The semester is over! I like my job, but those last few weeks of a term are stressful and busy. Finishing is a big relief. I usually take the first week of break to try to relax a bit, recharge...and rush around trying to finish up all the holiday prep I've put off.
This year has been business as usual, except for one new thing.
Apex Publications held a Christmas themed flash fiction contest: 250 word short stories with a Christmas theme--Apex style. Apex specializes in dark science-fiction, fantasy, and horror so my attention was caught right away. (It's an awesome publication, by the way, so you might want to check them out if you haven't already).
I entered twice. I'm fairly certain I won't win the big prize, but I got two things that are pretty great. First, they graciously gave out a free back issue to everyone who entered a story. I got the file today. Sweet!
Better yet, I've been hit with a lot of inspiration. I've had a wonderful time writing these little holiday pieces. It's been such a joy that I haven't been able to stop--even though the contest is closed.
I finished another one tonight and I thought I'd share it. 'Tis the season and all that. The story is a bit longer than what would qualify for the competition's length requirement, but it's still flash at 324 words.
Thanks for reading!
By Wendy Hammer
“Is it real, Grandma? The magic of the Christmas snow, I mean?” Jenny tried to keep her voice even, but her grandmother wasn’t fooled. Eleven years wasn’t enough time to develop a strong, cool front.
“Yes. If you catch a flake of Christmas snow on your tongue and wish, you’ll get a hint of your one true love.” The lights from the tree sparkled in her granddaughter’s eyes. Arlene couldn’t meet her gaze for long.
Jenny pointed out the window at the softly falling snow and asked, “Can we? Please?”
As Arlene watched her granddaughter chasing snowflakes, she thought about another Christmas, long ago.
The flake had hit her tongue, feather-light—a brief kiss of cold. She’d tasted a name (George) and something mossy and burnt. She’d spluttered and had run inside to see if she could scrounge up something to kill the awful taste.
She didn’t mind it so much the next time it hit her. The handsome soldier tasted like Scotch and danger—he’d swept her right off her feet.
Arlene closed her eyes, opened her mouth, and nabbed a flake, just as she did every year. The Scotch was still there, but muted, buried under carbon and ash. She savored it anyway.
Arlene turned her attention just in time to witness her granddaughter’s moment. Jenny’s eyes went wide. “Lime!” The name she kept for herself, as she should.
The front door opened, throwing a pool of golden light out onto the snow. It was broken by the shadow of a familiar figure. “When you two snow angels are done playing, hot chocolate’s ready and waiting!”
Jenny ran for the door, stopping to give her grandfather a quick hug.
Arlene paused too, accepting a squeeze and a stolen kiss from her husband. Cloves. He always tasted like cloves.
It wasn’t the sweetest flavor, but it had grown on her. “Merry Christmas, dear,” she said. Arlene followed him inside and closed the door.