Monday, December 31, 2012

A Late Christmas Story

It's the end of the year! Here's a creative writing piece inspired by Enchanted Conversation's holiday Krampus contest (check out the winners here). It's been a long time since I've written any fiction but I hope you can still enjoy it (or at least, not hate it!). Happy new year!!

A Merriment and Melancholy

   There once were two children who lived in a quiet house near the edge of a dark forest. And they thought with all their heart that their mother loved them. 
    On the night they were born their mother had collapsed onto the floor and wept in despair. She was exhausted and beaten. She watched the children enter her world through a fog. The two boys wailed, the mother whimpered, and the family tears drowned the house in a solitude and quietness that it never forgot. Though she took care to feed and house them as they grew, the mother despised her children for what they were. She spent her time outside and away from them, walking forever along the edge of the woods. The two boys spent so much time with only each other that they never knew what other families were like or how different they and their mother were.
   One day the boys were out in the snow collecting sticks and leaves for a game they liked to play. It was a game their mother hated, but they did it every year. If they brought enough wood from the forest into their house and made it up in the shape of a grand tree, presents would appear below it the next morning. Every year their mother burned with a fierce anger as they opened their presents, but every year the children knew there was nothing she could do to stop it from happening.That night they made their way towards the house, laughing at their brilliance and cleverness. As always, their mother watched them from the edge of the forest, keeping one eye on the house where she raised the boys and one eye deep in the whitening wood. She stayed outside long after the boys ran inside. Her thoughts were bent on them. She thought about the stick tree and the presents. She thought about their pride and their greediness. She stood outside until the sun went down behind her and the snow fell all around her. She stood outside and in the cold, darkening world her heart hardened.
She made up her mind and walked into the forest at last.

 * * *

   The old man could not remember the last time somebody made a house call. His house sat in the middle of the wood, far away from wandering eyes. He was warm the night the snow fell down, and he was sitting in a large, comfortable chair staring away at a dying fire when he heard the woman knock on his front door. He knew who she was and why she came. He knew what her coming meant and so he did not rise to meet her.
   She knocked again, harder this time. The old man still did not move. He heard the door creak long and low as it was pushed opened. The woman stepped inside, pulled off her gloves and walked through the hallway. She stopped when she came to a large, warm room.
   He let her stand there for a long time, until the fire finally died away and the room darkened.
"This house is old," the man said. He was still facing away from her. "Older than you know and more ancient than you care to imagine. It does not welcome you."
The woman stiffened. "I don't need to be welcomed to make a request."
"And what is it you'd like to request?" the man slowly asked. The last word hung sourly in the air. "My work is nearly done for the year. Let the Winter's snow fall where it will and live out your days peacefully."
 She hesitated, but only for a moment. "Don't do it this year," she said blatantly. "They don't deserve it."
  Then the old man turned his head and laughed, looking suddenly young and fresh. He stood up and faced the mother. A surge of power rose throughout the house and throughout his voice. It was a magic that ran deep and filled the room with strange mix of a merriment and a melancholy. "I shall always do what I do," he said, and there was such power in his words that the mother trembled and backed away quickly.
  The man sat down in his chair and the magic draped around him like a cape. "You know who to see," the old man said, his voice once again crackled with old age and time. "You know who to see, if you really want it to stop. Go to Him, if he is not already on his way to meet you."
    The mother did not know what to do but walk to the door. She swung it open, turned her face towards the cold night air and stepped out.

  The wind had picked up while she was in the house and now the snow was blowing in all directions. She would find Him and He would punish them because she asked. She turned south and ran. He would understand. Southwards the wood was thick and dark. She knew the children were liars, thieves, and cheats. She ran faster. They were scoundrels and they were wicked. They were clever, so very clever, but they were naughty. She ran faster and faster until she lost her way completely. Was he near? She stopped running. A sudden fear paralyzed her. If he is not already on his way to meet you. The words rang in her head like a knell. The woods twisted in front of her. The white forest crashed all around her. The trees started calling to her: Krampus is coming. Her vision blurred and the snow enveloped her until she couldn't breathe. He was here, she knew now. He was here for her. The trees were screaming now, desperately trying to help, Krampus is coming, run. But they were too late. She fell down in the snow, her heart froze into ice, and she died.
  The snow fell down like a soft blanket over her open, empty eyes. Krampus stood over her and watched as the world tucked her in for the night. He gave the woman's body a mock bow. Your wish is my command, he thought amusingly. He took a deep breath of white air before dipping behind the trees and making his way towards the woman's house.

* * *

Inside the house, the children were warm and waiting. The tree they had made looked brilliant. One of the mothers red scarves was wrapped around it for decoration and candles were placed underneath so that it shone throughout the whole house. But they weren't admiring it. They could only think of one thing. Tomorrow they would wake up to presents. Presents. Presents. Their minds reveled in the idea. They were good children. They did bad things sometimes, but they were good children who put up the tree. And that meant presents.
The boys sat and talked about everything they wanted tomorrow morning to be. Krampus was there, listening. The children talked and imagined their words were like wishes flying into the air, but Krampus saw the weight of their words and knew they were falling heavy to the floor.
Suddenly, the candles in the house went out.
The boys shivered.
And then Krampus was there, standing over the children, tall and wicked. With eyes like flaming embers and a long, flickering tongue he told them what their mother had done.

Horrified, sickened, the two boys wept in despair and shook in fear.
Their mother that loved them. Their mother. Their mother. 

Krampus looked at the weeping children. His work was done. Here was punishment for now and always. He left. The candles reignited and the stick tree stood and shone, illuminating the house for all to see.

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