Christmas Writing Prompt: December 11 – December 18, 2019 Reindeer Baby

Prompt: “Reindeer Baby”

You somehow end up with a baby reindeer. The rest is up to you.

Story Requirements:

  • A live reindeer.

Word Count: 1,200
*Note this is a special holiday prompt. The deadline is one week instead of two weeks. Story deadline is December 18, 2019 at 12:00pm CT.

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131 thoughts on “Christmas Writing Prompt: December 11 – December 18, 2019 Reindeer Baby

  • December 11, 2019 at 6:05 am
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    Read the stories here:

    (If you don’t see your story linked in this comment within a day or two, feel free to use the contact form to let us know we somehow missed it.

    Meanwhile, please be patient, moderators are not always online. We’ll get to it as soon as possible. Thank you.)

    Reply
    • December 16, 2019 at 4:23 am
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      Signing in for comments.

      Reply
      • December 16, 2019 at 4:24 am
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        It worked finally. 🙁😥

        Reply
    • December 17, 2019 at 3:18 pm
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      THE REINDEER’S WIFE

      by Amy Meyer

      1,200 words

      The sonographer wrenched away the ultrasound screen, and looked at Hailey with her mouth open.

      “Excuse me a minute,” she said and rushed from the consulting room.

      Mattheus and Hailey looked at each other in confusion and worry.

      He squeezed Hailey’s hand, “I’m sure everything’s OK.”

      Hailey glared at him and said, “I’m pregnant, not an idiot.”

      She sat groaned and there was a puckering sound as flesh parted from plastic, as she pushed herself up on the seat. “Hey, quickly turn around the ultrasound screen,”

      Mattheus reached up his arm but paused in mid-air, “What if she comes back?”

      “It’s our scan. Quick!”

      “OK,” he glanced towards the door and pulled the screen back around to them so they could see. Hailey grabbed the ultrasound wand and held it over her stomach.

      “What the–?” said Hailey.

      On the screen was a baby reindeer curled up in the foetal position.

      “Is this some kind of a joke?” said Hailey, looking at Mattheus.

      “Why and how would I do that?” he said.

      Hailey slumped back into the seat.

      The sonographer came back into the room, towing a crisply-dressed doctor behind her. She saw that the ultrasound screen had been pulled around and shot a nervous glance at them.

      “This is Dr. Singh,” she said and ushered the doctor over to the consulting chair. The room was too crowded and they had to shuffle around each other.

      The doctor was painfully sympathetic, like a vicar at a funeral. Hailey was still in shock. She caught words like foetal abnormality, cross-species incompatibility, medical termination that buzzed around in her head. The doctor left them with a leaflet on the risks of shapeshifter offspring, which Mattheus crumpled.

      #

      Matt drove home and they sat in the car in silence until they turned into the snow covered track that led to their house.

      “Hailey?” Mattheus said tentatively.

      “What?” she said looking out of the window.

      “I want to talk. About the ultrasound… our baby…”

      “I don’t want to talk about it.”

      “Please Hailey.”

      “Lets talk about it tomorrow. I’m too tired. I’m pregnant, remember.”

      “I’ve got something important to tell you.”

      “Oh god,” said Hailey turning to look at him.

      “I need to show you something.”

      “Knock yourself out.”

      “Outside.”

      “This better be good.”

      Mattheus parked and led her around the side of the house and into the back garden. He tried to hold her hand but she shook him off.

      “OK, so now, don’t freak out,” he said.

      “You’re scaring me Mattheus. What’s going on?”

      “OK, right. I’m just going to come out and say this.” He took a deep breath. “I’m a shapeshifter. A reindeer.”

      “Don’t be ridiculous. Those freaks died out years ago. You can’t be, I’d know. We’re married for heavens sake. Can we go back inside, I’m freezing.”

      “I’ll show you.”

      He took a deep breath, and dropped to all fours. His arms and legs began to elongate and thin, his nose lengthened and great antlers grew from his forehead.

      Hailey screamed, stepped back and turned to run towards the house. The Reindeer stepped forward and cocked it’s head to one side. It was such a human expression that Hailey’s scream died in her mouth.

      “Mattheus?”

      The enormous reindeer bowed down it’s head to her.

      “No,” she said. Her legs felt like jelly and she collapsed down into the freezing snow.

      Mattheus changed back into his human form, gently helped her back into her feet and brushed off the snow clinging to her legs. He hugged her tightly. She let him, her body felt like someone else’s.

      “When were you going to tell me?” she said into his shoulder. “It feels like a pretty important piece of information you should have told me– at a bare minimum before we got married. Surely at that point you would have been able to trust me?”

      “I’m sorry, I just… There was never a good time.”

      “Now doesn’t seem like a good time at all.”

      She felt Mattheus tense.

      “My mother warned me not to marry a reindeer herder, but this was not on her list of objections,” she said.

      He pulled away from their embrace and looked at her, “Your mother has never liked me–”

      “Is this the time?”

      “I just wanted to be normal, to have a normal family life. I didn’t want to be like my father”

      “Your father was a reindeer shapeshifter? That would explain a lot.”

      “No, no, I’ve never heard of it running in families. He was a drunk and a loner who didn’t care for us. I just wanted to have a normal family… I’m so sorry. It shouldn’t have been passed onto the baby. I took precautions.”

      “This is not what I signed up for at all. Not at all. You must have had some idea that your… thing… was transmissible. How could you take that risk– with me, with the baby. What if it had been transferred to me?”

      “It’s not like an STD–”

      “Oh so now you’re the expert, are you?”

      “I–”

      “No, Mattheus. You should have told me. And now you’ve put a freak inside of me. An f-ing reindeer. How would you like to push a reindeer out through your downstairs? And what about when it’s born. What kind of a life will it have? Not one worth living-”

      “Don’t. Please. We can’t stop the pregnancy. It’ll be a shapeshifter just like me. I live a normal life, don’t I? I have control over the changes, most of the time–”

      “Most of the time!”

      Suddenly Hailey’s expression changed and she bent over double.

      “What’s wrong?” said Mattheus, rushing forward.

      “It kicked!” Hailey said in wonder. She straightened up and looked at Matt with a bewildered expression.

      “Look”

      She unbuttoned her coat and they both bent over her distended stomach. The distinctive outline of a tiny hoof was visible protruding out of the taut drum-skin of the stomach, before it disappeared and was still. Hailey put her hand over the spot where the kick had been. They looked at each other. Mattheus reached out and put his hand over hers.

      “Shall we go inside? It’s cold out here,” said Mattheus. He tried to link his arm in her but she shook him off.

      “This doesn’t change anything,” said Hailey, “I still hate you.”

      “I know,” said Mattheus, squeezing her tighter. “I’m so sorry.”

      “You’ve got to understand how this changes everything,” she said. “And you can’t expect me just to pretend that everything is OK with us.”

      “I know. You have every right to be angry with me.”

      “I’m so disappointed, I could scream. I had a life that was one way. And you’ve taken that away from me. I had a normal baby, and a normal husband this morning.”

      “I know that this is a big shock. But forget about me. Our baby. Those doctors at the hospital, they don’t know what being a shapeshifter is really like. Please can we give our baby a chance?”

      “I don’t know,” said Hailey. “I’ll think about it.”

      They walked back into their warm kitchen arm-in-arm.

      Reply
      • December 17, 2019 at 4:39 pm
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        Very imaginative. Seems like it could be a longer story. The shapeshifter concept was fun!

        Reply
      • December 17, 2019 at 5:17 pm
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        Amy – Wow…. hmmm.. went from -what the hey- to this is crazy..to just shutup and keep reading… ok this makes sense maybe … too what’s next… so how is this baby reindeer going to react to a two legged Mommy…

        Reply
      • December 18, 2019 at 10:08 am
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        Trish,

        This is definitely a unique take on the theme. I am woefully uninformed about various creatures and alternate human identities because I’m usually not interested in those type of stories (Wendigos, shapeshifters, zombies, etc.) I’m assuming that a “shapeshifter” is like an Animagus in Harry Potter?

        Anyway, I really enjoyed the story once I got past the surprise of a woman pregnant with a reindeer. Now I have a lot of questions about who shapeshifters are and how they function, etc. What will the doctors do to deliver a reindeer? How soon will it be in the media? How could they keep something like a secret? Can the baby morph itself into human form to be born or will it be a reindeer forever?

        Thanks for encouraging me to think and explore beyond my comfort zone. Great work.

        Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 12:50 am
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        Amy,
        Great story.
        Fantastic dialogue. The story blends the ordinary with the incredible really nicely, and the dialogue may be the reason. This is one of those stories that sounds like the result of a thought experiment. Like: ‘What if shape-shifters were real, you married one, and you didn’t find out until you were already pregnant?’

        Or, alternatively, the result of one of those weird conversations that flares up around the bonfire, with friends, around midnight, after a few beverages.

        Either way, it’s a weird (well, not weird, far out) a far out premise, but you tell it so skillfully, I didn’t really dwell on the strangeness of it. I focused on the interaction between the two characters.

        The only downside is that there’s no resolution, so it reads like a prologue or first chapter to a much more involved story. Not necessarily a novel, but a much longer treatment.

        BTW, I didn’t notice this story until just now. I don’t know how it arrived at the top of the thread, and it wasn’t on the voting list. At least, I didn’t notice it and neither did Adi.

        Reply
  • December 11, 2019 at 7:37 am
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    Signing in for comments and truly hope I’ve conquered my apathy. Wrote half a story for the last prompt and was totally unsatisfied with where it was going. It’s now laying on the rejection room floor. Let’s see what my writing memes have in store for Reindeer Baby.

    Reply
    • December 11, 2019 at 8:03 am
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      Hang in there, Roy! Something will come up, sooner or later, to ones like you. Just don’t think too hard about it… 🙂

      Reply
    • December 13, 2019 at 10:41 am
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      Looking forward to when you are back and at 100%!

      Reply
      • December 13, 2019 at 11:25 am
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        Carrie, you have no idea how fervently I wish that. I think I have a story rambling around in the Christmas section of my brain’s holiday storage site, but it’s been elusive so far as I try to catch it.

        Reply
  • December 11, 2019 at 9:01 am
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    Signing in for comments. Trying to think of a story that won’t be cliche.

    Reply
  • December 12, 2019 at 12:55 am
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    I have a ridiculous amount of homework and revision to do, but I’m signing in for comments on the off chance that I can have a Christmas miracle, and make a story in this busy week.

    Reply
  • December 12, 2019 at 5:17 pm
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    The Year I Made a Difference
    (1130 words)

    My parents were rebels when I was young. They protested against a lot of things – like the war in Vietnam and skyrocketing gas prices – and they protested for a lot of other things – like free love and groovy music. They instilled in me a love of the underdog, and a strong feeling of support for justice and equality. This is a story about them, and me, and I guess you could say the Spirit of Christmas, although the last one might be pushing it a bit.

    The holiday season started as all holiday seasons do – with much whining and anticipation on my part and much fretting about expenses on my parents’ part. I don’t know what started it all, but I decided early that season I wanted to get my picture taken with Santa at the Outdoor Christmas Extravaganza that set up in Market Square, just outside City Hall. The problem was, those pictures cost a fortune back in those days, and my parents knew I’d lose enthusiasm for the experience immediately after I sat on the lap of Fake Santa and the photo was snapped. So, they did their best to discourage me- telling me about Fake Santa’s drinking problem and his general lack of hygiene. But I was undaunted – smelly Santa or not, I wanted the full Fake Santa experience. I started making lists of the toys I’d ask for once I got the chance to speak to him. I planned to speak exceptionally loudly and clearly so my parents, hovering nearby, would be able to hear and make note of what to get me. And I knew that none of my friends’ parents were going to let my pals enjoy Fake Santa, so I figured I’d be Lord of the Playground once word got out that I had pulled off this amazing feat.

    Finally, I wore my parents down and we piled into our wood-paneled station wagon to head to City Hall and the Outdoor Christmas Extravaganza. I chattered nonstop on the way there, “Will he have a real beard or a fake one, Mom?” “Will he wear black boots with fur on top like in the pictures, Dad?” You get the idea. Mom and Dad just exchanged world weary looks as we bore down towards Market Square’s parking lot. I bounded out of the car and ran over to the Extravaganza, unfurling my list as I went. The line was long, but nothing I wasn’t prepared for. I had two doughnuts stashed in my pockets, and three Tootsie-Rolls, so I knew I was good for the long haul. I carefully took my place at the end of the line and waved to my parents to hurry.

    And then it happened. I saw it. The baby reindeer. Standing behind Santa. Wearing some kind of jingle-bell covered throw. This wouldn’t do. My parents had raised me to care for the down and out and that included all living creatures. I just knew it was wrong to have a real baby reindeer in the middle of our town working the photo booth. I stopped and stared for what seemed like hours but was likely just a few seconds, given my attention span at the time. At any rate, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go through with the whole Fake Santa photo now that I knew he used a live reindeer. I turned to my parents and asked to go home. When they asked why, it was an easy answer for my hippie Mom and Dad’s ears: “I’m organizing a protest,” I said.

    I wasted no time. The second I got home I went to Billy’s house. He had four brothers who I quickly fired up and sent out to scare up supporters among our neighborhood pals. Meanwhile, Billy and I got to work churning out signs – It’s an Animal NOT a Prop! Stop Using Reindeer! – and my personal favorite – Free Rudolph!

    I then mobilized my parents to rustle up enough parents/drivers to ferry my growing band of protesters to City Hall. They gladly obliged, glad that I’d moved on from playing Che Guevarra with my pals. So we packed into cars, all twenty of us, carrying signs and chanting our slogans. The parents were eager to see where this would all end up and we kids were thirsty for justice when we arrived in Market Square that afternoon. Pouring from the cars, waving our banners and screaming at the top of our lungs about unfair use of reindeer, we just knew we’d convince this Fake Santa and his whole operation to give up our cute baby reindeer.

