Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Flash Fiction 18: The Christmas Gift

For those of you interested in the horse side of things, a good Christmas story (not mine :) on the GRS Blog.

Merry Christmas all - and an amazing new year!

Thanks for reading!


The Christmas Gift:

I watched as my brother, this year's Santa, handed her the gift I had chosen; I'd been looking forward to this moment since I'd found it in June. She was my best friend, and keeping it a secret so long had been incredibly difficult -- I'd had to force myself to forget all about it so that I wouldn't slip up. Fortunately I'd remembered in time to wrap it; if only I could apply that skill to exams!

But I’d have to be patient a while longer yet. My mother put the gift aside. She had a small pile growing, since she preferred to watch us unwrap our gifts to opening her own. And she had no idea that that box contained something special. I waited, feigning excitement over my own gifts while watching her open the others. A scarf, some books, jewelry. Nothing like what I'd found.

Finally she had my gift in hand. She unwrapped it mindlessly, far more interested in my brother's reaction to his new skis. He'd been so disappointed when they hadn't appeared under the tree, but accepted that they just couldn't afford them; it made it all the more wonderful when he opened the little box that told him where he could find his real gift in the basement. I could understand why she wanted to see that; I wanted to see it too.

But now he had his skis and Dad was bouncing for the opportunity to play with his new gadget. And finally she opened the box in front of her. The last gift of the day. She pulled it out and there was a moment's hesitation before she realized what it was.

She looked at me. The room was chaos, but between us there was silence. She had tears in her eyes, which was not the reaction I'd anticipated. I'd thought I'd found the perfect music box; just the style she'd seemed to prefer. Her collection was extensive, but they were similar -- this one combined the best traits of all of them. Or so I'd thought.

"Where did you find this?" she asked. Her whispered voice inaudible in the noisy room, but her eyes making the question clear. I went and sat next to her on the couch rapidly explaining about the little flee market I'd found in Port Elgin and how it was buried at the bottom of a box in a random corner of an antiques booth. And I knew it wasn't really antique but I thought it would go so well with her collection. And I really thought she'd like it. And did she notice the detail in the silver? and what did she think of... Well I was speaking way too fast and in circles, but I was confused and worried that my perfect gift that I'd kept secret for so long had somehow upset her.

"Come with me,” she said, rising. I followed, curious. "Girl moment," she told my dad with a smile when he questioned our departure.

She led me up to the master bathroom and opened the jewelry box I'd seen a million times growing up. From it she retrieved a tiny key; the type you'd see on a young girl's diary. She sat down on the edge of the tub and I went beside her, a million questions on the tip of my tongue and somehow enough strength not to ask them. She opened the lid of the music box and winding the knob on the base caused the dancers to swirl around to the sound of Haydn’s Cello Concerto. She watched it, mesmerized. And somehow I refrained from interrupting.

She held the box up, with two fingers of each hand supporting the base and her middle fingers running along the detailing on the side, as though she were feeling for something. Suddenly the music stopped and the dancers froze. Her right hand had moved but the left had not. She fiddled for a moment and with a click the left side gave. She smiled and gave me a look that reminded me of an excited young girl about to share a secret. Nothing appeared to have changed on the box, but clearly a latch had been released as she was able to slide the front face off. Behind that was a keyhole. To which my mother held the key.

I looked to her for an explanation, but none was to be had. I had the feeling my presence had been forgotten. I peered over her shoulder excitedly as she opened the little drawer. There was a penny, what looked like a felt four-leaf clover, a pair of children's earrings, some beads, and a little card. She picked up the card gingerly and held it to her heart with her eyes closed and memories written on her face.

Returning to the moment she gave me a smile and a one-armed hug and then showed me the card that meant so much to her. Written in a distinctive scrawl I recognized as having belonged to my grandmother who had passed so many years ago, I read:

A penny for wealth,
A clover for luck,
And all my love for always.
-- Mum


What a sweet and beautiful story . . . It took my breath away! Well written!


Thanks Wezel -- glad you enjoyed it!


Wonderful story! I liked: “She looked at me. The room was chaos, but between us there was silence” because it speaks to the chaos of the season and the special connection between the characters.

Merry Christmas.


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