Here’s an excerpt from “The Christmas Pool,” one of my short stories in the Southern Indiana Writers‘ HOLIDAY BIZARRE anthology, which has stories for all manner of holidays from New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve. In this excerpt, a single woman with a dog moves to a new house and finds it “haunted” by one of the neighbor kids, who attaches himself to her in spite of her grumpy dismissiveness.
First Christmas Eve
excerpt from “The Christmas Pool”
by Marian Allen
My first Christmas Eve in the new house. We only worked half a day, and I looked forward to a Len-less afternoon. He was waiting for me when I pulled in.
“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.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write a scary Christmas story.