Only The Beginning

Teddy Mitchell sat calmly on a small wooden stool in the living room of his tiny apartment on the west side of the city.  His tan skin and long grey hair still wet from his walk home in the rain.  His hair was slicked back to keep it falling into his eyes.  Individual strands danced down the back of his neck in a tangled pattern.  The tips of his hair causing the tan collar of his trench coat to turn a darkish color from the water.  The ends of his coat dangled down his side, grazing the surface of the carpet and the sides of his black loafers.  His outfit was completed with the same grey pants that he wore nearly every day to work, the color complimented his hair nicely.  

Next to Teddy sat his four-year old son, Leon, his eyes glued to the colorful children’s show airing on the television five feet in front of him.  Teddy, as well, had his focus turned to the singing characters dancing around in a beautiful open field, all holding hands in peace and unity.  He turned and looked down at his son on the ground, who was smiling and clapping along with the characters as searchlights went scanning past the window, followed by the roar of helicopters above.  The harsh roars mixing with the sound of the thunderstorm ahead.  Rain beat down on the window pane with such force.  Leon remained unfazed in this troubling time, unaware of the looming danger all around the apartment.  To him, it was just another evening, to thousands of others in the city, it could be their last.

Teddy looked around the room, taking it all in.  They had been living there for a mere three months, yet from the looks of it, one would assume that Teddy and his family had been there for years.  Musty green wallpaper hung off the wall, torn in many places.  Only three pieces of furniture were in the room, a chair, a couch, and a stool.  Each faced towards the old television set that sat up against the wall on the north side of the room.  The deep blue fabric of the chair and couch were far from being in good condition.  Tears and scratches were visible all around each piece of furniture, looking to come from a cat, most likely.  Even the carpet lay stained and torn, making one not dare to walk upon it without shoes on.  Teddy finished his scan, his eyes coming back to his son, sitting on the dirty carpet.

“Leon, I know you are young and are not going to understand or remember much of what I am about to tell you, but as your father, I feel that it is my duty to tell you this now in case I do not get the chance to later in life,” Teddy spoke slowly to his son.

“What do you mean daddy?” Leon asked confused by his father’s grim tone.

“What I am about to tell you is more important than anything they will teach you in those retched excuses for schools.  Now I know most of this will not stick with you, but I wish to tell you anyway,” Teddy paused for a moment and took a deep breath. “Do not believe everything they tell you.”

Leon looked up at his father in confusion. “Who’s ‘they’ daddy?  The Wiggletuffs?” Leon asked pointing at the television.

Teddy chuckled for a moment.  “No Leon, not Wiggletuffs.  I’m talking about out here, in this city, in this country!  Do not trust anyone with authority over you.  What they tell you may seem real and sound like the truth but it is not.  Nothing they tell you is true.  It is all a lie. The only one you can believe is your mother and I got it?” Teddy looked deep into his son’s eyes.

“Got it daddy,” Leon said giving his dad a playful thumbs up.

Teddy knew that Leon was not grasping what he was telling him, but it would have to do for he was running out of time.  He was not sure if we would ever get a moment to have this discussion.

Teddy began to cough.  He sat up slightly and reached into his back pocket, pulling out a handkerchief to cover up his mouth to avoid being a disturbance.  Leon looked up at his father, Teddy motioning back with a thumbs up to signal he was alright.  Leon nodded, then turned his attention back to his show.  Teddy’s slight fit ended, so he folded his handkerchief back up and put it in his pocket.

Teddy sighed before proceeding onto his next topic of discussion.  After his son’s failure to absorb any of his previous advice, Teddy knew it was safe to go through with the second part.  Despite his sense of security however, he still elected to keep out certain information just to be safe.

“Now Leon, I know you won’t remember any of this, so I am going to get all of this off of my chest, just so I do not die without telling you the truth.  I am not what your mother and I have told you I am,” Teddy began, his voice soft and calm.  “I work for an underground organization against the very government we live under.  The president is not who he says he is.  The world is not what he says it is.  People are suffering and people are dying and I work to stop that.  Now because of this, daddy isn’t very well-liked by the people your teachers at daycare talk to you about.  I just want you to know that I do this to make this world a better place for you to grow up in, a place where you can do what you want without having to worry about your safety.  I do this for you,” Teddy said looking down at his son.

Leon stared up at his father and blinked, unsure of what he was talking about.  He looked down, then back up into his father’s eyes.

“That sounds cool dad!  I wanna see that movie!” Leon said excitedly.

