Monday, December 25, 2017

"I believe," said Sage.

A few nights ago, on the eve of Yule, I read a new story live on Facebook. It's a Christmas story, more or less, and it stars Sage and Webb, those two crazy kids from the Pipe Woman's Legacy series. In case you missed it, here's the link.

Last time I tried linking a Facebook video on the blog directly, it didn't work -- so if you're not on Facebook, the link probably won't work. Just to cover all my bases, then, here's the text of the story. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and see you back here next Sunday to help me kick 2017 out the door.

Thirteen-year-old Sage Curtis sat stiffly in the back seat of her parents’ SUV, her arms crossed. “Tell me again why I have to go to this thing,” she said.

Her mother, who was driving, glanced in the rear-view mirror and shot Sage a look that would have made a god behave. “Because Aunt Shannon was kind enough to invite you,” she said.

Sage’s ten-year-old brother Webb turned toward her with a bounce. “Come on, Sage. It’ll be fun!” he said with a happy grin. “There will be cookies…”

“And about a million little kids.” Aunt Shannon had invited all of her nieces and nephews.
“Kerry’s coming,” Mom put in.

“She is?” Webb asked, his face lighting up. Kerry Hanrahan was Sage’s best friend. Webb adored her.

“Yes, Mother, she told me,” Sage said, ignoring Webb. “That’s the only redeeming thing about this whole stupid party.”

“Santa’s coming, too,” Webb said.

“Oh, for gods’ sake,” Sage snapped. “You know it’s just Uncle George in a red suit.”

“It might be the real Santa,” Webb said.

Sage stared at him. “You’re not serious. You don’t still believe in Santa, do you?”

Webb faced forward and pulled some string from a pocket of his pants.

“Mom,” Sage said, shocked out of her bored pose. “Do something!”

“What do you suggest?” Mom said, glancing in the rear-view mirror again. It looked like she was suppressing a smile.

“Talk to him!” Sage said. “He’s too old to believe in Santa!”

Webb shot her a sly smile and went on fiddling with the string in his hands.

“What are you making, Webster?” Mom asked.

There was that Trickster grin again. “It’s a secret,” he said.
Aunt Shannon’s house was already in an uproar when they arrived. “Thank the gods you’re here,”
Kerry said, her blond ringlets bobbing as she met Sage just inside the front door. “These rugrats have nearly tripped me three times already. Come on.” She grabbed Sage’s hand and led her through the throng, past the towering Christmas tree in the living room and into the brightly-lit kitchen.

“Oh, good,” Aunt Shannon said as she fussed over a tray of cookies. “You’re here. Where’s your mom?” Sage opened her mouth but didn’t get a chance to reply. “Would you girls please take care of the cider? It’s in the dining room. Paper cups are on the table.”

“Sure, Auntie, no problem,” Kerry said, pulling Sage through another door.

“Only fill the cups half-full!” Aunt Shannon called after them. “The kids will spill it otherwise.”

The dining room was relatively quiet. Kerry set the cups on a tray while Sage poured.

“So I found out something shocking today,” Sage said. “My brother still believes in Santa.”

“No way!”

Sage nodded. “Yes way. He was all excited in the car on our way over here.”

Kerry looked thoughtful. “Maybe he just identifies with the spirit of the holiday.”

As if on cue, Webb poked his head in the doorway. “There you are!” he crowed. “I have presents for you.” He presented them each with a small, misshapen packet of silvery paper with tape liberally applied. “Uncle George helped me wrap them.”

“I can see that,” Sage said dryly.

Kerry had pried the tape off one end of her gift and peered inside. “Oh,” she said faintly, and turned it over. Something finely woven of red and gold strands slid out onto her outstretched palm.

“It’s a hair holder thing,” Webb said as Kerry shook it out and tucked her hair inside it.

“You made this for me, didn’t you? I love it!” she said, hugging him. “Thank you, Webb!” She turned to Sage. “What did you get?”

Side-eyeing Webb, Sage unfolded an end and dumped her gift into her hand. Her “hair holder thing” glistened green and gold. As Kerry helped her stuff her straight black hair into it, she asked, “What does it do?”

“You’ll see,” Webb said, that Trickster grin back in place as he ducked out of the room.

Sage wanted to go after him...but it was too late. She was flying.

Flying! Soaring above rooftops. Higher than the trees. As high as the mountains!

Webb knew she hated flying. He was going to pay for this…

But she wasn’t flying under her own power. She was in a sleigh. Pulled by… reindeer?

Slowly, she turned. Sure enough, a fat man in a red suit stood behind her in the sleigh. His beard was as white as her great-grandfather’s hair. His smile was so bright, it rivaled the moonlight on the snow below. And he was definitely not Uncle George.

“Ho, ho, ho!” the man boomed. “Hello, Sage! Your brother has pulled quite a trick on you!”

“Yeah,” she said, scowling. “He’s a real joker.”

“My dear child,” the fat man said gently. “So scornful for one so young. But then you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.” He leaned toward her. “Tell me,” he said in a confidential tone. “What’s your fondest wish?”

 She swallowed hard. “To be normal,” she whispered. “I don’t want to shoot fire from my eyes. I don’t want to be able to fly. I don’t want to have to save the Earth.”

“I cannot give you that,” the fat man said sadly. “I can’t change who you are. But I can give you something better.”

“What?”

“Love,” he answered. “Joy. And hope.” He laid a gloved hand on the crown of her head. “Go in peace, Sage Curtis, and save us all.”
When she came back to herself, no time had passed. “Come on!” Kerry said. “I hear Uncle George!”

Hand in hand, the girls entered the living room, just as the front door opened. Uncle George, his ponytail peeking out from under his Santa hat, bellowed a hearty “Ho, ho, ho!” as he came in. Following him was a reindeer who winked deliberately at Sage.

She grinned. “Hi, Dad.” As he ambled past her, she looked out the open door. There, silhouetted against the moon, was a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, with a fat man holding the reins.

“Ho, ho, ho!” Uncle George said again.

And Sage whispered, “I believe.”
These moments of joyful blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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