Hello and welcome. In today’s post I am sharing a short story I wrote using these prompts: Santa Claus, Christmas tree, Magic and Clairvoyant child. I had challenged my friend and talented fiction writer Dyane Forde with the same prompts and she did a magnificent job. So I decided to challenge myself. Now, this is not a competition between me and Dyane. I was blown away by her story and wanted to challenge myself using the same prompts. You can read her story here. I hope you enjoy both stories. Thank you!
A Christmas That Almost Wasn’t
by Vashti Quiroz-Vega
He had a crazed look in his bloodshot eyes. He staggered toward me, holding an enormous shotgun.
“Don’t move!” He waved the gun at me. “How did you enter my house?”
He continued to move in my direction, the barrel of the gun waving around like a banner. I was afraid it would go off by accident.
“Wait a moment!” I outstretched my arms before me.
He moved like a drunkard, expending tremendous energy with each step forward. I feared for my life. I retreated and bumped into the Christmas tree. The ornaments came crashing down all around me. I leaped forward to avoid getting hit by one.
“I told you to stay back!” His words ran into one another. “I mean it. I will shoot you!”
My foot stepped on an ornament, and I tripped forward. I heard the gun go off. Pain ripped through my chest, expanding like lava. A mist of darkness surrounded me, and I fell to the floor. The last thing I heard was the sound of a woman screaming.
“What have you done?”
“Mrs. Claus, your husband’s health is deteriorating. He may not be able to do his Christmas Eve rounds this year, or any other year for that matter, unless essential changes are made now.” The North Pole’s physician wore a grave expression.
“Oh, no! That would mean the end of Christmas!” Pepper Minstix’s cheeks flushed to match his berry sweater.
“No more Christmas?” Jangle began to sob.
Santa’s elves waggled and blubbered in despair.
“Shhh. Hush, now,” Mrs. Claus told the distraught elves. “Of course, Christmas will go on. We are going to do everything the good doctor advises in order to help Nick get better.” She turned to the doctor. “Now, what is it you’d have us do?”
“First and foremost, Mr. Claus must lose weight,” the doctor ordered to a symphony of gasps.
“Santa Claus lose weight? That’s impossible!” Pepper shook his head.
“Nothing is impossible, my dear Pepper,” the doctor said. “Santa Claus can lose weight and regain his health if he gets help from all of you.” He pointed at Mrs. Claus and the surrounding elves.
“I do want to help him. I do, but how?” Jangle asked.
“Well, for starters, you elves can help by creating a gym where Santa can exercise every day. I charge all of you with the task of keeping him motivated.” The elves glanced at each other. “Mrs. Claus will have to cook healthier meals. Santa must eat a diet of lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits and grains. It is the only way he will lose the excess weight and regain his health. It is the only way to save Christmas.”
Everyone heeded the doctor’s advice. Mrs. Claus cooked food low in fat, salt, and sugar. Nicholas Claus was not thrilled with his new diet of mostly vegetables and fish, but he knew what was at stake if he did not do what the doctor ordered.
The elves got busy and fashioned a gym that would put envy in the heart of any man. Pepper and Jangle woke Santa at the break of dawn every day and accompanied him, grumbling and whining, to his exercise routine.
For months Santa Claus ate lean meats, chicken and fish, steamed vegetables, fruits and grains. He exercised every day in the gym the elves had built for him, and later, he was seen running up and down the snowy hills of the North Pole.
A week before Christmas, the doctor returned to see Santa Claus’s progress. What he saw caused his jaw to drop, his eyes to widen into saucers, and a large grin to form on his face.
“I can’t believe you are the same person I saw months ago.” The doctor grinned. “You don’t have an ounce of excess fat on you. You have completely transformed yourself.”
Santa Claus was no longer the rotund, jolly fellow of old. He was lean, muscular, and healthy. He passed his physical exam with flying colors. As a reward for all his effort, Mrs. Claus made him a new red suit to match his new svelte and youthful form.
Santa Claus was ready to do his rounds on Christmas Eve.
It was eleven o’ clock Christmas Eve. My wife and I had returned from a Christmas Eve party at a neighbor’s house. We left the party early because my wife can’t have two glasses of wine without wanting to first, take her clothes off, and then, fall asleep. I put her in bed, and the snoring began immediately. Damn, how such noises could come out of that pretty mouth, I’ll never know.
I wasn’t done drinking yet. I took a bottle of whisky from the fridge, where I had left it to chill. After I drank about one third of the bottle, I saw it: the large shadow of a monstrous man creeping around in our family room. I put the bottle down on the counter. I moved stealthily across the room and pressed myself against the wall between the kitchen and family rooms. I peeked around the doorway and saw him. He must have been nearly seven feet tall. He had muscles on top of muscles. My heart began to rush liquored blood to my head. My face was burning.
