Song of the Moment

Song of the Moment: "Shake it Out" by Florence + The Machine

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Alex's Christmas Surprise

Since 2010, I have been writing a Christmas related blog post.  I looks like every other year, I get the urge to write something festive (you can read my previous post here as well).  This year, I was inspired by my six year old nephew, Alex.  This post is for him.  


           This year, Alex was determined to get everything he wanted for Christmas.  He was going to do as he was told, pick up his toys, and say please and thank you at every opportunity.  He was going to be on Santa’s Nice List.  Why was this so important this year?  Because he wanted, no he needed, The Imaginext Super Nova Battle Rover.  He was going to fight aliens with his rover.  With his imagination, he was going to be a hero!  His only problem was, sometimes being good all the time was a little hard. 
            You see, Alex was a good kid.  He was very kind hearted and generous, but got distracted very easily.  It was hard to stay focused, especially when it was something he didn’t want to do, like picking up his toys or getting ready for bed.  He would delay and make excuses, just to make time last a little while longer.  This December though, everything was going to change. 
            “Alex, it’s time to get ready for school.  Go get dressed.  We have to leave in 30 minutes,” his mother yelled from the top of the stairs.
            “Five more minutes, Mom!” he yelled back.  “My show is almost over.”
            “Alexander, right now,” his mom said from behind him.  “Go upstairs, right now.  We can’t be late.  This is your last day until Christmas Break.  You have a lot going on today, remember.?  It’s your Holiday party.  You don’t want to be late.”
            “Oh, right.  Ok, I’m going,” Alex turned off the TV and ran upstairs. 
            All day at school he couldn’t stop thinking about his Imaginext Super Nova Battle Rover.  He thought about who he would play with, where they would play, and what type of aliens they would battle.  Jacob, Josh, Peter and Alex would all play in Alex’s bedroom and they would create an alien world on his bedroom floor.  The Imaginext Super Nova Battle Rover would carry his astronaut into battle.  Alex was so distracted that he didn’t notice his teacher saying his name. 
            “Alex, it’s your turn to share what you and your family will be doing over vacation,” his teacher said, as she motioned for him to come to the front of the class.
            Alex went up to the front of the room, but since he was shy, it took him a little while to get the courage to speak to his class.  He told his classmates that he was hoping to have snow to play in and that he’d asked Santa for the Battle Rover. 
            “That’s stupid, Santa isn’t real!” yelled a boy from the back of the room.
            “Yes, he is!” Alex yelled back.  Alex was so embarrassed that he ran back to his seat and put his head down on his desk.
            Alex’s teacher, Ms. Stohl came over to Alex’s desk to console him. “Don’t worry, Alex.  There are some people in this world who don’t believe in Santa, but you know what?  I still believe.  Santa will still come to family’s homes for as long as you believe.  If you’re a good boy, which I know you are, Santa will bring what you ask for. 
            This made Alex feel much better.  If his teacher believed, then he still had a chance of getting the toy he wanted on Christmas Day. 
                Days went by after Alex’s last day of school before break.  Every day he thought about the toy he so desperately wanted.  He was a good boy during those days, too.  He was for sure going to be on Santa’s Nice List.  In the back of his mind though, he thought about what that boy had said in class.  Could it be?  Was Santa not real after all?  He had to get it out of his head.  As long as he believed, Santa would come.  It became a daily ritual for those few days.  He would wake up in the morning and say to himself, “Santa is real and he will come on Christmas Eve night.”
            After his family Christmas party on Christmas Eve, Alex ran up to his bedroom as soon as they got home.  He was going right to bed, to make Christmas morning come quicker.  He climbed into bed with his pillow pet and special blanket and snuggled in for the night. 
            Alex had been in bed for a few hours when he heard a noise.  It sounded like scratching.  He got out of bed and looked out his window.  Down on his lawn, he saw something his eyes almost didn’t believe.  It looked like a deer, but was twice the size.  The antlers were almost as tall as the beast itself.  Alex realized it wasn’t any ordinary deer.  It was a reindeer! 
            There was a real reindeer in his yard, which meant Santa must have come to his house already!  He jumped back into bed.  It was hard for him to admit, but he was a little scared.  Did Santa really come to his house?  He believed he would, but seeing it right before his eyes was a little intimidating.  Instead of going downstairs right then, he decided to wait until his big sister was awake too, so they could go down together.  It didn’t take long until his was asleep again.
            “Wake up, Alex!  Wake up!” his sister Abby yelled from the entry way of his door.  “It’s Christmas morning!”
            Alex jumped out of bed and ran downstairs with his sister.  There was a pile of wrapped packages all around their tree.  Their stockings were overflowing with all kinds of specials gifts and candy.   Alex looked around the tree, but didn’t see his Imaginext Super Nova Battle Rover.  He was disappointed.  He thought for sure he was going to be on Santa’s Nice List. 
            “Why do you look so sad, Alex?” his dad asked.
            “Santa didn’t bring what I asked for,” Alex said with a pout. 
            “Are you sure?  You better look again, buddy,” Alex’s dad said.
            Alex dug a little deeper and pushed away his sister’s presents that were in front and finally saw what he had been dreaming about for weeks.  Under the tree was his Battle Rover. 
            “Are you happy now, buddy?” his dad asked.
            “Oh, yes I am!” Alex exclaimed as he jumped up and down.  Alex stopped jumping and ran to his mom.  “Do we have a piece of paper somewhere?  I need to write a note,” he said to his mom.
            Alex’s mom gave him a piece of notebook paper and a pen.  He sat down at the table, before opening all of his other presents, so he could write a note to someone special.  It took him a while, since Alex was only six years old, but he didn’t stop until his was finished.
Dear Ms. Stohl,
Thank you so much for reminding me it’s ok to believe in Santa.
  I saw one of Santa’s reindeer last night and I know I wouldn’t have if I didn’t believe. 
I got what I asked for, too.  Santa is real.  I just wanted you to know.
Love, Alex.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Christmas Gift

