" When Christmas Comes Calling" short story by @dagger STACH short story contest #15

in stach •  2 years ago  (edited)

He could just hear a bell......

"Hurry Papa! We're almost ready!"

The barely contained excitement in his 7-yr-old daughter was infectious. He laughed as she dragged him into the living room.

"Look," she bubbled, "we've finished the ornaments. All that's left is the angel! Lift me!" she begged, stretching out her arms.

It seemed this ritual became better every year. The room radiated warmth and happiness as the aroma of the freshly cut tree vied for supremacy with the mouthwatering smells coming from the kitchen. Christmas music played softly from speakers placed on either side of the cozy fireplace. In the background, a bell....

"Okay, little one," he said laughing. "Up you go." Brimming with excitement she placed the angel crookedly on top.

"Yay!" she cheered as he set her back down. "It's perfect!" The bell tolled a little louder.

His wife strolled in and they stood together looking proudly at the tree as a family.

This time, the bell was real.

The dream faded into a Salvation Army ringer and the fact the store had opened. He couldn't stay here. He shuffled off in his raggedy coat as images of a past life faded into nothing.

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Hello @dagger212! Great story. I needed to search up for more context to understand the last paragraph. I'm sensing sadness and regret over that one, though I'm not sure if I have sufficient context regarding the reference to the Salvation Army bell.

One thing is for sure, I was left curious, and I couldn't help to wonder "what happened to them?".

Hey, thanks for reading. The Salvation Army is a charity organization here in the US (and other parts of the world) who have a very well-known tradition. Every year around Christmas, they get thousands of volunteers who stand in front of store entrances all over the country with a big red pot (for donations) and the volunteers ring a hand-held bell all day long. If you ever see or hear one you'll never forget it because it really is quite loud and intrusive.

As for what happened to his family.....I had it in mind that he was a war veteran who couldn't handle the world when he returned home. He basically drove his family away trying to deal with his war memories. I only had 199 words so I didn't have much space for background but....that's what I was imagining as I wrote it. Thanks for asking.

Thanks for the explanation @dagger212!

This explains the sad undertone at the end. By the way, despite only having limited words, you were able to stir curiosity and make my imagination go running. It was a great read. :)

Hey, this was really good. I don't usually get into things like this, but I was surprised at how much you fit into this short piece. You really set the scene well and the unexpected nature of the ending really added to the depth at which it struck me. You should be proud of this.

Also, the imagery was amazing. You really put the reader there. Good work.

Thank you! I don't usually either. I've never written stories but the 199 word thing intrigued me so I thought I'd give it a shot. It's tougher than you think. I wrote the story and it had like 260 words and I thought it was perfect. But, 200 words is a no go on the contest so I started slashing. I now actually think the finished product is better. Maybe 10 more words would have helped but...I didn't need the other 50. Anyway, kind of fun. Thanks for reading....

Congratulations on a very nice post :)
In the meantime, will you repay me?

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Nice Christmas themed story!

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The brevity along with the rapid development is the genius here. Nice work @dagger212

I am reading lots of Christmas stories. Cute image of the bubby 7 years old. Maybe your daughter?