Teddy laughed with a sense of relief, knowing Leon had no idea what he was being told.  Teddy patted his son on the head, then slowly got up to go join his wife, who was in the kitchen cooking dinner.  Leon stayed firmly planted on the ground, enchanted by the dancing characters on the screen.  Just as the Wiggletuffs were about to break into their song and dance about friendship, the program quickly cut to the scene of a man with gross skin and a menacing grin.  Behind him was a flag of black and blue that Leon had recognized, but was not sure what it was.  He’d seen it at the park, the store, and even daycare.  He had seen it so much, yet could not remember what it meant to him.

The strange man on the television dove into a boring speech on who knows what, causing Leon’s attention to fleet.  He decided to get up and go see his mother and father, so he stumbled up to his feet and waddled to the kitchen.  He reached the doorway as he saw his father hug his mother tightly, his mother clutching something behind his back.  She saw Leon over Teddy’s shoulder and broke away from her embrace with him.  She smiled at Leon, striding over to where he stood leaning up against the doorway into the kitchen.  Leon’s mother picked him up and carried him back over to the television while Teddy stood staring, smiling behind them in the doorway.  She placed Leon down in front of the television just as the connection switched back to the Wiggletuffs.  Leon’s mother kissed Leon on the head and went back to the kitchen to finish preparing dinner.  As she walked past Teddy she whispered something in his ear, then disappeared into the other room.  Teddy then walked back over to where he sat before in the old wooden stool, the wood creaking as he sat down.  

More searchlights went past, but neither Teddy nor Leon were distracted by the harsh light.  Sirens blasted throughout the city, but neither Teddy nor Leon were stirred by the screeching sounds.  Teddy leaned down and gently caressed his son’s head, bringing it close to his body.  He then leaned down and softly kissed the top of Leon’s head.

Teddy he let go of his son, turned his head forward, closed his eyes and whispered. “I love you son,”

As if on cue, the door burst open as the last word left Teddy’s lips.  Two SWAT units entered scanning the room, followed by two more, their attention fixated on the exits.   There was no time to move.  There was no time to react. The first two saw Teddy and sprinted towards him.  One officer proceeded to knock him to his knees, causing Teddy then to collapse onto his back.  Out of shock, Little Leon began to cry out in fear. The other officer hit Teddy on the forehead with the butt of his rifle, with the intent to knock him out.   Leon’s mother in the other room came hurrying in only to be greeted by the sight of her husband being dragged out the door by two officers dressed in black.  Teddy, dazed, but still awake, slowly opened his eyes, blood dripping down his face from the gash across his forehead.  He could hardly make out his wife and child through his dazed vision and his long, gray hair that dangled in his face.  Teddy could sense them there as he began to pass out, however, bringing a slight smile to his face before the darkness took him over.

Just like that, Teddy was gone.  Leon and his mother stood there in silence, shocked and stunned by what had just happened.  All that could be heard was the pattering of the rain on the windows of the living room.  The drops dripped down the glass of the window much like the blood on Teddy’s face.

Teddy was wrong about something that night.  He had thought Leon would not remember a single thing that was told to him that night, but he was wrong.  Leon would remember alright.  He would remember every little detail of that cold night.  It became a day permanently etched in Leon’s mind.  It became a day that left him speechless for years to come.  It became a day that set a fire ablaze underneath Leon, and what a fire it was.


The Calm and Setting Sun

Mosquitos buzzed and hummed throughout the thick, humid summer air of the backcountry.  Swarming, diving above and around the canoe of Dallas Brewer.  Dallas, himself, drifted along in his canoe beneath the backdrop of the tangerine sky, the sun setting like a ball rolling down the side of a hill.  A few pink clouds lay scattered throughout the sky in a perfectly random pattern.  A scene so perfect that Mother Nature decided to duplicate it in the shimmering waters of the river.  The old wooden canoe underneath Dallas split through the reflection sending ripples of color throughout the water before settling back down to its spitting image of the heavens above.  

The canoe creaked underneath Dallas as he made his way down the river.  He had owned that canoe for many years now and was one of his only possessions, along with the clothes on his back, his burgundy corduroy hat, an oar, and his beat up banjo.  His consistent actions and attitude were what made him so recognizable throughout the county.  All the locals were familiar with Dallas Brewer and respected him greatly.  None knew where he came from or where he was going, but all were happy to see him when he came drifting through their part of town.  

Today Dallas found himself in the town of Oakmont, a small community near the border of Pederson County.  The town was home to no more than 2,000, most of whom were employed by the new automobile factory that opened up a couple of miles down the way from Oakmont in the bustling city of Van Buren, a small, but fast developing city.  Most of the townsfolk elected to walk to and fro work since it wasn’t too much of a hassle and few actually could afford a car anyways, so it was not like they had much choice in the matter anyways.  

