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Thursday, December 31, 2009

December drabbles - 31

They kept him in a paper-wrapped box, and planted him in a place scented with pine. He dreamed outdoors, sweet earth beneath his paws.

Morning brought music, loud laughter, bright lights and wrappings all soggy and damp. Pup wagged his tail and they carried him round in a handbag till time for bed.

Tree tossed; the pup was left out in the shed. He pined for his pine, searched the roadside and hid by its scent. “Not even twelfth night yet,” sighed a passer-by. “Poor wet little thing.” She took him home, best gift, best friend, happily ending the tale.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December drabbles - 30

Amy’s Mom gave her the wrong blanket for Christmas. She’d chattered for weeks about the red one with blue stars. This blue blanket simply wouldn’t do so Amy threw it away.

Amy’s dog liked every kind of blanket. This new one seemed just right to him, red stars for his paws, blue sky clamped tight in his jaws. Perfect he thought.

Amy’s dog liked the blanket so much he took it for a walk. An old man under the viaduct was shivering on a newspaper bed. Amy’s dog dropped the blanket and carried the newspaper back home to Amy instead.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December drabbles - 29

Mom said the baby was a wonderful Christmas present. Dan thought his train was more fun and the computer games looked more interesting. The baby was wrinkled and icky, smelled odd, and made a funny noise.

“He’s your brother,” said Dad.
“Your best friend,” said Mom.
But Dan said “Yuk.”

Dan’s Dad found a photo of Dan as a new-born baby, looking wrinkled and icky, with his face scrunched up to make a funny noise.

“Look at you,” said Dad. “You turned out okay; I’m sure your brother will too.”

Maybe next Christmas thought Dan, going back to play trains.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dacember drabbles - 28

He watched the house empty out again this morning. Mom snatched the children from bed. “No more holidays,” she said. Dad grabbed his computer-bag and a lunch-box that smelled of turkey and ham.

“Can Sam come too,” asked the kids as Mom loaded the car.

He’d enjoyed their company so much. But, “No,” said Mom. “Dogs stay home.” So he watched them go.

Delicious smells still drifted from the fridge. Sam’s nose, pressed close to the door, felt it move, blasting cold. Delicious indeed.

Then, warm and sated, he lay on the rug, and waited for them to come home.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

December drabbles - 27

On the sofa a mother sat suckling her child, shirt untidy, undone, drawn carefully back, and a blanket wrapped warm on her shoulder. The baby’s suckling murmured and sighed and the music of Christmas replied with whispering smile.

On the floor a little girl sat nursing her doll, rumpled dress pulled wide, towel hanging from her shoulder. The baby’s suckling sound she made were her own imitation of her brother’s hum.

In the manger scene a mother gazed down at her son. Shepherds and kings gazed too, and father, and sheep. The son gazed up.

And the Son gazes down.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December drabbles - 26

Papers were scattered across the floor, bright wrappings in tangled heaps, dull newsprint lying in flat carpet-squares. Boxes were torn and upended and toys ruled supreme.

Father and grandfather crouched on living-room floor, aching knees ignored. Backs bent; wrists reached; eyes glowed with pleasures in store. They fitted track to terminus, circle to straight, and loops to points. They snapped the cars to carriages to engine and flipped the switch.

“Daddy,” said the child.
“In a minute. Nearly done.”
“Please,” said the child, hands on hips, staring down hopefully. “Isn’t it my turn to play with my Christmas presents now?”

December drabbles - 25

In the morning he barked at the milkman, postman and kids from down the street. He should’ve been kinder to the mailman though, ‘cause the parcels smelled savory and sweet.

At lunchtime he barked in the kitchen but no one there had time for him. They gave him an ancient biscuit from the end of the pack.

In the afternoon he barked at the cat and the squirrels and the birds.

In the evening he barked at the tree. They said “Don’t touch,” and went to bed.

And at night-time he waited silently by the fireplace for Santa to arrive.

Friday, December 25, 2009

December drabbles - 24

The donkey’s hooves kick gravel on the road. Camels and kings pad softly over sand. Sheep munch the ragged cold-dried grass. Cows low. And shepherds wait. The pregnant woman feels the start of pains. Father, afraid; “I’m sure we’ll find a place.”

“No room. No room.” The crowded streets.
“No room.” The jam-packed stores.
Bright lights. Bright singing voices. Years gone by.

Shopkeeper hangs his apron, soldier his gun. Sailors brings their ship to port. Teacher opens a page. The preacher’s words sagely report what angels sing, “No room.”

