entry. Your piece cannot be critiqued at this time as it is entered into the contest. When the voting closes you may then post the same story into the review room, providing you have met the minimum review criteria yourself.

    This contest runs until the 27th December, then voting will be launched. We welcome entries until that date. Happy writing, one and all.
     
  5. Ronin_Sensai
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    Question: Can it be a fan fic? If it can be, I plan on doing a story about the Winter Warlock from Santa Clause is Comin to Town.
     
  6. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes it can be. Any interpretation valid providing the theme is Christmas. FYI to all, let's not clog up this thread with questions, please direct to me by PM or visitor message instead, thanks.
     
  7. Ronin_Sensai
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    Warlock's Icy Heart

    2,526 Words

    Warlock’s Icy Heart
    (A prologue based off Santa Clause is Coming to Town)
    By AJ Peaslee

    In the midst of the chilling night, a snowstorm had begun to gather. The clouds were painted a deep black, suggesting a massive amount of snow behind them. The creatures of the night took shelter for the storm ahead, sensing the snow long before any man did. A sudden and powerful gust smashes through the mountains of the Whispering Winds, making the trees bow from pressure. The wind stops just as quickly as it started, and the sky opens up. Snowflakes begin to fall, dancing with grace until they find the ground. As the flakes begin to fall faster and become more lively, the sound of someone cackling is heard. From the darkness comes a figure draped in a sparkling white robe. His hair and beard are wild and untamed. The nose, long and pointed. The eyes above them are a deep blue masked beneath a scowl. A warlock’s cap rests on his head that matches the robe collects the snow. His hands are clammy and white, while the fingers are stretched in an inhumanly fashion. The mouth opens and reveals a set of sharp, jagged teeth that could easily have passed for a shark’s. The wizard walks about in the speckled dark, laughing and shouting in glee.

    “Yes! Yes! Freeze everything mighty winds and heavy snow! Paint the land with ice and smash the trees with hail!” The warlock screams out.

    The sky opens up even more, releasing a palette of hail, freezing rain and sleet. The wizard is becoming soaked in the storm’s rage, but his smile only grows wider.

    “May the Earth be trapped in an icy grip, may the elves never make their trip! I, The Winter Warlock forbid it!”

    The snow began to fall faster and harder, making the air thick and cold. Winter walks through a small plain that is already heavily covered. The surrounding area is mostly dead vegetation caused by the endless freeze and the warlock’s spell casting. The trees are warped and pulled in unnatural ways. They hang heavy with the weight of the ice on their shoulders. Where there was once grass is now dirt with many frost heaves and yellow weeds. It was a frozen palace of Winter’s design.

    The mountain of Whispering Winds was always like this, Winter made sure of it. It wasn’t just because he loved casting magic, it was also because of the Kringles. They were a band of elves that lived at the edge of Whispering Winds, and they were too jolly for Winter’s tastes. They dressed in red tunics with white trimming that had long hats to match. The Kringles made toys out of wood and metal year round, everything from dolls to yo-yos. When they had quite a large amount built up they planned their trip to Somber town where the girls and boys laid in wait. They delivered for many years, until Winter took over the mountain. He would not let them pass, creating ice walls and intense hail storms to make them turn around. The poor small framed elves could not fight off this barrage of magic, and Winter loved that thought. But the time of the year he dreaded was Christmas. He loathed the word, it was when everyone was merrymaking and being kind. It made his icy heart that much more colder. Christmas was also the time of the year when the Kringles would try and sneak past him. He made sure THAT was put to a halt. They gave up trying to pass altogether many years ago. Winter grinned and laughed when he thought about them giving up toy making, it was his ultimate goal. If he was not going to be happy, then everyone else would feel the same woes.

    Little Winter know that something would happen this night that would change everything in the near future. A baby would grow up to be a man, and that man would become Kris Kringle: The person that would be known as Santa Clause.

    In Somber town, the hateful and arrogant mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger had found a baby on his doorstep with a note that read:

    “Please take care of my child. He will grow up into a fine man if he receives the love and affection he needs.”