Dallas had watched most of the Oakmontites make their way back home from the factory what he figured to be nearly three hours ago.  There were a few stragglers here and there, each giving Dallas a smile and wave as they made their way past him, receiving a friendly tip of the cap from Dallas in return.  With the sun setting, Dallas figured that all had made their way home from a long day of work, already settled in around the dinner table, enjoying time with their families.

As he lay there in his canoe, looking up at the sky, Dallas heard the sounds of grass rustling underfoot, causing him to slowly look up over the side of the canoe and out onto the river bank thirty feet away, his long, scraggly dirty blonde hair, glowing in the sunlight.  He was met with the sight of little Benjamin and Thomas, two brothers that he had befriended from Oakmont.  

“Well how do you do boys?” Dallas called out to the duo.

“Oh hey there Mr. Brewer, what brings you out here to Oakmont?” Benjamin called back in response.

“Oh nothin’ in particular.  Jus’ goin’ wherever the wind takes me.  How ‘bout you two boys?” Dallas explained.

“We came out to meet our parents halfway on their way home from work,” Benjamin answered.

“What, they didn’t come home earlier with the others?” Dallas asked.

“Naw, they called ahead and said that they were gonna be home a little late.  Figured they had a long day, so we decided to cheer them up by meeting them down here,” Thomas explained.

“Why, that’s mighty nice of you boys.  Awful dangerous to wait out here by yourselves at your age, especially with the sun goin’ down.  Why don’t I wait with you boys?” Dallas offered.  

“That’d be great Mr. Brewer!  Thank you!” Benjamin replied.

“Wonderful,” Dallas grabbed his oar from the bottom of the canoe and paddled over to the river bank next to the two boys.  He slowly got out and pulled the canoe up onto the shore.  He then reached back into the canoe and pulled out his banjo by the neck before walking over to meet up with the two boys. Dallas walked the boys over to a grassy hill nearby and laid down in between the two boys, Benjamin on his left, Thomas on his right.  Dallas hummed and strummed as the trio looked out across the horizon at the setting sun.

“Beautiful, ain’t it boys?” Dallas said.

“Sure is,” The brothers said in unison.

“This is why I am out here boys,” Dallas stated.

“The sun?” Benjamin questioned.

“Not just the sun, Benjamin, but the whole universe and everything inside of it.  With the way the world seems to be going these days, focused on working and surviving as opposed to living and enjoying, people miss out on moments like these.  Moments of such beauty and awe.  So I figured that I gotta enjoy them for the people who don’t get to,” Dallas explained. “Yeah, haha, it’s hard work but, hey, someone’s gotta do it,” Dallas chuckled.

“That sure sounds relaxing and awesome, Mr. Brewer, but my parents say that school is important and that we should focus on that instead.  I wish that I could just drop out and be like you,” Benjamin said.

Dallas closed his eyes and smiled, his reddish-brown beard shifting with the muscles of his face. “It is quite flattering of you to wish to be like me, but for now, you must remain a student.  I was like you before, passing out from boredom in the classroom, but one day I realized how important what I was being taught was,” Dallas said.  “Take the sun for example, people back in the day used to think it actually went down and disappeared off the face of the Earth,”

“Well that’s crazy,” Benjamin said.  “Everyone knows the Earth is round and revolves like a spinning top,”

“Exactly, which is why education is important.  Believe it or not there are still people who think the Earth is flat like that.  Now don’t you want to sound smart rather than silly like those folks?” Dallas asked the two boys.

“Well, sure.  I’d get made fun of for bein’ that stupid,” Thomas said.

 “Exactly boys.  Education is more important than anything.  Learning is what pushes the world forward.  If we learn nothing, we fail to become better people than our ancestors or those crazy folks who think the Earth is flat.  Which is why it is important to Learn.  Learn as much as you can from as many people as possible.  Each person you meet has the chance of teaching you a valuable lesson, no matter who they are.  Whether they be a man begging for money on the street, or a successful businessman like the one who owns the factory your parents work at.  Each one of them has a story and lesson to be told,” Dallas told the brothers. “And I know school may be tough work sometimes, but you gotta do it.  Now I know what you may be thinking, didn’t he just go against what he had just said before?” Dallas chuckled once more. “School is a different kind of work.  Learning is a different kind of work.  It is a necessary tool to grow.  The work I speak of is the work that folks like your parents do.  Long, excruciating work that doesn’t nearly return what it took from you.  And do not take this as me criticizing your parents, because what they do is important.  They work for you two,”

“They do?” Thomas asked.

Dallas nodded.

“I thought they worked because they liked it,” Thomas said.