So gathered round the tree and stable now, we welcome Him.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December drabbles - 23

Some mornings nobody wants to wake up—the air's too cold; bed-clothes too snugly warm. But sounds of movement disturb him now. Feet bound. Doors rattle and slam on pots and pans. Scents drift with mysteries to share; laughter in the bathroom; giggles in the crib; and church-bells ring.

Some mornings he buries his head and pretends he’s not there, pretends not to care. But today baby brother’s rushed in with milk-suds on his chin. “Christmas!” he says; it’s one of the few words he knows.

Some mornings are different, so just for once, just this morning, the teenager grins.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December drabbles - 22

“Frank’s the sensible one.”
“He’s what?” asked Mom.
“Frank’s in sense.”
“Oh, right.”
“So Frankie’s the king.”
“Frank who?”
“David’s big brother Frank.”
“Gone to college I think.”
“And David’s washing socks.”
“David’s what?”
“He’s a shepherd, in the play”
“Okay.”
“He washes socks by night you see. And Jeremy’s the flea.”
“What flea?”
“The one that Joseph took.”
“Joseph did what?”
“He took his wife and son and flea to Egypt.”
“Not sure about that.”
“But I don’t know why.”
“You don’t know what?”
“A flea would’ve made them scratch I think.”
And imagining it was making Mommy itch.

Monday, December 21, 2009

December drabbles - 21

“D’you hear the geese?”
Flocks flew overhead, but “Not geese Mom,” said the child. “It’s God’s organ-pipes playing.”

Blackbirds rose in a fluttering cloud. “D’you see the birds?” said Mom
“Not birds. They’re angels.”

“D’you smell the smoke?” from a hundred fires, heating a hundred homes.
“Hay,” said the child.

“Can you feel the cold?”
“God’ll keep me warm.”
“Can you taste the air on your tongue?”

The little girl opened her mouth and gazed up at the sky. “Like honey,” she said, “and sweeter than wine.”
“And what do you know about wine?”
“Well, you tell me ‘Stop whining.’”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December drabbles - 20

Really early on Christmas morning, or late on Christmas night, Tom and Alice drained the sherry glass, ate the last lonely pie, and watched the carrot-shavings softly curling by the fire.

“Think she’s asleep?”
“Let’s see.”

Tom’s red dressing gown was tied with a sash that matched the hat on his head. Santa-style, he smiled.

“Check the sack,” whispered Alice as they reached their daughter’s door, so he crawled to the cot.

“I'm invisible, see?”

But infant voice squealed out with infant glee, “Nice doggy!” and father scrambled away.

“She thinks I’m a dog?” he asked. Alice patted his head.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December drabbles - 19

“Take your places.”

The children formed into lines, smallest angels in front and the tallest one at back. Teachers straightened haloes, untangled wings, and whispered words of wise encouragement: “Remember to sing. Remember; walk slowly now.”

Two heavenly lines snaked down the aisle, dissolving to pattering feet that ran while voices brightly sang.

“Careful.” They scrambled on pulpit steps, shuffling front to back, till the tallest angel was ready to speak.

The audience waited with bated breath. The seraph raised her eyes and opened her mouth, then loudly pronounced:

“Please Miss, one of the angels just peed in the pulpit!”

Friday, December 18, 2009

December drabbles - 18

A small tree bloomed, its branches bent with jewels, glass-walled reflections. Twinkling lights lent red and blue and yellow to shade the dark. And childish hands, each movement planned, pressed fingers over figures loved by time. Jane had the pale blue Mary, sparkling smile. John held out Joseph; Tim, the child, while Mama clutched the manger.

They set their shapes in place to wait while Papa fixed the lights. Then, shades and shadows blending right, he set the cruciform night-lamp to guard against the dark. “Saved by His grace,” he whispered; smiled; the Christ-child born again in Bethlehem.

“It’s Christmas-time!”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December drabbles - 17

Tom slid miserably down the wall as girls crowded the hall. He wished he’d not been chosen, hated this. Jen’s catty, sharp-clawed words were hard; Len pudding-pawed her face; Di rooster-crowed.

“It’s only a play,” said the teachers. “Calm down while we choose.”
But “No-one’s playing,” thought Tom and watched them bruise. Mousy Len would suit the tale perhaps, but they picked Jen.

Standing beside him with doll in arms, eyes kitten-soft and keen, “’Lo Joseph,” she preened. A feline remnant glinted in green gaze. The baby slipped. Tom reached to gentle it. Then Jen cat-laughed with cruel, sharp-clawed glee.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December drabbles - 16

Mom was shopping for jeans for Tom. He thought his holey ones were fine; she disagreed.

