The tree stood still with the ghosts of all those had been hanged there drifting forever around it’s tangled limbs.
The tree stood still with the ghosts of all those had been hanged there drifting forever around it’s tangled limbs.
In the mornings, he would sit in the tree and watch the village. At lunchtime he would come down, visit three houses for lunch then curl up somewhere warm and quiet for the afternoon. In the evenings, he strolled around till late then mewed at doors till someone let him in.
(Story inspired from: https://first50.wordpress.com)
Willow placed the sweet minced fruit pie on the plate then licked the sugar off her fingers. For a moment, she nearly snatched the pie back and put it in her mouth, but then her mother bustled over.
‘And a carrot for Rudolph,’ her mother announced as she placed the bright orange carrot next to the plate.
Willow looked up at her mum and almost asked the question that had popped into her mind.
‘Now, we need a bowl of water and some whisky…’ her mum said suddenly, ‘Will you get the water?’
With a nod, Willow followed her into the kitchen. Her mum got a bowl, filled it with water and handed it to her. Willow carried it carefully back into the living room and placed it on the coffee table next to the carrot.
She stood for a few moments and took the room in. It was heavy decorated with a real pine tree in the corner draped with multi-coloured fairy lights, shinny red and gold balls, red and gold tinsel and atop was a golden star. The mantel had real holly and berries laying across it and stockings hung up above the fire place. From the ceiling, lights and thin plastic shapes hung down.
Willow’s mother came back in with a tumbler glass half full of amber liquid. She placed it next to the plate.
‘All set. Right, it’s time for bed now. Santa will be on his way.’
‘But mum, why do we need to do this?’ Willow finally asked with a wave of her hand at the carrot.
‘Well….I guess…because it’s tradition,’ mum answered.
Willow stared at her waiting for more.
‘I think that Santa and the reindeer get hungry. They are doing a lot of travelling, so they need the energy.’
‘Then why don’t they stop? Or take food with them?’ Willow asked.
‘They can’t stop, they don’t have time. They have to get around the world in a whole night. Maybe though, Mrs. Claus makes them sandwiches,’ mum answered.
‘Do reindeer eat sandwiches?’ Willow wondered out aloud.
‘Also, we are thanking Santa for coming,’ mum added, ‘and it’s a nice thing to do.’
Willow looked at the coffee table, she wasn’t sure she believed in this anymore.
‘Plus, also,’ her mum said quickly, seeing the still puzzled look on her daughter’s face, ‘Santa has been asleep for much of the year and he’s really hungry.’
Willow frowned harder and looked from the food and drink offerings to her mother.
‘It’s bedtime now, sweetie, come on,’ her mum broke in.
Shrugging and deciding to let this conversation drop, Willow let her mum shoo her from the room. Saying goodnight, first to her father who was sat reading a book in his study then her mother, Willow went to her bedroom and lay on her bed pondering about Santa till she fell asleep.
Downstairs, her mother finished off wrapping presents. As she finished putting them in the stockings, her husband appeared in the doorway. He went to the coffee table and picked up the tumbler of whisky.
‘I don’t think we can pull this off next year,’ she said softly, ‘Willow is asking too many questions and not accepting my answers.’
Willow’s father picked up the mince pie and went to his favourite armchair. He sat down and took a bite out of the pie.
‘We’ll have to tell her. She’s grown up so fast,’ Willow’s mother added.
‘Maybe she’ll figure it out. It’s what we did.’
Standing up, Willow’s mother picked up the carrot and began eating it. In her mind, she was trying to figure out the best way to tell her daughter the truth.
It had been a struggle, but finally, Macy had brought her last Christmas present. Laying spread eagle across the sofa and catching her breath, she heard the muffled sounds of Christmas songs coming from a neighbouring apartment. She tried to guess the song and though it’s tune was familiar without the lyrics she couldn’t recall it.
Getting up, she left her shopping next to the coffee table and went into her bedroom. In a large grey plastic moving box in the far corner the rest of her presents were stored as well as wrapping paper and cards. Macy picked it up then decided to drag it into the living room.
Putting a Disney Christmas movie that she had seen countless times into the DVD player, she began wrapping up presents, labelling them and writing cards. The sound of the movie blocked out the muffled music, but Macy wasn’t watching movie anyway.
About two hours later and Macy placed the last present into the box. Sighing, she collapsed on to the sofa. She shut her eyes and dozed for a few minutes. Then stirring herself awake, she dug out a list from her pocket. Unfolding it, she went through the names, the gifts and the ticks. Everyone and every gift had been brought.
It’s really finally over, she thought, not fully believing it.
Macy looked at her small Christmas tree which was twinkling in the corner. There were a few presents under it all ready. Soon though, she’d be packing them with her clothes and other stuff to go to her parents for the Christmas weekend. She might have only moved out a few months ago, but with her new roommate gone home all ready, Macy didn’t fancy Christmas alone.
‘I should double check,’ Macy spoke aloud to herself.