Dallas laughed for a moment. “No Thomas, they do it to provide you two with an opportunity to become better than they ever were.  They want you to succeed so you never have to do a day of hard work in your life.  They want you to be able to sit on a hill watching the sunset every evening and not have to worry about money.  They do it for you,” Dallas explained.

“I never thought of it like that,” Thomas sat thinking about what he was told.

“Many do not.  Many take their parents for granted, so it is important that you do not follow that trend.  Love and appreciate what your parents do for you and don’t waste the wonderful opportunity that they have given you.  Others would give their life to have an opportunity like yours, whether it be to have a chance to get an education, or have parents that love or care for them like your own,” Dallas sat up looking back and forth at the two boys.

Just as Mr. Brewer finished his last thought, he saw Benjamin and Thomas’s parents in the distance walking towards them.  Thomas must have noticed just as Dallas did, for he yelled out to his parents with joy.  Benjamin sprung up and joined his brother as they ran to greet their parents.  Dallas slowly got up and smiled as he watched the parents pull their children into their arms.  He fixed the brim of his cap and meandered over to the family

“That was awful sweet of you boys to meet us down here,” The mother said smiling. “But you boys could’ve gotten hurt,”

“It’s okay momma, Mr. Brewer was here to look after us,” Benjamin explained, gesturing towards Dallas.

“Thank you so much for watching them Dallas,” The father said, shaking Dallas’ hand.

“It was my pleasure, you have some very wonderful kids Mr. and Mrs. Lawson,” Dallas smiled.

“That’s very kind of you, Dallas.  Come on boys, it’s time for dinner,” Mrs. Lawson said, leading her family back to Oakmont.

“Thanks again Mr. Brewer!” The two brothers called out to Dallas as they walked away.  

Dallas gave a slight bow “You’re very welcome, and don’t forget what I have told you!” He called back.

“We surely won’t!” Benjamin yelled in return.

Dallas slowly strode back to the hill and picked up his banjo.  He gave it one last little strum before walking back to the canoe.  He set the banjo gently in the bottom of the canoe before getting in himself.  Dallas then picked up his oar and used it to push himself off the river bank, sending him floating once again down the river, and off into the beautiful sunset.

Quiet Little Neighborhood

Snow so white, stars so bright, the peaceful town lay silent at the foot of a mountain so large it appeared to cut right into the fabric of the midnight sky. Snow danced and twirled in the wind as it made its way to the ground, getting caught here and there on the tree branches, covering the green tufts in a sprinkle of white.

The houses of the town lay still, the windows dark, outlined with colorful lights blinking in vibrant blues, greens, and reds that. Some still hidden underneath the layers of snow that covered the rooftops. Fluorescent deer grazed out on the lawns of some of the homes, picking through the snow to get to the dead grass. On the front porch of the Tenanbaum’s stood a glowing statue of Santa Claus, with his ratty, tan bag of toys slung over his shoulder. The festive statue stood proud, shining like a beacon to direct the big man.
Inside the home of the Tenanbaum’s, all that could be seen were dancing lights that mimicked their counterparts on the outside, twirled around the Christmas tree that stood tall in anticipation of jolly ol’ Saint Nick. Across the living room from the tree sat the brick fireplace. The Tenanbaum’s were one of the last families to hold on to their wood fireplace and refrain from progressing to the modern gas fireplace. The smell of a wood fire still hung in the air from the fireplace, adding a wondrous winter aroma to the household. Atop of the fireplace hung the family stockings. Each of them hung from their designated spots, indicated by a letter that corresponded with their name. M for Mom, D for Dad, B for Ben, and J for Julia. The colors of the stockings alternated colors in the classic Christmas colors; green, red, green, red.

Above the stockings up on the mantle of the fireplace, lay a large strand of green garland that extended from end to end, hanging off the sides by a couple of inches. Intertwined within the garland were gold lights that dimly illuminated the outline of the mantle. Two nutcrackers, dressed in uniforms of ice blue and white, stood guard on each end of the mantle, watching over the house. Follow the gazes of the guards to the mahogany coffee table in the center of the room and see the plate of freshly baked cookies that sat on the table, the sweet smells infusing with the lingering aroma of the fire. The cookies were homemade chocolate chip, a flavor completely irresistible by Santa. Underneath the plate was a note addressed to him, scribbled out by little Julia Tenanbaum, thanking Santa for all that he has done for her and her family. She loved Santa and was always so excited for his arrival.