I could hear my wife snoring upstairs. I couldn’t allow any harm to come to her. I was so glad the kids were staying at their grandpa’s house. I ran as fast and as quietly as I could and grabbed my shotgun from the hall closet. I had to defend my home––that was all I could think about.
I ran into the family room and startled the big man. He dropped a large bag he’d been carrying. No doubt filled with my things. Things I had worked so hard to get.
“Don’t move!” I pointed my shotgun at him. “How did you enter my house?”
“Wait a moment,” he said in a deep, raspy voice as he walked toward me.
“I told you to stay back!” I pointed the barrel of my gun at his chest. He continued to move in my direction.
“I mean it. I will shoot you!”
“Wait! Wait, I . . . ”
I shot him.
He fell with a loud thump on my wood floor. My wife ran down the stairs.
“What happened? I heard a gun shot!” She turned the lights on in the family room. Damn! Why didn’t I think of that? When she saw the big guy sprawled on the floor in a pool of his own blood, she fell to her knees. “What have you done?”
“I killed Santa Claus.”
The doorbell rang.
“Oh my God! It’s the police!” My wife’s chest heaved as she panicked.
“No, I didn’t hear sirens.” I didn’t recognize my own voice. It was low and brittle.
“What are we going to do? How could you kill Santa Claus?” She sobbed into her hands.
“I didn’t know it was him. I didn’t recognize his silhouette in the dim light.” My entire body trembled. I was sobered by the jolt of seeing Santa pale and lifeless on my floor.
“Never mind that now.” She stared at me her eyes withered from crying. “What are we going to do?”
Someone jiggled the front doorknob. I grasped my shotgun, which lay on the floor. My wife placed a hand on my arm and squeezed. I sprang to my feet. I pointed the gun at the door. Was I really going to shoot someone else? The door opened. I lowered the gun.
My eleven-year-old son ran in. He didn’t stop to say hello to me, or even look my way. His eyes were fixed on Santa’s corpse.
“Oh, my!” My father-in-law paled as he walked through the door and saw the red-suited body lying limp on the ground.
Next, my fifteen-year-old daughter walked in. She did not say a word. Her hands were crossed over her mouth and her eyes were wide as she treaded lightly toward Santa’s body.
“He woke me up.” My father-in-law pointed his chin at my son. “He said I had to bring him home right away. There was nothing I could say to convince him otherwise. I had to bring him.”
My daughter stared at me with sadness and reproach. “He said you had done something awful and he had to make it better. I guess he was right.” She shifted her eyes to the gun I was holding. I instinctively moved it behind me. Her eyes narrowed.
“I, I didn’t . . . ” I couldn’t find the words to explain, and she turned away from me and stared at her brother.
We all hovered over Santa’s body now. My son was on his knees. His hands floated in circles over Santa’s head.
“What . . . ?”
“Shhh!” My daughter strangled my words and threw darts at me with her stare.
I gulped and stumbled backward. The bright red blood on the ground began to sparkle and retract toward Santa’s body until there was none left on the floor. A chorus of gasps ensued.
We gaped in awe as my son began to glow like a star. He placed his small hands on Santa’s forehead until he, too, began to glow.
My wife’s mouth moved, but words did not leave her lips. My father-in-law smiled as if he knew something no one else did. My teen daughter watched her little brother, frozen in place, hypnotized by the intense glow reflected in her eyes.
Santa trembled and levitated off the floor. Then he gently went back down. He began to cough. He inhaled deeply and opened his eyes.
Santa Claus lives again!
My daughter burst out laughing and my wife sobbed in relief. Her father placed a hand on her shoulder and grinned at my son. My little boy gazed at Santa Clause and smiled. I couldn’t move. I watched all of them through a blur of hot liquid pooling in my eyes.
My son got to his feet. He extended his hand, and the man in the red suit took it and stood. He looked at my boy with a familiar twinkle in his eye, and then they exchanged embraces. When they were done, they both looked at me. I couldn’t contain myself any longer. I fell to pieces on the ground; relief, happiness, pride, and love streamed down my face.
My son ran to me and hugged me. I held him tight. I didn’t understand how he knew to come home or how he did what he did, but those were questions to be answered at a later time. All that mattered at the moment was that my boy saved two lives this Christmas Eve—Santa Claus’s and my own—and he saved Christmas, too!
My wife joined my son and embraced us both and then my daughter, grandpa, and even Santa joined in. We held each other tightly and rejoiced in the Christmas miracle.
“Say it, Santa Claus!” my son yelled. “Go on, say it!”
“Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”