    Next to it was a nametag that had Clause etched into it. Burgermiester ordered his knights to get rid of the child by taking it to an orphanage. But Winter’s storm was too strong and the knights lost the child in the storm. He drifted into the Whispering Winds. There, he was in trouble, for Winter was not far away.

    Winter continued his walk around the mountain, laughing and praising the skies above. The more he shouted, the more snow fell. But his shouting would be his undoing, for the animals of the forest found the baby Clause. They covered him in sticks and leaves hoping that Winter would be too busy to notice him. When Winter approached from the white darkness, he knelt down to pick up some snow. He gathered a handful up and tapped it with his index finger. The ball shot up into the sky and burst with a blue light. The snowflakes began to fall in much larger sizes. When his eyes came back down to the area in front of him, he saw the pile of sticks and leaves. He was somewhat curious, but decided that It was nothing. No fool would dare be on this mountain now. He thought he saw a small mass of red hair underneath the cover, but paid it no heed figuring it was just some unusually colored leaves. Winter strode on into the night’s blackness. Shortly after he disappeared from view, the animals took Kris to the other side of the mountain and left him at the doorstep of the Kringle’s shop.

    As Winter continued his walk through the mountain, he came upon his castle in the distance. It was a palace of ice complete with twin towers and a mighty gate of basketball sized hail. Winter had seen enough of the storm and was quite sure that there would be no trespassers tonight. Those thoughts led him to go inside his castle and continue the study of magic. He was extremely wise in all matters that involved the use of ice, snow, hail and everything frozen. He believed that not even Jack Frost could compare to his knowledge and power. He was THE Winter Warlock. He was a being of chilly hate and cold words. But something inside him longed for…an unknown emotion. He was never quite sure what it was, but it was something that was out of place in his frozen world.

    The sun rose the next day, chasing the storm off with it’s mighty glow. Throughout the night the various animals kept check on the baby Clause, keeping him warm and clam. Eventually the Kringles came out their door to see the wonderful sight. They took the child to their leader, Tanta Kringle and named him Kris. As he grew he learned much of the Kringle’s toy making and their history. He even went outside and learned from the animals, who taught him various techniques.

    On one of this learning sessions, Winter happened to be standing on a cliff overlooking the Kringle’s shop. He saw a young boy in the Kringle tunic with red hair. He was flabbergasted when he saw Kris. A Kringle that was not an elf? He was unsure of what to think.

    “How is that even possible? A human Kringle? Absurd, there is no way. Elves are elves! However did they get a human in their ranks? No matter, he will not have any more luck than them when he tries to pass my mountain.” Winter thought to himself.

    He was secretly worried about the boy though. He wouldn’t admit it, but he was sure this was some sort of an omen. The thing that bothered him the most is how Kris got there, Winter would have seen him if he tried to pass….so how? He pondered this for some time, trying to figure out how Kris evaded him. Sitting outside his palace, he was stricken with boredom and deep thought. While thinking, he kept raising his fingers and pointing at a nearby snow bank. Ice Bolts would shoot out and hit it, creating icy snowmen. Shortly after they were created they were destroyed by another ice bolt. Winters beard overlap his right arm which was holding his head up. He kept grinding his sharp teeth together, all while in a deep state of thought. Kris had been on his mind for a long time. Would he try to pass the mountain someday? Where did he come from? Winter did not find the answers he seeked.

    Then his mind wandered to something else, something that has always bothered him. Why hadn’t the Kringles try to give him a toy? Winter, despite all his fury and grumpy ways would have loved nothing more than to receive a toy. He was never given one, but then again, he was never a child either. He was born a warlock, created by another in the midst of a blizzard. Perhaps this was why he was so angry, so fearsome. He was angry for never being shown kindness. And in turn, that anger lead to hate toward everyone else. He was not only jealous, but also sorrow stricken. Winter drifted away in these thoughts and then snapped to his senses. He instantly blew that cloud away and began to shout and thrash.

    “Me? The Winter Warlock wants a toy? A TOY!? Never, not me, not now.” Winter cursed aloud.

    He stormed off and stomped his way back into his palace of ice. The gate slammed with a thunderous bang and Winter went to continue his studies once more. But he could not keep his eyes and mind on the scrolls, it was fixated on a toy…something he thought he hated.