It has been quite a while since I last posted a blog.  It doesn't mean I haven't been writing, just that I haven't had anything worthy to be posted.  Christmas time always puts me in a writing mood though.  Watching people shopping and experiencing the season always gives me so many ideas.  This is why I've decided to make writing a Christmas themed short story an annual thing.  My short story the year before last, (I apparently skipped last year, so bi-annually?  We'll see.) was what set this off.  I remembered it the other day and how much fun I had writing it, so I decided to try it out again this year.  Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Gift

      The snow was falling so lightly that it could only be seen on an outstretched gloved hand.  It must have been falling all throughout the night though, because the ice rink had a thin layer of fresh snow covering the it.  No one had been there yet that morning.  There were no foot prints or any other signs of life.  The first person to come to the rink that morning was a young girl of about 16 years old.  She was all bundled up, so much so that her dark brown eyes and rosy red nose where the only things exposed to the elements.  The fluff ball at the end of her red knit hat bounced up and down as she walked towards the rink.  The scarf that matched, kept falling down off of her shoulders.  She tossed it behind her every few steps.  The look of frustration, because of the mischievous scarf, showed on her face.  That frustration instantly went away as soon as she realized she was the only one at the rink.  She had the whole place to herself!  With an enormous grin on her face, she sat down on the bench alongside the rink and took off her snow boots.  She carefully placed her feet in each skate without putting her stocking feet on the ground, avoiding the wet snow that covered the gravel walk way.
Once her skates were on and laced up tight, she glided onto the rink.  She went straight out to the middle, carving perfect circles on the clean, clear ice.  The only thing she could hear out on the ice was the sound of her skates.  It was a perfect morning.  She didn't have to worry about the hussle and bussle of the crowds.  It was just three days until Christmas and she knew that within 30 minutes, the rink would be crowded with families celebrating the holidays.  She soaked up every minute she had to herself.
After skating for a few minutes, she stopped to catch her breath.  With no noise coming from her skates, she could just barely make out the sound of music off in the distance.  It sounded like an acoustic guitar.  Who would be playing a guitar out in the cold way out here?  She followed the sound.  It was coming from the south end of the ice rink.  A man was sitting on a park bench.  He had a long beard, the color of the sand she used to play in at her grandparents’ beach house.  His hair, the same color as his beard, was pulled back in a short pony tail.  As she skated closer, she could see that his guitar case was open and inside was a sign, written on card board.  It read “Tis the season to be merry and bright.  God bless you.”  There were a few quarters scattered on the bottom of the case.  The girl wasn't sure, but she believed the man was homeless.
She didn't want the man to think she was spying on him, so she skated back to the middle of the rink.  The music of Oh Come All Ye Faithful played from the guitar while she skated.  She had hoped for peace and quiet while she was on the rink, but the soft, beautiful music that was coming from the man’s guitar was much more than she’d hoped for.  The music was hers, and just hers, for only ten minutes.  By the second bar of Silent Night, she could hear the children coming.  Soon the screaming, laughing and crying from all the families would drown out the beautiful music and her special time on the ice would be over.  She would be back the next morning, she told herself.  She hoped the man with the guitar would be back as well.
