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The Book Nymph Publishing & Promotions December 2015 “Tiny Tale” Edition Featuring: “The Ticking Ring” by, K.N. Lee “Red” by, David S. Reynolds “Ghosts of Christmas Past” by, Lynda Cox “Of Dogs and Women” by, Jeané Sashi “Winter in the West” by, David S. Reynolds “A Heart in Autumn” by, Kyra Dune “The Cloth” by, Eboney Thompson “Aiden and Axel” by, Alex Ang “There Arose Such a Clatter” CJ McKee

The Ticking Ring By, K.N. Lee lla’s breath escaped her lips in a puff of vapor. She licked her lips. The taste of her sweet mango lip gloss made her smile. Snow fell from the sky in steady sheets, covering everything in a thick layer of white. She took a sip of her hot chocolate and delighted in the way the thick liquid warmed her from the inside out. She sighed and snuggled into Jack’s side.


Ella frowned to herself as she shivered. She wore two layers of clothing, a coat, gloves, a hat, and a scarf, and was still freezing. She couldn’t understand how Jack could tolerate the cold with nothing but a thin jacket and scarf. “How long are we supposed to wait out here?” Ella looked around at the quiet park. The trees swayed slightly with the cold wind. The stars above seemed to flicker around the pale moon. Jack shrugged. He pulled her in closer and kissed her left cheek. “Maybe another five minutes, tops. You okay?” Ella nodded and rested her head on his shoulder. “Yeah. I’m just cold. I’m a southern girl. I’m not used to this Arctic chill.” Jack chuckled and wrapped her in his coat. “We’re in Ireland, not Iceland! You mean to tell me they don’t have winters in Savannah?” Ella glanced up at him. A snowflake rested on her nose. She closed one eye and scrunched up her face as she looked at it. “Not like this. I’m sorry darling, but I’ve never been a fan of the cold.” “That’s unfortunate,” Jack said. A hint of disappointment in his voice made her pause. She kissed his cheek, and dusted more snow off her knees. “I just hope that whatever you have planned happens quickly. I’m getting buried in snow.” Ella made a face. “I didn’t even know Ireland got so much snow!” Jack stood. He pulled her up to her feet. He winked at her. “It normally doesn’t, sweetheart.”

Ella heard a howling as the wind picked up. She looked around, startled. “What is it, Jack?” Her voice came out cracked. She clutched his arm and held on, expecting to be carried away as the wind blew fiercely at the both of them. Ella saw a light in the distance. Like a comet it shot towards them from the thick forest. She squealed. “Look, Jack! What is that?” She gripped Jack’s arm and pointed towards the light. The light grew brighter and nearly blinded Ella. She gasped. “Jack! It’s coming!” “Calm down, my love. Everything is happening as it should.” Jack turned to face her. Ella raised a brow. “What do you mean?” She looked around. “What’s going on?” He grinned. Something strange happened to his image. His body seemed to go translucent and a startled cry escaped Ella’s lips. Ella covered her mouth. His blue eyes seemed to sparkle. She’d always loved his eyes. The day they met on her tour of Ireland exactly one year ago, she’d felt something almost magical whenever she looked into them. Now, she was almost afraid. She started to take a step away, but Jack took her hands in his. Ella stood still. The wind wrapped around them, but she didn’t care. Something in his eyes calmed her. He kissed the back of both of her hands and fell to his knees. Ella’s jaw dropped as she realized what was happening. Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out a glittering box. “Jack!” Ella’s eyes widened. She swirled around, stunned by the fact that they were now surrounded by people. All dressed in blue or white, the people clapped and nodded their approval towards Ella. Ella’s heart thumped in her chest. She did not care that they were smiling. The silence frightened her. She could see them, but she could not hear anything coming from the crowd. Still, they cheered her on in silence. “Ella,” Jack began. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something.” Ella shivered. She did not like the look in their eyes. Happiness was written all over their pale faces, but their eyes were black and hollow. There was no real life in their eyes.

“Who are they?” The words slipped from her cold lips in a whisper. “They are my family.” Ella shook her head. “I don’t understand.” The thought of fleeing crossed Ella’s mind, but Jack’s hand holding hers kept her still. “Listen to me, my sweet. I’ve been searching for hundreds of years for that perfect woman. And then…I met you. I knew from the moment I saw you that you were meant to be my beloved queen. I knew that all of those years of waiting were worth it, because I was just waiting for you to arrive on this Earth.” Ella shook her head again. “Thousands?” Ella asked. “Did you say thousands of years?” Jack chuckled softly. He opened the box and the sound of a piccolo began to fill her ears. Ella gasped at the large diamond set in a golden band. Jack presented it to her. She froze and stared at his face in awe. Jack took her hand into his, kissed her knuckles, and took her glove off. “I love you, Ella,” he whispered as he slipped the ring onto her finger. The ring was lighter than she expected. Somehow it seemed to warm her entire body, seemingly from the inside out. A wave of joy flooded Ella’s body and she found herself grinning. The cold of the air around them hit her teeth but she did not care. The joy was so euphoric that she almost lost herself in the sensation. Her mind raced. Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment. She had dreamed about being proposed to since she was a child, but she never imagined such an elaborate scene. Ella bit her lip, and winced at the pain. She wasn’t dreaming. Something fantastical was happening and she didn’t know how to process it. All she could do was look around in awe, occasionally glancing back at Jack’s smiling face to reassure herself this was real. Jack’s family continued cheering in silence. They were shouting, smiling, and clapping, and still Ella could hear nothing. Jack looked so happy and hopeful. His charming smile stretched from ear to ear. He nodded her on. “Will you, my love? Will you be my queen?”

“Queen?” Ella croaked. Her eyes widened even more as the diamond on her left ring finger began to glow and tick like a clock. The ticking grew so loud that the sound of the piccolo was drowned out by it. Jack closed the ring box and the music abruptly stopped. He came to his feet, kissed her gently on the lips, and pulled her away at arm’s length. “Yes, Ella. I’m asking you not only to marry me, but to be my queen.” Ella’s brows furrowed. She swallowed a lump in her throat. “Queen of what?” Jack chuckled. “Your innocence and purity is what drew me to you.” Ella shook her head. “I don’t understand, Jack.” Jack turned her towards the wall of wind that encircled them. The faces of his family began to swirl away and vanish. Their images were replaced by a castle made of ice. “Have you ever heard the name, Jack Frost?” She shot a look at him. “No…you’re not telling me you’re the Jack Frost?” He nodded and pointed to the ice castle. “That is my home, where I rule over winter. I need a queen, someone to help me with the task and to watch over the children of the world.” Ella covered her mouth with her hands. The glow of the ring drew her attention again. It continued to tick. “Why is the ring ticking?” Jack stroked her cheek. His smile faded. “It has a timer. You don’t have much longer to make your choice.” Ella paled. She hated decisions. She hated pressure. But, she knew she loved Jack. “Tell me, my love. Will you chose to go back to your life before me, where you’ll forget you ever met me, or, will you join me in my kingdom? Together we can change the colors of the leaves in autumn, create art and wonder for people to enjoy. We can spread winter snow and joy to the people of the world. Doesn’t that sound glorious?” Ella glanced at him. Her eyes examined his face. His white skin was perfect. His white hair was soft, and flew around his face as the wind continued to sweep around them. Ella couldn’t help but smile. His happiness was infectious. Jack was as cheerful and happy as a little boy.

