In a way, writers are playing reindeer games because, seriously, who ever thinks of reindeer playing rugby, tag or Scrabble? Likewise who would think of a manger in the garage, plum pudding on Rudolph’s nose, a stone in a stocking, a tree lit up like a torch, or black fur poised to snuff a star? Well, the Rough Writers & Friends, that’s who.
Dissonance continues with a seasonal holiday theme. The following stories are based on the December 3, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pairs something seasonal with something odd.
A Manger in the Mansion by Sarah Unsicker
I didn’t mean for them to sleep in the garage.
But honestly, I hadn’t thought they would come at all. They arrived five minutes late for Thanksgiving dinner, green bean casserole in hand. We squeezed a space for them at the table.
Mary insisted the garage floor was just fine overnight, even though the top light wouldn’t turn on. But we couldn’t find any other room for them.
The house awoke at midnight to Mary’s screams. While I gathered fresh towels for the baby, Mary delivered my new nephew.
As Joe cut the cord, the workshop light came on.
Diwali and Halloween by Ruchira Khanna
Raj lights lamps in all corners of his house with hymns playing in the background. He is celebrating Diwali the festival of light that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance.
Just then the bell rings, he opens the door to a bunch of kids dressed in spooky costumes and shouting, “Trick or Treat.”
He smiles, grabs his bucket full of treats and shouts “Treat…Treat!” As if surrendering to their threat in a sweet way!
Shuts the door, and continues with his prayers of the Hindu festival that comes around the same time as Halloween.
Christmas Presence by Pat Cummings
Space misted over the glittering tree and its brightly wrapped surroundings, revealing bitter eyes mid-air, in a face twisted by decades of curdled anger. Through clenched jaws it counted, “one, two… ten”.
“No, it wasn’t this year. Maybe the year before.”
Time was wrenched again, and in an earlier room, the same eyes sought, the same cynical voice counted, “one, two… eight.”
In his past there would be justification for his rage and loathing for the holiday. It had driven him to pursue his time-travel vision. He went on, searching backward for the no-presents Christmas that poisoned his life.
Hell Hath No Fury by Georgia Bell
She found the box in the closet and set it down beside the tree. Removing the lid, she peered at the once-treasures piled inside. She hung the ornaments he had given her first, placing them carefully on the branches, evenly spaced. The popcorn garland they had strung together while watching Christmas specials was next. And finally the angel, the one he said his mother made for them. She stood back and nodded, then poured the kerosene over the branches. She didn’t look back as she tossed the match and walked out the front door of the now empty house.
Hanging the Decorations by Geoff Le Pard
‘Let’s do the decorations today, mum.’ Penny rubbed her hands. She loved the tradition of dressing the tree.
While Mary fetched the box and Paul put the tree in the stand, Penny disappeared to her room. ‘Look,’ she said, ‘Uncle Rupert gave it to me. He got it from Grandpa.’
Mary googled at the hand carved Santa hanging from red string. Didn’t her half-brother realise how this much would hurt?
‘Let me,’ she said.
While Paul fixed the star and Penny the tinsel, Mary coiled the string into a noose, hiding the loop in a groove. ‘All done.’
Good King Wenceslas and the Archaeologist by Tally Pendragon
It came upon a midnight clear, the voice of King Wenceslas in my ear:
“You must honour my countryfolk!”
“And how am I to do that? It’s been twenty years since I dug them up. Back then, they were forensically unidentifiable even as Bohemian aristocracy. A 14th century Duke and his Duchess, privileged to have been buried so close to the walls of St Vitus’ Cathedral, was the best I could do.”
“I know their names, as you do their story. On the feast of Saint Stephen you will go to my church in Stará Boleslav and proclaim it.”
Drummer Boy and White Linen by Charli Mills
“I’ll sit with him,” announced Aunt Mary. Weary expressions from family members old and young, nodded, grateful. It was Appalachian custom to sit up all night.
Uncle Joseph stoked the embers and laid a large log on the fire. Like yule, it would burn all night. He kissed his wife’s cheek, following the young cousins and their mothers to the sleeping loft.
Aunt Mary had saved a swatch of white linen. She began to lace its edge–an extravagant gesture for drummer boy’s mother. He was already swaddled in what linen remained after burying all his older Confederate brothers.
Tinsel Factory by Larry LaForge
He never liked the stuff, but Morton took the low paying seasonal job to help his strapped family make ends meet. It’s been hectic since September as many folks nowadays put up their Christmas tree near Halloween.
Morton runs the tinsel packing machine. He comes home with glittery remnants all over him.
The daily ritual has a side benefit, though. Morton stands spreadeagled in the doorway as his wife and kids pluck tinsel from his hair, face, torso, arms and legs. They throw it in a large box.
Soon they will have enough to put up their own tree.
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.
A Star and Black Fur by Rebecca Patajac
He sneezed, thistles tickling his nose, eyes darting around.
No one, yet.
Things rattled around him.
He caught the glimpse of a sparkle close above.
His heart fluttered.
