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CHRISTMAS SHORT-STORY COMPETITION 2012!!!

 
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Tikanni Corazon
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:19 pm    Post subject: CHRISTMAS SHORT-STORY COMPETITION 2012!!! Reply with quote




Right folks, I've had enough of this slack. Lets get this place moving again!

As it's close enough to the first of December and Christmas is only a stones throw away, I've decided to open up this competition. And there is only one theme: Christmas itself. The genre is completely up to you. Whether you're a fantasy fanatic, sci-fi sensation, horror buff etc, it doesn't matter. Select the genre in which you feel most comfortable and get writing!


The Rules

1) This is a short story competition and therefore there is a word limit of 2000 words. Please keep within this margin.
2) Minor swear words are okay, but please try to keep it to a minimum. There are younger people on this site, after all.
3) You must include the single prompt stated below in order for your story to qualify.
4) There must be a Christmas theme to the story, whatever genre you choose.
5) The closing date for entries will be December 15th. After that period, it's time to vote for your favourite entry. Voting will last until Midday December 24th, Christmas Eve.
6) The competition is open to everyone, and can be any genre you choose.
7) All entries must be posted to me via PM, so that each entry is anonymous and the votes will not be swayed through friendship/dislike/etc. Should I discover (with proof) that anyone has attempted to override this rule by convincing people to vote/not vote for someone, there will be consequences.


The winner with the most votes will receive a prize of 1000 fables, so do try your best peoples! Smile


Should any of you be confused or have any questions regarding the competition, feel free to PM me and I'll do my best to clarify your queries.

Without further ado, the prompt for the competition is:

A significant moment/s involving a time-piece, i.e: a watch/clock/sundial/hourglass/etc. (I say significant, meaning that you cannot just write something like 'Jimmy put on his watch and went to school' and that be the last we hear of the watch. It has to be of significance).


Have Fun! Very Happy

_________________
.... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham....
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887




Last edited by Tikanni Corazon on Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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Seraphi
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brilliant idea Tikanni!

I haven't written a short story in a while, so this is definitely going to be a challenge, albeit a good and welcome one. Wink
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"The aim of literary ambition is to demonstrate one's greatness of soul."
-Mason Cooley
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Tikanni Corazon
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't wait to see what you come up with, Seraphi! Thanks for the support! Smile
_________________
.... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham....
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have a first entry! And I personally LOVE it! Very Happy


Story 1 - To Be a Christmas Tree

It was almost always covered by a thick, weather-worn tarp. He knew this, and yet he would glance at it every day, from sunrise to sunset, waiting, hoping, longing. He remained vigilant through the seasons, through wind and rain, heat and frost, until, finally, the tarp was removed and it was revealed. Upon seeing it unveiled a wave of joy pulsed through him. Every needle of his many long limbs stood at attention and his roots wriggled in the earth. He would have clapped, as he had seen the human children do, but the wind was not strong enough that day to aid him in the endeavor.

His euphoria was caused by a clock. He had seen many clocks on the wrists of humans, but none as special as the one erected before him on a high tin tower. This one had only one hand and its face was covered by twenty-five numbers – the number twenty-five being the most distinctive because it was red and slightly bigger than the others. Giant words reading “Merry Christmas!” sat upon the top of the clock. They were lights, he knew, and would be shining brightly in a few hours, marking the opening of the tree farm.

He was giddy with anticipation. He was old enough this year! He could finally fulfill his dream! The sun, slowly rising over the hills of the farm, seemed to wink at him. Encouraged, he gently rustled his branches and reached for the clouds.
____________________________________

“Hm, that’s quite the hole…”

It was the first human family of the day. They had come early, their car crunching along the gravel road leading to the farm, their windows still edged by the morning’s frost. He was the first tree they had headed for. After walking around him a few times, the human man had noticed the bare spot on his trunk where a full, green branch should be, but this did not discourage him. There were other trees that had bigger holes, and more numerous ones, too.

A slight breeze brushed its cool fingers upon the exposed part of his trunk, and, despite his own reassurances, he suddenly felt very self-conscious.

“…but we can always turn that part towards the wall. It’s a pretty tree on all other sides.”

His insecurity turned to anxious happiness.

“Yeah, but I still don’t know, honey,” said the human woman with the man. “Look at the trunk.”