She couldn’t remember seeing him that happy before. Not even she could make him as joyful as he was when he spoke of spreading winter and creating art with the seasons. Ella pulled her hand from his and took a step towards the vision of his castle. It was a grand sight. The beauty of its towers and gardens of blue and white flowers captivated her. She touched the image before her. She winced. The air stung her with its chill. Like water, it rippled. Ella yanked her hand back and put it in her pocket. She frowned at the vision. Its beauty somehow made her sad. “Will I be able to see my family?” Jack was silent. Ella glanced back at him. He shook his head. Ella filled with sadness. She couldn’t imagine a life without her mother, father, and two brothers. Then, she thought of being a queen. She smiled. She’d be able to live with Jack in happiness. In a cold ice castle, Ella thought. Her smile faded and she looked down at the ring. The ticking made her shudder. Her time was running out. She could feel it. Ella made her choice. She took the ring off and handed it to Jack. Tears filled her eyes when she saw the hurt in his face. The look of devastation morphed his features. She was almost too afraid to look at him any longer. She put her glove back on and looked down at her feet. “I’m sorry, Jack. I love you, but I could never leave my family.” Once again, Jack fell to his knees but this time he held his hands in prayer. His eyes were wide with hope. Tears froze on his cheeks. “But, Ella. What if I brought your family to my castle as well? There are many rooms. They’d be happy there. You’d be happy. Right?” There was the slightest thud of snow as Ella knelt before him and took his hands in hers. She kissed his hands and used them to cup her face. She closed her eyes, savoring the feel of his palms on her cheeks and his fresh, evergreen smell for the last time. She wrapped her arms around his neck. “Darling, you cannot bring my entire family. Even a life with them in your castle would be a lonely one. Take my brother, for example. You bring him along,

but what about his wife’s friends and family? Could you bring them too? Can you bring my entire family tree…and their friends and extended family?” Jack’s shoulders slumped. “I suppose not.” She smiled sadly, and wiped a frozen tear from his cheek. “I love you, but I cannot live the life of a queen in your world.” He nodded. “I wish that was not your choice, but I understand.” Ella kissed him. “Forgive me” He nodded and a tear turned into ice on his cheek. “It’s fine. I knew it was a lot to ask of a mortal.” She held back a sob as she whispered in his ear. “I’ll love you forever. And I will never forget you. I will remember you with each snowflake and winter wind. You’ll be with me every time I jump in a pile of orange leaves with my nieces and nephews, or when I drink hot chocolate and watch as the kids in the neighborhood build snowmen.” Jack laughed softly. “You’re right, Ella.” Ella gasped as he vanished. She was all alone in the snow, confused, unsure of what had happened. Was it real, or was it all just a dream? Then, she heard a soft voice on the wind. “I’ll always be with you, Ella… Always...”

K.N. Lee

Connect with K.N. Lee www.Kn-Lee.com www.WriteLikeAWizard.com www.Facebook.com/knycolelee www.twitter.com/knycole_lee

Red By, David S. Reynolds Holiday Art/Photography

David S. Reynolds

Connect with David www.davidsreynolds.weebly.com Facebook @ Renaissance Redneck Media Twitter @davidsreynolds1 Sign up for David’s email list and get notified of new releases and sales! http://eepurl.com/3rj4D

Ghosts of Christmas Past By, Lynda Cox Christmas Eve, 1883 llison startled with the deep laugh behind her. She turned in time to see A.J. lift their four year old daughter into his arms. Pamela wrapped slender arms around his neck and snuggled deeply under his chin. As happened every time her husband and daughter were together, Allison was struck with the thought that other than being her mother, she truly had nothing to do with the little girl. Pamela shared her father’s hair and eye color, her features were a softer, very feminine version of A.J.’s, right down to the same arch of her brows.


“We’re making your favorite pie, Daddy. I’m helping,” the child announced. “I can tell you’re helping.” The amusement in his voice broke into a short chuckle. “Your little hand prints are all over the back of Mommy’s skirt.” He placed a kiss on Pamela’s raven head and set her on the floor. “Why don’t you go play with

your doll in the parlor? I need to talk to Momma.” He lifted the toy from the miniature high chair he had built just for Pamela’s doll, smoothed the corn-silk hair, and handed her to the little girl. Once Pamela had skipped from the warm kitchen, A.J. crossed the room, moving the bottle of molasses away from the large Hoosier stove. “Molasses, sugar, bourbon, pecans…what are you up to, Alli?” “What makes you think I’m up to anything?” He knew her too well. She dusted her hands off, and lifted the rolled out crust, placing it into a cast iron skillet. His brow quirked up and amusement danced in the cobalt depths of his eyes. Leaning a hip against the counter, he crossed his arms over his chest. “The last time you made me a pecan pie you made sure I had a piece before you told me about that mangy cur you dragged home.” The deep Kentucky drawl he usually kept in check emerged fully. “You made a pecan pie before you told me about buying a new harness for the buggy.” “Champ was not mangy when I brought him home. Thin, but not mangy,” Allison protested in her own defense. “And he’s turned into a good working dog. As to the new harness, after one of the straps broke, it was time to get a new one.” “I’ll ask again. What are you up to that you need to make me a pecan pie before you tell me about it?” Deciding that the truth might be her best option, Allison poured the bubbling pie filling into the crust. “I have a surprise for you.” “Does it have anything to do with the wooden box from my sister that Thom delivered today?” He picked out a pecan toasting on the stove top, tossing it from hand to hand as it cooled. “Yes, and stop eating the pecans. I need them for the pie.” The crooked grin she loved so well crossed his face. “You won’t miss one.” A.J. pressed a kiss to her temple and then walked to the doorway. He paused for a moment. “Should I be worried that you and my sister have planned a surprise for me?” “No. She merely facilitated the delivery.” It was an honest answer. She was more worried about his reaction. When she had first written to his sister with this plan, Elizabeth warned her it might not be a good idea.