    That’s kinda when the problems started. You see, the noise kinda frightened the little guy. His eyes got all big and glassy first. Then he turned his head from side to side as though he were looking for a way out. Then he jumped up right through the photo backdrop, knocking over Fake Santa and generally startling everyone. As Fake Santa reached for his bottle, the reindeer landed and headed straight for me. Somehow, I ended up with it for like a second, but then I swear it kept going right through the parking lot, down Main Street and out of town, dodging cars as it went. At least that’s how I remember it. If it’s true then it’s unbelievable the doggone thing didn’t get hit.

    Now the parents were a little thunderstruck by all the commotion, but me and my posse of protesters, we were thrilled. We’d beaten “The Man” AND the baby reindeer was free. What a coup! And the protest didn’t even have time to get boring. Best yet, there was a newspaper reporter standing outside City Hall who saw the whole thing and came down to find out who was the instigator of this marvelous protest. I proudly went forward and answered all his questions resulting in my picture on the front page of the Daily News the next day. I beamed the whole way home.

    And I did end up Lord of the Playground for at least a week thanks to all the ruckus. I bragged incessantly about the whole thing and even wrote an essay for school that I entitled “The Year I Made a Difference.” And I saved the protest signs in the garage. For years, I was sure I’d mastered the art of protest that day, although as I got older I did manage to orchestrate some not quite so eventful protests that actually accomplished their goals in a more mundane fashion. And my parents left me to my delusions, which I’m embarrassed to admit might have lasted much longer had I not heard my parents chuckling about the whole thing one night.

    Go figure.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2019 at 3:24 pm
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      Trish,

      I loved this story! Your story telling captured me from the beginning and I was laughing by the end. Amazing how our childhood delusions last and become firm memories.

      I did wonder about the reindeer baby. Did he survive his game of “Dodge the traffic?” Did he find a herd to take him in? Did someone else rescue him? Poor baby. LOL.

      Thanks for starting the run of stories! Now, if only I can think of one. I’m not really in the mood for Christmas this year.

      Reply
      • December 13, 2019 at 4:00 pm
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        Thanks Adrienne! Who knows what happened to baby reindeer. Our dear little protestor forgot all about their subject once the cheering started. 🙂

        Reply
    • December 15, 2019 at 11:37 pm
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      Trish,

      A fun little Christmas story, Trish. Very well written. You made most of this up, right? You tell it so well it sounds as if it really happened. It’s kind of like ‘A Christmas Story’ for the 60’s.

      Reply
      • December 16, 2019 at 9:17 am
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        Ken- Couldn’t be any farther from my real life- raised by a military dad & homemaker Mom on military bases. No protests in our world other than burying veggies under the carpet when we were kids. I kept starting with pretty dreary stories but finally this more cheery one popped into my head. I struggled with point of view and then once I settled into a memory story it all poured out. Thank you for your feedback.

        Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 6:12 am
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      A fun story. I like the protesting kids and the ‘smelly Santa’ really made me laugh. Please tell us what happened to the baby reindeer!

      Reply
  • December 12, 2019 at 5:18 pm
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    Signing in for comments.

    Reply
  • December 13, 2019 at 5:42 am
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    LADYLAND
    by Ken Miles
    (1200 words excluding title and this line)

    “Cliona! Where are you? Cliona! Cliona! Please help me, I lost my daughter!”

    Maggie wades in rivers of frenzied Christmas shoppers. She scans forests of fast-moving legs for her three-year-old, in the endless Department Store.

    “I was trying some pants on, she was right next to me,” she sobs to Security, “I’m a bad mom! I won’t ever see Cliona again! We never even gotta meet Santa…”

    ***

    “Lord Jesus Christ!!”

    Reggie flies off the sidewalk, into the busy street. He pulls the little girl right off a construction-truck’s giant front-wheel. Mere inches from a horrific death. The driver gesticulates wildly at Reggie, not getting he’s just a passerby-hero, then drives off furiously.

    Reggie holds on to the girl on the curb, looking for her parents. Pants ripped at the knees, he feels the sting of scraped skin.

    “When that’s red, don’t cross, sweetheart. It turns green. That’s when you cross. Ok?” he teaches her as he regains control of his breath.

    The girl, not at all aware of her very narrow escape, nods happily.

    “Where are mum and dad, princess?”

    “I don’t have a dad. He doesn’t love my mommy anymore. He loves someone else’s mommy now.”

    “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. And… your mommy? Where’s she?”

    “In a big shop.”

    “Big shop? It’s all big shops round here. Remember which?”

    “There’s Santa in it. Mommy promised we’ll meet him once she finished trying clothes on. But she forgot. I think she’s trying clothes on all day. So I looked for Santa by myself.”

    “I see. We’ll find your mommy. Try to remember which shop it was, ok? I’ll walk with you, till you spot it.”

    “Ok – Got big windows. And lots of clothes inside.”

    “What’s your name?”

    “Cliona.”

    “Cliona! I’m Reggie. Let me guess – you’re three!”

    “How d’you know!?” she stares at him, stupefied. This black man’s a magician!

    “Because my little Shirley’s three, like you!”

    “Does she look like me?”

    “Not quite. Actually, yes – as pretty! I’ll show you her photo.”

    He takes out a passport-sized photo of his daughter. Cliona looks at it with great interest.

    “I like Shirley, can we play together?”

    “Well… yes, sure. If your mommy’s fine with that. Shirley’d love to.”

    “Why did she write that?”

    “The X X X? Those are kisses. Shirley said when we’re not together I can look at the photo and take her kisses from it. One kiss at a time. Or all three when I miss her badly. But that should’ve been a secret between her and I…”

    “I promise not to tell.”

    ***

    “Got a picture, Ma’am?”

    Maggie rummages in her handbag, but doesn’t find her smartphone in the state she’s in.

    “Describe her, perhaps?”

    “She looks like me, I suppose,” is all she brings herself to saying, “blonde, green eyes, Peppa Pig top…”

    She finds her phone, “Here – this’s Cliona.”

    “She really is as beautiful as you!” says the Security-Guard. A heartless compliment – pick-up line, maybe – given the circumstances.

    “Please find her! She’s all I got…” Maggie pleads desperately.

    News comes in: “We got CCTV-footage of her: she left the shop – ten minutes ago.”

    Maggie’s last hope’s dashed. Cliona’s not even inside the shop! These guys won’t give another damn; Cliona’s out of their jurisdiction.

    A large hand pats Maggie’s shoulder.

    “They’ll find her,” says a deep voice.

    The hand squeezes her shoulder, fingertips hovering the top of her breast. She’d scream if a stranger touched her like that under normal circumstances. She turns around.

    It’s Santa.

    ***

    “That’s her – there!”

    “A fuck’nigga kidnapper! I ache to meet one face-to-face!”

    Reggie doesn’t get the minutest chance to react. He receives a monstrous blow to his mouth from a large guy in a LadyLand Security-Guard uniform.

    He attempts to say something in his own defense, but the blow denies him command of his mouth. His lips and jaw writhe uncontrollably, numbness playing musical-chairs with intense pain. The teeth he didn’t swallow swim in a sea of blood inside his mouth.

    The other Security-Guard shoves him to the ground, face down. He then steps on him, pressing his boot hard on his nape. Shirley’s photo slips from his fingers and gets blown into the street. She smiles back at him, as enigmatically as always. The photo attaches itself to a moving car’s tire and disappears with it.

    “We got him!” the first Security-Guard announces with pride as two police-officers pull up to assess the commotion. “Child-snatcher! She was shopping at our store with her mom.”

    “We’ll take over,” an officer says, thumbs up, “he’ll be having jailhouse ramen for Christmas.”

    Handcuffed, Reggie’s unceremoniously tossed onto their backseat.

    “Mommy!!!”

    Maggie, the Store-Manager and Santa run towards Cliona.

    Maggie declines the officer’s offer of a medical check-up. He hands her a social-assistance card with a psychologist’s name on it to call if she’s in any kind of distress.

    “Why did they do that to Reggie?” Cliona asks mommy.

    “God! He told you his name? Don’t worry about him, honey. He can’t do anything to you anymore. He’s a bad man.”

    ***

    “What’d you like for Christmas?” Santa asks Cliona to whisper in his ear.

    The Store-Manager instructed Santa to pamper her. Last thing he wants is another PR disaster. LadyLand invested heavily to be a cut above the rest this Christmas. They even got a live reindeer to accompany Santa. Animal-rights protesters kicked up a fuss. Now this child-snatching business. More fodder for the local rags.

    “A playdate with Shirley,” Cliona whispers.

    Santa hesitates, then: “Hmm. I’ll see what I can do.”

    They jump the queue of flustered parents waiting for their kids’ ‘Photo-With-Santa’ turn. “Priority boarding!” one dad quips.

    “A real reindeer!” Cliona can’t believe her eyes.

    “But you’re too fat to ride it!” She then observes.

    “She’s a baby-reindeer, darling, but I’ve Rudolph, you know. Big and strong!” Santa explains. “And hey – I’m not fat! Just a tad overweight. You know Christmastime, lotta sweets. Promise I’ll get in shape once it’s over, ok?”

    He winks at Maggie: “It’s only a pillow…”

    Santa picks a doll that says “Leena” on the box.

    “Call her Shirley,” he tells Cliona, “She’s adorable. Press that button.”

    “Hello, what’s your name?” asks the doll.

    Cliona sparkles. “She talks! I’m Cliona! Are you Shirley?”

    “Nice to meet you. How old are you?”

    “I’m three.”

    “What are you doing this Christmas?”

    “I don’t know… Is your name really Shirley?”

    “I’ll be having loads off fun too this Christmas!”

    “She’s dumb!” Cliona concludes. “I want that one. That’s Shirley!” she points at a black doll, called Marjolie.

    “Oh my! Yes, of course, that’s Shirley! I’m such a forgetful old man! Here you are, honey.”

    Maggie’s appalled, and snatches the doll.

    “That’s Marjolie, sweetheart. Not Shirley! Here: ‘MAR-JO-LIE’.”

    “She’s Shirley! Even Santa said she’s Shirley! She’s my best friend.”

    Santa, embarrassed, tells Maggie, “Doesn’t matter, she can keep both. Sure Management’ll understand.”

    “Not the point!” Maggie takes out the social-assistance card and calls the number.

    “…not me – my daughter… I don’t mean to sound racist, but she wants this black doll! After what’s just happened… He did something to her. Touched her? Why a black doll? She’s definitely psychologically damaged!”

    Reply
    • December 13, 2019 at 4:01 pm
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      Ken,

      What a sad story!! I’m glad Cliona is only three and hopefully missed understanding most of the horrible events that unfortunately illustrate the state of our world today. I was so hoping for a happier ending. The writing was wonderful and the dialogue great but this is such a sad commentary on our world and how people have evolved over the years. I wanted Reggie to be regaled as a hero. I wanted Cliona and Shirley to be friends and grow up together.

      I’m definitely feeling my age because I long for the “good old days” when people respected others and knew how to interact with them. When discussion came before judgement and action. When people looked for the good in others instead of digging for or making up things about them. When there used to be some trust in the world. When people like Reggie were common and helped others without thinking about negative repercussions.

      Ok, enough said. I’m going back to my rainbow colored, cotton candy clouds and unicorn world to play with the butterflies now.

      I’m impressed that you conveyed so much drama and emotion in the story and you posted it so quickly! Great work!

      Adi

      Reply
      • December 16, 2019 at 6:17 am
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        Hi Adi!

        Thank you for your comment and praise for my writing. True, it’s a very sad story, and unfortunately quite plausible in this day and age. I’m personally quite enraged by these situations we now face in today’s world.

        There are sure are some nasty people out there. But how do we deal with the situation? Everyone’s become a suspect!

        It happens each time harmless people have to undergo extreme security checks at airports, etc. because of what some sick minds did in the past. It happens each time a stranger says a genuine “hello”. Each time someone we don’t know smiles. Or forgets his bag behind. We don’t know how to live properly with each other anymore.

        It’s especially harsh on men. Like Reggie, being a man, especially in the company of children (except his own kids) immediately rings the suspicion bells. Pedophile!

        After the massive reations to some recent events, men in the company of adult women are now often under tight scrutiny too. Every man has become a potential Weinstein-in-the-making (or locker-room Trump, for that matter)!

        That’s the topic of my story. Reggie’s black, so there’s clearly the racist element at play too, but let’s face it – it could’ve been a white man heroically saving Cliona: he’d have ended up in very much the same sad predicament, on that pavement, at the hands of the Ladyland bullies (who believe they are themselves the heroes and are complimented by the police).

        In fact, perhaps I shouldn’t have had Reggie black in the first place, so that the racism issue won’t overshadow the sexism (against men) issue.

        [but then have Cliona insisting on getting a male-doll at the end of the story? The black doll tale wouldn’t fit anymore…].

        Even Santa is a sex-suspect, as he pats Maggie on her shoulder, to ease her immense pain. For all I know, he may be a sex-maniac, but we jump too quickly (me too!) into conclusions. (I did have a slight suspicion that he let his hand travel too far onto the woman’s body, while writing the story).

        And there’s that Security Guard who passes a compliment and I myself say, in the story, that it was out of place (in those circumstances, I still think it really was).

        Anyway, I’m sorry if I changed your (or anyone’s) festive mood with this unfortunate tale. Perhaps it would help some of us realize how ridiculous we’ve become, and we’ll become a little more accommodating toward each other, like it was in the goog old days you mentioned in your comment. Then it might be an even Happier Christmas!

        Thanks again!
        Ken

        Reply
        • December 18, 2019 at 4:24 pm
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          Ken,

          This was a powerful story that more people need to read to recognize the change that is needed in this world. You didn’t change my festive mood. You incorporated so much drama and truth into this piece and it was masterful. Great work. Merry Christmas!

