Written: Story Time

Everyone just wrapped up NaNoWriMo, so today will be a short break from all the stress of that novel you just wrote. In fact, I’m going to make this a two part series, sharing one of the first stories I wrote when I picked up my pen again in 2010. Next week, I will follow it up with a demonstration of how I used ProWritingAid to help me do a first edit and clean it up.

Enjoy this little story called “Home for Christmas”.

The song played loudly over the external store speaker, and Katelyn stopped walking to listen. “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams,” brought tears to her eyes. It had been eighteen months since Kevin left on his tour of duty; eighteen months without R&R, scant letters, and rare phone calls. Last year, she had wished him home for Christmas. He was set to come home, but then roadside bombs slaughtered the 101st infantry and his troop had to take their place. The next twelve months were spent in worry. His repeated requests for R&R had been denied. This Christmas did not look very promising, either. It would be another six months, at least, before the powers that be would even consider bringing his unit home.

She whisked the tears off her face and started walking again, faster than she was before, distancing herself from the storefront music. She had made promises to him, and she intended to keep them all. So far, she had been successful. This one was proving a bit harder for her though. She was not in the holiday spirit at all. She had promised Kevin that she would decorate and put a tree up every year, whether he was there or not. Christmas had always been a big deal to Kevin, and now that they shared a son, she knew that it was even more important to him now. She blinked the last of her tears away as she opened the door to her son’s daycare, punched in the security code, and planted a smile on her face.

“Mommy!!” Parker screamed, as he always did when she picked him up. His chubby arms wrapped tightly around her neck as she hugged him close to her. She looked into his big blue eyes for a moment before putting him down and helping him get ready to go. She was always amazed at how much Parker looked like Kevin, though Kevin had never had a chance to lay eyes on him. He was born two weeks after Kevin left, a rough birth that he almost did not survive. She longed for the day her two men would finally meet, and she held hope that the next time he came home would be the last time he would have to leave.

“Shall we stop and see Santa on the way home, my big boy?” She asked him, as she placed his red knitted cap tightly on his head, leaving his golden curls sticking out from underneath. His big eyes grew larger in his excitement of seeing Santa. She took his hand and led him out of the center.

The bustle of the busy city never ceased to amaze Parker, so she walked the three blocks home to their small but comfortable apartment. She never hurried him, always allowing him time to explore to his heart’s content along the way. She took a detour today and led Parker through the park towards the large Marshall Fields two blocks in the opposite direction.

Halfway through the park, she felt Parker pulling at her arm, breaking her out of her reverie. She had been wallowing in self-pity over Kevin again. She stopped, looked down at him, her eyes following the direction his finger pointed to. Lights and ornaments decorated one of the evergreen trees partially hidden behind a small sleigh assembled before it. Santa sat in the sleigh, clasping the reins of the twelve reindeer in front of him. A large red sack took up the space behind Santa in the back of the sleigh.

“Ho, ho, ho.!Merry Christmas! ” Santa said. His eyes sparkled brightly from beneath his round silver frames. Fat, rosy cheeks hovered above am angel white beard, and his red fur-covered belly jiggled as he laughed. “It’s Christmas Eve, and you should cheer up. I think I have just the thing to do it.” He reached out to the evergreen tree, removed a beautiful red jeweled ornament off the tree, and handed it to Katelyn. “Take this ornament and make a wish on it. If you do this at precisely midnight tonight, your wish will come true.” With a look of disbelief, she took the ornament from him and put it in her pocket. She let Parker sit on his lap and share his wishes before leading him back through the park the way they came in. She headed for home now, her detour to the department store Santa forgotten as her fingers played with the satin on the ball in her pocket.

As they reached the front steps of their apartment building, Katelyn swooped Parker up into her arms. “Oh my darling. I forgot to ask you what you asked Santa for?” she said simply to him.

“Snow.” He answered in a quiet, baby-voiced reply, just as snowflakes began to fall from the sky. He laughed as he looked up, pointing. “Snow!” He said again. She hugged him again, drinking in his baby scent, and enjoying the sound of his laughter.

“Yes, Parker, snow!! Let’s hurry upstairs so we can watch it from our window!!” She smiled brightly at him. She wished that her requests were so easily met.

After a small but festive chicken dinner, Parker went willingly to sleep, his excitement about Santa’s expected visit fresh in his mind as he dozed off. She quietly sat on her couch, wrapped in her favorite blanket, with only the lights of the Christmas tree on, and watched the snow fall outside her window.  She grasped the bejeweled ornament in her hand, turning it around, and marveled at its beauty. She spun it softly as it dangled from her fingers, and she laughed as the jewels caught the light of the tree and left little pin pricks dancing along the walls .  Her mind wandered back to Kevin. No matter how hard she tried, she  could not stop thinking about him. She drifted off to sleep, dreaming of days filled with memories of him.

The sound of sirens outside her window woke her abruptly, and she jumped off the couch. She glanced at the clock. 11:59 the digital display said. Her fingers itched over the ornament. Foolhardy though she knew it was, she began wishing, gazing into the red gemstones as if she were hypnotized by them. So mesmerized was she in her wishing that she almost did not hear the doorbell. Her hypnotic state broken, she drifted to the door, wondering who could be there this time of night. She look through the peep hole and noticed it was the Santa from the park.

“What do you want, and how did you know where I live?” she asked through the crack she opened with the chain lock still on.

“I’m sorry its so late, but you see, I have another package to deliver before I head back to the North Pole.”

“Another package? Where is it?” Her skepticism obvious in her voice. Santa stepped back to make room for another body to step in his place.

“Kevin O’Shea reporting for R&R. Mission accomplished.” The voice came from the mouth she knew so well from tracing it with her own lips so many times. She flung the door open and leaped into his arms.

As he carried her over the threshold, a voice called from a distance: “Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Her eyes left Kevin’s face long enough to look for Santa, but he was gone. She looked for the ornament, carefully laid on the table as she went to the door, and noticed that it too had disappeared.

I now invite you to offer your feedback and critique. It will help show the efficiency and effectiveness of how ProWritingAid works. Also? I have thick skin, so let’s hear it.

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Stephanie Ayers

Executive Creative Director at Our Write Side/OWS Ink, LLC
A published author with a knack for twisted tales, Stephanie Ayers is the Executive Creative Director of OWS Ink, LLC, a community for writers and readers alike. She loves a good thriller, fairies, things that go bump in the night, and sappy stories. When she is not writing, she can be found in Creative Cloud designing book covers and promotional graphics for authors.
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4 thoughts on “Written: Story Time”

  1. Tessa Smeigh says:

    I am not much good with critiques. I know your writing from years ago and I can’t imagine anything you write needed much cleaning up, but of course I usually don’t analyze what I read unless it is awful and I just stop reading. This kept me hooked.

  2. Amanda Mabry says:

    This gave me goosebumps! I forgot to look for any mistakes, I was too caught up in the story.

    1. Stephanie Ayers says:

      I’m quite sure there are plenty since this is when I had a bad passive habit. LOL. Thanks.

It's YOUR write side, too! Let's hear it!

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