    “I need to stop thinking about it, I never liked, nor wanted a toy! Just…stop!” Winter shouted aloud to himself.

    But he felt as though he was lying to himself a bit, for what he felt outside rang true, as much as his cold filled soul hated to admit. He continued to brush the idea way, studying his scrolls deep into the day.

    As the years grew on, Kris began to turn into a fine young man. His red hair became more vibrant and his face ruggedly handsome. Eventually he was old enough to venture out on his own, and that was what he had planned to do. After bagging up a large amount of toys for the girls and boys of Somber town, Kris prepared himself for the journey ahead. Tanta and the other Kringles bade him farewell as he stepped out into the moonlit night. Kris carried the sack of toys up the tiring hills and further into the heart of the mountain.

    Winter had been out and about, but was not really in the mood to cast any deep magic. The Kringles had not tried to pass in many years, and the townsfolk never bothered, so he became less worried about it. He had a small flurry going that made the snow fall in an almost slowed time state, but only because he hated to see a day go by without that white glimmer. As we wandered about, he decided to craft a magic crystal snowball. This marvelous work of magic created just what the name implied. Winter gazed into it to see if anyone was wandering around on his mountain. His eyes widened when he saw the tunic of a Kringle!

    “So, Kris Kringle is trying to sneak past me? Fool, I will make my presence known.” Winter grimly stated.

    As Kris walked through the mountain trail to Somber town, he was quite worried that the Warlock would come out at anytime to freeze him. The eerie dead trees and unusual silence only added to his fear. He kept walking though, determined to hand out the toys. But out of the darkness boomed a voice.

    “Go back, or you are…doomed.” Winter rang out hoarsely.

    Kris tried to ignore the warning and kept walking, hoping that Winter’s bark was worse than his bite. He eventually reached Somber town, and after some words with the locals, handed out the Kringle toys. Kris didn’t know that Burgermiester had outlawed toys and that he was considered a criminal. He quickly ran from the town before the knight’s could arrest him, but this did not bother him at all. He was determined to make sure the children had toys, one way or another. As he began crossing the mountain to get back to the Kringle workshop, he had totally forgotten about the Warlock’s warning….unfortunately Winter had not. He saw Kris coming, and he prepared to ambush him.

    When Kris came to a stop and rested at a nearby tree, he noticed a sign that caught his attention. It read: You are trespassing on the land of the Winter Warlock. Right after Kris read those words, his gut tightened and he knew he was in danger. Suddenly the tree’s arms sprang to life and grabbed him. Their grip was too tight to fight off, and Kris watched in terror as a blinding flash appeared before him. Winter had teleported before him, and was not pleased to see him.

    “You disturbed me for the very last time! I have you now, and you will never get away!” Winter bellowed.

    Kris tried to convince him to let him go, but Winter refused. Winter was prepared to make sure that the children and the Kringles would never see Kris again. But then Kris said something that made Winter stop in both step and thought: “I will give you a toy.”

    Winter’s heart nearly sank, his eyes became somewhat saddened and his voice rose from a gravely state to a calm and peaceful tone. Winter was in shock, he was unsure if this was real. Someone wanted to give him a gift, a toy no less? For the first time, Winter felt something other than cold in his heart, he felt a warmth unlike anything he had experienced. He released Kris and was given a toy train, which he held up to his face tenderly. Unsure how it managed to manifest itself, a single, crystal teardrop trickled out from his eye. At that very moment, the Warlock’s icy heart had melted for good.

    He quickly became friends with Kris and taught him much about the world of magic. They had many experiences together. He watched him marry the future Mrs. Clause, and he even lit the first Christmas Tree. But above all, he was present when Kris Kringle became the entity of giving and care: Santa Clause. When Winter thinks back to the days of old when he was an ominous being, he realizes what happened to him that changed him. He received what he had secretly longed for: Love.
     
  8. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    An extremely direct interpretation here - something I've been promising to a family member for some time. With any luck you lot'll like it too...

    1563 words

    Christmas Story

    In the time between Jack going to sleep on November the thirtieth and the time he woke up again on December the first, the Snow Queen had come and turned the world white. There is milky sunlight and the bouncing notes of a robin perched on one of the nearby cowsheds. The song is sweet as cherries but Jack's father has taught him about birdsong and he knows it is not compliments of the season; this robin stands sentinel. It sings: this-is-my-land, this-is-my-land.