**** A.J. located a pry bar in the tack room. Walking toward the house, he wondered again what could possibly be in that box and why Allison was questioning her decision to surprise him with its contents, so much so that she insisted on putting Pamela to bed before allowing him to open the wooden crate. He paused in the yard, drawing a deep breath, wincing with the shattering cold air entering his lungs. Lifting his head, he stared into the clear night sky, picking out constellations that shimmered and danced in the velvety expanse, and took in the glowing grandeur of the Milky Way spilling across the blackness. His gaze skipped over the ranch house, lingering for a moment on the soft light spilling from the parlor windows. Five years ago, he never would have dared to dream his life could be so full. Five years ago, he was hell bent on finding the man who had destroyed his life, leaving him broken physically as well as emotionally. Five years ago, his nightmares of his tenure in a Union run prisoner of war camp often dragged him into a strange state of being wide awake but unable to differentiate between the past and the present. And, then Allison had almost missed a train… He made his way into the house through the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. He found Allison in the parlor, staring at the wooden box that stood next to the Christmas tree. After a quick sip of the hot brew, he asked, “Should I go get another piece of that pecan pie to sweeten me up for this?” She didn’t take her gaze from the box as she said in a near whisper, “I don’t think the whole pie will.” That startled him. Usually, his teasing brought about a similar teasing response. “Alli, what’s in the box?” She shook her head, still not looking at him. “Just open it.” He set his cup on the side board and levered the pry bar under an edge of the box lid. The cry of nails pulling from the wood sounded abnormally loud in the small parlor. Lifting the lid, he caught a glimpse of a gilded frame buried in shavings. He pulled the picture from its security within the long, curling shreds of wood and turned the canvas around. He stared at the group portrait, viewing faces he hadn’t seen in almost two decades: his long deceased first wife, his two daughters from that marriage. Breathing became difficult and his head was swimming with the memories swirling

around him. Cathy had been depicted seated gazing up at him, Caroline standing behind her mother, while he stood at Cathy’s side, holding a three year old Aimee Grace. The young child had her head resting on his shoulder, her tiny hand clutching the lapel of his shell jacket. Commissioning the portrait had meant selling a top stud horse north into Ohio for cold, hard Yankee gold. “She was beautiful,” he heard Allison murmur, as if from miles away, and he wasn’t sure if she referred to his deceased wife or either of his daughters, their lives tragically ended so young. “Where did you get this?” The only time he had seen the portrait—as it had been completed after his Christmas leave had ended—it had been hanging in its frame in slashed tatters, a victim of the men who had attempted to burn Clayborne. “Elizabeth told me she had the cabinet card that portrait was painted from.” Allison moved closer to the portrait. “I wanted to give you something special for Christmas. She had seen the original so she supervised the recreation.” A.J. forced in a deep breath, unable to form a coherent thought. The sudden silence in the parlor grew until Allison whispered, “I’m sorry. I didn’t intend to bring up painful memories.” Her apology halted his careening, jumbled thoughts. “You didn’t bring up painful memories. Almost all of the memories I have of them are good.” She lifted her face to him, those chocolate eyes he’d once sworn he could drown in dark with doubt. He closed the distance between them and pulled her into his arms. “There’s nothing to be sorry for. It’s a beautiful and thoughtful gift, Alli, and I appreciate it.” Her shoulders hitched with her quick breath. He tightened his arms around her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “But, they’re my past; dead and buried.” Glancing at the portrait again, he was struck with the uncanny resemblance between Aimee Grace and Pamela. “You and our daughter are my here and now, my whole future. I can’t and I don’t want to imagine my life without you. I told you the night I asked you to marry me that I was not holding onto a ghost, that you have my whole heart.” Her shoulders hitched again. Levering back from her, but not fully releasing her from his embrace, A.J. said, “I want to send that painting back to my sister. Elizabeth and Cathy were the best of friends. She was Cathy’s maid of honor at our

wedding and godmother to Caroline and Aimee. Let her keep that portrait. We’ll find someone here to take our picture—you, me, and Pamela—to hang over the mantel.” Allison nodded and even managed a watery smile. “I just have one request, Mrs. Adams. The next time you bake a pecan pie, will you please not have a reason for it?”

Lynda Cox

Connect with Lynda www.facebook.com/LyndaJCox (Facebook) http://lyndajcox.blogspot.com (blog) https://twitter.com/#!/LyndaCox (Twitter handle) lyndajcox.com (web site)

Of Dogs and Women By, JeanĂŠ Sashi


he Los Angeles Rain, although practically seasonal, was still an object of fascination and relaxation to Patricia. Letting her work and her thoughts go by the wayside, she gazed out her window, trying to watch each drop of rain as it hit the concrete below, her attention only refocused by an occasional passerby, and her eyes would follow them until they walked out of her line of sight. The calming patter of the precipitation was slowly lulling her to sleep, as she pulled her head from her hands with a great deal of effort. It had been nearly two months since she left Quebec, Canada to go to graduate school at the University of California at Los Angeles. Many people objected to her leaving, and sometimes she herself objected, even after the move. This was one of those times. She had a paper to do, and right now, she didn't feel like doing anything, but she managed to take the pen in her hand and start writing. One word: "The" was written before the little blue wooden dog sleeping on her desk drew her attention

away. "Wish I could sleep all day like you," she said. The dog had been a present from Carl before she left; it was kind of a thank you for putting up with him. The thought brought a smile to her face, and she began to mentally reminisce about Quebec, Canada, Dusty, Lisa, and Alex. After about a minute she realized she was drifting once again, and groaned at the almost blank piece of paper in front of her. There was no way she was going to get the paper done in her current state of mind, so she grabbed her coat and umbrella and headed out the door. The rain had worn down to a few sprinkles by the time she had gotten back, yet the cold and the clouds retained their iron grip on the landscape. Managing to kick the door shut, she sat her bag of groceries on the table and shook out her umbrella, hoping not to get anything valuable wet. She carefully leaned it against her desk and moved to take the contents from the bag, first removing a small piece of rawhide. Actually, it was a piece of fresh bone she had "borrowed" from a neighbor's trash en route to the store, thinking it would be kind of funny to put it near the blue dog. She did so, smiled at the scent then finished unpacking the groceries. As she shut the refrigerator door, she grabbed her cup of mocha and headed back to her desk to hopefully start and finish that dreadful paper. Setting the cup down, and grabbing a pen, she briefly glanced at the dog, it was gone. A look of puzzlement washed over her face as she searched her desk. The wooden pit-bull had disappeared. A faint noise drew her attention to the floor beside her, where the dog was yawning and stretching out, seemingly ignoring the confines of its normal sleeping form. She stood and backed up as the dog tried to bite its tail. Realizing it couldn't, due to the lack of teeth, it looked up at Patricia. They remained deadlocked, like that for quite some time, but the short attention span of the dog caused it to lose the staring match, and it began attacking a spot of paper on the floor. With the convenient distraction, Patricia got hold of the phone and began to dial Will. "Hello?" "Hi, un...my dog is alive..." "What?" Will's voice replied. Patricia turned to see the dog scamper into the kitchen. "That blue dog Carl gave me is alive!" "Oh no, please tell me you're kidding..."