Finding a pen, she went through the people and presents, making sure to double tick them off the list.
‘Yep, all done. It really is over,’ Macy said, ‘and now I can totally enjoy Christmas.’
The Christmas tree had gone up and now the old people’s home smelled of pine. Betty stared hard at the large tree in the corner of the day room from her wheel chair. She wrinkled her nose and decided that the tree was crooked. There was too many decorations on one side, in fact there were just too many decorations all together.
‘That tree needs sorting,’ she muttered.
With a quick glance around the room, Betty slowly wheeled herself forward. Avoiding two men playing chess and the jabbering madness of Mrs Peterson, who seemed to be talking to a fairy king about the lack of flowers in the garden. Ignoring the TV and the crowd around it, Betty came to a stop before the tree.
Reaching up, she begin to take the decorations down and place them in her lap.
‘What are you doing, Betty?’ a croaking voice called out.
Betty turned to see Margo totting over with her walking frame.
‘I’m fixing the tree,’ Betty said, ‘it doesn’t look right.’
‘Oh…how you going to reach the top?’ Margo asked.
Betty followed Margo’s eyes and looked up. There was no way she could reach any further up then she had all ready gotten.
‘Ladies. What are we doing?’
Both old woman turned to see a young nurse coming towards them.
‘Nothing,’ Margo answered, ‘I was admiring the tree. So pretty and fresh smelling.’
The nurse came over and quickly saw the tree had lost half it’s decorations and that most of them where in Betty’s lap. The rest had fallen on the floor.
‘I’m fixing it,’ Betty explained, ‘it was crooked.’
‘Okay. How about we put all these back and go and make some paper chains?’ the nurse spoke out.
‘No, thanks. My soap is all most on,’ Margo said and she started shuffling away.
‘Right then. Let’s put these decorations back on the tree.’
Tutting, Betty helped the nurse put the decorations back. Soon the tree was looking well dressed again.
‘It doesn’t look any better,’ Betty said as they were nearly done.
‘It looks fine to me. Now, let’s get you busy doing something else, shall we?’ the nurse said.
She took the handles of the wheelchair and moved Betty away.
‘I’ll be back for you later Christmas tree,’ Betty whispered under her breath.
It’s finally here! The first of December! And as usual Ted and I both had the day off work and we spent it decorating the house. Now, the outside and inside looks like Blackpool illuminations! There are so many different lights everywhere and it’s already making my eyes hurt and my head spinning looking at them all. I don’t care though because it’s Christmas!
I’ve been blasting themed music all day and singing along to most of them. When were putting the lights and decorations up at outside, I brought the speakers out with me and let the music drift into the street. Ted said it was a good job most of the neighbors were at work or they’d be complain about the noise! Let ’em I said. The shops do enough blasting songs as it is, why can they get away with it and not me?
The tricky part was setting up the tree. Every year I say we need a new one and Ted rolls his eyes and says this one is good enough. It looks even more scrappy this year. Some fake pines came off in my hands and it looked so small and depressed in the corner. Once the lights were on it, the tinsel, the baubles and those other decorations it didn’t look so bad. I’m thinking though come the end of year sales I’m going to buy a new one.
After it was done, I sat on the floor and sighed deeply. Ted asked what was wrong and I brought up the whole baby issue again. I want so badly to see ornaments saying baby first Christmas danging from the tree. Followed by the things they’ve made, which look crap but you put them on anyway because your kid made it. I want to hang a third and maybe a fourth stocking with our own. I want to buy toys and games and fun kiddie things. Most of all though, I want to share the magic with Christmas with them. Give them memories they can never forget.
Ted did his normal it’s okay and we will get there speech. But we’ve tried so hard this year and nothing. Not even a false reading on any of the tests! It’s shocking that I tried so hard not get pregnant all those years we dated and the first few we were married and now when the time is right, nothing! There’s time I know, but still….I’m ready and next year I hope we can finally hang that third stocking.
George looked out of his window, ready to admire the birds flocking into his garden. A twitching of a tail caught his attention and he saw a red squirrel. The little fiend was scampering along the branches towards the cage of peanuts.
George tapped on the glass, cursing loudly. The squirrel stopped, watching him with beady black eyes then with a tail flick, the creature attacked the wired bird feeder. The squirrel snatched a nut into his mouth and before George could open the back door, had vanished into the tree top.
Cold wind, blew into his face and George felt the chill setting into his knees. He yelled loudly, but of course it was too late, the thief had gotten away again.
I stare at my front door then whisper, ‘my high street. Let me open the door and walk into my high street, please.’
Gripping the heavy brass knob, I twist it to the right and pull open the door. My totally normal three floored terrace house street flashes by and is replaced with a desolate countryside scene. I grit my teeth and look at the tall waves of grass rustling against the ruins of a giant stone doorway.
I close the door and press both hands to the three hundred year old wood. Praying to anyone and everything that’s listening, I wonder why I’ve been cursed with a magic door. To be honest there are more upsides then downsides. Last year, I spent two weeks in Italy, travel and hassle free. Also, when I had to escape from a blind date that went completely wrong. Well, there’s not much of a comeback after announcing you only have one ball and spilling red wine on my favorite dress.