          Adi

          Reply
    • December 18, 2019 at 11:44 am
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      Ken Miles,

      Excellent story, Ken. Wonderful writing. A sad but accurate commentary on the state of racial bias in America and how it plays out. (I can’t speak for other countries.) Your story adds a nice twist with the child’s choice of dolls at the end, and the confusion it creates. As disturbingly accurate as this story is, it leaves the door open for other, long-term consequences.

      I was tempted to write the sequel to this story.

      How Maggie’s decision to call Social Services backfires as they find out what an incompetent mother she really is.

      Meanwhile Reggie finds an ally in a public defender whose wife is one of the top constitutional lawyers in the state and agrees to take his case for nothing.

      And the racist guard, after all his initial boasting and celebrity, gets banned from his favorite pub, and a few others places as well.

      How Reggie wins a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Ladyland and its assigns, allowing Reggie to buy a house down the street from his lawyer, and her husband, Reggie’s new tennis partner.

      His ex-wife, sick of the current loser she’s shacked up with, on hearing of Reggie’s newfound fame and fortune seeks a reconciliation, but Reggie implies that his stacked blonde take-no-prisoners-lawyer is his new flame, and she wickedly plays along. Ultimately, he wins sole custody of his daughter Shirley. (Remember Shirley?) but grants generous visitation rights to a woman who clearly doesn’t deserve it.

      Finally, after one such parental exchange, he meets a beautiful tanned goddess from the islands, in a coffee shop, (I don’t know, pick an island) who likes to read, while doing push-ups.

      The End.

      I didn’t think it fair to write the sequel to your story though.

      Too bad. It would have been fun.

      Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 4:55 am
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        Thanks Ken!

        Yes, it sort of deserves a sequel, if for nothing else, to redeem (and honor) poor Reggie.

        Oh, your take on the sequel DOES redeem him fully – he gets super rich, a nice house (I can assume it was nice – lawyers live in the area), a blonde tennis partner, a tanned island goddess for a girlfriend… And plenty of occasion to raise his middle finger (ex-wife, the police, LadyLand Inc. and their Security Guards…). Worth having ramen for Christmas just once, I’d say, for all that in return.

        My vision of a sequel is much darker. It gets worse before it gets better. But when it gets better, I think it’s quiet heartwarming. In fact. it wasn’t a sequel at all. My story went on and on in my first draft. I had to cut it down, then, from the whopping 2.5K I’d started with, simply because of the 1.2K word limit.

        So, when Maggie calls Social Services about the alleged psychological damage Reggie inflicted on her daughter, the psychologist tells her, “I can’t myself divulge any of this. Professional secrecy and all, you know. But Owen would be very interested in this information.”

        Maggie: “Who’s Owen?”

        The shrink: “I mean Officer Roberts. He’s charging Reginald Butter tomorrow. The more they can bring up against him the longer he’d live with the rats. It’s in your – your daughter’s – interest too. You don’t want him around again anytime soon, do you?”

        LadyLand destroy footage from their roof camera that caught everything – both the truck incident in which Reggie saves Cliona from a horrific death and their Security Guards’ excessive reaction. They’re aware of the trouble – and corporate image-tarnishing – they’d be into if that footage was to surface and show their employees’ abuse of a hero, all while they were in their line of duty and in official company garb.

        Reggie gets fifteen years. The police and the Courts – and even his assigned attorney (“Plead guilty, all the evidence is against you: you’ll get five or six years. Plead innocent and you’ll get ten or twelve!”) – have no appetite for investigating too much. It’s Christmastime and he’s black.

        Many years down the line, eighteen year old Cliona gets a visitor. The charming black girl introduces herself as Shirley and tells her that her dad will be released from prison that day. Her family would love it if she joined them for this happy occasion. Cliona has faint memories of the events, and this visit brings back flashes of the truck incident and a clear image of Reggie’s face. She makes one plus one and accepts the invitation.

        She was herself passing through a bad time, lately. Her mum had just died of breast cancer and she was passing through early onset depression.

        Shirley’s invitation is not in any way of a sarcastic nature, and the family – especially Reggie – is very genuine in wishing to meet the girl whose life he’d saved. In spite of all the hell he had to go through because of that event, deep down he felt a great sense of serenity and accomplishment in his couragous act that saved Cliona. It could have been his life’s purpose – the reason God brought him to this world. His family supported him throughout, too. His earlier pleas to Maggie for a reconciliation had been met with hostility.

        The story ends with freed Reggie heartily hugging Cliona, who also really hits it off with Shirley.

        “I always thought they’d have this playdate together one day. It’s been long coming!” Reggie tells his wife, as they observe Cliona and Shirley walking together arm-in-arm in the public park, sharing their lifestories, that indeed had so much that intersected…

        I could have kept this sequel for next time (in case Phil’s choice of prompt somehow matches!), but, I’m glad it’s out now. I didn’t want anyone to have a sad Xmas because of my story. Now you all have it – there’s a happy ending down the line for dear Reggie (and Cliona and Shirley) 🙂

        Ken (not Arianna Huffington*) (and Ken Frape can stand up for his rights, I’m sure he will*)

        *with reference to an intriguing comment by Ken Cartisano further down.

        Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 6:05 am
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      LADYLAND by Ken Miles

      What a sad story. You painted a picture of a truly vile cast of characters. I wondered whether they were a little on the nose– the violent guard is also a creep, the racist mother is also an incompetent mother. Anyway, a powerful and well written story that dives straight into the action with a great hook.

      Reply
  • December 13, 2019 at 9:11 am
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    [I’m posting this here… who goes to the old posts anyway? the saying goes… Except KEN CARTISANO, or so he claims, and to whom this reply is written. But really, who knows? I don’t see the comment-numbers changing…]

    Whatever you (or I) think, Capitano Cartisano, your story got the top vote – so congrats and enjoy the limelight 🙂

    If I’m not mistaken (and I may very well be – I’m not infallible like one Mr. Town, you know…), your other story CIRCLE OF LIFE, some prompts ago also won this prestigious contest (no sarcasm, here, really: I’d have loved to win it myself! Even if I had to go on a one-hour-and-a-half hunger strike to achieve that. I envy you.).

    So, now you’re on top of the game again with CIRCLE OF DEATH. Even if it’s fifth place by many, as you said you suspect, it’s still proved to be a popular piece. Actually, a piece that wins by getting many fifth places is FAR MORE popular, if you ask me. It means it reached a wider appeal, than let’s say one that wins by a handful of oddballs throwing precious first votes at it. A little from many is greater than a lot from a few. So be cheerful, mate! You got it good.

    Circle of Life, Circle of Death – I see you’ve certainly got things going for you with circle stories. Given you tend to like lists (you often presented us with lists of note in here) I can suggest a few more winner titles for you:

    INNER CIRCLE (does Outer Circle mean anything?)

    COME FULL CIRCLE (I have something funny about this one, but it’s too rude)

    VICIOUS CIRCLE (Virtuous Circle? Nah – virtue doesn’t sell!)

    SQUARING THE CIRCLE (or Circling The Square, for more effect)

    GOING ROUND IN CIRCLES (is it what’s happening to me here?)

    LOVE TRIANGLE (in case triangles protest for being left out of the nominations, in this politically-correct era. Can’t have
    circles having all the fun and attention, can we? Triangles are human too. Equal rights. Equal jobs. Equal pay. And they know how to make their point. Three time over each time.)

    I shouldn’t have done that! Here they all come… rectangles, oblongs, rhombuses, pentograms (is there such a shape?), parallelograms, hexagons, nonagons, bombastigons – WILL YOU ALL JUST SHUT UP! No, I’m not going to include you.
    Yes, there’s an unfair majority of circles. And I bit my tongue for the noble cause of trianglehood, to which I fully subscribe. I
    once even dated a triangle and we only split up because we had some disagreement about the issue of climate change. Lots of circles. Yes, that’s how I like it. Got a soft-spot for them. My client too. And he’s a Captain. Who’d ever win a writing contest with some story called THE RHOMBUS, anyway??

    Hey, Ken, while I’m still here, thanks for writing that glowing review of my story RAINBOW. It’s good to have you within my fanbase again. Especially after I annoyed you nearly irreparably with RED PLANET (and longer ago with that horrendous piece on robots doing naughty things with cucumbers and dangling cherries, which incidentally went on to win this contest.

    Even though it didn’t have the word “circle” in its title. And I had subliminally put in the word “rhombus” in it. Coming to think of it, perhaps that’s how you ended up hating it so much. You somehow sensed there was a rhombus somewhere. And it completely freaked you out.)

    Anyway, I’m very glad that the commentator-of-reference in here has again liked something I wrote. Really, I appreciate that very much. Especially for the way you put it. You praised my delivery, not so much the plot, and in particular the ubiquitous insertion of humor (even in a dark piece), which to me is the thing that counts most in a story. It’s my mission as a writer, to some degree – to make my readers chuckle. I think, yours too.

    Although I love a good plot and all, sometimes my stories are just somewhat of an excuse to bring out some humorous stuff that would otherwise make no sense in a vacuum. A platform, so to speak, to bring in some fun to the reader. Even if there are people eating other people in the story.

    So, I’m pleased that you took note of that – and more so that you enjoyed what I had to offer. As for the gold-eating, well, I had to get the gold in somehow because of the condition in the prompt. I’d have used a special isotope of popcorn instead,if it were left entirely up to me!

    On with baby reindeer now. Watch the third installment of Captain Temmels’ saga. He discovers squirrels on the barren savannas of the dark side of Mars (I know, Mars spins, so there should be no dark side, but I like that term! So just shush, will you?). Quite a big discovery, I suppose. But that’s nothing to what’s coming next. And don’t say to me that word ‘implausible’ again. Just listen and learn: if you feed a certain isotope of gold to Martian squirrels, they turn into… yes, you’ve seen it coming! F’ckn BABY REINDEER! No less.

    Temmels was astounded. I mean, who wouldn’t? I tried it, too, at the County Park where I live. I used popcorn isotopes not gold ones (for the simple reason I don’t know where the heck I put all my gold I don’t quite need). The cops are still wondering where all those reindeer popped up from. And why they ate or scared off all the squirrels.

    Anyway, Captain Temmels got an idea. He lined up some Martian reindeer (lots of them, since they are baby ones, but better lots of baby reindeer than just a handful of strong ones for a smoother ride. Just like the argument with the voters in here).

    He got them a sleigh and started his long journey back to earth. Don’t forget, they ate gold, they don’t need to breath. Or eat. Or poop. Interstellar poop, would be the grossest of things.

    Nothing implausible, you’re with me, right? Have faith and you’ll be saved. Only problem (there’s always one, especially when everything else is just fine): as he orbits the earth several times, ready for his descent, he and his reindeer have been spotted across the globe. From Jamaica to Haiti. No, those two are right next to each other; don’t make my point. From Jamaica to Japan. Children the world over believe he’s Santa Claus.

    Even those who don’t believe say they do – it’s in their interest, after all. They all expect present from him. That’s some two billion children, right? Temmels did pack a few buckets of gold for his homecoming, before he left Mars, but he’d intended to keep all that to himself. He wasn’t sure if NASA was going to pay him for all those days he did nothing on Mars but admire beautiful sweat-formed rainbows. The gold will keep him going. Especially now, that he’s seriously thinking of looking for a fourth wife.

    Perhaps he’d open a Baby Reindeer Santa Park in Finland for all the children in the world to visit and enter for free or a heavily reduced fee, once he’s done with the reindeer for transport reasons (he’ll have to find some way to rid himself of them, anyway). But he never in his life planned to be Santa… Just the thought annoys him. Can’t one just commute from one planet to another by reindeer without having to be noticed? As normal?

    Well, I actually already posted my Baby Reindeer story if you wish to read it… I’m giving a 10% discount to early readers.

    And no, it’s not Temmels again. Phew!

    Btw, how did you manage to fire a 3/8 inch bolt into your own foot? Were you the one who invented the expression ‘shoot one’s own foot’ after that? Seeing that you’re a master wordsmith…

    I mean, ouch! I’m troubled even trying to picture it.

    Do you walk well now? I mean, no big deal, worse things can happen in life than limping a little. But I don’t want you to go to some Rolling Stones concert and somehow end up at a Trump rally by mistake because of that lousy rerouting signage at the freeway junction, and Orange sees you and makes fun of you for not walking properly. Really, no big, deal (neither the walking nor Trump), but it’s embarrassing to be called out in front of thousands of people. Even if between them they may form as much brain-matter as half what one finds in the brain of a medium-sized swallow.

    Ok, I think I’m gone over 1,200 words with this comment! And I haven’t even got myself started. But it was nice talking to you again, Ken, like in the good old days of earlier on in the Year of the Lord 2019.

    See you at the Baby Reindeer park…

    Ken M.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2019 at 3:41 pm
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      Ken M,

      You are so funny! And now you are giving Ken C. a run for his money. Can’t wait to see where this goes!

      It’s Friday the 13th and while I am not superstitious, I AM having an absolutely rotten day to top off one of the most stressful weeks of my life at work (don’t get me started on the stress at home!) A whole week consumed by one strange case that we got dropped into without background or preparation and now I’ve managed to tick off some of the higher ups in Central Office. On the other hand, maybe I should just call that an extreme accomplishment and take pride in it. I’ll think about it. Too bad I don’t drink alcohol. Maybe I should try it now and then. I’ll think about that too. Maybe I’ll just go home and go to bed and not think about anything other than interplanetary transport by Martian reindeer causing colossal confusion for the masses about Santa.

      Anyway, loved your post and can’t wait to see Ken C’s response!

      Adi

      Reply
      • December 15, 2019 at 11:39 am
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        The Jar of Pickles
        Written by Writer2019

        Christmas for the past four years had been boring. I was fifteen, and the initial magic of that morning had long since worn off. The awkward talks with your grandparents, them demanding what you want for Christmas and you stuttering out the first object that comes to your mind. One time I’d got a jar of pickles. And I was allergic to several spices that were on the pickles… I always woke up early on Christmas morning, but not for the exciting, breathtaking glimpse of the multitude of shiny wrapped presents under our tree. I took a walk outside, tromping through the snow, trying to clear my head, preparing for the overload of senses that would hit me when I got back in. Needless to say, Christmas wasn’t my favorite holiday. Although for my seven younger siblings though it still carried a punch. They actually got cool presents. I got socks.