That thing taunted him every time they set it up.
Flashing and glittering, attracting all kinds of strange creatures to the neighbourhood.
He had to spend hours in the windows, protecting his home from intrusions.
There it was, the star, just a black, furry paw away, if only he could…
Warm hands grabbed his belly and pulled.
“No, not for you Mister Wiskers.”
No Presents by Norah Colvin
Marnie jerked backwards avoiding the predictable grope. In so doing she collided with her mother, sending her sprawling onto the tattered sofa.
“Aargh!” her mother screamed. “Look what you’ve done!”
Marnie watched the liquid from the upturned glass merge with the patchwork of stains collected in the carpet. If it was her blood it would not have mattered more.
“I … I’m sorry,” she stammered. But her sorry was for all the years it had been like this.
He smirked, raising his hand to strike, “No presents for you this year!”
“That’s right!” She ducked. “No presence!”
No Presence by Norah Colvin
With faces as bright as their Christmas wear, the children bubbled into the room, each carrying gifts for the Kindness tree, “for those less fortunate”.
Parents fussed, removing smudges and replacing wayward hair before blowing kisses and hurrying off for the parade.
And there was Marnie: no parent, no Christmas dress, no gift, no smoothed-down hair; no smile.
One last chance.
“Marnie!” I beckoned, and held out my Christmas cape and crown. “Will you be my special helper?”
Our eyes locked communicating more than any words. Her smile was my reward.
“I’m proud of you,” I whispered.
The Wilsons Go Shopping by Anne Goodwin
It’s a family affair, no doubt about it, and we’ve hit the Christmas Eve obstacle course with four generations of ours. Deft teamwork takes the trolley through aisles of goose-fat, sprouts and stollen to the checkout in record time.
“Daddy!” shouts the baby to a stranger at the next till. Gran tries distracting her with a Jingle Bells singalong but she calls out again. Seasonally cheerful, shoppers turn and smile.
Dad freezes stuffing chestnuts in a plastic bag. I take the wreath from the trolley to place on the belt. It’s not for the door but my brother’s grave.
Longer version posted at Flash Fiction Magazine.
Christmas Shopping at the Ghost Town by Susan Robinson
Some people called it a miracle. Not Dan. Dan had worked in retail all his life (bought his own store years ago) and always had plenty of Christmas customers. This year he had none.
He wasn’t the only one; the mall was a ghost town.
“Dad, you need to have an online site too.”
Not a fan of computers, Dan had repeatedly refused to listen to his daughter.
Dan had overheard her say he was more stubborn than a two year old.
He knew what he had to do.
He tapped the numbers. “Mandy, about that computer course…”
The Stuffing by Geoff Le Pard
‘Reindeer? But we always have turkey.’
‘It’ll be a change.’ Patrick grinned. ‘Special offer.’
Marcie swallowed her anger. Always doing things on the cheap. ‘Patrick, it’s Christmas. Can’t we forget the cost…’
Patrick’s smug grin was almost too much to bear. ‘I know you hate waste so we’ll just have to go with it.’
Patrick was pleased when, later, Marcie began hunting for a recipe. ‘The stuffing,’ she said. ‘It has to be perfect.’
Patrick carved. Inside there was a roasting bag. ‘For you Patrick.’
He held the divorce papers in sticky fingers.
‘It won’t be cheap,’ she said.
Carrion and Plum Pudding by Irene Waters
The stench of the decomposing old man’s carcass filled the air. Rotting road kill.Hit and run. In the desert heat the unfortunate fellow would bloat, explode, and have his bones picked bare by the circling vultures in only a couple of days.
Alarmed, the birds took flight when flying reindeer appeared. Rudolf’s red nose screwed up at the malodorous vapours which suddenly invaded his sensitive, red nostrils.
“Blow this Santa. I’m not doing it. My nose is too sensitive.”
“We’ve got to deliver these toys, Rudi. Here, cover your nose with this plum pudding. Fermenting fruit beats festering coot.
Christmas Wrapping and Two Pink Lines by Ros Nazilli
Lola hopped from one foot to the other. The cold, and the anticipation that he might just get up and leave, chilled her.
When he’d torn off the Christmas wrapping his face was completely blank. Then he took the package and went out to sit on a snow-covered bench.
She had never felt so alone in her life.
The minutes felt like hours. Just as she thought she could stand it no longer, he turned and looked at her.
She held her breath.
He stood, smiled and walked towards her waving the stick with the two pink lines.
Home for the Holidays by Sarah Brentyn
My sister wakes me.
She puts a finger to her lips and we pad down the hall in our fleece footie pyjamas. It is still dark so she holds my hand on the stairs.
Our parents stand in the dining room. I feel strange—like it’s snowing inside. There is quiet and cold here. Our da stares at something on the floor: a Christmas stocking.
I don’t understand why it’s in our house. We don’t have stockings. Or a tree with ornaments.
“There’s a note,” Da says.
My sister points to the shattered window. We are not welcome here.
New prompt on Wednesday. All writers welcome!