Opening the door again, I keep my eyes shut and picture my high street. All those lovely little shops and fancy cafes, who’s window displays beg you to enter. The large flower pots and trimmed baby trees, looking far too good to be real. With the normal people going about their daily business, free from inconvenient magic doors.
A soft wind and swishing causes my eyes to pop open and I see the same scene before me. I growl and open the door wider, as if that makes any difference. The grass stretches before me leading to the other doorway. Nicely framed in the empty opening is an oak tree, looking smaller in the distance. There’s nothing else around, expect for some birds which are singing somewhere.
‘Why here?’ I ask, ‘I want to go to my high street. I’ve shopping to do!’
Of course, there’s no reply to my demands. The door has never given me any answers. I think if it did, I’d freak out and there’d be no leaving the house after that.
I close the door and lock it.
‘Now. My high street, please. No more funny business. You got it door? Or else…Chop chop for you,’ I threat then grab my shopping bag and handbag.
I take a deep breath, unlock the door and touch the brass knob. Holding my breath, I open the door and….
The long grass sways in a cross wind and the framed oak tree looks like a photographer’s dream.
I sigh, tug my bags higher on my shoulder and give in. I walk out, closing the door behind me and began to make my way through the grass. The sky is bleak grey above me, so I have no idea what time it is, but the wind is warm and dry, which is a good. I approach the other doorway, my thoughts badmouthing my bad luck.
The door frame is a lot bigger then it seems. Huge square stone blocks that surely could have only been placed by a monster crane guard the way. I touch one and find it cool. Staring through, I see the oak tree in the distance and surrounding it is nothing but empty grass fields. How am I meant to go shopping here?
I turn back and see a matching stone door frame. There is nothing to even indicted magic or anything. To the normal eye that is. I see the faint glinting gold outline of a door with a large brass knob matching knocker ring and letter slot. It looks the same wherever I end up, but only appears in the place it opened up in.
I have no idea how long it stays for or if it comes and goes at will. It certainly doesn’t listen to me. The only time I’ve came close to testing this was when I ended up being caught in the 2011 Japanese tsunami and earthquake. I thought the apocalypse had arrived for sure and here was me just wanting a quiet few days away…by sheer luck or maybe it had something to do with the door itself, I found it in an old tea shop and got back home. I didn’t leave home much after that.
Frowning, I walk back, running my hands over the grass. The ground is soft underneath me and I’m glad I decided on flat shoes this morning. High heels wouldn’t have stood a chance. I reach my door and grab the handle. Opening it, I see a flash of my hallway before a high street rolls out before me.
‘Thank you, door,’ I say and step out.
Avoiding a rush of people, I move out of the doorway and look around. It’s not my town. The sky reaching buildings and traffic packed road confirms it. I sigh and turn back into the archway, but something catches my eye. A coffee shop sign. Going over and looking through the window, my reflection smiles back at me.
Well, there’s nothing like a good cup of coffee in New York on a Saturday afternoon…even if a magic door did just transport you here.
Casey went downstairs, tying her new dress grown closed, before she looked over her living room and saw the after Christmas mess. She stopped and sighed deeply as her migraine throbbed in her temple. She shut her eyes then opened them again, but the scene before her hadn’t changed.
Casey could hardly see the dark patterned carpet under all the brightly coloured wrapping paper. The jolly eyes of printed penguins, reindeers and snowmen bobbed before her. She looked away and to the Christmas tree in the far corner. The pine needles were already starting to drop as if the tree realised its use was over. Not even the pretty decorations could make it look happy again.
She went down and staying close to the panelled staircase, went to the kitchen door. She kicked wrapping paper out of the way with her slippered feet and smelt a mixture of bad things. She paused and looked sadly around the room, trying to figure out where the smell of old farts, leftover food and pee was coming from.
A soft crying got her attention and she walked into the kitchen and found her daughter’s Christmas present from Uncle Ron. Casey opened the crate and let the tiny puppy out. The fluffy white ball jumped at her hand and smeared it’s tongue over her hands. She picked the puppy up and went over to the back door.
Letting the new pet out, Casey searched the kitchen for some pain killers. Finding and taking them, she made herself a cup of tea whilst looking around the kitchen. Dirty pots were stacked in the sink and the tap was dripping water over them. All the surfaces, including the old buckling table were covered in the remains of Christmas food and random party items.
Casey let the puppy back in then breaking her rule from yesterday, took it upstairs with the mug of tea. She went back into her bedroom, placed the puppy and mug down, then got back into her bed next to her husband. He was snoring heavily, dead to the world. She snuggled the puppy and drink her tea.
The migraine cleared a little and she could not help but smile as she reflected on a good Christmas day. The clean-up still wasn’t going to be fun though.
She could feel the chill in the air. Autumn was on its way.
...moments of unexpected clarity
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