Heyyy, guys! DID YOU KNOW IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS? Oh, you did? Well. Anyway, speaking of Christmas, I entered the “Write Christmas” writing contest (see details here), and I wanted to show you guys my submission today! 🙂
First, can I just say that writing an 800-word story is REALLY hard? I mean I love writing short stories, but this was a very short short story. O.o I edited and fiddled with it and finally got it down to exactly 800 words. XD
At the same time, a small word limit was quite helpful for practicing tight, clean writing, which I loved. Okay, enough about that stuff – here’s the story! I put the prompts I used at the end so they don’t spoil anything. 😉
William heard them whispering when they thought he was asleep. He wasn’t asleep because he was cold; that was what they were whispering about. The coldest Christmas Eve anyone could remember, with no coal to guard them from the gnashing, growling, wild wind that clawed through their leaking walls.
The boy’s heart ached as his mother’s whisper turned to a sob, and he wished longingly that he had money to get them coal for Christmas. But he had nothing – until the wind swept an idea into the room. William brushed his black hair out of his face along with the cold, dark thoughts, and fell asleep smiling.
The plan recycled itself through his head the next morning when he catapulted into the snowy streets. Every night on Christmas Eve, St. Nicholas appeared in the town square to spread gifts to children gathered there. But before he did, he always asked if they had been good that year, else they would get naught from him but coal. A bag of coal, and just for being naughty!
William’s first victim was a horse and carriage. He darted in front of a strutting gray mare, shouting and waving his hands until the horse reared back in terror, nearly slamming the carriage into an iron railing. There, he thought grimly. Surely that was naughty enough for a bag of coal. But as he spun around to leave, the driver clambered out of his seat and rushed toward the boy, whose eyes widened as he was met not with a box to the ears, but an embrace.
“Oh! What a brave one ye are, lad! M’horse wouldna be prancin’ so pretty if na for thee. Who could ha made so deep a pit right in t’middle o’ t’street, I canna fathom, but I bless the good Lord who sent thee today.” The old man winked and pressed a silver-wrapped chocolate into the boy’s palm. He watched blankly as the driver remounted and carefully maneuvered his steed around the snow-covered hole. All that risk for nothing! Ah well, at least he had thought of a second plan.
William shuffled slowly along the sidewalk, waiting for an older boy and girl to pass. When they did, he rushed between them, holding a sprig of mistletoe above their heads. The boy and girl stopped and glanced at each other with delighted smiles of recognition, then at the leaves in the air. The older boy chuckled awkwardly. The girl blushed and murmured something. Suddenly, to William’s horror, they kissed, right under his hands! He drew back in disgust, but not before the girl had pressed a golden butterscotch into his hand.
“I’ve been waiting so long,” she whispered happily. “Thank you. And Merry Christmas!” The boy only nodded in confusion and stumbled off, leaving the two talking and smiling together. How could this have happened again? At this rate he was never going to get his coal!
But as the afternoon wore on, each new plan was received with gratitude and a piece of candy instead of the angry words he eagerly anticipated. Why was it so hard to be naughty now, and so easy the rest of the year when he tried to be good?
Finally, as night arrived, William had one last chance. There sat a bag coal, waiting temptingly on the doorstep of a shabby house for him to snatch it up and race home. But his hand was stayed by snatches of a carol sung in a sweet, high voice nearby. “Do you know what I know? A child, a child, shivers in the cold – let us bring him silver and gold, let us bring him silver and gold!”
The boy stopped. He pulled his thin jacket closer around him and closed his eyes miserably. If the High King had given up Paradise to shiver in a cold stable that he might warm the icy, sinful heart of all the world, how could he steal warmth from a stranger who might need it more than he? William knew the answer: he couldn’t. He would gather some wood from the park, and though it wouldn’t burn long, it would warm his family for a bit. And at least he had the candy.
But William gazed at his handful of gold and silver sweets in his palm, and then looked up to see the caroler standing near. She was very small and thin, with dirty red hair and hollow cheeks. Her eyes were bright, and she was smiling at him.
All at once he stood up and held out the candy. The girl gasped with delight. Then she caught up the bag of coal behind him and held it out too. “Take it, please,” she beamed. “It’s an extra bag. We call it Christmas Coal.”
Ah, that was fun. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed reading it, dears! And since this post is so short, I thought I’d include some of my favorite Christmas songs/videos I discovered this year. The first one is hilarious, and the other two are just beautiful (and did you know the second one is sung by a fifteen-year-old?!). ♥ Let me know which one was your favorite, and Merry Christmas! 😀