        So when Christmas of 2019 rolled in, I was mentally preparing myself for the chaos, patiently waiting it to end.

        I slowly inched out my bed, feeling the cold air hit my legs, dispelling the warmth. Gingerly stepping onto the freezing hardwood floor I slowly tiptoed to my door, briefly glancing at the still firm of my brother, Carl. Slowly opening the door, I winced as it creaked slightly, the sound unnaturally loud. I made my way stealthily down the stairs, entering our dark kitchen. The clock read six am. I was right on time. My coat was hung up on one of the chairs, exactly as I’d left it last night. I grabbed it off the chair, swinging it over my shoulders. Pulling the zipper up, I walked to the door, opening it slightly. A blast of cold air hit me, making my cheeks turn bright red. I smiled. It was perfect. Stepping outside, my boot sunk into the snow, making a crunching sound. Looking both ways I saw houses surrounding me, Christmas lights glittering brightly. I started down the left side of the street, watching as snow drifted to the ground, piling up into little mounds.

        As I plodded along the streets, I glanced at the houses beside me, seeing figures moving around in there, frantically putting presents under their huge tree. Every present was probably from Santa. My siblings still believed in Santa, but not me. I’d figured out a long time ago. I had caught dad putting presents under the tree, dressed in a Santa suit. He tried to make excuses, but I immediately knew that Santa wasn’t real. And I wasn’t surprised either. What kind of man goes down your chimney, carrying a bag full of gifts? That’s what doors are for. I’d told mom how I thought Santa was creepy several times when I was younger, and she’d always tell me that Santa was unique. I didn’t care if he was unique, evil, or even a fairy. I just wanted presents. But that was a long time ago…

        A sudden yelp burst through the air, distracting me from my musings. I glanced up, startled at the loud and unusual noise. Another yelp, this time more deep, came again, near the woods, on the other side of the street. I quickly crossed the road, devoid of any cars. Stopping only inches from the woods, I peered through the thick foliage, trying to make out any movement. At first there was nothing but the shifting of trees, but then a dark shadow moved at the edge of my peripheral vision. I zeroed in on the shadow, and watched as it crept through the woods, heading towards something unseen. I followed the shadow, slowly walking on the outskirts of the woods. Fear and excitement rushed through me, and I tried to still my shaking breath. I followed the shadow for about a couple more feet, before it stopped, crouching down. I scanned the area, curious at what it was hunting. A small animal caught my attention immediately. And when I laid eyes on it, I couldn’t breath.

        It was a reindeer. A baby reindeer. I staggered back, shocked. How did a baby reindeer get here? Was Santa real? I dismissed the ludicrous thought from my mind. There had to be a reasonable explanation. On closer inspection I saw a fake, red rubber nose on the reindeer, and a harness made of garland. Immediately I knew what had happened. The mall, only about fifteen minutes away, had a pictures with Santa today. The reindeer must’ve escaped, and ran away. Pity rose up inside me, and I went into the woods, slowly approaching the reindeer. “Hey little buddy,” I cooed, holding out my hand. The reindeer looked at me with wide eyes, it’s little black nose twitching. It tentatively took a step forward, nuzzling my outstretched hand. I beamed brightly, watching as the reindeer pressed itself against my chest, trembling. I tilted my head, confused. “Why are you scared?” I inquired, looking into it’s big, brown eyes. Then it hit me. Oh no. Slowly looking to the side, I saw the shadow that I’d been following. Except it wasn’t a shadow anymore. It was a wolf. A timber wolf.

        I froze, fear rushing through me. I lived in Maine, which timber wolves were extremely rare. They crossed the border sometimes, but never had I’d seen one. Isn’t just my luck that I see one, on Christmas, while I’m alone.

        Slowly I grabbed the baby reindeer, inching out of the woods, my gaze locked with the wolf’s. It’s yellow eyes narrowed as I moved back, and it bared it’s teeth, snarling. “Good doggie,” I squeaked, my throat closing up. The baby reindeer shifted slightly in my arms, and bayed loudly, it’s eyes wide with fear. The wolfs gaze snapped towards reindeer, and it’s hackles raised, the hair bristling like needles. “Stay back,” I ordered, my voice becoming firm. I stood fully up, and turned my back, dashing towards the road, the baby reindeer bumping in my arms. I heard a snarl, before the wolf slammed into my back, throwing me forward. I crashed into the ground, my back pressed up against rocks. The wolf, still enraged, jumped onto me, it’s jaws latching around my right arm. I gasped, thrashing around, trying dislodge the grip. I took my left arm, and swung it at the wolf’s eye, hitting it with a sickening smack. The wolf yelped, scrambling off me. I scrambled to my feet, clutching my injured arm to my chest. “Scram!” I yelled, lunging at the wolf. It flinched, turning around and darting back into the woods, it’s tail between its legs. I stood there, my chest heaving, trembling with shock. A small bump against my leg remind me of the reindeer’s presence. “Yeah, cmon, let’s go…” I murmured, picking the baby reindeer up again. It squirmed, before settling down, looking up at me with those big brown eyes.

        I brought the baby reindeer home, and I quickly washed the blood of my arm, bandaging the puncture wound. It was nine when everyone came down. And the look on their faces were priceless. At first I thought my mom wouldn’t let me keep the reindeer for a bit, but she eventually agreed. Stating it was Christmas, and I should enjoy it. And I did. With the baby reindeer by my side, which I had affectionately named Rudolph, I opened my first present. It was a jar of pickles. From my grandpa. I smiled, opening the can. I fished out a pickle and fed it to Rudolph. Maybe this was a nice Christmas after all.

        Reply
        • December 15, 2019 at 12:21 pm
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          What a fun piece! I was completely taken surprise (spoiler alert) by the wolf. Great bit there about the ensuing fight.

          Reply
        • December 15, 2019 at 2:36 pm
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          Writer 2019 (Alyssa.)

          Great story, really exciting and a satisfactory ending. I strongly suggest that you get rid of the first paragraph. The whole thing, pickles and all. I would purge pickles from the story. They’re an unnecessary gimmick.

          This story should start with:
          ‘I slowly inched out of bed, letting the cold air hit my legs…’

          All in all the writing’s great, You just don’t need that first paragraph.

          Reply
        • December 19, 2019 at 5:37 am
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          The Jar of Pickles
          Written by Writer2019

          A really fun story with lots of action. I totally agree with Ken that you could tighten up the text by cutting straight to the main action. I also through it would help to pull the dialogue in the fight with the wolf into its own paragraph so it doesn’t get buried. I love the idea of the rescue of the baby reindeer.

          Reply
      • December 16, 2019 at 6:37 am
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        Hi again Adi! I’m pleased my post brought you some entertainment at the end of a stressful week! I hope the weekend has done its part too, and this week will be a more pleasant one for you…

        As for Ken Cartisano’s response, he did actually reply by now (and now I’m awaiting his reply to my reply…) – see further below (as he also observed, the replies are not always going right after the original comment sometimes).

        He talks of a real lion, Tarzan and a caged house – and claims it’s all true and that it happened to him (admittedly I checked out on him and there’s indeed enough googly evidence out there that he may be actually telling the truth. Even if it’s stranger than fiction. Unlike my implausible Martian-reindeer-Santa madness…).

        Cartisano is one reason I like to come back again and again to this site. I love his kind of humor and take on life and stories. I sometimes called him “the Commentator of Reference” of our site. His comments are often the most intriguing ones – be it if he praises or trashes a story. It’s guranteed to be honest feedback!

        It varies from week to week, of course, but he may also be the best overall writer in here. He won’t admit it, as he himself elects Phil Town to that position of merit. And Phil is certainly a likely candidate too. I haven’t been in here for long enough to be in a position to award the Oscar for Best Lifetime Achievement on this site yet!

        Cheers!
        Ken

        Reply
      • December 16, 2019 at 6:39 am
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        (Adi, my reply to this went somewhere else further down… No idea why – computer stuff!)

        Reply
      • December 16, 2019 at 12:11 pm
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        Adi,

        He is funny, isn’t he? I mean, he’s at least as funny as I am, it’s very hard to make me crack a smile, but Ken has me laughing at funerals, during traffic jams, in the middle of a room full of bored teenagers. I laugh right out loud, and everybody looks at me like I’ve just done something offensive. But enough about me and Ken already.

        Before I get you started on the stress at home,

        Tell us more about this strange case that you got dropped into without background or preparation that consumed a whole week of your time.

        If you can.

        And how did you piss off some higher-ups? I mean really, Adi. They must have had some large part of their upper body, lodged into some smaller part of their lower body for them to be pissed off at you. (rebel that you are.)

        You probably can’t be too specific about the issue for the sake of confidentiality, but what is it that you do? And who are the higher ups? Just tell us a story, about chipmunks and squirrels. We’ll figure it out.

        So what’s going on at home? Fun there/they’re too, right? What, do you have a teenager or something? What is it?

        Reply
        • December 16, 2019 at 1:37 pm
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          I’m glad you asked her all these questions I wondered what Secret Squirrel activity she might be involved in… of course keep in mind the potential dangers of getting to know what she might know….

          Reply
        • December 16, 2019 at 3:56 pm
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          Ken,

          Hmmm. Where shall I start?

          I work for [Unnamed] State government department responsible for the funding, oversight and monitoring of direct support services for squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs and other eligible species with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The department is run by the state’s “animal welfare” programs to ensure that all participants, regardless of species, receive quality care and support to live full, meaningful and independent lives according to their specific needs.

          My unit provides support and technical assistance to the providers of services for said squirrels, chipmunks, etc. The “critters” we support live in a variety of homes. Some live in supported living lairs, some in their family dens, and some in family model nests.

          A week ago, a bird of prey working for the animal welfare program alerted one of the dragons located in the central office of our department that there were concerns about 2 chipmunks living in a cozy family model nest. There were allegations that the mother squirrel of this nest was taking asking for too much and receiving more nuts than she was entitled to, in providing care for the precious chipmunks in her home who have a lot of needs. The dragons and vultures were throwing words around like “duplication of services”, etc.

          To make a very long and unpleasant story short, we were sent in to visit the chipmunks and inquire about their care and services. We reviewed what we needed to and everything seemed fine. Wonderful nest, great care, etc. We sat in a meeting with the mother squirrel, the animal care agency supporting her, and the animal welfare people – who could not come to an agreement on whether the squirrel family was receiving too many nuts for her work. The next week (last week) the dragon was raging and breathing fire because we did not see what they thought we should see. This led to a week of being scorched by dragon fire and more and more people from the upper caves, lairs and domains were added to the missives sent by carrier pigeons along the email line. A meeting held last Thursday with all animals from the squirrel nest to the caves and lairs of the vultures and dragons did not go well which resulted in more dragon fire on Friday as the head dragon regaled my supervisor with all of the perceived faults of my unit and a personal perception that I had exhibited a passive aggressive demeanor. (Me! Ludicrous!) Luckily, my supervisors had my back and informed the dragons of their misconceptions.

          I am sure the battle isn’t over but for now, the squirrel and chipmunks are safe. BUT, with all of the dragon fire being spewed last week, it was truly a week from HELL. (Yes, I actually cursed.).

          Whew! I’ll address the home stress later. My life is entitled, “Never a Dull Moment.”

          Adi

          Reply
          • December 17, 2019 at 12:05 am
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            Bureaucracy …corporate mentality… doing what’s best for the critters gets lost…

          • December 17, 2019 at 10:23 am
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            Phil, I really want to use the name Ruby in my story is that OK? I finally got the ‘hook’ on my story when I read yours… Liz

          • December 18, 2019 at 12:48 pm
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            Wow Adi,

            That was absolutely amazing. What a description of bureaucratic fire-breathing and chipmunk management.

            What is most striking is the stark contrast between those at the top, the dragons, versus mere squirrels and chipmunks at the bottom end. And all this fury over the disposition of a few nuts, the basic comforts of a simple life.

            What audacity.

            Of all the creatures in the kingdom, everyone knows that dragons covet wealth above all else. They are poor arbiters of equity, let alone charity. They should not be involved with the details, their close inspection of details often leaves everything singed. They should keep their snouts up in the clouds, an environment that they thrive in, and focus their attention on accruing more and bigger slices of the available pie for the benefit of all.

            Perhaps the dragons would like to meet, one-on-one with the recipients of the program, to exercise their interpersonal skills with the less fortunate creatures among us. Perhaps they’d like to COUNT THE NUTS THEMSELVES.

            Or, they could resign themselves to the overall mission, economic efficiency, and financial stability of the state mandated program.

            Stupid dragons.

        • December 18, 2019 at 4:21 pm
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          Ok, Ken you asked for it. Here is the story of my home stress.

          I live in a lunatic asylum. Just kidding. I think. Maybe the only lunatic is me. Maybe I need my meds checked. In fact, I’m sure the lunatic is me. Just don’t tell anyone. Or maybe I should classify it as a zoo and I’m the zookeeper. Either way, it is often chaos.

          I am a single mother (and grandmother) and I support 5 people (including myself). I have my 24-year-old son with health issues, his 25-year-old ex-wife (Yes, I said “Ex-wife”), my 20-year-old grandson and his 19-year-old girlfriend all living with me.

          Then, combined, we have 4 dogs (3 in the house), 3 cats (all in the house), a lizard/dragon thing, and a California King snake (both of which I try to forget about) and a partridge in a pear tree. Actually, it’s a cat in the Christmas tree.

          The Christmas tree is 1/3 decorated. The youngest grandbabies (18 months and 3 years), decorated the bottom third. The 18-month-old, who is fascinated with balls, thought all of the ornaments were balls and proceeded to happily exclaim “Ball!” each time he threw one. (Luckily I bought unbreakable ornaments and put the glass ones away or we really would have had a mess!)