His happiness quickly soured to irritation. He wished they could understand him. Then he could tell them that when he was still a youngling there had been a great snow storm. Frigid winds had beat upon him relentlessly. The frozen ground had kept him rooted, but his trunk, still wispy and fragile, had bent. It had taken him almost two months, but he had stood again, the sun’s warm rays urging him up towards the sky. So his trunk was crooked! Did that not prove that he was strong, resilient?

“Alright, let’s keep looking,” sighed the human man, turning on his heel and marching in the opposite direction.

He was upset by this casual dismissal, but then he looked to the clock, its lone arm pointing to the number one. He reasoned that it was only the first day, and that all the best humans must come on the second.
____________________________________

Five days had passed, each of them coming and going much like day number one. The humans flocked to him first and thought him a handsome tree, even with his one bare spot. Then they would spot his misshapen trunk and shuffle away awkwardly as though they were embarrassed to be seen next to him.

He did not understand it. There were many families that turned away from him that had human children with crooked teeth that were certainly no worse than his trunk. And he had thought for sure the old human man with the bowed back and twisted cane would choose him. They both had gnarled appendages…what tree could possibly be more flattering for him to have set in his home?

On the sixteenth day, panic struck him. So late in the season and he had not yet been chosen. Maybe he had misread the clock? But no, there it was, hand firmly planted on the number sixteen. Glancing around him he took note of how many of the other trees had been taken away. He was one of the only ones left on his hill, but he was relieved to see that there were still some on the hill beside and behind him. He was not the last one. There were nine days left. He would be chosen yet…
____________________________________

His limbs sagged and his needles had started to lose their bright green color. He no longer felt spry, but haggard and rough, like a pine tree many times his age. Already it was the twenty-fourth day.

He glared at the clock. He very much wanted to be angry at it, but he knew it was not the clock’s fault. He noticed for the first time that all of the letters atop it did not light, so instead of the normal holiday greeting, the clock bid everyone a “Mrry Critma.” The clock was as worn and ragged as the tree felt, and he was sorry that he had, even for a moment, thought to put blame on it.

By the movement of the human men at the bottom of the hill he could tell that soon the tree farm would close. He would be stuck on the hill, alone, until next time the clock was uncovered, where he would be unwanted again. And then when he was not chosen for the second year in a row, the humans would cut him down and throw him in the compost to make room to grow newer, straighter trees. He had seen it happen many times to many trees as he had grown, but never in his wildest dreams did he think it would happen to him!

“Mommy, look!”

His boughs reflexively snapped to attention at the sound of a human child. At first he thought maybe he had imagined it, but soon he saw her come bounding up the hill to him, blonde hair flapping behind her wildly as she ran. She was green like him, or at least her clothes were, and she had a warm sparkle in her blue eyes that rivaled that of the sun.

“This one, mommy, this one! Look how big it is! It’s as tall as daddy! And poufy!”

He had never been called “poufy” before, but he decided he liked it, and that he liked this little human girl. She started to run around him, giggling, not stopping until a human woman, who had just crested the hill, placed a hand on her arm and held her still.

“It certainly is, Lily…” the human woman replied tiredly. It had to be the human girl’s mother because she had the same blonde hair, though her eyes were dark brown and looked almost empty.

“I like it,” said Lily, her arms swinging at her side and a smile stuck to her face. He found her very mesmerizing.

“The trunk is crooked. And it has a damn hole.”

He noticed that the smile on Lily’s face faltered a bit before he looked to the source of this new voice. There was a human man coming up the hill, with dark hair and a dark jacket. The only thing about him that was light was his clear, blue eyes.

“Well what else kind of tree do you expect to find on Christmas Eve, Evan?” said the human woman with some venom, placing her hands on her hips.

“Well maybe if someone had picked up a pre-cut tree before they were sold out, Carol, we wouldn’t have to even be out here.”

“It’s interesting how you think I have the time to pick up a tree between two shifts when you’re the lazy ass without a job. You have all damn day to do whatever you please, but do you do anything worthwhile? No, you sit in your damn chair and smoke your damn cigarettes and drink your damn beer!”

“For Christ’s sake, Carol, do we really need to get into this here?”

He stared at the two humans, confused, and slightly taken aback, as their voices intensified. He had never seen a family that came to get a tree that was so hostile. Normally they all smiled, some even whistled and sang as they strolled around the farm.

