Who says Christmas stories are now passe?
After my recent success of finishing my novel on time, I also just tied for first place in this month’s flash fiction with this little number! Please read, enjoy, and leave your thoughts! I’m always anxious for feedback.
“The night Santa went crazy, the night KrisKringle went nuts…” The kids screamed Weird Al from the backseat and Caroledid her best to smile and bop her head along to the music with them.
Ithad been a long drive, but Gammy Muriel’s house was finally in sight and soon Carolewould be able to deliver her sweet precious monsters to her parents and breakopen a bottle of wine.
TheSUV slid into the immaculately shovelled laneway and Molly and Brad, ages sixand ten, didn’t even wait until the engine shut off before jumping out andrunning to the front door.
“Gammy!Gammy!” they shouted, and barrelled against the welcoming legs of theirgrandmother who stood waiting for them in the doorway.
“Lookat you both! You’re huge! Come on inside, there’s cookies and a big glass ofmilk waiting for you on the table.”
Thekids whooped and disappeared in the warmth of the house while Carole unloadedsuitcases from the trunk. Muriel stepped around the back to help her, hersweater wrapped close around her.
“Brr,”she shivered. “How was the drive?”
“Long,”Carole sighed and gave her mom a tight hug.
“Andhow are you?”
Caroleshrugged and focused once more on unpacking the vehicle, piling backpacks andtote bags on her arms. Muriel grabbed the remaining Dora the Explorer andSpiderman suitcases and wheeled them to the front of the house.
“Wellyou’re not allowed to be depressed in my home. It’s been a year, it’s ChristmasEve, and you’re surrounded by people who love you. Think you can crack a smilefor that?” Her mother’s words were harsh, but her eyes belied the lecture.Carole gave a pathetic attempt at a grin and Muriel rolled her eyes, pushingher inside.
“Goeat some cookies.”
Thatnight around midnight, Carole woke up. She wasn’t sure what had woken her – therewere no children to be seen or heard and she couldn’t remember any bad dreams.For a moment she lay in the darkness and felt tears trickle out the corners ofher eyes. Every day since Tom left had been hard, but Christmas was proving evenmore so.
Sheheard a noise from downstairs, the sound of tree ornaments shaking. Is thatwhat had pulled her out of her sleep? She frowned. It was probably Brad tryingto sneak a peek at his presents. Hopefully he hadn’t corrupted Molly, too.
Carolepushed the covers off, pulled on her robe and went downstairs to the livingroom – to see a man in a red suit dancing with their tree.
“Excuseme?” she asked, fear struck in her heart. Was he trying to steal it? Some thiefdressed as Santa?
“Huh?”the man turned around, staggering on unsteady feet. “Who’re you?”
Nope,just a drunk in the wrong house. “I think you may have gone through the wrongfront door, buddy. This is Muriel and Kevin’s home.”
“Oh!Muriel, I like Muriel, she makes good cookies. Who’re you?” It was a trifledifficult to understand him through his slurry words.
“Carole,”Carole replied, her mouth a thin line. She wanted him to leave before he wokeup the kids.
“Carole,hi, I’m Dan. Sing with me, Carole. Your sister can sing too, I like twins.” Hegrabbed her hand and spun her around in a stumbling waltz. Carole tried to pushhim away, but not too hard. Her goal was get him gone, not angry. “Rudorf the lead-nosed reindog,” he sang.“Tha’s not right, does that sound right to you?”
“Notexactly,” Carole agreed.
“Wait– who’re you? This isn’ my house. Oops.” He let go of her and scrubbed at hisfake Santa beard. “You’re a good dancer and pretty.”
“Thankyou,” Carole played along. “Now how about you go home and sleep this off?”
“Yeah,tha’s a good idea. Nice to meet you, Annie.”
Heshuffled to the front door and out into the snow. Carole watched him leave witha shake of her head and shut the door behind him.
“Ican’t believe it,” Muriel sputtered over her coffee the next morning. Molly wasentertained by her new plastic ponies and Brad by his army men. Kevin satreading yesterday’s paper and Carole sat with her mother at the kitchen table.“Dan Sutherland, our neighbour. He was playing Santa at the hospital charityparty last night. Apparently he got so drunk he stepped on the fake presents,tripped on a child, kissed a nurse and walked all the way home from thehospital. It’s strange, he’s always been so polite – and chairman of the Boardat the hospital!”
Alaugh burst through Carole’s lips – a full, deep refreshing laugh at thereminder of last night’s visitor.
“Mom?What’s so funny?” Molly asked. She couldn’t remember seeing her mother laughthat way before.
“Nothing,honey,” Carole grinned. She leaned back in her chair and began to sing softlyto herself, “The night Santa went crazy;the night Kris Kringle went nuts…”