Jen thought see-through blouses would be perfect Christmas attire. Mom disagreed.

Michael tipped his juice on the floor and smiled. Mom sighed again.

Sometime around then Jen realized Mom was doing a lot of disagreeing. But they stood in line for Santa discussing gifts. “Wouldn’t it be cool...?” “If only…” “Please…” with Mom still tired and sad.

“I wish our Dad could come home for Christmas,” said Tom and Jen together. Michael said “Da.” And Mom? She most heartily agreed.

Then her cell-phone rang.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December drabbles - 15

“My girlfriend’s pregnant,” said the youth as the church choir went caroling.
“Then you’re a sinner,” said the elder.
“We’re engaged to be married.”
“It’s still a sin.”

“His girlfriend’s pregnant,” said the elder to the priest.
And the choir sang “Come let us adore.”

“We’ll have to throw him out,” said the priest, “or he’ll corrupt the youth.”
But the old man said, “Put it to the vote. Let him who’s without sin cast the first stone.”

“His girlfriend’s pregnant,” was the verdict.
And, “Mary had a baby boy.”

It’s the sick and sinners who receive the greatest gift.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December drabbles - 14

David didn’t want to be a shepherd.
“Why not?”
“’Cause Daniel’s a sheep; he says he’ll bite me.”

David didn’t want to be a king.
“Why not?”
“’Cause Patrick says the presents weigh too much.”

He didn’t want to be an angel because they wore dresses. Or a camel or a sheep or a donkey because they smell.

“So what will you be?”
“A squirrel, except I can’t see properly through the eye-holes in my mask.”

David’s sister said that was fine because Jesus probably couldn’t see all that well when he was being a baby.

“Emily's doll's the baby.”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December drabbles - 13

Winter came suddenly, streets turned to ice and wind to infinity. “My coat’s too small,” said the boy; he’d grown so tall.

“Never mind. We’ll get one later,” said his Mom.

They walked from the car, boy wearing four sweaters instead, three hats on his head, arms bearing his load. Old men huddled in holey rags, blowing warmth onto fingers and shivering in the road.

Pale light; church door opened wide to call them inside. Mother and child shared five blankets with fifty men.

“Is that their only present?”
“Could be. Yes.”
Old men smiled Christmas thanks with summer’s glow.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December drabbles - 12

In scene almost Dickensian, dark alley, mildewed walls and dust-drawn windows eyeless gaze on young child’s pain. She hugs her blanket tight to narrow shoulders, shaking chest, then rests herself in nest of ragged straw. Rat shares the delectation of its grain.

A sudden cloud-break calls to passing stranger, turns her round, the sky resounding, sunlight dripped on rain, prismatic archways cutting angel’s paths through heaven’s refrain.

God-sent, the woman bends to see while shaking child falls still. She pulls away the blanket; wailing cry. In scene almost Dickensian, she draws an orphaned infant from the hay. Angels ask why.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December drabbles - 11

The silver globe hung on the tree, reflecting colors of room and lights, hiding secrets all its own. Child knelt and pointed awestruck at camels and kings that twinkled inside. Shepherds stood with sheep on straw like gold.

Child's knees felt cool dry sand beneath, night-sand. His nose smelled fire. Lambs bleated, cows lowed soft and voices murmured, “Where’s the king?”

But, “Where am I?”

Then babe in manger pointed too, where shadowed door hid darkly, scarcely seen. Child pushed it ajar. He found a room behind and saw himself before a silver globe, tree-hung and whispering, truth by star.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December drabbles - 10

As woolen clouds touched earth and grew to fog, the sheared sheep shying, as sunlight dropped and puppy-dog wrapped its naked fur in dark, they started out. Stark shepherds crossed the wool-clad field, wool-capped and gowned, where downy grass-heads dripped their milk-white strands, slipped down the hill. Soft lambskin covered small boy’s hands, bleating; he carried his task while town lay sleeping.

Lights danced and sang in candy clouds above, star speckles glinting in the fleece. And newborn babe? Wise shepherds came to offer him a lamb.

Child’s hands grow cold. It really doesn’t matter anymore; waits for the son.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December drabbles - 9

When the children sing like angels, when the bats fly like reindeer, when bells ring like a wedding, and when joy disperses fear,

When the sun is bright in all your dreams, all night, the air is warm, and every good thing turns out being exactly what it seems,

When all things torn are mended, and every sorrow has its end in sight,

When a loved one’s touch stirs you awake, when the lost are not forgotten and love is a magic spell that nothing can break,

Then you’ll know it’s Christmas and all manner of things shall be well.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December drabbles - 8

“It wasn’t me; it was him,” said Jen when she and her brother tripped over the Christmas lights and got tangled in wires.