Julia lay in her great big comfy bed in the room up at the top of the stairs, surrounded by loads of poofy pillows and warm blankets. She laid amongst the fluffiness with a great big smile on her face and she dreamed of the magical morning she would wake up to the next morning. Her thick, frizzy black hair was put up in a bun to keep it out of her deep brown eyes while she slept. Her mother had painted her nails with red and green stripes to keep with the spirit of Christmas. Her nails perfectly matched the stripes of her cotton pajama pants that she wore with her red long sleeve pajama shirt that had a picture of Rudolph leading the sleigh on the front. It was a Christmas look for the ages.
Across the hall from Julia’s room was the room of her brother, Ben. Ben loved Christmas just as much as his little sister, but since he was older, he kept his love for Christmas a bit quieter. He was not outfitted with Christmas themed pajamas like his sister, instead he lay underneath his dark blue comforter, dressed in basic green flannel pajama pants, and a red long sleeve. He still liked to keep with the color scheme, but preferred to keep it simple. Ben, as well, slept with a smile, eager for the morning ahead.

Down the hall slept Mr. and Mrs. Tenanbaum. They lay close together underneath the covers, happy to have one another around the holidays. The parents lay peacefully, looking forward to the day with their kids the next morning, but not looking forward to being awoken by their human alarm clocks at the break of dawn with their kids charging in and jumping on them. Although they dreaded being awoken so early, deep down they loved and treasured those moments, for they were moments that they would not trade for the world.

There was truly no reason to grieve, on this wonderful Christmas Eve.

First Visit With Santa

Tommy walked through the streets of the town, his little sister, Stephanie, gripping his hand tight.  

“But what if he eats me!” Stephanie cried.

“He’s not gonna eat you, Steph.  He’s the nicest man in the world.” Tommy explained.

“Then why does he sneak into people’s houses at night and eat their cookies?” Stephanie asked. “Why doesn’t he just come during the day and we let him in?”

“Because Steph he-” Tommy stopped. “Actually that’s a really good point.”

“See!  He’s gonna eat me!” Stephanie yelled once more.

“Just because he sneaks in at night doesn’t mean he’s going to eat you.  He’s a great guy, you’ll see.  Just trust me,” Tommy reassured his little sister.

“Okay, big brother,” Stephanie replied.  “I’m trusting you on this.”

“Great!  It’ll be fun!” Tommy cheered.

Tommy led his sister by the hand through the narrow stone streets of the town, ducking and dodging the hurrying people as they raced off to their busy jobs.  Stephanie continued to hold tight onto her big brother’s hand to avoid getting lost in the crowd.  Tommy did the same, pulling his little sister along as they headed for the town square.  

After constant weaving through the foot traffic the brother and sister reached the clearing of the town square; the big hub of the town, where you could find practically anything.  The cobblestone of the square were cut so beautifully and symmetrically, arranged in intricate patterns on the ground.  Streetlights rested along the outskirts of the square towards the shops, illuminating the square in a spectacular orange glow.  Christmas wreaths hung from the necks of their posts, which complimented the thousands of Christmas lights that were all woven together throughout the rooftops of the square.  It was a scene out of a storybook.  It was a  square so beautiful that it attracted tourists from all over the world.   It was even so beautiful that it attracted the likes of the big man himself!  Yes, indeed, the one and only Santa Claus announced that he would be packing his bags in the North Pole and trekking down to this quiet little wintery tourist spot to set up shop a few decades ago.  It was enormous news at the time and people went crazy about it.  They flocked by the millions just to get a glimpse of a man who spent his entire life in solitude up at the North Pole.  In Santa’s first few years there, it was quite difficult for him to go anywhere due to the constant crowds and cameras in his face.  It got so overwhelming at times that Santa would go weeks on end without leaving his home.  Quite a crazy time it was back during the early years of his transition.

That was many years ago, however.  These days, Santa was treated just like any other person, well, except by the children.  The children always got a kick out of seeing Santa and telling him what they wanted for Christmas.  He was a hero to them and they worshipped him almost like a god.  

Little Stephanie, however, was always skeptical of Ol’ Saint Nick.  Being only five years old, she had quite the imagination.  She always thought Santa was a scary monster who ate little kids for breakfast.  Of course she had never been old enough to meet Santa to know the validity of her thoughts, but this year she finally was, and today was the day she would meet the man of her nightmares.

Tommy and Stephanie began to meander over to the queue for the meet-and-greet with Santa.  They had left their home early to avoid the swarms of children that hovered all around the square during the meet-and-greet period, which began around 7 o’clock.  Tommy, being ten years old this year, was not as fanatic as the other children, having met Santa plenty of times over the years.

Overestimating the time that they had before the surge of children, Tommy and Stephanie took their time walking to the start of the line.  With the queue wide open, it seemed as if they had the first spot locked down.  But suddenly, a roar erupted in the distance.  Screams and shouts bellowed and echoed down the streets into the square.

“Oh no,” Tommy worriedly said.