"I'm quite serious." "Great. Has it voiced its intentions to take over Los Angeles?" "Luckily no; it's behaving like a normal dog would. Aside from the fact it can't bite its tail itself. "It can't bite its tail itself." "It doesn't have any teeth." "Well, that certainly is a problem." Will's sarcasm was quite apparent. "Are there any sightings of the green marble?" Patricia sat back down. "No, that's not what caused it...I put a rawhide bone in front of it that I found, then it was stretching out on the floor a few minutes later. "That's good news," he paused. "I say if it isn't going to kill you, you have a nice new pet. You aren't allergic to wooden dogs are you?" The dog ran back in front of her, glanced around crazily, and tore into the other room. "I can't have a wooden dog running around my apartment, just like you couldn't have a drunken bird lounging in yours!" "All right, all right, I was just kidding. You say a rawhide bone started it up?" "Yeah." "Okay, what do dogs hate?" "Cats." "True, but you're going to have a hard time finding a live wooden cat. I was thinking more along the lines of a bath. I've heard some dogs hate water." The dog skittered back into the kitchen. "Are you saying that all I have to do is dunk this thing?" "Sounds like a plan to me." She sighed. It might be some work just catching the hyperactive dog. "All right, I'll try to and call you right back." "Good luck." "Bye." She hung up the phone and walked into the kitchen as the dog raced between her legs back into the other room. "Here doggy!" She called after it. It

stopped in its tracks and turned to face her. "Wow that actually worked..." She commented, and scooped up the dog. It was whimpering, obviously pleased with being awake for once. Seeing this, Patricia began to feel guilty about ceasing its life. She scratched its belly and released it, vowing to dunk it at the end of the day. The dog ran off into the other room. She called Will to tell him of her decision, and he wasn't too pleased with the idea but, since the dog wasn't murderous or psychotic, he relented. After the brief conversation, she sat back at her desk, picked up her pen, and started on her paper. A few hours later, she put down her pen, stretched out in her chair, then stood and yawned. The paper was done, and now she could goof off the rest of the day. The rain had picked up again she discovered as she glanced out the window, so the goofing off had to occur indoors. She hadn't heard a peep out of the dog, and she found it staring at a corner for no apparent reason. On her approach it turned and looked at her for a moment, then went back to watching the wall. Just as she turned to leave, the dog was spooked by something, and ran from the room spitting and barking. She tried to see what had scared the dog so but couldn't find anything particularly terrifying. Patricia wondered if real dogs acted this strange. She followed her wooden pet, and caught it tearing apart her newly finished paper. Screaming "No!" she lunged at it, and managed to snag its back leg as it tried to bolt for the kitchen. Gathering it up and gripping it tightly, she assessed the damage to her paper, and realized it was irreparable. She glanced hatefully at the dog, which was struggling mightily to free itself from her arms. She walked hastily into the kitchen, turned on the faucet, and tried to reassure the dog that she wasn't going to hurt it, although she really would have liked to. The sink filled up but, before she could put the dog in, it freed itself from her grip and clambered across the floor. "Come back here!" she yelled after it but, to no avail, the dog was long gone. Sighing, she ran after it, and jumped onto her bed, whirled and stood on hind legs, barking. "It's all right," she said. "It's all right. You need a bath." The dog backed up, then leapt through the window to the ground below. Patricia hoped the shattered glass didn't hit anyone below and she rushed to the window to see what had happened. It was pouring outside, the gutters working overtime to disperse the runoff, and that's where the dog was lying, motionless. She signed in relief that no one had seen the event and she grabbed her umbrella and decided to go down and retrieve it before anyone found it. Upon arrival, Patricia discovered that her dog was back to

its normal position, and she bent to pick it up. It was sopping wet, the small black and tan dots on its back faded and running. She frowned; Carl's gift had been ruined. Nevertheless, she stuck it in the pocket of her raincoat, and walked back to her apartment. The rain began to taper off again, and a faint rainbow made itself known to Patricia. The spectrum of colors distracted her from a bird flying swiftly south overhead. A mocking bird flew by. ©2014 Jeané Sashi

Jeané Sashi

Connect with Jeane Jeane@JeaneEBennett.com Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeane-sashi Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JeaneEBennett Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JeaneEBennett

Winter in the West David S. Reynolds Holiday Art/Photography




sat on the train staring out the window at the trees. Reds, oranges, and golds; the trees in their fall clothes waiting for winter. Like me, though my own clothes were not so bright and festive. But then, I felt neither bright nor festive so the dull browns and grays I wore suited me fine.

`I hated the trees for facing the coming snows brightly arrayed like young girls at a party. I was a young girl, but no party waited for me at the end of my long and winding journey. A journey that had begun in death. My mother was a nurse. She was all the family I knew. I often worried about her going to the sick camps with all those diseased people. "Don't worry so, Anna," she would say with a smile. "Nurses don't get sick." Only she was wrong. Nurses do get sick. They die and leave their teenage daughters to board trains to strange lands to live with relatives they never even knew existed. On the platform under the trees, groups of people were bidding goodbye to their loved ones. Hugging and crying and carrying on as if it were the end of the world. I hated them too. What did they know of the end of the world? Of sorrow? Of goodbye? Goodbye was not a hug farewell at a train station, it was watching your mother's coffin being lowered into the ground while the gray Autumn skies poured misery. Other passengers began to board the train. Chattering, smiling, even through their tears. They took their seats with faces eager for the journey ahead. I wanted to jump up, to scream, to tell them they had no right to look to winter with anticipation while my life was disintegrating around me. I remained in my seat, looking out the window at the trees as the train began to roll. **** The train ride was a cold blur filled with people talking and saying nothing at all. A few friendly faces tried to start up a conversation with me, but they didn't

linger long. I suppose my expression too nearly matched the weather for their tastes. So they moved on, looking for spring elsewhere. And then a boy about my own age in a dark, hooded jacket, sat down in the seat opposite mine. He didn't look at me. He didn't speak to me. Which was just as well, because I was not in the mood for idle chatter. Silence filled the air around us and became a dome of ice to hold the sun at bay. The happy voices of the other passengers faded into the background. I was comfortable with the silence when it was my own, less so now I found myself forced to share it. I kept thinking the boy would surely leave, but he didn't. He just continued sitting there staring at his lap and intruding on my personal misery with his own. "Couldn't you sit somewhere else?" My own voice was a stranger to my ears, it had been so long since I heard it. He lifted his head and looked at me with eyes gray as the clouded Autumn sky. "Why?" "Because..." But I could think of no reasonable reply. I crossed my arms and stared out the window. The silence came creeping back in, but the boy continued to stare at me. I tried to pretend not to notice, but his gaze was like an itch crawling beneath my skin. "Didn't your mother ever tell you it was rude to stare?" "Didn't your mother ever tell you it was rude to ignore people?" I looked him in the eyes. "My mother is dead." I expected him to flinch at the words, to look away from me and stammer some kind of pointlessly sympathetic phrase like everyone else. Instead, he held my gaze like a challenge. "Mine isn't." He said the words as if he'd wish to switch our circumstances. "Why would you want your mother to be dead?" He shrugged, breaking the hold of his eyes on mine. "My name's Evan."

