Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'll Be Home For Christmas

The Christmas tree looks more beautiful than ever this year. The lights all a glimmer, the star shining brightly, it’s enough to make Eunice cry. Outside, even the City enjoys the spirit of the season. Caterpillars of tinsel festoon the telephone wires while beach-ball size ornaments and bells hang from the lamp posts. Through the window, she can hear the faint tinkling of music—“Sleigh Ride”, isn’t it?—as it carries across the lawn, all the way down from the city square. It’s a wonderful time to be alive. Roosevelt has turned things around. Her daddy promised—

“Making Christmas trees on the frosted glass again, Eunice?”

She turns and sees Jonelle, the little woman from down the street. Or if not down the street, then somewhere close by; she’s here every morning, noon, and night. Eunice then looks at the glass, at the small image she has scratched into the glass. Almost like a triangle with boughs, she thinks.

She smiles. “I guess I have.”

Jonelle nods. “Your kids coming to see you today?”

Eunice gives the woman a whimsical smile. Such a funny lady. “Oh, Miss Jonelle, you know I’m not old enough to have kids. Shoot, I’ve not even been kissed by a boy yet.”

Jonelle turns to the bed. “Well, maybe they’ll show this time.” She pulls up a sheet and then stops, giving Eunice a pained look. “You never know. Always look at the bright side, right? That’s what Mr. Barack says.”

Eunice frowns. “Mr. Barack?”

“The President, honey.”

Eunice gives her a small chuckle. There she goes again.

“Miss Jonelle, why do you carry on so? Why everyone knows that Mr. Roosevelt is President.”

Eunice likes this part about Jonelle. Not only is she one of the most positive women Eunice has ever met, Jonelle is always the kidder, too. Which is really a nice character trait to have, given that the woman can still laugh and make jokes even though she only has enough money to buy one set of clothes; every day, she has to wear the same white outfit, the same white shoes.

“My daddy is serving the President right now, did you know that?” Eunice asks. “I got a letter from him just the other day.”

“Who, Mr. Roosevelt?”

“No, silly, my daddy. It came all the way from Pearl Harbor where he’s stationed. He says he’ll be home for Christmas, which is about the best gift ever. Better than any of the toy trucks my brother is always asking for.”

Jonelle stares at her flatly for a moment, and Eunice wonders if she has said something wrong. Maybe Miss Jonelle can’t afford gifts for Christmas. Jonelle then turns back to the bed. The sheets pulled up, she straightens out the covers. After that, she turns and pulls out a pad of paper from her pocket.

“What do you want for breakfast today, Eunice, the scrambled eggs? Or maybe we should just stick to the oatmeal with raisins. It’ll be good for your constitution.”

Eunice waves a dismissive hand.

“I don’t care one way or the other,” she says. “In fact, just knowing this Christmas is going to be the best one ever, with mom and dad together again, I could eat rocks and not care.” She looks around. “By the way, where is mother this morning?”

A pained look crosses Jonelle’s face. “Honey, your momma’s been gone a long time now. Almost as long as your daddy, the poor girl.”

“Gone? Where’d she go, to the store?”

Jonelle looks at her for a moment, the pained look replaced by one slightly irriated.

“That daughter of yours better show today, or I have a mind to call her myself.”

With that, the woman walks out the door.

Eunice stares after her for a few seconds and then shakes her head. Such a kidder.

She turns back to the window. The Christmas tree looks more beautiful than ever this year. The lights all a glimmer, the star shining brightly, it’s enough to make her cry. She can’t wait to show her daddy when he comes home. Won’t he be surprised?

S.B.: With everything that's been going on lately, from NaNoWriMo to my Holiday Story Exchange (the deadline was yesterday, and I clocked in 3K words with my story), and all the Christmas events starting to pile up, I wasn't planning on adding much to my blog. But then this morning I woke up, sat down at the computer, and a worm of an idea started to bore its way into my mind. This story is the result.

As you can see, I wasn't planning on writing anything for #FridayFlash either, so I'll just let this one stand on its own.

I'm going to take the next week off so I can knock out some reading. After that, I'm going to be back hard on the novel. I want to finish this one soon, and then start on the revisions. Things are starting to heat up for my protagonist, and I can't wait to see how everything plays out. So if you don't see much from me going forward, you'll know why.

I hope you are having a wonderful season, my friends. Spend as much of it with your family as you can. Each day is its own blessing.

Until next time...


  1. It's a sad Christmas story but Eunice remains happy and hopeful.Nice perspective and subtlety. I liked also that the ending echos the beginning. Very nice piece of work here Shephen.

  2. My favorites are the little humorous and human touches, like making Christmas trees in the glass, or "Mr. Barak." Glad you decided to type this up, Mr. Book.

  3. This is a sad Christmas story and yet there is a light heartedness about it brought into play by the character Eunice.

    It's good to know she is well looked after, and I found this story touched my heart in a delightful way.

    I too am glad you decided to write this one up, it would have been a shame not to be able to have read it.

  4. Harry: I thought the echo would help to solidify how trapped she is in the past.

    John: Thanks. You know, until I saw the name one more time, I never realized I misspelled it. That has been corrected. I wouldn't want to be pegged as disrespectful... or worse. And thanks for the "Mr. Book". It made me smile.

    Helen: Thank you for the nice comment, and I'm glad you liked it.

  5. A beautiful story, Stephen. I'm glad you took time to share it with us and I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

  6. Despite Eunice not really being aware of her true surroundings, she is happy in her own truth of her surroundings.

    It's sad that some people end up like this when they get older, but Eunice is not sad about her environment, so I take the happiness from this story rather than sadness.

    This story has a lot of heart in it whichever way you read it from.

  7. Chuck: Thank you. I hope you have a Merry Christmas as well.

    Steve: It is sad that some people end up like this. I pray that I don't. Thank you for the warm-hearted comments, and I'm glad you see the bright side to this story. At least she has someone who cares enough to act in her best interest.