He was distracted from the fighting by movement in his branches. Lily had woven her way through his limbs, bringing her arms around his trunk in a tight hug, her face pressed firmly against his bark. Her skin, much like her eyes, held a gentle warmth. It was low at first, but he soon heard her humming. The tune was something he recognized from the other families, a song they called “O Christmas Tree.” It was his favorite and he found her voice comforting.

“Hey, folks?”

He followed Lily’s gaze as she glanced up, seeing one of the human men that worked at the farm standing nervously half-way up the hill with his hands in his pocket. The two arguing humans looked at him quickly. They had stopped yelling at each other, but the air was still dangerously charged.

“Uh…tree farm’s about to close, so I need you out.”

“Jesus…” Evan muttered. “Waste of my time. We don’t even have a tree to show for all this shit.”

“We do, daddy, this tree, this one!” Lily piped up from the safety of the enveloping branches.

“Lil, what the hell are you doing in there? Get out.”

“But, daddy, this tree-“

“Is a piece of crap, now let’s go!” Evan charged forward and grabbed Lily’s arm. She squealed and clung to the trunk tighter.

“Damn it, Lil, I am going to beat your ass if you aren’t out of that tree in five seconds!”

The tree felt a surge of anger course through him. Though he had known her a very short time, he had developed an unexplainable need to protect this tiny human girl from harm. As the human man pushed further into his branches in order to get a better grip on Lily, the tree brought all his needles to attention and was soon rewarded with a yelp from the human man, followed by him stumbling away from the tree with the palm of his hand massaging his tightly shut eye.

“For the love of…it’ll be easier if you get the tree, so just get the tree,” sighed Carol from behind Evan.

“I’m not wasting good money on-“

“Get the damn tree, Evan!” she spat.

Grumbling, Evan eventually coaxed Lily from the tree’s branches and, once she was far enough away, knelt down and started to saw at the trunk just above where it was bent.

It was a strange feeling, numbing more than painful, and the tree found himself slightly thrilled when he collapsed into the grass. There was a tickling sensation when the crisp air hit his newly formed base of raw, unprotect wood and sap, and he shuddered.

He was dragged quickly down the hill, Lily jogging to keep pace, all the while holding one of his limbs in her hand and humming again. When they reached the parking area at the bottom of the hill, she gasped suddenly, peering up at the clock. The hand had been turned to the final number in preparation for the next day. Bouncing, she waved her hands in the air and shouted. He shouted with her, his flapping limbs, as they hauled him into the truck, providing a chorus for their exuberant cry.

“Merry Christmas!”

_________________
.... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham....
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887




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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Entry number two! Fab and a complete contrast to our first! Enjoy! Smile


Story 2 - Untitled

Mr. Hemsley sat in his recliner, his eyes focused blankly on the TV. An old black and white movie was playing that he could have sworn he’d seen dozens of times before. It always played this time of year. With each playing of it, he had grown more and more annoyed with the program. The miser learned his lesson. They all held hands at the large Christmas dinner. There was a prayer and a toast to family. End credits. The same old Christmas special every year. The same story gift-wrapped a million different ways on a dozen different channels. Now, he could honestly say that he didn’t want it to end.

His eyes drifted from the television and up to the antique clock that hung on the wall. It was almost time for his family to arrive. For the Hemsley family dinner to start. His heart started to race at the thought and considering that he hadn’t seen his children in the last three hundred sixty four days, one could easily mistake it for excitement. With each tick and every tock, his heart rate increased.

“Marty, turn that television off,” a voice said from behind him. “The kids’ll be here any minute.”

Hemsley smiled, taking the time to imagine his wife’s face. To permanently imprint her voice upon the surface of his brain. She had always been by his side, no matter what situation arose. Even though she preferred to stay out of his professional life, she had caught the occasional glimpse at it and had continued to be with him nonetheless.

A minute later, the doorbell rang and Marty pressed the power button on the remote. He pushed himself out of the chair and made his way to the front door. He took a deep breath to calm himself and get his accelerating heart rate under control and opened the door. A young woman with her long black hair tied into a tight ponytail stood before him. Her arms were filled with a small stack of wrapped presents.

“Daddy,” she squealed, wrapping an arm around him and giving him her best effort at a hug.