"Anna." I gave my name automatically in reply, then scowled because I hadn't intended to give it all. "Do you intend to sit here for the entire trip?" "Maybe," He scuffed the toe of his sneaker against the floor. "What if I don't want you to? What if I prefer to be alone?" "Then I guess you'll have to move." I narrowed my eyes. This was my space, my own personal island of misery, and I was not about to give it over. "We'll see who moves first." I stared out the window again, determined to not speak another word. **** I woke with a start as the train came to a stuttering halt at the border. Lifting my head from its rest against the window, I wiped a hand across my chin where a line of spittle lay. I glanced over to see if Evan had noticed. He was looking intently up the aisle with an expression of alarm. I turned in my seat to see what had his attention. The porter was coming up the isle checking passports. I took mine out of my pocket, along with my permission card which allowed a person under eighteen to ride the train alone. Then I understood Evan's expression. He didn't have such a card. He wasn't supposed to be on the train. Now, I would be rid of him. The porter stopped by our seats. "Passports." We both handed ours over. The porter checked them and made notes on his clipboard. "And your permission cards?" Evan looked down at the floor. I wasn't sure why I did it, but when I handed the porter my card I said, "We're together." The porter noted this as well, then handed us back our papers and moved on. I avoided looking at Evan while I put mine away. "Why did you do that?" he asked.

I shrugged. I really wasn't sure, except maybe it was because for a moment I felt something besides the endless misery that had for so long enveloped me in a dark shroud. "Why are you running away?" "I have my reasons." He fingered his passport, then slipped it into his pocket. "Thanks." A smile almost touched my lips. Surely it came closer than any smile had since my mother's death. "You're welcome." A moment of silence passed. Somehow less cold than those which came before it. "How much further are you going?" Evan asked. "Fifty miles. You?" He shrugged. So, he was only running from something, not to it. I had thought it was terrible to have to go to some unfamiliar place, but maybe it would be worse to have no place to go at all. "They have a ranch," I said, unsure of why I was telling him this. "My...my family. I suppose they'll expect me to get up at dawn to milk cows or something." A smile twitched at the corner of his lip. "Not exactly your idea of a good time?" I shook my head. "I was raised in the city. I've never even seen a cow in the flesh." "Me neither." I looked at his face. Not a bad face, really. A little on the plain side, like my own, but nice. "What will you do?" Again, he shrugged. "Haven't you thought about it?"

"Not really." I found his reply oddly distressing. ***** The train pulled into the station at my final destination as dawn was creeping over the edges of the mountains. I looked to Evan. "This is my stop." He nodded, looking out the window at the quiet, mostly deserted station so different from the one we had disembarked from. "Is that your family?" I followed his gaze to see a couple in work worn clothes rising from a nearby bench. No one else in sight. "I guess it is." Much as I had not wanted to board this train, much as I had craved solitude in which to drown in misery once I had, still I found myself reluctant to leave behind this boy I barely knew. A bell rang at the back of the train. A signal to the unlucky soul who was to step out into this ghost gray dawning that the time was at hand. I stood, fingering the hem of my coat. "I guess this is goodbye then." Evan shrugged, his gaze fixed on the window. The easy dismissal stung me when I had thought nothing would ever again touch the numbness in my heart. I walked down the center aisle between the seats. No one looked at me. I didn't care. But I did pause at the door to gaze over my shoulder one time. Evan was still staring out the window, his face a blank reflection of the empty outside world. The couple met me as I stepped off the train. Cousins, they were, and all the family I had left with the passing of my mother. I judged them about her age. "Hello, Anna." The woman smiled at me. "Hello." I didn't smile back. I had nothing to smile for. Nothing to look forward to but the deeper grays winter would soon bring. Her husband took my single suitcase. "How was the ride?"

"Fine." I hoped they would soon cease this pointless chatter and allow me to once again retreat into the sheltered box Evan had so briefly managed to draw me out of. "Good. Well," he cleared his throat. "I guess we should..." He frowned, looking at something over my shoulder. "Do you need some help? Is somebody supposed to be waiting here for you?" "I'm all right. I can make my own way." My breath caught at the sound of his voice. I turned and met Evan's gaze. A brief smile flitted across his lips, warming a spot in my heart. Maybe spring wasn't so far away after all.

Kyra Dune

Connect with Kyra Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/KyraDune/136273741952?ref=bookmarks Twitter: https://twitter.com/KyraDune Blog: http://theshadowportal.blogspot.com/ Website: http://kyradune.weebly.com/

The Cloth By, Eboney Thompson I was comfortable and it felt good to be in. I loved the way it caressed my baby soft skin The way when inhaled, it's scent to me to different orbits As the years went on I carried it wherever I went I was open with it I shared it with others Not realizing that everybody wasn't worthy of it or was going to treat it like me As I exposed it more terrible things began to happen to it People used it, stomped on it, even ripped it to pieces Shattered inside I vowed to never share my piece of cloth again I mean no one valued it anyway Until that day That one day he walked into my life Instantaneously he befriended me And began to reopen doors I had bolted and forgotten even existed He was like a clean, crisp, breath of fresh air that I had been needing Reviving me with his every word With his every glance and his every touch He awakened dormant feelings in me That I had buried in the deepest crevices of my very being and he... He began to embed dreams of a life of Loyalty A world that was Optimistic A feeling of indescribable Value And an Endless amount of treasures untold Before I knew it, he had wrapped me in his LOVE An array of questions filled my head And like a magician he answered my unspoken questions "I mended the rips and tears of your heart’s past So that I could add the existence of our future Swaddling us in our foundation, one we both need, which is Love" His melodic truth made my heart skip beats and caused my mind to be at peace Love Love is what I had when I was brought into this world Love is what I was giving away so freely To those who misused and abused my precious gift Love is what I vowed to never share again

Because my well had been dried out with no one or way to replenish it But now, I'm back, Back swaddled in love’s "cloth" even tighter than before And it's just as I remembered But better I'm comfortable again and it feels so good to be wrapped.... In love.

Eboney Thompson

Connect with Eboney Facebook: Eboney Thompson, Instagram: @4evrbeautyful15 Twitter: @alisteningear21.

