Howler

Christmas Freewrites

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It had been three hours since John was sent to bed, wrapped in the cold sheets eagerly waiting for when the sun would rise and peek over the trees. For the light spreading across his room would mean morning and morning would mean it was Christmas Day.

But the light had not come, and it was still dark outside. Like any seven-year-old, John was impatient and restless when it came to exciting things happening the next day. Especially if it was Christmas. His eyes shift to the flashing orange alarm clock: 12:00 a.m. With an exhausted and over-dramatic sigh, the young boy furrowed his brows and turned to the opposite side where he lay before. So many more hours of waiting! How could his parents expect him to sleep on a night like this? The night Santa would come, the night that promised so much fun the next day? The images of snow covering the streets like a blanket of wool in the pale morning where the sun just comes up. He imagined his parents nuzzling him awake, their eyes shining, and little John himself hopping out of bed and gawking at the amount of presents underneath the fat, Scotch Pine tree. The imagery made him smile to himself. But that smile was gone as quickly as it came. For a young kid, waiting a couple of hours felt like years! How could he –

Thud.

John shot straight up, his eyes widening as the sound of footsteps followed. Almost like boots on a wooden floor, thumping around. Could it be…?

Eagerness overtaking him, John bounced up from bed, his wee little feet plopping on the ground next to him as the child stood up. “Be quiet,” he told himself, trailing on tippy-toes to his door. The noise continued.

Grasping the knob, he quietly opened his bedroom door and peeked his tiny head out from the crack, his curious, young eyes searching and scanning the living room.

All was quiet throughout the house.

John could hardly hear his own breath. It was so dark, not a trace of illumination anywhere. His shoulders relaxed and the young boy sighed. Maybe the sound was from his imagination. But before he could turn back, he heard a sound.

The sound of jingle bells.          Naomi Armstrong


 

 

 

The boy sighed. His nose was smushed against the cool glass, his steady breathing reflected in the expanding and receding blur between him and the winter world outside.

If only it were a white winter world, the boy thought, his eyes following the gentle patters of rain that began to splash the window. Flickering his attention away from the scenery of his front yard, the boy tapped his phone awake and unlocked it to the weather app he had left opened. 40 degrees. Heaving another sigh, the boy sat back on the bed, creaking the springs under his round figure. Another snow-free Christmas morning to disappoint his wish list for the year.

Outside, a tired wintry breeze mimicked his withering mood and shivered the empty tree branches. Creased brown leaves tripped over one another in the faded grass, remnants of the colorless autumn they’d observed this year, as well. The rain fell heavier.

The boy sat, listening for more sounds, this time in his home. His father was rummaging through the cabinets in the kitchen downstairs, no doubt preparing a holiday breakfast for him like last year and the one before that. Somehow the same wash of gratitude refused to offer him its warmth. He stayed on his bed. He would eat the pancakes for lunch.

The boy returned his attention to the front of the home. It was pale and grey, like a winter sky should be, but steady rain continued to sheet the empty driveway, on which he searched for the promised Volkswagen buggy. The missing vehicle left a vacant space in the scene, a space that he found identically in himself. There was another item off his wishlist.

At that moment, the precipitation seemed to lighten its load, the rhythms on the window pane slowing. The boy glanced upward, then scooted forward on his bed and leaned into the picture. The rain was letting up now, but it was mixed with something else—like a softer rain, less translucent.

The boy’s eyes widened, and he scrambled for his phone. A wild grin flushed over his face, and he closed out of the app before quickly reopening it. The results remained. 33 degrees. He turned back to the scene outside. Small white prints tracked the window, some melting while the new ones layered on top of them.

And among the drifting flakes, headlights beamed through. The boy’s nose was drawn to the window once more, and this time the refreshing touch of the frosted surface reached both of his full cheeks and was a cold mask on his reddening features. His eyes could not widen any further as he tried to take in the entire scene taking place before him if it even truly was.

The headlights turned slowly, as the small car behind it followed. The blur on the glass held still, and the boy quivered in place. A car door slamming shut resonated in the air like the jingles of sleigh bells. A figure, not quite as large as Mr. Claus himself but every bit as magical to the boy, scuffed up the driveway. Double beeps acknowledged the boy’s question of whether it would stay.

A different door closed downstairs, and new footsteps joined his father’s weary shuffling. There was a moment, an exclamation, and laughter.

 

It was the boy’s twelfth Christmas, but the first one he truly believed in magic. He scrambled off the bed.

I think I want breakfast today.           Mindy Do

 

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Christmas Freewrites