“Susanna,” he said with a wide grin. “Come in. Come in. Here, give me these and head on in to the dining room.”

He took the presents from her arms and strolled into the living room. He set the presents under the Christmas Tree that sat just a couple feet from the television. As he straightened up, he inhaled deeply, savoring the scent of pine. He ran his fingers along the tinsel and his eyes admired the lights. He had always taken these sensations for granted. The sight, smell and feel of the holiday season. The way his wife had always made sure everything was absolutely perfect. She started her decorating regime the day after Thanksgiving. It was something he always complained about but now found extraordinary.

The doorbell rang again and he once more went to the door, calmed himself and opened it. Outside was his other daughter. She was a tall statuesque blonde, her hair coming down just past her shoulders. She had only one present with her.

“Hey, Pa, Merry Christmas,” she said.

“Merry Christmas, Paula,” he responded. He took her present and gestured for her to enter. She did and followed her sister’s path into the the kitchen to greet her mother. Hemsley started to shut the door but was stopped as someone placed their hand upon it and their foot across the threshold. He reopened the door fully and was greeted by the image of a young man in a gray suit. Stringy, oily black hair hung out of a skull cap. A small smirk appeared on the young man’s face as his gray eyes peered into Hemsley’s.

“Dad,” he said simply.

Hemsley swallowed hard. A task made more difficult by the fact that it felt like his heart was permanently lodged behind his Adam’s Apple. “Son,” he managed to say.

The young man pushed his way into the house and into the kitchen. Hemsley walked into the living room, set down Paula’s present and gazed once again at the family heirloom that hung on the wall. It was almost six. His heart picked up speed as the clock ticked on. Part of him was hoping that it would just stop. That time itself would cease to be but he knew that that wasn’t going to happen.

Tearing his gaze away, he stepped into the dining room where everyone was taking their seats. He took his place at the head of the table, with Paula, his youngest daughter on his right. Straight ahead of him sat his one and only son. A son who sat and watched him with empty, soulless eyes. And yet there was something else in there. Something predatory.

He tried to avoid his son’s eyes but found himself unable to break from from his intense stare. The impasse was only broken by Mrs. Hemsley bringing in the food. Once all the food was on the table, she took her place at Mr. Hemsley’s left.

“Ok, time for grace. Around the table as usual,” Mrs. Hemsley said. “Who wants to start?”

Susanna raised her hand. Mrs. Hemsley nodded and together they held hands and lowered their heads.

“Dear lord, thank you for this splendiferous food that Mommy prepared and thank you for once again bringing this family together during the holidays.”

Hemsley smiled.

“Dear Lord,” Paula said next to him. “Thank you for this wondrous holiday season, this wonderful spread before us, my amazing parents and my terrific siblings.”

“Thank you, Lord, for the full life I’ve led, the family that sits around this table and the beauty that you have graced this planet with,” Hemsley said. His wife said something similar but he didn’t pay attention to it. He just latched on to the sound of her voice, becoming intoxicated by the very sound of it. Once she had finished, his son’s voice started to creep into his ears.

“Thank the Lord for good food, good jobs, and the most important thing in the world,” there was a small pause and Hemsley could feel his son’s gaze burrowing into his skull. This pause was solely to drive in a point. To make him squirm. “Family.”

Dinner seemed to drag on forever. The girls at the table gossiped and laughed and traded stories while Hemsley and his son kept their eyes on each other. Every so often, Hemsley would look away and find a reflection of the antique clock on the wall. Counting down the minutes until it was time for him and his son to go on their traditional father and son stroll to the bridge to look at the decorations on Signet Tower.

Once dinner was finished and the dishes were cleared away, Hemsley rose. “I guess its time for our walk, eh?”

His son nodded and rose. Hemsley walked into the kitchen and place a kiss upon his wife’s cheek. “Me and the boy are headed out.”

She nodded. “Have fun, you two.”

He kissed his daughters once upon the top of their heads and marched to the front door. Slipping on his coat, he watched as his son stood and stared at him. Casting a final glance at the clock, a tear formed in his eye as he marched out.

The pair moved in silence. Usually there was some idle conversation between the two of them but this night was different. There was tension between them. Tension so thick it was almost living. After a couple blocks, Hemsley decided to break the silence.

“So, you’re the one they sent for the job,” he said.

“Yep.”

“There’s nothing I can say to change your mind is there?”