Aiden and Axel By, Alex Ang


um, Mum! Tell me another. Tell me again how the big man in the beard came to be. Tell me the story of the flying horses!” he begged to his mother. “But it’s half past bedtime, and the bell has yet to ring midnight. You haven’t missed Christmas.” she cooed back to him. “I want to hear the story now. Please, Mum.” He whined. “So be it.” She told her son. She looked into the warm eyes of her son and reached down to touch his cheek. “Just one story, and then you’re off to bed.” He nodded rapidly in response, eager to hear the story. She sat up preparing herself for the fistful of words that would soon pour out, and began: Snow fell in tiny increments. There were large patches of white that now appeared on the ground before them. It was freezing outside! The weather was predicted to be in the 30’s, but felt like it had stooped way below that. But in a hidden and isolated house in the North, a man and woman sat clutching their child in their arms near the hearty fireplace. This house was concealed from the rest of the world. No one could see it. No one could hear it. No one could smell the cinnamon cookies and hot chocolate that was being produced inside it. And that was how the Claus’ liked it. Security. Obscurity. And away from the rest of the world.

“We’re getting ready to leave in the morning. Prepare the gifts, collect the reindeers and whatnot.” He said to his wife. “Could we bring little Aiden with us?” “Hey! That’s my name Mum. He has the same name as me!” He interrupted and threw his fists in the air, obviously excited after hearing his name in the story. She threw him a glance, and he knew from then on never to interrupt during storytelling time ever again. She went on: “You know how dangerous it is. You will see him after you come back.” She warned. He frowned because he knew that as much as he loved his child, there was nothing he could do for him. He could never tell his son about his true identity, and therefore he could never tell him how much he loved him. She took the man into a tight embrace and led him back into the bedroom. In the morning he would be able to see his child again but for now, he just needed to prepare for the big day that was supposed to come. He followed his wife back without hesitation, without another thought. He just climbed back into bed and fell into a deep slumber. In the still and silent night as Mr. and Mrs. Claus were sleeping, a sound erupted from the side of the house. The shuffle of footsteps outside could be heard with such precision, such clarity. The sound came again and it wasn’t long until a storm of sounds came rushing into the house where the three members inside slept so peacefully. But no one heard the sounds, except for little Aiden, who murmured softly in his sleep. “Take the child and nothing else.” One of the sounds snarled. Another and another, they kept coming! They gathered towards the tiny crib that stood on the left corner of the house. They lifted it slightly and smiled as the crib rose a few inches above the ground. The sound of tiny prancing feet was even louder than before. The mysterious invaders saw their exit and flew towards it, almost as if they had already planned this, had already seen it happening in their minds and knew exactly where to go. Mr. and Mrs. Claus were certainly out of it, as they didn’t stir in their sleep and were positioned like lifeless logs. The invaders were closing in on the door. After they pulled that knob, the kidnapping would have been over and the family inside would never hear from their son Aiden, ever again. Along with the house, there was a barn. The barn was coated with a noticeable red paint and garnished from top to bottom with strings of bells and popcorn. Christmas lights were strapped to the sides, allowing for that perfect holiday glow. Inside lived these majestic animals, bred and trained to be highly eloquent and, at

times, aggressive when it came to facing danger. One creature in particular, named Axel, purred and shook in his sleep, awakening a strange feeling that dwelled in his insides. There was something wrong, and he knew it because he always detected danger. As far away or as silent as it was, he always detected it. His head lifted off the ground as he heard crash after crash and boom after boom. He quickly lifted from his comfortable position and wandered out the back of the barn. There! He saw it! A swarm of green specks preparing to enter what looked to be a shuttle. Axel knew exactly what to do! But first, he had to wake the boss. Axel threw himself into the house and barged into the first room on the right side of the hallway. There he saw him and hurried to be by his side. A massive clump of saliva rested on the tip of Mr. Claus’ nose and he was awake in a matter of seconds, swatting at the undesired smell that now lingered on the sides of his sinuses. “What’s the matter with you?” Mr. Claus bellowed from his position on the bed. His eyes were weirdly dark and a cloud appeared to be resting on his shoulder. He hadn’t been able to sleep and Mrs. Claus, who was now also sitting up was now aware of that. “Tell us what the matter is, Axel” Mrs. Claus asked politely as she rubbed the ear of the animal. The creature couldn’t speak, obviously. They both knew just to follow it to wherever it was leading them. As Axel led them quickly down the hallway and out the door, Mrs. Claus stopped to gather her child from the crib. Her eyes hollowed and her mouth dropped open when she saw the empty crib. No sign of life. No sign of anything. There was nothing inside! “Go!” Mrs. Claus said as she pointed to the door. Mr. Claus didn’t question. He didn’t hesitate because from the look of his wife’s face, he had spontaneously predicted the matter before he wanted to believe that something like this would actually happen. Outside he saw the swarm. Saw the little devils that were now holding his prized possession. His hope. His only son! Mr. Claus was armed with a cane that he was using to swat at the little creatures that crawled up his undergarments, trying to pin him down altogether. Axel was already near the shuttle, attempting to dismember it. He kicked and pounded on the metal contraption. The child. The child was inside. Everything happened in a flash, however. Mr. Claus was now sitting on the cold snow, rendered unconscious. Axel was pummeled backwards by the ignition of the shuttle. And Mrs. Claus was now sitting hopelessly beside the two of them, fumed and angered. When both Mr. Claus and Axel had regained consciousness, they both found Ms. Claus in a pool of tears. She was still in her sleeping clothes, wearing nothing

but a long-neck tunic and a pair of pajama pants. She hadn’t decided to put on a jacket or coat, even though it was assumed to be under 30 degrees. “My wife…” he proceeded with caution. His wife was indeed fragile when she was crying. But he couldn’t help but ask. He had hoped that while he was knocked out, she would have made an attempt to stop the shuttle or even slow it down. “Where is our son?” “Gone, my husband. Our son is gone.” She stopped in between words to weep. And her voice croaked as she spoke. Mr. Claus now stood, his fists clenched together at his sides. When he was watching Axel tear apart the shuttle, he had hoped that the creature would have inflicted some sort of damage that it would somehow allow them to track it. And he was right! Before him, was a trail of dark and grimy liquid that burned through the snow. Engine grease! That’s it! The shuttle had to be leaking and somehow Mr. Claus was eagerly prepped to follow the trail. But the problem was, Mr. Claus hadn’t been the only one to find the trail of grease. The sound of slays and bells came from the sky above him. The sound of Axel’s collar rang, as he floated through the sky, following the sight of grease. And then he was gone, just like that. And at that moment, the Claus’ had never felt so disheartened in their life. They had lost their son. And now they had lost their best reindeer, Axel. Her world was shattered, and his along with it. They followed each other back inside the house, and mourned. Christmas came in unannounced for Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The sound of children running around and cheering in the village of Yelsburg was loud enough to be heard from inside the house. But they wouldn’t be cheering for long. They wouldn’t be cheering when Santa’s gifts never made it under their Christmas trees. They wouldn’t be cheering when the annual sight of reindeers and the words ‘ho ho ho’ never made it around their block. And they wouldn’t be cheering if the cookies that sat on their counters were never eaten. Mr. Claus sat on his rocking chair. He rocked forward and thought about how he would never see his child again. He rocked back and thought about how he would never see Axel again. The pattern repeated and it wasn’t until Mr. Claus was worn out of the bones, did he stop and head to bed. The night of Christmas had finally begun, but Santa was sleeping. The next morning came fast and the sky was rewarded with the rising sun, its colors shining hues of orange and pink. Mr. Claus stepped outside like it had been days before he had last done it. His foot slightly touched the chilled snow, but he still didn’t feel anything. He didn’t feel the bitterness on his toes nor the feeling of

