Sunday, December 24, 2023

Some holiday flash fiction for you.

I'm back home tonight after nearly a week on the East Coast, visiting my daughters for Yule. We had a great time together, as always -- but as always, it's great to be home again.

Today was one of those surreal travel days. I had breakfast in Alexandria, VA, just outside DC; barbecue for lunch in Kansas City (as one does); and leftover homemade chicken soup here at home this evening. That layover in Kansas City was so long that I had time to draft this year's ficlet on my phone and email it to myself. Ain't technology grand?

Actually, I kind of hope nobody reads this tonight. It's Christmas Eve, after all, and most folks ought to have better things to do. Regardless, I promised last week that I'd have a ficlet for you tonight. So here you go. This one springs from me watching way too many Hallmark Christmas movies this year. If you've read The Atherton Vampire, you'll recognize the main character; if not, why not head to Amazon and pick up a copy of the trilogy for your Kindle? The books are short and kind of fun.

That's it for the self-promo. Here's the ficlet. 


bigredlink | Deposit Photos

Callie Dailey’s head was whirling. Here it was, two days before Christmas, and she still had so much to do. But work had been crazy, what with her new job as morning anchor for Channel 10 Action News. She had adopted her producer's super-early-to-bed schedule because it allowed her to get up at ten p.m. and spend her evenings with Jerry before she went to work, but it had messed with her body clock something fierce. It was all worth it, she kept telling herself, to keep Jerome Atherton -- the city's celebrity vampire and her main squeeze -- in her life. 

But it wasn't easy. She was tired all the time. She had never had the energy to finish her shopping, let alone make the cookies she had promised to bring for the crew on Christmas Day. True, she could have been more productive in the afternoons, after work and while Jerry was taking his daily rest. But it seemed like all she had energy for was falling on the couch and watching dumb Christmas movies on Freevee. Now here she was, doing it again. 

She counted the tropes of the genre as they manifested on her screen. There was the old red pickup truck that showed up in every movie; there was the perky woman from the big city; there was the precocious little girl who just knew Mr. Perfect and Ms. Perky had fallen in love at first sight and just had to spend the rest of their lives together, after they saved Christmas or the town or something. The only things missing were the tree shopping and decorating and the obligatory kiss under the mistletoe…

…and there they were: the sales lot full of real trees, the little girl selling hot chocolate out front, and that damned red truck parked at the curb. Mr. Perfect got out of the truck and dropped a thousand-watt smile on her. “Here for a tree?” he asked.

“I… don’t think so,” Callie responded. He was adorable -- she had to admit that.

“But it’s Christmas!” the little girl said. “You have to have a tree or Christmas will be ruined!” She smiled winsomely. “Hot chocolate?”

“No thanks,” said Callie. “I’m just waiting for… for…” She frowned. “Wait a minute. What's going on here?" She took in the scene around her more fully. "I’m dreaming, aren’t I? I’m not waiting for anyone. My brain just conjured this up out of thin air…” She started to move away from the man and the girl. “I have to go. I have things to do…" 

“But you have to stay!” the girl pleaded, tears in her eyes.”You have to save our town! You have to save Christmas!”

“Besides,” the man said, “what have you got to go back to?”

The answer came instantly. “Everything,” she said. “My job. My friends. Jerry.”

She awoke to the credits scrolling up the screen of her TV. She'd slept through the movie.

Somebody had once told her that dreams were the brain's way of processing stuff -- that everybody in you see in a dream is actually you, or a facet of you. She rubbed her eyes as she thought about that. Apparently she’d been harboring some doubts about her life. Or she had a savior complex.

Or she’d been watching too many dumb holiday movies. Yeah, that was it.

She still had just two days to get everything done -- but there was no time like the present to start. “Those cookies aren’t going to make themselves,” she said, levering herself up off the couch.


These moments of bloggy holiday tropes has been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe and have a great holiday, whichever you celebrate!

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