“No, Dad, there isn’t. You broke the rules. You screwed up and now I have to clean up the mess. I’m sorry, Pops, but you’re done.”

Hemsley stopped and spun around to face his son. “If I can just talk to Mr. S, I’m sure we can work things out.”

“This comes from the very top of the ladder, Dad. Mr. S came to me personally and asked me to get rid of you. I’m sorry. I really am. But you brought this upon yourself.”

Hemsley turned and nodded. He continued walking and sighed. His son was right. With his line of work, he had committed the ultimate sin. He let his personal feelings get in the way. He chose a side. He was supposed to stay in the middle. Assess information, pass it along, stay neutral. Since he didn’t, they sent his son, the best Cleaner anyone had seen, to dispose of him.

They strolled again in silence until they reached the bridge. Hemsley leaned on the railing and stared down the river at the brightly lit Signet Tower. The lights within the building had all been turned on so that no matter what angle you looked at it, there was the shape of a Christmas Tree. A large star was lit up on the roof as a beacon of hope to the people of the city. Every Christmas it shone brightly above everybody, and every year Hemsley and his boy came to admire it. Even when they were in rough spots, this star brought them together and seemed to make everything ok.

His son leaned on the railing right next to him and sighed. “I’m sorry, Dad. I really don’t want to do this.”

“But you will. As a reward for your loyalty, you’ll probably end up inheriting my job. And knowing you, you’ll do it better than I ever did. You’ll be able to keep your feelings out of it. Hell, you’re popping your Pop on Christmas.”

“Yeah. I am. They’re testing me. Making sure I have the stones to do what needs to be done.”

Hemsley nodded. “They like to do that.”

The son stood up and pulled a gun from his shoulder holster. Hemsley watched as he reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a silencer. Slowly, the boy attached the silencer and moved behind his father. They both stared out at the star and a tear rolled down the cheek of each one. The younger placed his hand on his elder’s shoulder.

“Merry Christmas, Pa,” he said as he readied his gun just a bit away from his father’s skull.

Hemsley closed his eyes and smiled. “Merry Christmas, son.”

There was a whisper of a gunshot as the younger Hemsley squeezed the trigger. With a slight push, he sent his father over the edge and into the water below. His eyes focused on the star and after he had fully realized what he had done, he tossed his gun over the edge and pulled his cell phone from his pocket.

He opened it, hit the number one and then the send. After a couple rings it was answered.

“Is it done?”
“Yes.”

“Good. You assume his duties immediately.”

“I’m aware and the first thing I want done is I want the Signet Star decommissioned. I don’t want to see it up without my say-so ever again.”

“You sure?”

“Positive.”

“Alright. Consider it done. Merry Christmas, kid.”

He hung up and stared down at the water, thinking of a Christmas special his dad had always watched even though he swore he hated it more with each showing. His father had always summarized what was wrong with it and now his son stood and felt a sense of irony, seeing how his father was ended.

The miser learned his lesson. They all held hands at the large Christmas dinner. There was prayers and a toast to family. End credits.

_________________
.... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham....
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And we have entry number three! Smile


Story Three - Bah, Humbug!


Staring bleakly out of the lounge window, Holly watched the slow, constant tumble of white flakes falling from the sky, coating every leaf, branch and stem of grass in the front garden, her expression sullen. She shifted slightly in her curled up position on the large window seat as she snuggled into the oversized warmth of the fawn-coloured wool jumper she was currently clad in, feeling the softness of the cushions beneath her form as she did so. A pair of nut-brown leggings covered her legs, each one ending in a thick, wool sock. Holly tugged absent-mindedly at the edge of one with her free hand, pulling the cream-coloured wool higher up her calf, before reaching up to tuck a stray lock of dark hair behind her ear.


In her hand she held an old fashioned pocket watch. The face of the watch was on display, the brass lid having been flipped open, revealing a slightly crumpled photograph on the inside, opposite the timepiece itself. Every now and then, Holly would tear her attention away from the snow's efforts to turn the world white, and look down at the picture, her pale blue-green eyes softening slightly as she took in the happy faces of the people within it.