    Jack takes a pair of socks from the radiator and puts them on, warm fabric is so much better than cold. He can dress himself, though he is young. He puts on a pair of jeans and his grey woolly jumper with the red stripe.

    His mother is in the kitchen, making the air sizzle with bacon. She says hello baby, do you want some breakfast?

    Outside the bird feeder is crowned with snow and blue tits swarm over the nuts and seed. Jack watches them cling to the wire and his mother puts a hand on his shoulder. He says “It looks like a Christmas card.”

    His mother says “Yes well maybe it is one.”

    The garden is crisp and shining. The patio which in the summer holds barbecues and the lawn that his father cuts every Sunday has been blended into one blank canvas, as if the world has wiped away everything it usually displays and is saying: OK, your turn. Jack thinks, I know what this Christmas card needs.

    He finds a pair of gloves in the draw that creaks and always sticks half-way out and goes out into the snow. It crunches under his feet like pottery. Jack jumps around just so he can hear it and then he stops, and just briefly there is no sound but the robin, until a tractor starts its engine somewhere over the hedges and makes the air hum. Jack tries to roll a huge ball like he sees people do in picture books, but snow doesn't actually work that way; it is made of powder and will not compress just by rolling. He gathers it into a big pile and pushes it together, back and forth back and forth, adding more and more snow. Finally he makes a huge snowball, so big he has to hold it in both hands, and pokes it once, twice, draw a line for the mouth. He adds the head to the body and pats it into place, pushing the snow together as if he was moulding clay. He stands back. It makes a much better Christmas card.

    When he goes inside he remembers he has not opened his advent calendar. It is hung on the living room wall and has a picture of Santa putting presents under a sparkling Christmas tree. It has been dusted with glitter so it shines, like the snow.

    Inside the first door is a picture of a red and white drum and a chocolate in the shape of a Christmas tree. Jack says “Does Santa have an advent calendar?” and his mother says “Of course he does. How else would he know when Christmas Eve is?”

    At school his class is making advent calendars. His teacher, Miss Stevens, who always wears a green cardigan and glasses with thick black rims, has shown them all how to make doors by cutting three sides of a square. Jack uses the craft knife carefully, like he is helping his grandmother make the cookies they always eat on Christmas Day. His teacher has been talking about wise men and stars, and she says I want you to take these home and draw something about the meaning of Christmas in every door. Then on the last day of school we'll have a prize for the best one. Jack thinks, and draws a plate of cookies. He imagines of how they smell coming out of the oven, of warm cinnamon and browning sugar.

    Holly probably had something to do with the meaning of Christmas. Every year his mother decorates the house with holly and ivy, arranging displays in vases and making the mantelpiece look like a hedgerow. When Jack asks why she does this she says “Because it's Christmassy.”

    “Why is it Christmassy?”

    “I don't know, it just is.”

    Fetching more from the hedges, Jack finds the holly because it is the only green left in amongst the swaying skeletons of the other trees, waving their twigs as if conducting the birdsong. His grandfather says that holly goes with Christmas because it was the way people used to celebrate; it was a celebration that Spring was coming back. Jack thought, so that is why we have holly. It is the only tree that does not realise it is Winter.

    “It's not the only one,” said his father, when Jack mentions it that night. “We're getting another one tomorrow.”

    Jack goes with his father to collect the Christmas tree. They need to drive into town to pick it up and it is so close to midwinter that it is already getting dark, and a lone shining star has appeared ahead of them.

    “Makes you feel like a wise man, doesn't it?”

    The tree is bound with green netting and pushed into the car. It is big enough that it needs to hang out the back door. Jack's father binds it with orange rope that has a hook on each end. He wraps the rope around the tree and then hooks it to the car once, twice. They drive home and it is cold, because the night air is rushing in through the open back door. Jack's father taps his fingers on the steering wheel as the radio sings you're handsome, you're pretty, queen of New York City.

    Their living room ceiling is low and the tip of the tree brushes it oh so lightly, unsure, like a first kiss. Jack's father says I'll have to chop a few inches off it and his mother says don't you dare.