          The 3-year-old placed ornaments on the tree until he discovered the tree box (I’m allergic to Christmas trees so it’s obviously artificial). Once the box was discovered, all participation in tree trimming stopped and they eagerly amused themselves climbing in, on, under and around the box for 2 hours. (The box did not survive the onslaught of toddler play.) I definitely need more boxes for when they get bored. At the end of the night, the 3-year-old, who is used to cleaning up his toys, proceeded to un-decorate the tree and take all ornaments off the tree that he could reach. The cat has knocked off the ornaments in the middle third of the tree. I gave up on the tree decorating. At least the lights look pretty.

          I have no room for my large doll collection (realistic baby dolls) because of the real people in the house. I’m thinking of installing a revolving door at the front of the house. In the meantime, my babies are stuffed everywhere I can find a place for them. Some are in boxes. I hope they can breathe in there.

          Then there is my elderly father who depends HEAVILY on me. I am the oldest child and only “child” here to take care of him and my Mom who exists in a nursing home. I can’t say that my mother is “living” because she has no quality of life anymore since Alzheimer’s stole her from us. Daddy lives alone in their house and I understand he is lonely, but he (LITERALLY) calls me over 20 times a day. Sometimes more! Daddy is losing his mobility and can’t do much more than get around the house and drive to see Mama daily. I take care of everything else. Except the finances, etc. I’m not qualified to do that job. My younger brother gets that honor because he is the SON and we all know that males are better equipped to be power of attorney, financial whatever and executor of the will simply because of his gender. I’m a Daddy’s girl but I resent the gender bias. (My folks had 3 girls and 1 boy.)

          Mama, as I said is in a nursing home (almost 10 years now) and one would think that I wouldn’t be required to do much regarding her care but this is SO untrue. I have to constantly monitor her meds, make sure she is being cared for, attend planning care meetings, monitor her health and status and keep Daddy in check. I can tell how Mama is doing when I don’t see her by Daddy’s tone and attitude and level of depression. We live knowing that any day could be her last. Or she could hold on for another year or so.

          My adult daughter lives nearby with 4 more of my grandchildren (since one of hers already lives with me.) They like to camp at Nana’s so the house can be overrun with children but, I love my grandchildren! There’s nothing like kids and dogs running rampant through each room and around the house. Which is why my house never stays clean or organized and all of the breakables are put away. The house needs serious repairs but that’s another story for another time – unless Santa sends me some construction elves to fix the roof, replace the windows, do plumbing, etc.

          I’m the only person I know who lives in a house full of people and still am alone much of the time (except for the dogs and cats.) Everyone disappears to their respective rooms or are working or out with friends or family that don’t live here. It’s amazing how alone someone can feel even when they live in a crowd.

          Our deranged Dachshund takes the whole “Dogs are supposed to chase cats” duty super seriously and to an extreme level which results in all sort of mishaps occurring as the cats jump on and over whatever they can to get out of his way and the dog barrels through whatever is in his way. God help Santa if he tries to come down my chimney! We’ll have to bind and muzzle the dog. Unless Santa has a bone or food with him, then the dog would show him happily to the silver and china (if I had any.) We don’t even try to put out milk and cookies! The cats would drink the milk and Angus would swallow the cookies whole. I wonder if I could pay Santa to take the dog somewhere else?? Hmm. That’s a thought.

          The kids asked me what I want for Christmas. I told them I wanted World Peace, A clean house or My doll room set up. There was dead silence. Then my son asked me “what color of World Peace” I wanted. Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas to me!

          So, lunatic asylum, zoo or UABCC (Unclassified Agency of Barely Controlled Chaos), it is my life and it keeps me busy! LOL.

          Reply
          • December 20, 2019 at 12:16 pm
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            Adi,

            Yeah, that sounds like a madhouse. I’ve done my ‘parenting time.’ Plenty of it, a good case for my ‘obvious eventual sainthood’ since I never had any kids of my own. It seems like Kim’s kids still haven’t quite accepted me after 19 years. I’m not sure Kim has accepted me yet. (Toleration is not acceptance.) That’s why I have cats, I know where I stand with cats. (Plus, they’re warm and they purr.)

            The one kid has made Kim a Grandma, so I make the most of every opportunity I get to spoil the grand-kids. It’s great sport.

            I won’t give you any advice, and not just because you didn’t ask for any. You obviously don’t need any, wouldn’t listen, and wouldn’t take it even if you heard it.

            So I’ll just ask you a question. Have you ever thought about taking a week off? Going on a little vacation by yourself? Down south? Or renting a little bungalow in the foothills? (I would be planning my escape, if I were you. Secretly chipping away at the wall in the basement, dropping the dirt and rocks in the ‘yard.’ Shawshank-like.)

            The south seems real popular this time of year. I don’t know why. I live there, in the south, and I swear, there’s nothing going on down here. The weather’s great though.

    • December 15, 2019 at 2:19 pm
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      Ken.
      I already posted a response (a hilarious response) to this ‘Faux-called Santasy’ where it should be, on the old thread. But this seems like a challenge, from Adi, to be funnier than you Ken Miles. And from you himself. (did that on purpose.) I wondered why you would post something from the old thread, to the new thread, unless you wanted me to read it twice in two locations.

      Which gives me the right to respond in two locations. If I want to. I could just paste that response into the box on this thread.

      But I would never do that. I should, but I never do.

      A response, under these circumstances would have to be funny, interesting, and worth-reading. Three things I’m not good at. Therefore, I gladly accept the challenge, but not before making significant changes, edits and re-writes, (usually in that order), to the original response, (inclusive).

      In the process, I’ll probably delete all that stuff about Philip and his huge teeth, trim down the stuff about filing stories in multiple universes. (i.e. Same story, different universe. We’ve all heard that one.) Cut all that crap out about circles.

      I should probably give the lion a more prominent description, make him as real as he was. And the cage.

      Sounds like a lot of work. I gotta go clean the garage. Maybe later.

      Reply
    • December 15, 2019 at 11:13 pm
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      Ken (M.) This may be the longest comment every posted on this site——with the possible exception being the time Amy Lee Raines joined and said hello. (Hi sweety.)

      This may not be as funny as your comment, but it’s all true.

      Your Martian Santa Reindeer scenario has merits but may violate longstanding baby reindeer labor laws, suspension of disbelief only goes so far. But it’s your funeral, baby.

      I suppose I should apologize for being so critical of your less appealing stories. When I love a story — I gush with appreciation, when I don’t love a story, I gush with other things: Ambivalence, disdain, contempt. If I could moderate the gushing, my popularity would soar. (In some circles.)

      Speaking of which, other than the ‘Circle of Death,’ I have no recollection of writing any other story with the word ‘Circle’ in the title. Please check the number and dial again.

      I object to your charge that I like lists. I merely find them useful from time to time. Especially when organizing grievances.

      Phil is the best writer in the group. I don’t care what he says or how big he is, or how mean he looks in his picture. That’s my opinion, and my opinion is final. I thought we all understood that.

      His dedication over the course of five years, to such a disorganized, ungrateful, hodge-podge of indifferent and self-indulgent characters like you and me, Ken, deserves some kind of literary sainthood. (We should buy him a beer some day. Or a high-class hooker, if we can afford it.)

      I never said I ‘shot a bolt into my foot’ Ken. Don’t exaggerate. I said, ‘like that time when a bolt went into my leg.’ (Or something like that.)

      When I was young, my older step brother was friends with this crazy bodybuilder, who he befriended for body sculpting advice. (Which didn’t work.) The guy was very muscular, and tanned, and frequently sported skimpy, leopard-skin bathing trunks, in an effort to promote himself as the character he played in a very bad Tarzan movie.

      He was a strange guy, but in a classic, overt, way. There was nothing sneaky or creepy about his strangeness. He was so strange in fact, that his house and pool was enclosed in a cage. A real cage, not the flimsy aluminum screen rooms that are called cages today. This was a real cage, which the city made him build in order to keep the full grown lion that he kept as a pet, in his living room. These are the kinds of people my step brother thought to introduce me to back then, in Miami.

      To get to the pool, I had to walk past the lion, which was perched on top of the guy’s badly shredded couch. The living room was about eight-feet wide. Like all animal lovers, he was ready with some great advice.

      “You have to show the lion that you are not scared.” He was foreign and unaccustomed to contractions.

      “But I am scared.” (I was too scared to use contractions.)

      “There is nothing to be afraid of, I trim his nails on a regular basis.”

      This was small consolation. He weighed six-hundred pounds and had two inch canines. (No offense, Mr. Lion.) I hadn’t even noticed his nails.

      Once I passed beyond the flabby step-brother, Tarzan, saber-toothed lion gauntlet, I found myself in the ‘relative’ safety of the caged backyard, where I found a rope attached to a pulley that traversed the swimming pool. (For Tarzan practice, of course.) I climbed up to the platform, gave the obligatory Tarzan call, and jumped on the rope and swung across the pool to the other side, where a 3/8 inch bolt was sticking out of one of the supporting posts.

      That bolt tried to insert itself into my shin bone, but it was too wide. It only went as far as the bone. Six stitches closed the hole.

      Some people will think I’m making this all up, but the lion, the bolt, the rope and the Tarzan guy were all real. The Tarzan guy was named Steve Hawkes, the movie he made was called ‘The Suri-man of Surinam.’ (No ‘e’ on the end.) You can google it. It was a horrendous movie. I think the lion had a bit part. (No dialogue.)

      And that’s the story relating to how I got a bolt in my leg. There were no lasting effects. I do not limp more than is called for, but I can limp if need be.

      Reply
      • December 16, 2019 at 3:45 am
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        Are they still called “canines”, in the mouth of a feline? This world is full of contradictions. But you did apologize…

        Hi Ken! The bolt story is even more interesting that I’d expected – I’m glad I made you expand on it. It even has a real Tarzan in it. I did what you told me and Googled “The Suri-Man From (not of) Surinam” and, yes, it exists. There’s even a Wikipedia article on Steve Hawkes (by his original Croatian name, Steve Sipek), who incidentally passed away in June this year. RIP, Sir, you must have been quite an interesting chap. So, ok, memorable stuff there – the lion, the caged house, Tarzan, your foot and all! Thanks for sharing. This bio note’s got to end up in some story of yours one day…

        So you never wrote a story called “Circle Of Life”? Funny. I’d have declared under oath I’ve seen a story by you with that title. Also that I never had sex with Lewinsky. It could’ve been your only alibi, if I were testifying in your defense. And you just say you never wrote such a thing. You must know better what you wrote than I. Something’s rotten in the state of my mind. I need to explore this further… what may have happened…

        Maybe you used that expression “Circle of Life” inside your text somewhere, and it stuck so much with me that I now think it was the title of whichever story it was (which goes to say it SHOULD HAVE been the title!)

        Maybe I dreamed it (but I don’t recall ever dreaming of anything about the stories in here. That was my friend Alex, not me, who spilled an assholic teacher’s coffee in front of the class to test if he was dreaming. He’s now married to a fashion-model. He keeps spilling her milk to see her reaction. It’s not always good)

        Maybe Una wrote that story and I thought it was by you (funny how I don’t mix you up with Phil or Frape, but quite often with Una Poole. Very very weird)

        Maybe I mixed you up with Elton John (that’s even weirder)

        Maybe it’s because of an obscure study by Sigmund Freud that confirmed that writders (writers reading writers’ writings – a technical term) may think that either of them had written stories with similar titles to the ones they really did. Especially writders with the same Christian names. It’s a strange psychological phenomenon. In fact I’m quite sure you also once wrote “Bishop Point”, “A Father’s Hate”, “La Vida Loca” (where did this even come from?). Admit it: you also think I once wrote “Blue Planet”, “A Purple Cat in Paris”, “A Hooker Named Angelique”, “Menswear Upstairs”, etc. It’s Freud we’re talking about here. He just can’t be wrong. Like Phil.)

        Maybe your computer search function doesn’t work very well (or you don’t know how to use it properly)

        Maybe your computer was hacked and your stories are being sifted out of it (a fake Sotheby’s in Kiev has in fact sold the film rights, some weeks ago, of “Luba Mamaya” – the Ukrainian version of “A Mother’s Love”. If I’m informed well enough, an ex-pornstar from Belarus called Ivy Leather, who now wishes to turn over a new leaf, is playing the part of the prostitute-mother. They are still auditioning long lists of unemployed men wishing to take up her taxi-driver’s role. Bet you’re not going to see a cent coming your way. It’s so unfair. Really. Us writers always get the wrong end of the stick.)

        Maybe all of the above (or none. In which case we need to delve further in the realms of the subconscious. Maybe I wrote “Circle Of Life” myself and then thought it was you. I didn’t check the surname. That would be a more serious mental issue than I’d initially thought. But let’s not jump into any wild conclusions just yet. Unless I find a mysterious hefty deposit in my bank account. Of Ukrainian provenance.

        Ken (not the one who didn’t write Circle Of Life, but the one who thought the one who didn’t, did).

        Reply
        • December 18, 2019 at 1:11 pm
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          The Interrogation. (Short form.)

          Ken (Miles.)

          You wrote ‘Circle Of LIfe.’? Here you’ve got me searching my files, combing through boxes in the attic, interrogating the servants, calling in favors from people of shady circumstances? Over a story that you wrote?

          How many other amazing things have you done, that you’ve mistakenly given me credit for? I don’t like where you’re going with this Ken. What’s your middle name, anyway? And how come you, Ken Frape and Arriana Huffington are never online at the same time? And all three of you refuse to divulge your middle names?

          No one ever talks about these so-called coincidences, Ken. But you have to admit they’re interesting, don’t you?

          But what do they prove? By themselves? Nothing. But taken together?
          Still nothing. We’re right back to square one, ‘The Circle Of Life.’ The circle, of life. Who wrote that goddamned story Ken? Who?