It had been taken nine years before in the garden, the same one that was now layered in snow and frost, though in the photograph it was a bright summers day, the flowers in full bloom, spots of colour amidst the green of grass and bushes. In the foreground, Holly's brother Jonah sat looking every inch the mischievous three year old he'd been at the time, the grin on his face wide with genuine mirth, his eyes crinkled with laughter. Her arms around her son, Holly's mother sat just behind Jonah, her face pressed against the little boy's cheek as she hugged him to her. Holly herself sat to her brother's right, the laughing face of her six year old self a complete contrast to the fifteen year old sat in the window, looking at the picture. Not just smiling, young Holly's face was clearly awash with giggles. Despite herself, the corners of Holly's lips curved upwards at the memory...of Dad reaching forward a few moments before the picture was set to take, and tickling her ribs, making her laugh. His face matched her own, the familiar features alive with happiness.

'Alive...'

The word hit Holly in the gut like a sledgehammer, and a lone tear trickled unbidden from one eye, traversing it's way down her pale face. She lifted a hand and swiped it angrily away, turning from the happy family in the picture to look back out at the white, her eyes as hard and flinty as the frost covering the leaves of the rose bushes in the flowerbeds. Those times were long gone, and nothing would ever be the same again.


Behind her the TV was on, though no one was watching it. The movie on the screen was A Muppets Christmas Carol. Holly recognised the voice of Michael Caine as Scrooge, the film having been family favourite at Christmas a few years back. Now though...it just made her all the more bitter.

“Bah, Humbug...”

Her ears caught the elusive words of the lead character, and her jaw clenched as she nodded in agreement to Ebenezer Scrooge.

“Indeed, Scrooge,” she uttered quietly to herself, hugging her knees up to her chest and resting her chin upon them. “Bah, humbug.”

'Bah, humbug to Christmas, to my birthday, and to good will to all men. If men had any true good will in them, my Dad would've got home that day...rather than getting stabbed to death in a bloody alleyway...'

Holly rubbed her palms against her eyes, before letting them drop wearily to rest on her drawn up knees. Her thoughts were bitter, her memories moreso, and with these thoughts in her head, Holly leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes, wallowing in the grief and sense of loss that this time of year always made more poignant. Sleep called to her and she gave in, her consciousness slowly slipping away from her as she fell into a dark slumber.

~~~

Peter Cliffton died two days before Christmas Day, also Holly's fourteenth birthday. He'd gone out to drop off presents at Holly's grandparents house, and bring back the ones he'd been given in return. On the walk back, some thug had dragged him into an empty alley, stabbed him seven times in the chest, and stolen the gifts he'd been transporting back home, before leaving him dying in the freezing cold air.


By the time he was found, Peter was already dead. When the police had gone through his belongings, they found his pocket-watch stuffed into the back pocket of his jeans, clearly missed by his killer, and a receipt in his jacket for a gold wrist watch. The thief was arrested soon afterwards, and the watch found at his flat, along with the other presents. Engraved onto the back of the gold watch were the words;

Live, Laugh, Love
To Holly Love Dad xxx


Holly had treasured the last birthday present that her Dad would ever give to her. She also took to carrying the pocket watch around with her, it being a constant reminder of her father, and something that he'd always treasured. The watch had been passed down through three generations of his family before it came to him, and now it belonged to Holly, and she loved it. Loved the musical chiming sound that it made upon the hour. Loved the flawlessly smooth, aged-gold case.

Loved that she had something so personal to her father to cherish always...

~~~

When Holly awoke some hours later, she found herself shrouded in darkness. Outside, it was night time, a crescent moon peeking through the clouds, which overshadowed the stars. Indoors, it was as if the electricity had been turned off. The house was dark, without the slightest noise anywhere.


A little unnerved, Holly frowned. She grimaced as she moved to leave the window seat, her legs having been curled up in the same position for so long. She swung them gently around, placing her sock-clad feet upon the floor and stood up, looking around the shadowy living room and listening carefully. Her sensed picked up nothing.


Supposing that her mother and Jonah must have gone to bed without noticing that she was sat in the window, Holly padded across the room, trying the light-switch as she reached the doorway, sighing as it had no effect. She made her way silently to the foot of the stairs and looked up. With a wall to either side of it, the staircase almost looked like a cavern, the shadows turning to pitch-black as they ascended. Holly felt a moment of nervousness at the black maw that stood open before her, but she shook it away quickly, irritated by her foolishness. Slowly, one foot at a time, she began to make her way up the stairs, a small stem of worry and doubt niggling at the back of her mind all the while.