“It wasn’t me; it was her,” said David. Lumps of ice made a trail of snowy footsteps behind them on the carpet.

“It wasn’t me; it was him,” said Jen. They’d forgotten to close the door so the dog and cat were outside in the yard.

“Not me; WOOF; it was her.” The dog looked aggrieved. The cat looked proud of the chaos they’d achieved. And both were trapped under slowly deflating snowmen crowned with twinkling stars.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December drabbles - 7

The Christmas tree twinkled with tiny lights and scented the living-room with pine.

“Smells like washing-up liquid,” said Emma, but Mom seemed to like it--she spent the whole afternoon in a chair with her feet up and heavy branches tickling her toes. Then Dad got home and carried Mom upstairs, which was decidedly odd.

“Want a slumber party at Alison’s?” he asked.
“Why?” said Emma.
“Just because.” Getting odder and odder.

Dad walked down the street beside Emma to knock on Alison’s door. Her Mom said okay.

Next morning, when Emma got home, she had a new baby brother.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December drabbles - 6

“Run,” said Lisa.
“Run faster,” said Jill.
“Fly,” said Emily-Dee.

So they skittered through trees, shaking snow from the last autumn leaves, shedding frost on the grass. Under dark looming sky they sang “Faster,” and leaden gray clouds shimmered silkily blue. The quivering moon danced with laughter to see how they flew.

Dripping stardust like gold from their robes, they skipped to the window where children looked out. Tiny fingers made pictures of silver, pale frost on the glass. Then swiftly the three slipped inside, went to hide in the tree - Christmas fairies, dancing and prancing with bright Christmas glee.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December drabbles - 5

The first year wasn’t so bad; just a touch of black powder in the chimney, sides nice and clear; a good solid roof.

The soot got thicker with the years, of course, and one time a bird’s nest tangled in his beard. Still, it was all part of the job. Even the night they forgot to put out the fire wasn’t really a problem; he just asked the reindeer to do a little judicial watering.

Then they took the fireplaces out. He had to carry his sack through the front door, and left a trail of muddy footprints; Santa’s revenge.

December drabbles - 4

A spider lived in a fir tree in the woods, spinning webs to catch sunshine and rainbows like fairy-lights.

One day she heard a chopping sound; her home fell to the ground. The spider held tight while her tree was carried away, ending up in a parking lot, and then a family’s living-room.

Next day the tree was decorated with lights and ornaments. An angel was fastened to its highest peak, smiling though the small child cried because the angel had lost her wings.

The spider spun new angel wings with gossamer webs that night, and the little child smiled.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December drabbles - 3

Peppy the puppy liked playing under trees with his friends Peter and Pamela. So when Daddy brought a tree into the house, Peppy wanted to play there too. But Peter said “No.”

When Mommy put ornaments on the tree, Peppy wanted to play with them, but Pamela said “No.”

And when a man in a red suit put presents under the tree, Peppy wanted to open them, but “No,” said the man.

Next day was Christmas. Peter and Pamela opened a parcel with a bright red wagon inside. Peppy climbed in to play and, this time, they all said “Yes.”

December drabbles - 2

Oscar’s a cat. Timmy’s a boy. Oscar chases butterflies. Timmy chases Oscar. Oscar chases butterflies up trees and Timmy says “No.”

Oscar couldn’t find any butterflies in winter. He thought the Christmas tree lights looked fun and he chased them to the top. Timmy said “No.” Timmy’s Mommy said “No.” And Oscar caught the fairy but she wasn’t a butterfly.

“Yuk” said Oscar, but it sounded like “Meow.”
“Naughty cat,” said Timmy.
“Give it back,” said Timmy’s Mommy.

Oscar caught a butterfly biscuit that Timmy threw to him. Then Oscar dropped the fairy and said “More.” It sounded like “Meow.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December drabbles - 1

“Why do shepherds wash their socks by night? Wouldn’t they see better in the day?” Alice/Mary was holding her doll upside down, checking for shoes, while Joseph tugged at his gown.

Mrs. Adams had heard it all before. “Now, children; get in line.”

“But if it’s silent night, why are we singing?”

“No talking children.”

“But Miss. Did they have reindeer in the stable?”

She ushered her caroling calamity onto the stage. Dolly Jesus, shoeless and sockless, rolled down the steps, but a “free king” rescued him. The angel’s halo got stuck on the elephant’s nose.

“Did they have elephants?”