          Reply
      • December 17, 2019 at 9:10 am
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        Ken C,

        Miami! Now I truly believe the whole story about the lion, the cage, Tarzan, etc. (Not that I doubted you to start with). I was born in Miami and raised in South Florida on the east coast just above Jupiter (the town, not the planet.) Anything is possible in Miami and people in Florida collect the strangest pets. Hence, the over population of pythons in the Everglades and the annual hunting period of said pythons. Hurricane Andrew was so accommodating in destroying the snake facility and spewing the snakes across the Everglades so that they could populate exponentially and become a nuisance to homeowners around the area. (Imagine walking outside to take a dip in your pool only to find a 10 foot python in the water!).

        SO glad I moved out of Florida many years ago. It’s a nice to place to visit but I hated living there. Snakes, spiders, mosquitoes, sand spurs, love bugs, and unrelenting HEAT! Glad you survived the lion, the pool and the cage with only a shin injury. Are you sure there weren’t any pythons around??

        Adi

        Reply
  • December 15, 2019 at 11:20 pm
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    I’m sorry about apparently cluttering up the thread with haphazard posts, but the site is not placing the posts where I’m putting them, it’s just adding them to the bottom of the thread. I’m not asking for intervention, I’m just pointing out what’s happening.

    Reply
    • December 16, 2019 at 3:02 pm
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      Ken,

      Wasn’t your Circle of Life story the one about the guy falling off a mountain and being injured and the animals coming around him as he slowly succumbed to his injuries? That was a masterful story.

      Adi

      Reply
      • December 17, 2019 at 6:45 pm
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        Adi,

        That story was named ‘Cardinal Point.’
        It’s possible that, as Ken M. mentions, that it was a line in that story. But I’m pretty sure that ‘Circle Of Life’ was never the name of that story, or of any other story that I wrote.

        Reply
        • December 18, 2019 at 10:24 am
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          You are correct. I meant “circle of life” as the main plot of the story, not the title. I believe that point was brought out in the comments at the time. Either way, both are still brilliant stories!

          Reply
  • December 15, 2019 at 11:37 pm
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    Yikes I just got the first notice today, so I started on the story… but then I read Ken Miles, Writer 2019 and Trish and decided my story is meaningless… of course I’m only 256 words in so there may be hope but so far you guys are shining and I have to remember writing isn’t about being best it’s about telling a story…yeh that’s it… the story not just winning…yep I’ll tell the story if I could just decide where I’m going with it…

    Reply
    • December 16, 2019 at 3:10 am
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      Hi Liz, that feeling haunts me almost every time I start (and, sometimes, even when I finish!) writing a piece… that I’m not going anywhere with it. But then it all sort of falls into place, somehow. So “bon courage” – we want your story! You want it too. 🙂

      The contest is there for a bit of fun, really. It’s nice to place well, of course, as it reflects on how appealing a story is (although we’re quite a selected “panel” of judges in here, so not necessarily the best sample of typical (non-writer) readers, I’d suppose…). There were stories I really loved (and voted for), sometimes, which ended up at the bottom of the pile, others I liked less, or didn’t quite get what they were on about, that ended up hitting the mark. So it’s all very subjective in the end.

      The greatest thing about this site is that it’s a place where we hone out skills through practice, practice, practice and (when they come) comments from fellow writers on how something or another could have been done better. That’s the really precious bit. The praise, when it comes, is also a welcome boost, of course. I find I also learn from fellow writers’ pieces and the varied styles one finds in here. Since I joined (around mid-2019), I never missed one prompt, and I feel that my writing skills have improved dramatically since then.

      Ken

      Reply
  • December 16, 2019 at 4:05 pm
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    RUBY

    You ask my friends: I love animals. I’ve been around them practically all my life, until recently. My first family photo, apparently taken by my father, has me in my mother’s arms in the back garden with my older brother next to her and Sammy, a mongrel with a bit of Collie in him, sitting in front of us.

    I think this love must have come from my mother; it was she who initiated all the subsequent taking-in of animals. My father seemed to tolerate her passion rather than share it, although as he got older I remember him becoming more affectionate towards our pets.

    After Sammy came Buster, an overly-boisterous Jack Russel Terrier who had to be locked in the shed when visitors came. The house has long since been in different hands, but I bet the wooden shed door still bears the bite marks, a cruel sign of Buster desperately seeking his freedom. (I have to stress here that I personally had no say in this temporary incarceration, nor in the later decision to have him put down after one too many bites of carelessly patting hands.)

    Buster was the last dog we had; my mother moved to cats. She began to acquire a reputation locally as the go-to person for saving abandoned kitties. I remember well a series of winter nights when she braved the elements to entice a bedraggled soul out from under a broken-down car at a nearby garage.

    That was Sadie, who was preceded by Emma and Zoe – names that suggested my mother might have wanted our family extended, but not by another boy. After Sadie, though, came Toots, also a female but as far as names are concerned, a departure from that, very probably imagined by me, surrogacy. Toots became my father’s favourite and reduced him to childish delight on many an occasion.

    I continued a ‘cat-person’ when I left home and have had five of my own to-date: two girls (Pintinha and Nina) and three boys (Casper, another Sammy and Hooky). Hooky was the last to leave me, victim of a seizure at the grand old age of 15. I was so distraught that I vowed never to have another.

    My mother also introduced into our house several birds, none of whom had very happy lives. There was Joey, a budgerigar who was possibly yellow – it was hard to tell because he was almost entirely bald except for a couple of tufts of feathers. He was followed by Billy, definitely a blue budgie but otherwise non-descript. But then came Fred.

    Fred was a Myna bird that my mother set down in the living room, between the French windows and the television. That was significant because Fred made the most uncomfortable racket. Mynas are supposed to have a talent for imitation, and my mother would insist that he was imitating a washing machine in one of its noisier cycles. The rest of us would suggest that what he was imitating was in fact a racket – something he’d learned innately. We tolerated his noise for some months, but eventually we convinced my mother to put him out in the hall when our favourite shows came on the television.

    Poor Fred. This was a tropical bird that should have been soaring and swooping and settling in the jungle canopy, playing, mating. Instead he was stuck in a two-foot by two-foot cage for life, on a coffee table, next to a television, in a living room (sometimes in a hall), in a family house in chilly England. On reflection, his racket was very likely a desperate call for mercy, unheeded for the ten or so years of his miserable life.

    Fred was undoubtedly the slow-burning fuse of my current predicament. Two days ago I went to the pub with a couple of friends. It was John’s 30th birthday and we wanted to celebrate it in style. Where I come from, this means drinking … a lot.

    I was to meet John and Colin at 8. The traffic had been light so the bus arrived a good half-hour before that. Next to the pub was a Christmas fair. I still hadn’t found a gift for Madeleine, so I entered the fair to kill two birds with one stone: waste a bit of time and relieve myself of a headache, which buying presents always is.

    I couldn’t find a present, but I did waste the time, strolling around the stalls, asking a few prices, drinking glass of mulled wine. Then I saw it.

    In the middle of the fair was a fenced off space, and in the space, lying on the cold concrete on which half a bale of hay had been scattered to simulate pasture, was the reindeer. It was very young, possibly not even a year old. It had a festive red ribbon around its neck, tied in a bow. And it was shivering – not, I imagined, from the cold but rather from fear and anxiety.

    There was a young man leaning on the fence. He was wearing a Hi-Viz jacket and looked like he might have something to do with the organization of the fair.

    “Do you work here?” I asked, politely enough.

    He nodded; I could tell he was that kind of worker for whom anything is too much trouble.

    “Where’s its mother?”

    He shrugged a “how the hell should I know?” and spat on the ground.

    It was time for the pub and I met up with my two friends. We followed to the letter our intentions and drank ourselves stupid, but initially I’m afraid I bored them with my account of the reindeer. As the night wore on, though, and we became increasingly oiled, they worked with me to hatch a crazy plan.

    When they threw us out of the pub, we staggered to the fair, lit-up inside by a number of floodlights. The man I’d been talking to was just about to close and lock the main gate. John and Colin engaged him in conversation (with difficulty – they could hardly speak) while I sneaked in behind his back.

    I sprint-stumbled to the pen. Ruby (we’d come up with that name in the pub; it might have been a boy but for some reason I wanted it to be a girl) was in the same spot as earlier, looking just as forlorn. I fell over the fence and gathered her up; she offered no resistance. She weighed more than I’d imagined, but I managed to get her to the gate, where the man was beginning to get angry with John and Colin. I winked at them as I tiptoed past him in the shadows (which was tricky in my state).

    So that’s my predicament: I woke up in bed this morning with hay in my hair and smelling of manure. It took a good few minutes for me to remember what we’d done, and what I had in my bathroom.

    And the question arises: what the hell am I going to do with a baby reindeer?

    Reply
    • December 16, 2019 at 6:34 pm
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      Very fun story. I particularly liked the last two paragraphs. The imagery of sights and smells the “author” experienced was perfectly vivid. And the final sentence seemed perfectly in synch with the character. Very fun!

      Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 5:26 am
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        Thanks, Trish!

        Reply
    • December 17, 2019 at 8:45 am
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      Funny story Phil! I loved it. This was a new take on the old “I drank too much and look who I came home with” story. I don’t drink and I’ve never been to a bar but I’ve heard enough stories and watched enough TV that I get the jokes. This was priceless! Your writing was impeccable (must you always be so perfect??). I could picture the whole thing in my mind. Come and tell us, what would YOU do with a reindeer in your bathroom?

      Adi

      Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 5:32 am
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        Thanks, Adi! I don’t drink either but used to … and sometimes got up to some crazy stuff when I did. Me? I’d take her to the zoo (wherein lies an old joke that’s one of my favourites … about a penguin?)

        Not so perfect, in fact – there’s a small but very annoying typo (a missed-out word), but don’t tell Ken C I told you.

        Reply
    • December 17, 2019 at 6:53 pm
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      Phil,

      Ohhhh, What do you do with a baby reindeer?
      what do yo do with a baby reindeer?
      what do yo do with a baby reindeer, Ear-ly in the mor-ning.

      Sung to the tune of ‘Drunken Sailor.’

      A fabulously fun story Phil.

      Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 5:33 am
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        Thanks, Ken!

        (That song works really well!)

        Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 5:44 am
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      This story made me laugh, especially the last line. It reminded me of ‘The Hangover’ where they wake up with a tiger in their hotel room. I wonder if you could condense the first half of the story– the back story with the childhood menagerie. Your writing is great, so it was enjoyable, but condensing it would get us to the crux of the story sooner. The voice in the story is very readable and likeable, and it was a great read.

      Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 7:40 am
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        Thanks, Amy, and I agree. I wanted to show the origin of the narrator’s fondness for animals (which would justify his actions later) but went on far too long. And to tell you the truth, I was just (digitally) scribbling the first half with no real idea of where it was heading .. so that’s why it feels a bit top-heavy. Well spotted! 🙂 (Also the ‘Hangover’ similarity – great scene!)

        Reply
  • December 17, 2019 at 11:22 am
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    A Child’s Wish
    Adrienne Riggs (w-1,193)

    The thick snow fell silently in the woods changing the forest overnight. The trees bowed beneath its weight and ice crystals shimmered in the morning sunlight. Warm beneath an outcropping of rock, lying in a nest of leaves and pine needles, a reindeer lay quietly. She was focused on the movement inside her. Within a short time, the focus of her attention fought its way out and into the cold air. The tiny reindeer shook her head as her mother licked her clean and nudged her to stand. As she struggled to stand on spindly legs, another tiny reindeer joined the first in the nest. A boy, he fought against his mother’s efforts to clean him and tried to stand. The mother, exhausted, looked on fondly as her babies slipped, tripped and fell before finally gaining their footing.

    On the other side of the trees stood a large log cabin with picture windows facing the woods. Smoke curled slowly from the chimney in the cold air. Snow covered a child’s swing set. The reindeer were familiar with the family and knew there was no threat. The herd often visited the widespread lawn, stopping to be admired by the residents. There was a young mother with golden hair and eyes as blue as a summer sky. The father was a handsome and tall young man with blond hair. Their little girl, Maizie, was a quiet child with her mother’s blue eyes and her father’s blond hair. At times the deer would watch as the father chased the child around the yard or pushed her on the swings. The sound of her laughter filled the air. In the spring time, the child would pick daisies and the mother made a crown of them and place them on Maizie’s head and call her ‘Daisy Maizie.’

    When the yard was clear, the reindeer pranced and chased their fawns in play. They watched the family through the large windows. As winter had approached, Maizie did not go outside as often. When she did, she was carried in her father’s arms. The deer missed her laughing and playing. One day, when Maizie was sitting outside in a lawn chair, the mother deer approached when her father went inside to take a call. She sensed something new as Maizie reached up and patted the deer softly on the nose.

    “Daddy says you are having a baby” she whispered. “I would want to see your baby someday.”

    The mother deer lowered her nose to Maizie’s to look intently into her face. Deep brown eyes met clear blue eyes and Maizie placed a kiss on the deer’s nose.

    Maizie’s father quietly exited the house, in awe at the sight of the deer with his daughter. The deer saw him from the corner of her eye but did not move. Maizie placed both hands on the deer’s face and rubbed her nose on the deer’s.

    “That’s an Eskimo kiss” she said, “it means I love you.”

    The mother deer rubbed her face against the child’s soft cheek and raised her head. The man and deer exchanged a long look before she turned and walked slowly back to the woods. She heard the child say,

    “Daddy, I want to see the baby deer someday.”

    As the snow fell, Maizie did not come outside. The reindeer could see her watching them from one of the large windows. At times, the mother deer ventured up to Maizie’s window to visit. Maizie, who was bundled up in blankets, would place her hand on the window and the reindeer would place her nose on the other side as they watched each other. As time progressed, the reindeer could see that Maizie always seemed to be sleeping. Her mother and father were often sitting beside her with sad faces yet hopeful eyes.