    “You won't be able to get your star on there.”

    “Oh it'll be covered in lights. We don't need another star.”

    They bring the tree decorations down from the loft, stored in an old vacuum cleaner box. They smell of a year's worth of dust.

    “You can open it,” Jack's mother says to Jack's father “in case there's a spider.”

    There is no spider and they string the lights around the tree, all three together they hang baubles and decorations scattered with glitter. Jack sees his face reflected in bauble-glass, red and convex, and the whole tree is bedecked and bejewelled. Finally Jack's mother puts Matthew the magpie on a branch near the top, fixing his feet to the branch with wire. Matthew is starting to look tatty now, but Jack's mother puts him up every year, and every year she tells Jack how she was given Matthew by her Aunt Sally when she was seven years old. Jack has never met Aunt Sally, and his mother says “Well she died not long after that. She was never well, you see.”

    Jack draws a picture of Matthew in his advent calendar.

    Uncle Tom always comes down on the weekend before Christmas, in a red Ford Focus, and Jack always waits by the upstairs window to see if he can spot the car coming down the hill. A little moving patch of colour; if the sun is out then it shines like the Christmas tree.

    Uncle Tom brings presents from their relatives in the city, the boot of his Ford Focus full of brightly coloured boxes covered with pictures of snowmen and penguins in Santa hats, Jack helps him carry them inside and puts them under the tree. Uncle Tom says hello to Matthew the magpie as he arranges the boxes. He is fat and has a beard; he says he is training to be the next Santa Claus.

    “You said that last year.”

    “Well it's a very long application process. It took Santa twenty years of training to do his job.”

    When all the presents have been put around the tree Jack's mother will give Uncle Tom another box of presents to take back with him. Everyone will wave him off again, with steaming breath and feet crunching the stones on the frost-glazed gravel driveway. The Snow Queen has not been back since the first of December, but the Painter of Frost has paid regular visits, freezing spider-webs and decorating windows with intricate tendrils. Jack has gone walking many times, because he likes the way the grass hushes and creaks when the Painter has been.

    School ends on December the twenty-first. There was a Christmas party and Jack still has some jelly on his upper lip. He is carrying his advent calendar with him.

    “Oh go clean yourself up, you're a right mess you are,” his mother says. “Did you have a good day? Did your calendar win?”

    “No,” Jack says. “Miss Stevens said I hadn't drawn what Christmas was about.”

    Jack's mother looks at his advent calendar. It has pictures of herself, of Jack's father carrying a tree, of Matthew the Magpie. She sees holly, and Jack's grandparents who will be arriving on Christmas Eve. She says “Well that just shows you what she knows.”
     
  9. Lyssa
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    Lyssa Member

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    This is my first time doing this, I hope you like the story.

    White Christmas

    Lilly stared out the hospital window. "It's Christmas Eve, won't it ever snow?" she thought to herself. Lilly took a breath and leaned against her scratchy hospital pillow. All around her was white, why couldn't the ground be white?

    She had been in the hospital for 3 weeks. After she woke up one night, throwing up blood -to her foster mom's horror- the doctors confirmed her cancer was back. She had lost her hair, again, due to chemo and was stuck in this room all day. Including today and tomorrow, Christmas.

    That night Lilly sat in the darkness, listening to the shuffle of the night nurses outside her door. Soon, Mary, one her favorite nurses came in. "Lilly, you should be asleep!" Lilly shrugged and lay back so Mary could look over her. "Now, Lilly. Tomorrow is Christmas. Santa doesn't come until your asleep."

    Lilly smirked,"Mary I'm 8 years old, I DON'T believe in Santa anymore. And all I want is for this," she spread her arms out and touched her bald head," to go away and for it to snow."

    Mary smiled, "Why do you want the snow?"

    "I don't know. I just....do." Lilly sighed and pulled up her blanket, " I guess I need something to believe in, and snow is so magical....it kind of makes me feel better." Mary nodded, and finished up. Before she left she tucked Lilly in and gave her a quick hug, "It'll snow for you, you'll see." Lilly nodded and turned over, closing her eyes.