goose bumps that was now rolling up his spine. Mrs. Claus came out, and she rested her hand on the large of his back. There was no use in comforting him, but she could at least show him that she cared. And that she was still here for him, even though his son and his first comrade weren’t. Mr. Claus looked towards the landscape. There was nothing there save the sun and a dark shadow that sloped up the side of the hill. He walked towards it, mesmerized. Could it be? Could it be? Mrs. Claus suddenly seemed to notice the same thing. The figure that looked in the shadows appeared to be Axel. Axel, their number one reindeer, their closest thing to a son before they gave birth to Aiden. The reindeer came galloping towards the two people who were standing in awe. Mr. Claus was the first to pull the reindeer into a squeezing embrace. He patted the top of its head, and he felt a stream of tears falling from the crevices of his eye. He had never shown Axel his love, but when he saw the crib that was attached to the back of the reindeer, he showed much of his proper appreciation. Mrs. Claus joined the rejoicing. “Axel, my esteemed friend. You are the protector of Aiden. He is your child as much as he is mines. Thank you.” He exclaimed to the reindeer, who seemed to be listening to every word as if he clearly understood English. From then on, the two were connected. Axel never went anywhere without Aiden; Aiden refused to go anywhere without his reindeer. And Mr. Claus had not needed to worry about their son from then on because he was with his protector, with the reindeer that risked his life to save him. So he left, and he promised to return one day. His son couldn’t know who he was but he would always know who his reindeer was, and that was fine by him. Her son was speechless. He didn’t say anything for a while after he got up to brush his teeth and let her tuck him into bed. But when she got ready to leave his room, he finally asked his question. “Mum, was that story real?” he asked with great concern. “Aren’t all the stories I tell you real?” she asked in response. He nodded. “So what makes this story any different?” It took him a moment to realize her reason for telling him this story. And just like that, he put it together. “So Mum.” He stopped her in his steps. “Yes dear?” she could already predict the incoming question he was going to ask. “Where is my father?” he swallowed, still pondering the answer to himself. But his mother just smiled and stalked out of the room without another word.

Alexandria @ The Book's Buzz http://www.thebooksbuzz.com/

There Arose Such A Clatter - A Christmas Story Written by CJ McKee Copyright 2007 t can’t be only two A.M. I swear it’s later than that. I thought to myself as I sat up in bed so quickly, I nearly fell out of bed. My wife sleeps like a log. She snorted a couple of times and turned towards me, her arm swinging haphazardly through the air in search of my torso. Even in the dim light, I could see her eyes open and look up at me.


“I thought I heard something,” I said, my dark eyes piercing hers. “What?” she whispered in a hoarse voice as she sat up and leaned on one arm. “Not sure, Donna. Shh. Listen!” Silence. “Did you hear that?” I said out louder this time. “Phil, what is it?” she responded, glancing about the bedroom.

A sound like a deep car audio system pumping out the bass from some hiphop song passing down the street echoed off the walls, but came from the ceiling. I grabbed her arm and her head slipped off and hit the pillow. “Hey!” “Sorry. You heard that, right?” “It’s probably the neighbor’s T.V. again, hon.” I shook my head and looked up at the ceiling and watched the shadows from a tree outside the window dance across the textured surface. “No.” I heard another sound, deeper within the house, a scraping…no, a tumbling! “Ok, that’s it. I need to find out what’s goin’ on,” I stated as I threw the covers back and slipped on my sandals. I grabbed my robe and shivered as the night air surrounded me before I was able to get my robe on. “Stay here. If you don’t hear from me in about ten minutes, call the police,” I whispered close to my wife’s face. “Nuts to that, I’m going with you,” Donna stated as she scooped up the cordless phone from the bed stand. I sighed, nodded and opened the door. It, of course creaked loudly and we both cringed. After a moment of waiting for any response, we made our way into the hall and tiptoed past our daughter’s room. My wife peeked in to check on her, but she remained asleep; none of the noises seemed to faze her while she dreamt of sugar plums dancing, or however that saying goes. Donna closed the door and nodded for me to continue on. Just as we took a few more steps, we heard what sounded like rocks hitting a concrete floor. I pursed my lips and held out my hand in front of Donna for her to stop. I reached around the corner into the laundry room and grabbed the heaviest, largest object I could find. Unfortunately it turned out to be a bottle of bleach. My wife proved more competent and obtained the three foot wooden ruler hanging on the wall. Well ok maybe it wasn’t that much better. I shrugged to her and we made our way to the living room using the corner at the end of the hallway as cover. I slowly ventured a view of the living room. Donna, using my back as cover, peeked around me to get a better view. What we saw nearly made our hearts stop and confounded our brains. There by the twinkling light of our Christmas tree knelt a being that appeared covered in fur. It was impossible to tell the color of the fur since the multi-colored lights splashed across the beast into various hues and shadows. We could also hear

grunting and wheezing from the strange creature as it moved in and out of the low hanging branches. In the darkness of the room and the shadows its head was completely obscured. It appeared to have fur everywhere on its face and what seemed like floppy ears and four eyes! Suddenly, it sneezed! Loud! We both jumped, my wife dropped her ninja yard stick and it tumbled and slid across the linoleum floor. It clacked as it hit the wall and gained the attention of our guest. In one swift movement, the creature stood and raised its arms so it nearly dwarfed the Christmas tree. The wheezing grew in intensity and it seemed as if it took a deep breath before it finally bellowed. “HO…HO…ACK!” The creature hacked and coughed, two of its four eyes falling to the floor. “Oh, do forgive me. I am…unwell.” Our jaws hit the floor along with the creature’s eyes. I reached back and let my hand drift along the wall until I found the light switch and snapped it into the “on” position. There before us, in a red furry costume, big black belt, oversized hat, stood the man, the old Saint, of Christmas himself. Instead of a bright red costume it appeared maroon because of the thin film of soot from our chimney darkening its once bright hue. The white fur lining was matted and stiff, the ends burned black from the fires and smoldering embers in untold numbers of fireplaces. His beard had yellowed and thinned. The glasses he now picked up from the floor and replaced on his nose were fogged and slightly bent. “Santa?” My wife finally managed to squeak. “Yes my dear, it is me.” He replied. He sounded almost embarrassed to admit it. “What happened to you?” I asked while attempting to hide the bottle of bleach behind my back. “Nothing,” Santa deadpanned. “Nothing?” Donna said. “No,” Santa said. “But your clothes, your beard, your health,” I said as I kneeled to drop the bleach on the floor.