The man with the guitar was back the next day, and the day after that.  The girl had come to look forward to her private skating time even more than she already did.  She was pretty sure the man enjoyed his time at the rink too.  Why else would he come so early?  There was no one else there.  Who else was he playing for, unless he just played his music for himself.  She thought that could be a possibility, just like she skated for herself and no one else.  Still, there was a bond there that she couldn't quite explain.  She’d only seen the man for three mornings, never speaking to him, but she felt that he enjoyed watching her skate just as mush as she enjoyed listening to his music.
Today was Christmas.  She had come to the rink at her usual time, long before the rest of her family was awake.  The man with the guitar was there, just as he had been before.  She decided that she was going to talk to the man after her skate and thank him for his music.  She didn't have money to give him.  She’d spent all of her babysitting money on her family’s Christmas presents, but she felt that she needed to give him something, so he knew he was appreciated.
When the girl finished her morning skate, she took off her skates and quickly slipped on her boots.  She walked over to the man on the bench, as quick as she could without slipping on the slick snow.  The crunching of snow under her feet almost drowned out the sound of the guitar.  As she got closer to him, she noticed that he wasn't wearing much in regards to clothing.  He had on a button up shirt with a few holes in the sleeves and khaki slacks.  He wore tennis shoes, with a hole in one of the toes.  She didn't know how he could sit out there that long and not freeze to death.  He stopped playing mid strum as soon as she came up to him.
“Oh, please don’t stop.  I didn't want to interrupt you, but I wanted to thank you for your music.  I've enjoyed it so much these last few days.”  She waited for him to respond.  After almost a minute of no one saying anything, she figured she’d leave him alone.  He obviously didn't want to have a conversation.  She turned to leave just as he finally spoke up.
“You are a very graceful skater.  You’re very talented.  I can tell how much you love it.”  The man quietly strummed his guitar.  He played a song unknown to the girl.
“Thank you.  Yes, I do love it very much.  I especially love it when I have the whole rink to myself, which is why I come out here so early.  Why do you come out here so early?”  She asked.  Her mother always told her she was too nosy and to mind her own business when it came to strangers, but the girl didn't feel like he was a stranger.
“You remind me of my daughter.  She used to skate here when she was a kid too.  When I saw you the other day, the resemblance was unbelievable.  She passed away a few years ago.  I guess, watching you skate, made me feel a little closer to her.  She loved Christmas music, even when it wasn't Christmas.  She thought that when it was played on a guitar, that was the way it should be heard all the time.”  The man stopped playing and looked up at the girl for the first time since she’d approached him.  His eyes were kind and glistened in the light from the lamp post.  She could tell that he had tears in his eyes, but the tears never fell.  It made his blue eyes sparkle like diamonds.
“I wanted to make sure you knew how much you are appreciated.  I don’t have any money to give you for the days you've played for me, but I can give you something it looks like you could use.”  The girl took off her red knit hat and matching scarf and carefully placed them on the bench next to the man.  “It’s cold out here.  You should bundle up.  Merry Christmas, sir.”  The girl smiled.  The man gave her a gentle smile back.
“Merry Christmas to you too.  Thank you for the gift.  It’s very kind of you.  God bless you.”  The girl smiled and turned to walk back to the path.  She glanced back when she didn't hear the music begin again, but her eyes had to be playing tricks on her.  The man was gone.  Had she imagined the whole thing?  Of course not.  He was real.  The music she’d heard was real, but he couldn't have left the park that fast without her noticing.  The girl would never know what happened to the man or where he went, but she would always remember the gift of music she was given that Christmas.    