    The reindeer herd took turns going across the yard to look into Maizie’s window. If she was awake, she greeted them with a sleepy smile. She was always sleeping with the young, spotted fawns came along. Maizie’s father took pictures of them to show his daughter. He wished he could risk taking her outside, but it was too cold for the child’s frail body.

    He sat by the bed where his sleeping child lay, his head bowed in prayer, when he heard Maizie speak with more energy than she’d shown in weeks.

    “Look Daddy! Look! There’s a little animal at the side of the woods! Daddy! Go get her, she must be cold.”

    He walked over to the window. At the edge of the woods, he could see an animal lying in the snow.

    “I’ll be right back, Sweetheart.”

    He rushed into his coat and boots and walked to the woods, the snow crunching under his feet. As he approached cautiously, he recognized one of the fawns from the reindeer herd. The small spotted fawn was watching him and didn’t move. The man gently knelt and reached to touch the fawn. She didn’t appear to be hurt. Just then, he heard a soft noise nearby. Looking up, it was the mother reindeer who had given Maizie so much joy. She gazed into the man’s eyes and then looked toward Maizie’s room before looking back at the man.

    ‘This is crazy’ he thought. Was the deer giving him permission to take the fawn to visit Maizie?

    “May I take your baby to meet my baby?” his breath was visible in the cold. The reindeer bowed her head.

    Incredulous, he reached down and tenderly picked up the fawn. As he walked carefully across the yard, his wife watched in amazement. She held the door open for him.

    “What are you doing?” she whispered, careful not to startle the baby reindeer.

    “Taking her to see Maizie.”

    “Are you serious?”

    “Yes, this may be the only chance she gets.” He chuckled and gestured back toward the woods. “Don’t worry, I have permission.”

    His wife looked out of the window and saw the mother reindeer watching quietly at the edge of the woods. She had her other fawn by her side. Turning, she rushed to join her husband as he entered Maizie’s room. The child was dozing.

    “Maizie” he said, “look what I have here. Someone came to visit you.”

    Maizie opened her eyes and sat up slowly in amazement. “Is it a baby reindeer?”

    He nodded as he lay the little deer on the bed next to Maizie. The child and the baby deer looked into each other’s eyes. The deer laid her head beside the little girl’s on the pillow.

    “I’ve never seen a reindeer act this way.”

    The man smiled, not taking his eyes from Maizie. “I think this is the answer to a wish Maizie made.”

    Sitting by the bed, Maizie’s mother reached out to pet the baby and she saw Maizie smile. Her husband quietly took several pictures of them.

    Maizie murmured sleepily, “Mommy, wishes really do come true.”

    With her arms around the baby reindeer and as the mother deer watched from the window; Maizie slipped softly into sleep as her parents embraced each other, tears running down their faces.

    Reply
    • December 17, 2019 at 1:51 pm
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      Simply beautiful. The atmospheric adjectives you sprinkled in your opening para set the stage perfectly. So well written!

      Reply
      • December 18, 2019 at 10:22 am
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        Thanks Trish!

        Reply
    • December 18, 2019 at 10:33 am
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      Adi, this is a touching, beautifully written story with exquisitely described imagery. Beneath all of which, lies the cruel conditions of reality. In this story, even the animals are affected by the circumstances affecting the couple in the cabin. They seem to understand as well, the vicissitudes of the cabin’s residents. Its a story of life and grief, wonderfully encapsulated in three brief pages.

      Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 11:34 am
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        Thanks Ken!

        Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 5:28 am
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      Hi Adi,

      Beautiful interaction between humans and animals. All pictured in a very evocatively painted setting.

      Pity we can’t get so close to the deer (not reindeer), where I live. They’re all over the place, but there are constant warnings that they may carry ticks that could be dangerous to our health, so we can’t approach them, only observe them from far! And there are hunting programs specifically set to keep their populations in check – all because of these ticks and Lyme disease grrrr!

      Your story makes me wish things were a bit different, and that we could be closer to Nature and animals than we are most of the time. (But not to bother the animals with extra governement red-tape, though! Poor squirrels in your municipality!).

      Cheers!
      Ken

      Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 11:26 am
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        Thanks Ken! Most deer around here don’t get too close but some are braver than others. I saw three beautiful fawns in the open field next to the fairgrounds yesterday. We have the same problems with ticks and lyme disease and Rocky mountain spotted fever. Now, many of the deer in Tennessee have developed some kind of “wasting disease” that we are being warned about. 128 deer so far this season. I’m not sure how that affects the hunters. I don’t eat venison anyway. It’s too gamey. Besides, I can’t bear to think about eating Bambi. LOL

        Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 5:49 am
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      A Child’s Wish
      Adrienne Riggs

      Lovely. A sweet and evocative story. You did a great job of describing the setting to make us feel like we really are there in the snow with the reindeer. I like the sense of childlike wonder from the little girl.

      Reply
  • December 17, 2019 at 11:24 am
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    The Real Story Of Santa, Christmas, and the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
    (1198 Words. Heading excluded.)
    by Ken Cartisano

    “Santa.” Djorold said.

    “What?”

    “It’s for you, line three—.”

    “Who is it?”

    “President of the Elven Timekeepers Guild. ”

    “Oh for blizzard’s sake, what do they want now?”

    Djorold, his P.A., (polar assistant) shrugged. “Wouldn’t say, just said it was urgent.”

    Santa reached for the phone, then hesitated. “What’s his name again?”

    “Vulmon. Sir.”

    “Ah yes,” he muttered. “Vulmon.” He picked up the phone. “Vulmon, is that you? How’ve you been, you old rascal?”

    Vulmon was fuming. “Don’t give me that phony cheer, Clause. We had a deal and it’s time to pay. In fact the payment is overdue.”

    “Did we?” He could not recall any deals he’d made with Vulmon. “What deal?”

    Vulmon hissed into the phone. “Have a listen to The Great Hall, Clause. You hear that?”

    After several seconds of silence Santa gasped. The Great Hall was where the Timekeepers kept their Colossal-Time-Brake. When it’s functioning, there’s really nothing squeakier.

    “Yes, that’s the sound of silence,” Vulmon said. “The sound of a strike. A complete work stoppage.”

    “But Christmas is just a few weeks away and…”

    “We’re aware of that, Clause. Yet time marches on, unabated, unhindered, unchecked.”

    “You’ve made your point,” Santa snapped. In a calmer tone he said, “Why don’t you come on up and have some hot cocoa, maybe a little apple strudel and we’ll talk about it.”

    Vulmon had a weakness for strudel and savored the moment. “Sure, Clause. I’ll come over, have some strudel, we’ll talk. But it won’t change anything.”

    “Of course, of course. I know, but humor me. Indulge me if you will, the strudel is still piping hot.”

    “Sure Santa, you want to play on my weaknesses? I guess I can gloat while I guzzle your cocoa. May I bring my assistant?”

    “Of course.”

    “We’ll be right up.”

    At the end of the call Santa seized his assistant Djorold by the lapel, “What kind of deal did I make with Vulmon? And why didn’t you tell me?”

    Djorold extricated his lapel from Santa’s grasp, smoothing it out as he said, “Because it’s a bad deal, that’s why. You traded Rudolph’s first born son for a year’s worth of work.”

    “A years worth of work from the Timekeepers?”

    “Yes Santa.”

    “For one reindeer?”

    “The newborn, I believe.”

    That was a real blow. Santa hung his head while Djorold filled two pairs of plates with strudel, and poured hot cocoa into four large wooden mugs. “Was I drunk?”

    “Of course.”

    The door burst open and Vulmon entered with his sleeves rolled up, wearing his scarred leather apron, soot on his white shirt and face, assorted tools dangling from his belt. With his assistant in tow, he turned his ferocious gaze on Santa, “I see you’re still into red,” he said through clenched teeth. “You’re looking robust.”

    He accepted a mug of cocoa, but when Santa offered him a seat, Vulmon declined. “I’ll gloat standing up, thank you.”

    “Have some strudel, then.”

    “I will.” Vulmon turned his attention to the window. “That’s a fine little reindeer you got out there, Santa. Young, tender, full of life. Looks like his parents, right down to the red snout.” Getting no response, he came to the point, “You have no choice, Clause. We’ll be happy to take him off your hands tonight if you want. The quicker you do this, the less it’ll hurt. Rip the band-aid off.”

    “Well now…” Santa hesitated.

    Vulmon’s eyes narrowed. “At’s a young deer, it’s Rudolph’s kin, e’s got the red nose, ‘it sours.” He looked down at the mug of cocoa. Powerful stuff. He stared at Santa unsteadily, “Whatareyasaying?”

    “The deal was for his first male offspring,” Djorold interjected.

    That’s right,” Santa confirmed. “This is his second female offspring. Not part of the deal.”

    Vulmon staggered back to be buttressed by his assistant, Ilrune, “You’re sure? How long before he sires another?”

    “It’s hard to say, Vulmon. Breeding season’s a few months away, Gestation’s about 220 days. It’s going to be more than a year, at least.”

    “I’m not waiting a year.” Vulmon said. “I’m taking the young deer. I don’t care if it’s female. She’ll be well cared for. You still have the other two.”

    “I can’t let you do that, Vulmon. There must be something else you’ll accept.”

    Vulmon dismissed Santa’s protests. “You can’t make all the presents in one year. You can’t deliver all the presents in one night without us. You shouldn’t have made the deal, Clause. Give me the reindeer, or Christmas, as we know it, will cease to exist.”

    Santa was speechless.

    “It’s your choice, sleep on it. I know I surely will.” Vulmon and Ilrune yawned and staggered out the door.

    Once out of earshot Santa said to Djorold, “How much sleeping potion did you give them?”

    “A fair amount.”

    “I’ll say. I thought they were going to fall asleep in the parlor. I told you Djorold, they’re only four feet tall, it doesn’t take much.”

    The real question before them, was, what to do now? Fortunately, they had an answer for that.

    Djorold had elicited the advice of several consultants and found that the Timekeepers were correct, without them, Christmas was simply not feasible. It was further assessed, that Santa, after spreading joy for hundreds of years, would be reviled for his abrupt disappearance, whatever the cause. But he could see no other way.

    So that night, while the Timekeepers slumbered more deeply than ever, Santa harnessed the reindeer and flew them South to the airport in Nome, where they were loaded onto a cargo plane and shipped to a depot, then transferred to a train where they were re-directed until eventually off-loaded at a place of snow, evergreens and grass. Their tracks were covered: Location unknown.

    The timekeepers were furious the next morning, but powerless to recapture the reindeer trio. They refused to stop time for Santa from that day forward, effectively ending Santa’s enterprise. It seemed like a brilliant partnership, as there was no other customer for a Colossal-Time-Brake. But the Timekeepers were stubborn. The machine began to rust. Vulmon’s calves atrophied.

    Oddly enough, when Santa failed to appear that first year, people everywhere bought, wrapped and exchanged small presents, pretending they’d been left in odd places by Santa. Even though they hadn’t. People are funny. They behaved as if nothing had changed, that Santa had come. By next Christmas, they’d convinced themselves that there never was a Santa, that they had always been pretending. As if it had always been a myth.

    But if you ever find yourself in the deep north woods, with no moon and a lot of snow, and you see some hazy red glowing orbs dancing and running, leaping and prancing, even floating and flying through the air? They’re not UFO’s, that’s just Rudolph, and his Red-Nosed Reindeer family. Their noses glow, and they fly. And their numbers are growing, but they’re still pretty hard to spot.

    Santa acquired a team of Alaskan Husky’s, trains them and competes in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race every year. Never wins, but he could if he wanted to. He’s still jolly, stays local, gives out a lot of gifts, and uses a GPS.

    Reply
    • December 17, 2019 at 1:55 pm
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      Super fun, and as ever, so well written. Thank you for sharing this story!

      Reply
    • December 18, 2019 at 10:19 am
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      Ken,

      Another well-crafted alternate version of a familiar tale. Who knew why parents started buying gifts for kids? It’s so much clearer now. In a foggy sort of way.

      You popped some bubbles in my rainbow world with your story. Who knew Santa drank harder things than milk, hot chocolate and eggnog? Who knew that it wasn’t Santa’s magic that paused time to make all of his deliveries possible? Who knew villains lived near the North Pole? Who knew that Rudolph and his family had to go into a Reindeer Protection Program?

      I refuse to believe that Santa doesn’t come anymore.

      I believe, I believe, I believe. I can hear the sleigh bells ringing…

      Reply
      • December 18, 2019 at 10:43 am
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        Adi,

        Sorry about shattering your illusions about Santa. Nobody’s perfect. (Except Phil.) But I mean really, only a ‘Colossal-Time-Brake’ could stop time. That much seems pretty obvious.

        Reply
        • December 19, 2019 at 11:31 am
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          Would they consider renting the Colossal-time-brake out for personal use? There are days I could use more time for sleeping, writing, etc. Do you have the number for the Timekeepers?

          Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 5:51 am
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      Hi Ken,

      You let us in on the very mechanics on how Santa used to do it all in just one night.

      I wish I’d get in touch with these Timekeepers, one day; they’d be handy for those times when I’m drowning in deadlines of all sorts. Sometimes I imagined I had a watch that could just stop time, freeze everyone and everything, while I’d continue doing what I’ve got to do. Great time for some pranks too, while no-one is or could be, looking! I’m not Santa. Like pull the pants down of my worst enemy while he’s giving a speech in the boardroom. Or return the Mona Lisa from the Louvre to Italy.)

      I love the Sci-Fi feel you lent to the otherwise well-know heartwarming character. There’s also some thought given to the way people’s minds work: the looming disaster (Santa’s disappearance) came and went without consequence. People are flexible and inventive, and found ways and means to do without him. Sure, he must have been a myth, never existed after all (I love that bit!).

      It reminded me of Christmastime of 1999, and the Y2K and all (the Millenium Bug). The world was meant to stop that day. Not because some prophet had said so. Even scientists feared it. It then all came and went without a glitch on 31.12.99. What a disappointment! All, except hangovers on Jan 1st. A bit more than the usual ones, perhaps, on that occasion, given it was a rather special date…

      A very intriguing take on Santa’s tale, Ken. And very nicely/convincingly written, as always, too.