He chuckled quietly enough to prevent another cough. “’Tis normal for me, son. By the time I have neared the end of my long, night’s route, as I have now, I have flown around the globe in the cold night sky behind eight smelly reindeer, climbed down tens of thousands of chimneys, placed hundreds of thousands of presents under hundreds of thousands of trees, eaten five hundred pounds of halfbaked cookies, drank a hundred gallons of milk and made an ungodly number of trips to the bathroom.” “It starts out okay. I really look forward to those first couple of dozen cookies to give me the sugar rush I need to make these deliveries, but towards the end I come down from the sugar rush and feel like a wet sponge. The milk is great to wash them down, but I have become lactose intolerant over the years of drinking so much milk,” Santa paused to hold his great belly. “Thus the bathroom trips you see. My back is killing me, I haven’t slept in weeks getting everything prepared and Mrs. Clause nags me to the point of hysteria.” Old Saint Nick grinned and shrugged. “She is really nice and wonderful throughout the rest of the year,” he said as he sat in the big, plushy chair nearest the Christmas tree. We both stood there, open mouthed with a reindeer eyes caught in the headlights stare. What do you say to something like that? The poor man. He doesn’t sound so jolly after all. “Santa, why do you do this to yourself every year?” I asked. Just then a small voice called out from the hall. We turned to look down the hall to see our daughter walking up to us and dragging a blanket behind her. “Mommy?” It was too late. She reached the end of the hall before we could stop her. She saw Santa. “Santa?” She said half asleep. Then her big green eyes grew to three time their original size. “Santa!” She ran over to him and jumped up and down on the floor in front of him. “Santa, Santa, Santa!” We ran over and grabbed her, pulling her back from the tired old man who looked like he was about to yak. “Honey, Santa’s not feeling well right now. We are going to let him rest a moment and you can talk to him later tonight, okay?” She turned to Santa and looked up at him with wistful eyes. “Santa? Are you okay? What’s wrong?” Santa chuckled slightly, stifling a cough. “Just a little tired, sweety. I will be fine.” With that, our daughter ran off to her room, blanket in tow.

“Is there anything we can do Santa?” My wife asked. Then we looked at each other as if to read each other’s mind. I can’t believe we are talking to Santa Clause. “You can rest here as long as you like, you know. Do you need anything? Some warm milk perhaps? She stiffened and gave him an apologetic smirk. “Er, I mean tea?!” “If you wouldn’t mind. Mrs. Clause gets worried if I am late. Would you please call the North Pole and tell her I am running a bit behind this year?” “Of course we will,” I replied and took the phone from my wife. “Um. Right. North Pole.” My fingers hovered over four-one-one. Then I thought better of it. “Um. What’s the phone number?” Santa told us the phone number and I dialed. This all seemed so surreal. Calling the North Pole? Santa sick in our living room? Talking to Mrs.,”Clause! How are you? Um, your husband, Santa…Kris. Er, Mr. Clause is not feeling well. He is resting for a bit at our house. He said he will be running a bit behind this year,” I looked at Santa and shrugged. His eyes twinkled and he chuckled. I turned on the speaker so all could hear this gentle woman’s voice. “Well, dear me, I told that man he needed to take it easy. We’re not getting any younger! Thank you so much for taking care of my little Kris. Can I talk to the poor thing?” I handed Santa the phone and nudged Donna into the kitchen so he could talk privately. “Can you believe this?” I said to my wife, incredulous. Donna merely shook her head and smiled. What we caught of the conversation between Santa and Mrs. Clause was sweet. Then, both of our heads turned into the direction of the living room as we heard a small voice again. Our daughter had returned. Kids have no sense of timing. We peered around the corner to scold our daughter for disturbing Santa when we caught our breath. There she stood with her little doctor’s kit, wrapping his ungloved hand in gauze while he continued to talk with Mrs. Clause. She then took her blanket and wrapped it around Old Saint Nick carefully tucking in the corners behind his back and over his legs. Satisfied with this, she took out her plastic stethoscope, placed it on his chest and asked him to breathe. Santa did as instructed and breathed slowly so as not to cough in her face. Our daughter, as if sensing our watchful eyes, turned to us and raised a cup of water from the table. “Can I please get some elkie-selser?” We smiled, and I nodded pulling a package of Alka-Seltzer from the top drawer in the kitchen. I opened the package and dropped the tablets into the water and watched them fizz to life.

“I will be home soon, my darling,” Santa said and gave us a smile. “I will, dear, love you, too,” Santa finished and made kissing noises into the phone. Then he looked at the device and squinted. “It’s the red button on the right,” Donna said. Santa mouthed the word ah, nodded and pressed the red button and set it on the table next to the chair. My daughter took the cup from me and handed it to Santa. “Take two and call me if you don’t feel better. Okay? You feel better now?” Then she raised her finger up in a warning, wagging it back and forth. “Now you have to stay warm and get lots of rest.” She finished crossing her arms and looking at both of us pleased as can be. Then she turned back to Santa and offered a sheepish grin. Santa looked at her, smiled, and nodded. Then he looked up at both of us and smiled ever wider, the redness returned to his cheeks, the twinkle in his eyes grew brighter and he placed his finger along his nose. Looking more like the Santa we all knew, he gave a playful nod in our daughter’s direction and chuckled. “And you asked me why I do this every year?”

CJ McKee

Connect with CJ https://www.facebook.com/redmage.mckee https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dragon-Sage-Blood-andBane/215933601839782 http://www.mountaindragonmedia.com

Thank you for reading The Book Nymph Publishing & Promotions “Tiny Tale” Edition!

We hope you enjoyed the selection of short stories and visit the participating authors online.

Special thanks to: K.N. Lee Lynda Cox David S. Reynolds Jeane Sashi Kyra Dune Alex Ang CJ McKee Eboney Thompson

As always, we welcome all authors and readers to our website. www.TheBookNymph.com www.Facebook.com/TheBookNymph www.Twitter.com/TheBookNymph

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The Book Nymph Publishing & Promotions Tiny Tale Edition  

The Book Nymph Publishing & Promotions December 2015 “Tiny Tale” Edition Featuring: “The Ticking Ring” by, K.N. Lee “Red” by, David S. Rey...

The Book Nymph Publishing & Promotions Tiny Tale Edition  

The Book Nymph Publishing & Promotions December 2015 “Tiny Tale” Edition Featuring: “The Ticking Ring” by, K.N. Lee “Red” by, David S. Rey...

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