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Novel: A Work In Progress

I had a dream last night that gave me an idea for a new novel.  It would be in the young adult genre, but I still love reading young adult books even as an adult, so writing one may be even more fun.  I don't have an official title yet but I'm thinking Irving Prep.  It will be about the ruling circle of girls at Irving Preparatory School and the take down of their queen.  A "Mean Girls" type drama with elements of a thriller.  Here's the Prologue...

      Once upon a time, there lived two princesses in a far away land.  One with golden hair, the other with hair as dark as the night.  They were the greatest of friends.  The battles they fought throughout their land made their bond even stronger.  They felt like nothing could ever break them…
    “You see girls, this is going to be the two of you when you grow up.  Two strong girls who can depend on each other.  It’s getting late, time for bed.  We’ll finish the story another time.  Sleep tight, angels.”  She sat the book down on the night stand and headed for the door.  Switching off the overhead light, Avery’s mother closed the door behind her.
    Looking back, that was Avery’s earliest memory.  Back when everything seemed perfect and the world was still a magical and safe place.  Of course, when you’re four years old that’s how it should be.  Now that Avery was approaching adulthood, though she still had a year left, she had figured it all out.  The world was not safe nor perfect, but your life is how you make it.  Avery was an expert at making things out to be exactly how she wanted them to be.  What was her secret?  Power.
   Avery’s power wasn’t something she just happened upon.  She worked hard for her seat on the imaginary hierarchy of Irving Prep.  It took work and determination to knock down the lower beings and make them learn their place.  And, in order to rule the school, you need your royal court.  Which is exactly where her friends came in to play.  Corrine Matthews, her life long friend, was her second in command.  They had been best friends since before they were born.  They’re mothers were best friends growing up.  It was like they planned their pregnancies so that their children would be friends too.  They’re planning worked out pretty well.  Avery was born just a month and a half before Corrine and they had been inseparable ever since.
   Next in Avery’s chain of command came Ronnie Edwards.  Her real name was Veronica, but she hated it.  Though she hadn’t lived in Hampton her whole life like Avery and Corrine, she figured out at the early age of 12 that getting in with Avery’s group of friends was the way to survive.  She’s what Avery would call shy, but to others she was a chatter box.  Ronnie just knew when to keep things to herself.  The brainiac of the group was Maddie Hendricks.  She’s had a 4.0 all throughout school and won't let you forget it.  A little conceited, as they all were, she had a way of throwing her smarts right in your face.  The last girl in Avery’s circle, was Ashley Martin.  She was always in and out of the circle, though Avery never had a problem with finding a back up to complete her Circle of Five.  Ashley sometimes challenged the ways of Avery’s rule and often found herself on the outside.  It never took her long to make her way back into the circle.  She craved acceptance so her moral compass sometimes had to take a back seat.
         Avery Allenwood and her circle paraded down the halls of Irving Prep every morning, with Avery always in the middle and her cohorts flanked on her sides.  The morning of their senior year was the same as any other, but unbeknownst to Avery, this morning was the beginning of her downfall.