Then, as quick as Santa’s flight on Christmas Eve, the square exploded with a swarm of ecstatic little children rushing to get a spot in line to see Santa.  The children swarmed with such force that it broke Tommy’s grip on Stephanie’s hand, the crowd carrying the two in opposite directions.  The siblings yelled out for each other as they tried to fight the current of the crowd and reunite, but it was no use.  Tommy had lost his sister, and he found himself trapped in the mob.

The cluster of kids swirled and swirled around the square, carrying Tommy with them, making him quite dizzy.  Luckily, the current eventually carried him towards the edge of the crowd, spitting him out onto the sidewalk, knocking him to the ground.  Disoriented, Tommy got back on his feet and dusted himself off.  He turned back to face the sea of children and began to scan for his little sister.  She was wearing a bright pink hat with kitty ears on top, so it shouldn’t have been that hard to find her.  Sadly, though, after minutes of searching, Tommy’s eyes caught no sight of her vibrant winter hat.  Defeated, Tommy put his head down and kicked around a pebble.  

How am I going to explain this to my mom?

Tommy was busy thinking up elaborate ways of explaining to his mother what had happened to Stephanie when he was nearly hit by an incoming 2nd grader, barely managing to jump out-of-the-way.  Tommy thought it was best for him to get out of the open.  It was too dangerous to stay out here  Just as he concluded this decision, he was filled with the intoxicating aroma of Christmas cookies.  He looked up and read the sign that hung from the building in front of him, Aunt Patty’s Bakery, the most famous bakery in town.  Aunt Patty’s Bakery had been there for ages and it was the place to get Christmas cookies and other holiday treats during the season.  Tommy decided to pop his head into the bakery to take shelter from the storm.

Tommy walked through the doorway of the bakery, a bell ringing upon his entering.  The woman at the counter looked up from her cleaning and smiled before going back to wiping down the counter.  Tommy found an empty table and plopped down in the old wooden chair, his body sinking down in despair.  A waiter quickly brought over a piping cup of cocoa and a plate of freshly baked Christmas cookies, prompting Tommy to perk up in his chair.  The hot chocolate was a work of art.  Tommy almost felt bad for drinking it.  The hot cocoa was topped with whipped cream that was pure white like a snow cap, swirled to perfection.  Sprinkled on top was flakes of real swiss chocolate that danced across the mountain of whipped cream in a perfectly random pattern.  As if that weren’t enough, a drizzle of chocolate syrup cascaded down the sides of the whipped cream like flowing streams.  Tommy marveled at the masterpiece in front of him before gulping it down with no hesitation.  Turning his attention now to the cookies, Tommy picked up one of the sugar cookies coated in a sketch of a Christmas tree drawn with green frosting.  He put the cookie up to his mouth and took a bite.  The cookie practically melted right in his mouth it was so soft and chewy, yet so filled with flavor and sweetness.  Tommy was in heaven, but it just didn’t feel right without his little sister there next to him, even more so considering Tommy had just lost her.  He continued to eat his cookies, but his sadness showed on his face.  

The woman at the counter noticed Tommy’s sad demeanor and frowned a bit.  She couldn’t bear to see a child look so glum.  She put the old rag she was using down and walked around the counter.  She began to approach the table Tommy was at, the floorboards creaking upon every step.   Reaching the table, she looked down at Tommy, while Tommy looked up at her in return.  She looked as old as the store.  Her tan face was decorated with wrinkles. Tommy assumed that this was Aunt Patty herself.  

Aunt Patty smiled and spoke. “Hello there, dear.  What’s go you so down?  Don’t you know what time of year it is?” The old woman asked the boy.

“Yes ma’am, it’s just my sister and I came here to see Santa Claus, it’s her first time and all, but we were walking through the square when this great big group of kids came flying in and separated me from my sister.  I tried looking for her, but it was no use and now I’ve lost my sister forever and it’s all my fault.” Tommy explained.

Aunt Patty laughed. “Oh sweetie, I’m sure you didn’t lose her forever.  Maybe I can help.  What does she look like?”

Tommy began to describe his sister’s long, bright blonde hair that shimmered under the sun, which she wore under that pink kitty hat of hers.  He demonstrated her short stature by showing where on him her body grew to, which ended right around where Tommy’s ribcage started, concluding with her bright blue eyes that lit up an entire room like searchlights.  Aunt Betty simply nodded as Tommy rattled off as much description of his little sister as he could, practically out of breath by the end of it.

“Oh, and her name is Stephanie,” Tommy gasped.

Aunt Betty paused for a moment before looking over Tommy’s shoulder.  She smiled.  “You mean like that girl?” She said pointing over Tommy’s shoulder.