    Soon Lilly was fast asleep, dreaming of a white Christmas.

    The next morning Lilly opened her eyes to snow streaking her window. She jumped up in excitement. "Mary, Mary!!!" she screamed. The nurse came running in. "WHAT?!?!" Lilly pointed to the window. The snow was letting up and she could see a new world, coated in white.

    She looked at Mary with sad eyes,"Can I PLEASE go outside?"

    "I, uh...no...uh...I guess," Mary gave in. Lilly jumped of her bed, slipping on her tennis shoes, and skidded into the hallway. As she walked quickly towards the side door other kids yelled at her,"Hey Lilly! Where ya going?"

    "I'm gonna make snow angels! Come on!!" Soon there were about 12 kids running outside. Lilly opened the door and smiled. Then ran out into the middle of the snow and fell onto her back. Waving her arms and legs up and down she shut her eyes. She could feel the soft flakes against her face and the snow melting in her hands. Thats when she knew why she needed snow. It was a sign from God, it said, "Just keep fighting." Because sometimes she just wanted to give up. But this, times and feelings like this kept her going. That reminded her to just keep fighting. And soon it would be over again.

    Lilly lay in the snow for a while before opening her eyes again. All around her kids were throwing snowballs and building snowmen. Lilly got up and walked over to where Mary was standing, watching them with a smile on her face. Lilly fell into a hug and looked up at Mary, "Thank you," she said.

    And as snow fell in spirals around them Mary smiled, "Merry Christmas Lilly."
     
  10. D. P. Sumner
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    D. P. Sumner New Member

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    Originally from Boston, MA...now live in Camp Leje
    The Cold Within [588 words]

    On a cold Christmas Eve, in any cold town in any cold winter, a young man sat on the steps of an old church. He fiddled with a shimmering gold chain, at the end of which dangled a small, oval-shaped locket, and due to the shabbiness of the young man's appearance, did not seem to suit him as well as it might someone of more wealth. Though he wore naught but a torn and faded suit, the man did not shiver--he was used to the bitter wind biting at his limbs, and he gazed off at the towns-people, thinking...thinking...

    The man had nothing else of value--no house, no horse, no bank account of any size, yet he was determined to save the golden locket, despite his burning hunger, which he refused to acknowledge, or his aching limbs, which I have already said he had gotten used to over the years. The day grew into night, and the man grew colder.

    Now this night was by far the coldest night that the town had had in a long time, yet the man tried to bear it, until his very bones began to feel numb, and he got up, and began to walk. He walked and walked, and beginning to realize that if he did not find some sort of solitude, he would freeze. He walked some more, and coming upon a rich and fancy-looking house, he could take it no more--he strolled on up to the front door, took a deep breath, and knocked--three big resounding knocks. He waited. Finally, a big, older man answered the door, dressed in a fine suit, with a chicken-stained napkin stuffed in his collar. "What?" he grumbled.

    The young popper, shivering, said "I'm sorry to bother you sir, but it's freezing and I'd like to stay somewhere warm, even a basement would--"

    "No." said the rich man. "We don't like your kind here." And he slammed the door in the young man's face.

    The young man did nothing, just turned around and went on his way, to try his luck with another house.

    But he received the same response. For hours the man walked, trying desperately to find someone with a little kindness--he did not seek pity, just survival. And yet he was not obliged by anyone, and as the hours went on, he wandered his way back to the church steps, and sat down in his usual spot. He took out the little golden locket, and continued to stare into space, as if he had never moved.

    The next morning all the townspeople headed for church for the Christmas Day mass, including the big old rich man and all the others who the young man had sought help from the night before. And they all came to see a big crowd around the steps. Curious, they looked, peering over each other's shoulders to see what the fuss was all about. And when they could see, they saw a young man, the same! Sitting on the steps just as he always was, with the golden locket in his hand--the one thing he could never give up for pride's sake. And as they leaned in closer they heard the other people saying things like "What a shame," and "On Christmas Day!" and "He looks so young!" And as they listened to the pity for a young man, frozen to death, on a church's steps, they realized that he had not, in fact, died from the cold without, he had died from the cold within.
     
  11. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Submission now closed. Voting to be launched soon. Thanks.
     
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