Short Story: Another Holy Night Part 1 by Cyndi Lord
Our Write Side recently had a contest. The theme was family traditions, written with Nicholas Sparks flair. Of the entries we received, only one could be declared the winner, but today’s story came in a very close second. We are very honored to introduce you to author Cyndi Lord and her mystical way with words. This is part 1 of her contest entry, Another Holy Night.
Cyndi Lord moved to North East Texas in 2005 where she lives on a ranch with her husband, two dogs, and two cats. An award winning author, she recently decided to go into semi-retirement from her career as a private investigator and research paralegal in order to write full time. Her novels incorporate her professional experience into the plots readers love to unravel along with the investigator.
She is active in a ministry to the homeless and enjoys many aspects of philosophy. As an animal lover, she is a vegan, and strong voice against cruelty to animals. Cyndi and her husband have nine adult children, sixteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild. For tranquility she loves to work in the garden, and bake. Painting nature scenes is her favorite joy after writing.
She is the Administrator of Elite Critiques – Facebook, and award-winning Bestselling Author of the Sandra Derringer Chronicles, The Plain Series, and Nick The Owlet’s Adventure, and is also the Editor-in-chief for E.C.M (Elite Critiques Magazine).
Another Holy Night
Alexander McArthur raised the collar of his jacket and ducked his head against the frigid wind pelting him with snow from the canopies of decorated stores. Ice marbled sidewalks cast crystal clear reflections of rainbows, uncrushed beneath the boots of those who hustled along. In the holiday season, when others should matter most, thousands remained forgotten in their solitude of misery called homelessness. He walked onward, shoulders hunched, to make a difference.
The aromas of pine needles, cinnamon, and exhaust assaulted his senses and created mixed emotions of joy and disgust. For five years, each Christmas Eve, he’d made this trip into the distant city to honor his grandmother. Hope of finding her died a year earlier when disappointment crushed his spirit time and again. Compelled to find others living his grandmother’s fate, he walked on.
Alexander’s fixation pushed others away. He couldn’t deny his annual trips here contributed to the demise of his troubled marriage. The first year, she came with him and helped him search the homeless shelters, lowliest backstreets, and alleyways for his grandmother. By the second year, she refused to leave their newborn with her parents or miss his first Christmas. The next year infuriated her, and the fourth she moved out.
Every wishful child reminded him of Dean, his own son. After the divorce, the grief of not having his son in his life increased his desire to find his grandmother. The three year old spent Christmas with his mother and her new husband. Alexander and the tot celebrated Christmas a week later when others nursed hangovers. He’d be up at the crack of dawn partaking in the laughter and squeals of his child who’d spend two minutes ripping wrapping paper off gifts he had spent two hours meticulously taping. Alexander wanted his grandmother to know his son.
Groups of people bundled in jackets over Santa suits stood with large pots in front of stores. They shook bells hoping for donations, he stopped and pulled change from his front pocket. A breeze with the intensity of ice water hit his ears and cheeks. He’d ignored the taxis lined up in front, zipped his jacket, and walked east on Main Street.
The Santa he approached had bright red cheeks to match his costume. Alexander shook his hand. “You must be freezing. I don’t envy your job.”
“I’ll be done in two hours. It’s all right.”
He dropped a few dollars of change in the pot and turned around. An elderly woman holding the hand of a boy of about seven years old stood by the next Santa.
“Go ahead, Brian. Jesus will bless you when you bless others.” She smiled down at the boy.
Brian nodded. He dug in his pocket and looked at three quarters in his hand. “It all I have, Mister. Is this okay?”
“Yes, it sure is, son.” The Santa chuckled.
The boy dropped them in the slot one at a time.
“I hope Jesus blesses me with that bike I been askin’ for, Grandma.”
She squatted in front of him. “I think you just might get that prayer answered this year.”
Alexander smiled and turned away. A tug on his hand stopped him, he looked down at the child. “I hope you get what you want for Christmas, too, Mister.”
He bit his bottom lip, nodded, and pulled his hand out of the boy’s.
Grandma had taken him in at three years old, the same age of his son. Grandpa later died in a car accident just like his own parents. The Christmas of his ninth year only grandma and he sat at the table. The tree had few gifts under it, but they made cookies and she let him lick icing off the beaters. The summer he turned eleven, the mortgage company evicted them from the house Grandpa built with his own hands. He’d mortgaged their home to start a business, and it failed in the recession. The older man took odd jobs to support his wife and grandson.
Alexander tapped an empty wine bottle with his foot and sent it bouncing over the curb. The helplessness he’d felt all those months while his grandmother struggled and grieved rekindled into anger. She sold everything in the house in an attempt to pay the mortgage company; a futile effort.
He walked along the cold, icy streets of the city. Lights twinkled, wreaths hung from store fronts, and he recalled the last time he saw his grandma. The power company disconnected the electricity in the summer. By late fall, the fuel supplier cut them off the gas, and the cupboards stayed close to bare. The mortgage company padlocked the front door Christmas Eve. Grandma sat on the porch steps close beside him. His suitcase and a paper bag contained everything he owned: a teddy bear, some pictures grandma shared with him, a small toy truck, three plastic soldiers, and a sandwich bag with few gold fish crackers. Grandma’s lifetime possessions stuffed her suitcase and purse.
The State Welfare Agency car pulled in and he threw his arms around his grandmother. “I want to stay with you. Please, don’t make me go with that lady.”
The final segment of Another Holy Night to be continued next Saturday, January 9, 2016.