Tommy turned to see his sister, Stephanie, standing in the doorway.  She locked eyes with him and then shouted his name, sprinting full speed towards her big brother.  Tommy stood up and hugged Stephanie as she came flying into him.

“Stephanie!  Thank goodness I found you!  I thought I was never going to see you again!”

“I know me too!  I was so scared, but this nice man found me and helped me look for you!” Stephanie explained.

“What nice man?” Tommy asked.

Stephanie turned and pointed towards the doorway.  Almost on cue, a large, jolly looking man came bounding into the bakery.  He hoisted up his red pants and let out a bellowing ho! ho! ho!

“Santa!” Tommy yelled.

“Yeah he was super nice and let me ride on his shoulders.  You were right Tommy, Santa is the bestest, nicest man in the whole wide world!” Stephanie explained as Santa strolled over to the table.  

“That’s very sweet of you to say Stephanie, you sure belong on the nice list this year,” Santa said.  “And don’t worry, I’ll make sure to bring you what you asked me for Christmas,” Santa promised with a wink.

“Thanks Santa!” Stephanie said excitedly.

“Now as for you, young Tommy…what would you like for Christmas?” Santa Claus asked while picking Tommy up and placing him on his lap.

Tommy hesitated before leaning in and whispering to Santa what he wanted.  Santa nodded and then put Tommy back on his feet.

“That is a great wish!” Saint Nick told Tommy. “Now to celebrate this little reunion, another round of Christmas cookies for the table!  On me!” Santa exclaimed.

Tommy and Stephanie cheered as they sat together, reunited, enjoying Christmas cookies with the man of Christmas, himself, both as happy as they could be.

Zach’s Night Before Christmas Pt. 2

The stars glow in the midnight sky

The rooftops blanketed in a blissful white

Like a rally for the GOP

Golly, who doesn’t love that Grand Old Party?

As the snowflakes dance their waltz down to the ground

In flew Saint Nicolas, quick as a foxhound

The hooves of his reindeer gently landing on a two story house

Careful not to accidentally cause a rouse

Mr. Claus rolls out of the sled and stood tall

Grabbing his sack, walking slowly, careful not to fall

But quickly turns back, realizing he forgot the bag of toys

A moment later, he’s meandered to the brick chimney

It is then that he begins the classic slide n’ shimmy

Even after coming out covered in ash

The jolly old man has a smile large enough to lift his moustache

A heart as big as the Earth

Loving all, right from birth

He tiptoes through the room and towards the tree

Ready to set up the toys the kids are eager to see

He grabs the bikes, dolls, games and 12th season of American Idol

As he began to get up, he was shot in the chest with a rifle

Blood poured out of his chest and onto the wood floor

It was at that moment that a certain someone walked through the door

pulling out a desert eagle and firing from point blank

The tracer rounds going right into the man’s think tank

Santa lay there motionless, the life drained from his face

“Percys always get their revenge you little bitch,”

Zach’s Night Before Christmas

The dance of the sugarplums puts my mind at ease

As I find myself in a colorful dream

Yet all too quickly the dream fades away

Much like water down a drain

My eyes drift open, caught in a daze

On the eve of one of my favorite days

Christmas Eve! And here I am awake

I’m trying to rest up for Jesus’ birthday for Christ’s sake!

I roll over to drift back to sleep

When a smell arose so wondrous it made me weep

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire!

My nose practically singing like an all-boys choir

I float out of bed to follow the scent

And down the stairs is exactly where I went

My feet touch the ground and oh! What a sight!

Screaming!  Shouting!  With all my might

For there he was, Ol’ Saint Nick,

Holding a big ol’ box of matchsticks!

And if you think that alone is a sight to be seen,

He also had a can full of gasoline!

The red faced man of the holidays

Had lit my Christmas tree up in a fiery blaze!

The smell of chestnuts was simply a ruse!

All to lure me down here, oh was he ever amused!

He smirked and flicked one more match onto the tree

All whilst turning and striding with pride towards the chimney

I sprint with rage towards the cynical Santa

God, he was so plump, looking like a panda

Just as I was beginning to pounce

I was met by a fatal jounce

I fall to the ground in a heap

Christ I practically went right to sleep

That big fellow sure packed a punch

Soaked that one like a sponge

He laughed and kicked me while I was down

Then spit a bit onto my evening gown

Then like that ol’ ditty goes

“Up the chimney he rose”


After tonight’s dastardly events

I vow to get my revenge

Such Eloquence

I sit down at my desk, open my laptop, and prepare for the loads of inspirational, thought-provoking words that are about to pour out of my mind, and into this computer.  Words so incredible, so eye-opening, that all you readers will pass out from the eloquent thoughts that are my mind.  I look at the clock, it reads 8:30.  Pfff, piece of cake, I’ll crank this story out in a half hour, 45 minutes, tops.  Then I’ll have the rest of the night to watch Legally Blonde, I mean sports…yeah…sports… Yet there I sit blankly instead, locked in a staring contest with the white, speckled walls of my dorm room, thinking about how odd of a name “Sufjan” is.  Is that his real name?  Or some stage name.  Well, guess I better do a quick Google search of it…Wait how am I watching videos on sinkholes?! What the hell happened?

