Here’s a bit from “The Christmas Pool,” one of my stories in the Southern Indiana Writers’ HOLIDAY BIZARRE anthology, available through Amazon in print and for Kindle.
Len is a wee neighbor boy who has adopted the happily childless narrator and her dog.
excerpt from “The Christmas Pool”
by Marian Allen
“Did you have to work today? I been here all morning.”
He had made me a present at pre-school: a bouquet of paper flowers, torn and crumpled and decorated with a unique patina of finger-grunge and Elmer’s Glue.
So I didn’t feel so stupid giving him the stuffed dog I’d ordered for him from an ad in the NEW YORKER.
I got back from Midnight Mass about 1:30, jumpy with that crystalline wakefulness that sometimes follows a victory over sleep. The sky was clear, the stars burned in quantities; more stars than I’d ever seen before. I let Baxter out of the house, and we walked.
As Carol, the former owner, had promised, the pool had frozen over. I had thrown a skating party for some of my closer acquaintances. Now, alone in the hours between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, I had a fancy to see the sky reflected in the ice.
As we neared the pond, Baxter stopped, lowered his head, and whined.
“What is it, boy? Come on.” I walked ahead, patting the side of my leg by way of encouragement.
Then I heard what Baxter must have heard: A weak, faded scream.
With one yelp, Baxter tucked his tail between his legs and scuttered for the porch.
I stood there, chilled inside my coat, and listened.
Another scream, and another — pale and unreal, but undismissable.
“It…must be the ice breaking up,” I said, and followed Baxter back to the house.
Makes a great gift, too. 😉
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write very carefully about a child of your acquaintance. Try not to idealize or demonize the child, but to deal with him or her as an individual.