She reached the top and looked around. To her left was her mother's bedroom, the door almost closed, just slightly ajar. To it's right the door to Jonah's room stood wide open, and Holly's own bedroom was situated on the opposite side of the house. She crept across the landing, not wanting to wake anybody. When she reached the door to her parent's room, she had a sudden impulse just to make sure that her mother was sleeping soundly on the other side. Placing her fingertips upon the wood, she pushed against it gently, feeling it give under the pressure and swing silently open. Entering, she looked towards the bed, expecting to see her mother's sleeping form. What she saw instead caused her heart to jump into her throat and tears to prick at the corners of her eyes.

“...Dad...?”

Seated upon the edge of the bed, Peter Cliffton looked much as he had the day he'd left the house never to return. His form strangely illuminated in the darkness, Holly could make out the dark chestnut-brown of his hair and the blue-green of his eyes, the colour of both mirroring her own. He wore his favourite jumper – the same one that she herself was wearing at the exact moment, and upon his visage was the familiar gentle, yet slightly mischievous smile that Holly had known and loved throughout her whole life.


Holly couldn't speak, the words catching in her throat as she gazed at the apparition before her.

'For that's what it must be,' she thought to herself. 'Just my imagination...'

As she watched, her Dad moved a hand from his lap and patted the bed beside him. After a moment of hesitation, Holly stepped forward, seating herself next to him, looking up at him in an emotional state of awe.

“Dad...” she said again, the threatening tears starting to trickle down her cheeks.

He nodded.

“Yes, Holly-Berry, it's me,” he said gently, in his warm, deep tones, smiling at her.

He reached up a hand to tuck a lock of her hair behind her ear, stroking his knuckle lovingly down her cheek as he drew back. Looking into his eyes, Holly could see the love shining through, the pleasure at seeing his daughter again. Suddenly, his expression grew serious. He placed his hands on her shoulders, staring at her intently.

“You need to stop this, Holly,” he said quietly, his forehead lightly crinkled into a small frown and his eyes firm.

“Stop what?” Holly replied, reaching out a hand to touch his face, feeling the need to prove to herself that he was really there. Peter sighed.

“Stop being so...angry,” he replied, and she felt the pressure on her shoulders increase as he squeezed them gently. “You need to get on with your life, love, and stop dwelling on what happened in the past. Tomorrow's your birthday.” He let go of her with one hand and tapped the watch on her wrist. “What's written on the back?”

“Live, Laugh, Love...” Holly whispered, choking back a sob. “But I miss you so much, Dad. How can I enjoy tomorrow knowing that you're not going to be there?”

“Just remember the time that we had,” he said with a smile. “I might be gone, but those memories will always be there. I didn't help you make them just for them to end when I was no longer here.” He reached down, taking the pocket watch from her where it was still held in her palm. He smiled down at the timepiece, running his thumb across the surface. “I'm glad you have this,” he said with a grin. He drew Holly close, pulling her into a hug. “Remember, live, laugh, love...don't forget, Holly-Berry.”

Holly nodded, snuggling into the hug.