I snap my focus back to my computer.  I look at the time in the top right corner.  9:30.  What the hell?  I’ve been watching sinkhole videos for an hour?  How is that even possible?  Okay Zach, you got this, just write the opening at least. I gather my bearings, crack my fingers, and start typing away.  Finally!  The great story is beginning to take shape.  A story so epic teachers are going to have it featured in their curriculum for years to come.  Some pubescent, awkward teen is gonna have to sit there in agony as their teacher tries to find the deep, intricate meanings hidden in the depths of my convoluted metaphors and similes.  I sit back in my chair to admire my exquisite opening line that will grab the reader’s attention, luring them into my story.  

“Four score and seven years ago…”

Hm…well that sounds oddly familiar…  I reopen Google and type in those words and come across some fellow named Abraham Lincoln who apparently beat me to it.  Bastard.  Well, “back to the drawing board” as they say…

I scrap that opener due to infringement issues and try to come up with something a little more, how you say, “original.”  I scan the room for some inspiration because apparently all mine went out the door and took a bus to Saskatchewan.

I notice that one of my posters that hung upon the wall above my bed was slightly out-of-place.  It’s right corner protruding out far more than it should’ve been.  I should fix that.  I should definitely fix that.  No.  Stop it Zach.  You gotta finish this story.  I snap my attention back to my screen and stare blankly some more at the pearly white document in front of me, slightly hoping the story would just write itself.  But alas, it didn’t.  Sadly in this world we live in, “effort” is required to get anything done.  Stupid effort.

My mind did not stay on my writing for long (shocker, I know).  It, instead, kept wandering back to that out-of-place poster corner.  It was driving my absolutely mad.  The more I tried to suppress it from my mind, the more and more I thought about it.  Finally, after about the 15th time of getting distracted by it, I bolt up from my chair and approach the irregular poster corner.  Ever so gently, I peel the tape off of the corner in question, flatten the corner back onto the wall, making sure it is taut.  Then, I carefully place the tape back on, locking the corner back into place.  I stand back and admire the poster, proud of the work I have just done.  Suddenly, I find myself under my bed, surface cleanser in hand, scrubbing profusely at the tiles.  I pause and try to remember exactly how I got here.  One minute I’m looking at my poster, the next I’m cleaning like a 1950’s housewife.  How could this have happened?  

I crawl out from underneath my bed and was taken aback by how clean and organized my room is.  I must’ve blacked out and went on a cleaning frenzy.  God dammit.  Not Again.  Yes, indeed  “not again.”  Sadly this isn’t the first time I have blacked out and channeled my inner housekeeper.  I mean good for me that I cleaned my room, but I really needed to be writing.  I check the clock knowing full well it was gonna be late.  The clock read 12:30.  I had cleaned for nearly three whole hours.  I’ve never cleaned for more than an hour in my life, let alone three!  I meander back to my desk, and plop down in my chair exhausted from the unconscious cleaning I just partook in.  I look back at the blank screen, a horrible reminder for the failure for writing this night was.  

I could hardly keep my eyes open, but I wished to get something, anything down at this point, simply so I did not lose complete hope with my skill as a writer.  I lift my hands onto the keyboard, ready to write.  As if like magic, once my fingertips came into contact with the keys, I filled with such inspiration.  It flowed all throughout my body, bringing a euphoric moment of inspiration that one could only dream about.  Suddenly though, I look up and notice the sun beginning to peek through the blinds of the window across the room from me.  I check the clock.  6:30. I look around the room in a daze, unsure of what exactly had happened.  Then I remember what had happened the night before; that magical moment of inspiration.  I log back onto my computer to check what genius I had mustered up right before I fell asleep.  I open the document and begin to read anxiously.  


I look at the screen in disappointment.  I must’ve fallen asleep on the keyboard before I was able to write anything down.  I was about to close my computer in shame, but something compelled me to continue reading.  I listened to the voice and continued to read.  And what I read, boy was it awe-inspiring.


I fell asleep at the keyboard.  What, did you expect me to write some profound shit in my sleep?  Please, I ain’t that talented.