“I'll remember...”

~~~

Holly started awake, and found herself seated in the lounge window. Outside, the snow was still falling, everything now thoroughly coated in pure white. Holly frowned, shaking her head.

“It can't have been a dream...” she said to herself. “It was so real...”

The pocket watch still lay open in her hand, the smiling family photo looking out at her. She drew it up to closer examine the faces within. A dream it may have been, but what her father had said was true. She needed to get past her bitterness.

“Live, Laugh, Love,” she murmured, looking directly at her father's happy face in the picture. “I'll keep my promise, Dad.”

She snapped the lid closed, and her eyes widened as she looked down at it. Upon the once smooth, unmarred case was a small, but perfectly formed star. Holly gasped and a laugh escaped her lips.

“Maybe it wasn't a dream afterall...”

_________________
.... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham....
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887




Last edited by Tikanni Corazon on Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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Tikanni Corazon
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just as a reminder, the poll will be going up on this coming Saturday (15th), so if anyone wants to get a last minute entry in, best do so asap! Wink
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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887


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Tikanni Corazon
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And we have a fourth entry! Short but fab none the less! Smile


Story Four - Untitled

The snow fell just a little bit harder that year, as if by some minor offense Old Man Winter was awoken one month early. The normal soft and pleasant flurries that frequent December mornings (bringing forth the smiles on childrens' faces as they slept even an hour later) were replaced with the biting icestorms usually reserved for mid-January.

There was something different that year; harsh reality met with harsh weather and not a soul would be spared. And there I stood, oblivious to the wind and cold with a plastic hood over my head, and waited.

Time is a curious creature, and none can master his dance. In times of jovial meanderings he quickens his pace; when all is well and you desire for nothing more than for Time to stand still, he tap dances. But in in moments of pain and misery, it is different. When a boy who knows nothing of tombstones and epitaphs, nor of the loneliness in solitude—when he waits for a father now passed on the eve of Christmas, it is the slowest of dances carefully moving to the sounds of a dying violin.

I shifted my head back and forth, taking turn to gaze longingly between the road and my watch. My watch—that simple, cheap, Mickey Mouse watch—was the only thing seperating me from the reality of that day. Each tick of the second hand and each slight movement to as it made its full circle brought hope, a false knowledge that he would soon arrive. I didn't know he wouldn't return. I didn't understand that he mightn't return.

I still have that watch. Every year when I happen upon a Christmas Eve I recover it from it's bundled nest in the attic. I dust it off and let if fit loosely on my wrist; I have long-since outgrown it. When the time is right, perhaps it will show up in a neatly-wrapped box underneath the tree, just waiting for the prying hands of my future son.

He won't understand its significance, and he will have outgrown it well before I find the heart to tell him. But maybe, if for only a second, a smile will appear on his innocent face and replace the seclusion it brought me. That might be worth it.

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.... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham....
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887


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Tikanni Corazon
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for the delay in putting up the poll. It should have been up yesterday, I know, but my heads been a little in the clouds for the last couple of days and I forgot all about it. So, my apologies for that, but better late than never. Wink


As long as I remember, the poll will run until Christmas Eve, and the winner will then be announced and receive their 1000 fables.


Thank you to all who took part! During these slow periods on IF, it's always appreciated when people take the time to make the effort. So again, thank you all very much! Smile

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.... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham....
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a reminder to vote on this competition. I know it's christmas, but surely a few moments can be spent to vote? The writers worked hard on their entries. The least everyone else can do is to vote for their favourite.
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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

*bumping for Tikanni! <-hope you don't mind...*

Alright guys, tomorrow is the last day to vote!

I know it is a holiday, and everyone will be super busy, but I also know that it will take maybe 20 minutes tops to read the stories and pick your favorite!

As Tikanni said, the writers worked hard on their entries, so give the gift of voting this year at If! Do it while the turducken is cooking, or during that down time in present wrapping (you know, where you take a break because if you have to curl one more ribbon you might pitch a poinsettia out a window?), or right before you drift off to a dreamy sleep filled with candy canes and sugarplums!

A big thanks to those who did vote so far.

And here's hoping everyone has a wonderful, food coma-filled Christmas!
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seraphi wrote:
*bumping for Tikanni! <-hope you don't mind...*


I don't. Wink

And following Seraphi in wishing everyone a very merry Christmas! Thanks for the votes thus far!

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.... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham....
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Christmas Short-Story Competition 2012 is now over! Thank you very much to all who participated and to the voters! Smile Your winner is:

Story 1 ~ To Be a Christmas Tree - by Seraphi

Congratulations Seraphi! A well deserved win! Very Happy Your 1000 fables will be with you shortly!

Thanks again to everyone, and watch this space for a new competition coming your way soon! Wink

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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was wondering who wrote that. Congrats, Seraphi! It's really good! Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats, Seraphi...

and to those wondering...Story 2 was written by me and Mr. Hemsley's son/murderer was Stone from Kissing the Darkness and some others he just hadn't appeared in yet.)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks very much for your votes everyone! (Its good to know I haven't lost the writing spark after all this time.) Many, many, MANY thanks! <3

Can't wait for the next competition, Tikanni!
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Who will be your winner?
Story One ~ To Be a Christmas Tree
75%
 75%  [ 3 ]
Story Two ~ Untitled
25%
 25%  [ 1 ]
Story Three ~ Bah Humbug!
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Story Four ~ Untitled
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 4
Who Voted: Andolyn, misterbiz, sagittaeri, Seraphi

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