      It’s the second time today I’m saying “intriguing” about something or another you wrote. That’s intriguing in its own right…

      Cheers!

      Ken M. (still expecting a present this Christmas, though. Mr Reindeer-Rider, are you listening?)

      Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 11:33 am
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        Ken,

        Have you ever seen the Twilight Zone episode about a watch that stopped time? The man was able to do many things when the time and everyone was stopped. But at the end, the watch broke while everything was stopped and he was left all alone (or something like that.)

        Adi

        Reply
        • December 19, 2019 at 5:32 pm
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          Adi,

          I’m sure I’ve seen that episode. It rings a bell, and I think I’ve seen all of the classic Twilight Zone episodes.

          Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 5:53 am
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      The Real Story Of Santa, Christmas, and the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
      by Ken Cartisano

      Hilarious and beautifully written. You have such a distinct voice. I love how we dive straight into the action with the tense phone call and you manage to bring out the relationship between the characters quickly. I liked the punchline at the end that this was all an origin story for Santa. A great Christmas story.

      Reply
  • December 17, 2019 at 8:52 pm
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    Santa’s Surprise by Liz F
    Reindeer for Christmas, how did that ever happen. Why would Santa Claus want reindeer to pull his sleigh. It seems so impractical. I’ve thought about this for a long time, I think maybe I was 9 when I first wondered about it.

    Now that I think about it, age 9 seems to be when I began to wonder about a lot of mysterious things that happened in the world. Probably because that was the year my Grandmother died and I was then in charge of my life and it was imperative for me to find out the answers to why.

    Oh not just the Reindeer issue, but anything happening in my sphere of survival world. Reindeers were put on the back burner and I hadn’t thought much about Reindeers until this year. I found them creeping into my mind at odd times. There are mountains and a big valley in my neck of the country and last year two Reindeer were sighted munching their way through the Valley.

    No one knew where they came from, although gossip and speculation just had them wandering down from Canada and deciding the cow pastures and streams seemed like an idyllic place to settle down. It is prime grazing for deer herds so wildlife viewing is a pastime for locals and visitors.

    Some insisted they were Elk not Reindeer but I chose to believe they’re Reindeer, makes a better story. Speaking of stories..

    Somehow I’ve become the fun Aunt who gets to take the kids to the local Community Center for the Christmas Potluck and Santa always arrives on the fire truck after dinner and the Nativity pageant with kids in attendance fill all the roles.

    Santa is my friend Phil, although the way he transform into Santa makes me wonder if it’s really Phil or the real thing… well, Phil is real and so is Santa when Phil is in the room…but I digress, back to the story.

    The Potluck Party was a success although filled with more chaos than usual. The community hall is always jamfull with kids running between the tables playing tag and chase games..screaming and laughing… going wild at the chance to be wild…the adults are busy getting the food ready, talking and laughing themselves and no scolding or telling the kids to quiet down or sit down unless the wildness become egregious or dangerous… and something was added this year to make for a new memorable moment.

    There were reindeer, they were in a pen….the floor covered with straw and the Elf minding them sitting quietly… the kids somehow knowing when approaching this special area to subdue their glee.. and watch the reindeer… I heard some asking, “but where’s Rudolph?”.

    Right that was what’s missing no Red Nosed Rudolph… I wondered myself where Rudolph was and decided it must be whoever owned these reindeer did not want to subject them to being made into a cartoon caricature. Okay, I’m good with that…boy was I wrong..

    Everything was going well..except Santa was late for his designated arrival usually signaled by the fire truck horn and siren as it came up the hill… the explanation to the kids was the sleigh couldn’t be parked at the Hall so we let him park at the FireHouse….

    I wondered what was taking so long…. the Fire Chief appeared at the door and waved to me to come outside… he said they needed someone to sit with Rudolph while Santa met the kids and doled out the gifts… “what’s wrong?” I asked… “ Well” said Santa, “turns out Rudy is a Ruby and she just produced a baby Rudolph….you’re an EMT just put Santa at ease and sit with his Mama and baby reindeer.

    Reply
    • December 17, 2019 at 8:58 pm
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      I just rushed through to get an ending in… Phil never said it was OK to use Ruby, many of this prompt’s submittals are just stellar, creative, imaginative, warm, funny and a little weirdness… I gave up threw in the towel put some words on the page and tossed it in…. better than walking away dejected depressed and feeling inept and worthless… but my words offer no competition to the genuine talent featured this week…

      Reply
    • December 18, 2019 at 9:11 am
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      A fun little trip down memory lane, Liz. I didn’t anticipate the ending and really enjoyed the chuckle it brought out.

      Reply
    • December 18, 2019 at 10:11 am
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      Liz,

      Loved this fun little story! The twist at the end was great and I don’t think Phil will mind you using the name Ruby. It fit so perfectly.

      Reply
    • December 18, 2019 at 1:51 pm
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      Nice job, Liz,
      Fabulous writing. You show a gift for adding just the right elements to create warm scenes and appealing characters. The wording at the end is perfect, and has to be to make for a clever reveal. I really liked this story.

      Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 6:10 am
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      Santa’s Surprise by Liz F

      I really liked the ending- a great twist! I loved the chaos of the children all running around, and you gave us a clear setting where reindeer might wonder into people’s lives.

      Reply
  • December 18, 2019 at 5:56 am
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    Hi friends, again no time to write a story and no time to read and comment. I’m on my way to a xmas holdiday in the south. See and read you next year! Happy holidays for all of you. Juergen

    Reply
    • December 18, 2019 at 9:44 am
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      Nice sunseeking holiday, Juergen! Me heading south too… Maybe we meet! Is South a very big place?

      Reply
    • December 18, 2019 at 10:20 am
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      Happy Holidays Juergen!! Have safe travels and we’ll be glad to see you and your stories after the new year!!
      Love, Adi

      Reply
  • December 18, 2019 at 11:55 am
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    Hey writers!!

    You know the drill… It’s time to vote!

    Remember you MUST vote for your story to count, you can only vote once, and you may NOT vote for yourself.

    http://fiction.wwocz.net/blog/voting-Reindeer

    You officially have 24 HOURS from the timestamp of this comment to read through the stories vote.

    Good luck!

    Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 5:16 am
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      Hi, Carrie … as Adi says, Amy Meyer’s story (top of the page) has been left off the voting form … (?)

      Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 6:33 am
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        Thanks!

        Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 10:46 am
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      Hi again, Carrie … I’m going to hold off voting until Amy’s name appears on the list – I hope that’s ok.

      Reply
  • December 18, 2019 at 2:13 pm
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    I can’t believe I misspelled Santa ‘Claus’ fourteen times and nobody bothered to mention it. I looked it up at one point too. Google didn’t correct me, it just said, ‘Yeah, Santa, we know who you mean.’ So I thought, ‘Okay, Santa Claws: c-l-a-u-s-e. Claws.’

    This is why they kicked me out of (fill in the blank). Where they train people to (fill in the blank) and (fill in the blank) with expert efficiency.

    Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 10:59 am
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      Ken,

      I caught the misspelling but I thought you were playing off of the Santa Clause trilogy of movies – The Santa Clause, The Mrs. Clause, and the Escape Clause. This is episode four – The Timekeepers Clause. LOL

      Reply
  • December 18, 2019 at 4:28 pm
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    Carrie,

    I don’t see Amy’s story, The Reindeer’s Wife, included in the list for voting.

    Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 6:29 am
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      Thanks! I’ve also sent a message through the contact forms.

      Reply
      • December 19, 2019 at 11:51 am
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        Aaaaaand totally missed your email!
        Sorry about that Amy, I’ve fixed it and extended the time to vote in case anyone missed your story.

        Reply
  • December 19, 2019 at 10:56 am
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    Carrie, I’m waiting for Amy’s story to appear in the voting list before voting. Thanks!

    Reply
  • December 19, 2019 at 11:48 am
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    My apologies all, Amy posted it as a reply not a new comment so I did not get that notification and totally missed it!

    I’ve added THE REINDEER’S WIFE by Amy Meyer to the voting page, I’ll extend the voting time an extra 24 hours to give everyone who may also have missed it time to read and re-vote if necessary.

    Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 12:47 pm
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      Thanks!

      Reply
    • December 19, 2019 at 3:08 pm
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      Thanks Carrie!

      Reply
  • December 19, 2019 at 12:01 pm
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    Thanks Carrie!

    Reply
  • December 19, 2019 at 7:23 pm
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    Carrie,
    Can you delete my votes? I’ll re-vote. (I was so looking forward to starting my Christmas shopping, but now, I’ll have to get out the dart board, pin the names back on it, add Amy’s name, Find the darts, sharpen the points, re-straighten the vanes, re-throw each dart, for as long as it takes until five names are ‘selected.’ Copy the names down, put up the names of all the characters names in all the stories and throw all thirty darts and add up the total hits on each character. re-cast my votes, and who knows how long that’ll take? But I’ll do it, No, no. It’s okay. I don’t mind.)

    Reply
  • December 20, 2019 at 9:19 am
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    Bye guys – have a nice festive season, whatever it is you celebrate! See you in 2020…

    I’m now offscreen for two weeks, leaving the internet and re-entering planet earth, holidaying in the lost land of Disconnectia 🙂

    I cast my vote – congrats to the winners, when they are made known, and thank you all for sharing your outstanding stories and giving your precious critiques and opinions.

    All the best!
    Ken

    Reply
    • December 20, 2019 at 9:31 am
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      Merry & Happy to you…drive, fly, ski, armchair carefully, live, love, laugh…

      Reply
  • December 20, 2019 at 9:42 am
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    Hi All,

    I’ve been a bit under the weather this past week so no entry from me. Enjoyed reading through the entries that are, as ever, varied and often surprising.

    I have a view on which one will take top place this time around but as I have not taken part this time, I will keep my thoughts to myself.

    By the way, it is exactly a year since my first entry which was about Father Christmas in a coffee shop. I had some very interesting dilogue with Ken C at that time and it was a great introduction to the group. I’m sure Ken will remember the word “fug” and music by Noddy Holder!!

    Can’t believe that Phil and Ken C have been doing this for seven or eight years too! That’s some achievement.

    Seasons’ greeting to all my writing colleagues on this great site

    Ken Frape

    Reply
    • December 20, 2019 at 11:00 am
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      We missed you Ken! Hope you are feeling better. Congrats on your one year anniversary in the group! I have forgotten how many years I’ve been involved but it’s been a long time. Have a wonderful Holiday!

      Reply
    • December 20, 2019 at 6:51 pm
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      Stay well, Ken! And Happy Xmas!

      Reply
  • December 20, 2019 at 11:01 am
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    Dearest Ken Frape,,

    I was wondering where you’d gone to after resurfacing recently after an extended absence. I might have known you were abducted by a bug. A small bug. (Not a fug, a bug.) Hope you’re feeling better and ready to jump back into the fray in the new year.

    I have to correct you (and others) on the facts about Phil and I. We joined the group in late 2014 so, I think we just passed the five year mark last month. Roy was moderating the group, Ilana, and Adi were already contributing members and Alice arrived a few weeks later. (Kicking everyone’s butt.) Still, it’s an achievement worth noting because neither of us (Phil or me) has taken any significant time off. and in Phil’s case, what is even more amazing is how few errors he’s made over all that time. (Three.) I’m sure many who read my comments think I’m exaggerating when I tease him about this fact. But I am not exaggerating. (I probably average three errors per story.)

    While I’ve kept up with him in dedication to posting stories, I’m hopelessly outmatched in grammatical knowledge and attention to detail. Phil’s observations, comments and critiques provide wonderfully accurate feedback, his remarks are always positive and upbeat and I enjoy his reactions and insights to all the stories as much as I enjoy his stories.

    So, he deserves praise not just for his dedication to the group, but the quality and generosity of his participation. To use an automotive or racing analogy, I’m frequently on his back bumper because I’m riding in his draft, and I’m okay with that, because we’re both haulin’ ass.

    Good cheer and Merry Christmas to you too, Ken, and to all who pass this way.

    Ken C.

    Reply
    • December 20, 2019 at 6:54 pm
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      Ken, you’re much too kind.

      Have a whale!*

      (*… of a time this festive season.)

      Reply
  • December 20, 2019 at 1:47 pm
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    Working on the vote totals, had to get clarification regarding one voter!

    Reply
  • December 20, 2019 at 2:31 pm
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    ok peeps!!
    Here are your winners!

    1st Place: The Real Story Of Santa, Christmas, and the Red-Nosed Reindeer. by Ken Cartisano
    2nd Place: A Child’s Wish by Adrienne Riggs
    3rd Place: Ruby by Phil Town
    4th Place: LADYLAND by Ken Miles
    5th Place: The Year I Made a Difference by Trish
    6th Place: Santa’s Surprise by Liz Fish
    7th Place: The Jar of Pickles by Writer2019
    8th Place: THE REINDEER’S WIFE by Amy Meyer

    Story with the favorite character: LADYLAND by Ken Miles “Reggie”
    Story with the best dialogue: The Real Story Of Santa, Christmas, and the Red-Nosed Reindeer. by Ken Cartisano

    Congrats to all!

    Reply
    • December 20, 2019 at 6:50 pm
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      Congratulations, Ken! Got your mojo workin’!

      Happy Christmas (if you do it) all!

      Reply
  • December 20, 2019 at 4:09 pm
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    Thanks gang. I really appreciate this one. Not because it was a neat story…

    (could definitely use more polish, a shorter name, sp. corrections (Clause? For Christ’s sake. Clause? How could I misspell Santa Claus’ name? And he was my main character. Am I an idiot? Or what?)

    …but for the superb quality of the competition. Though there weren’t as many stories this week, every single one was incredibly well written, amazingly creative, and they were all, collectively, wondrously diverse in nature. I feel honored and pretty damned lucky to have bested all of you this week. Believe that or not, as you wish.

    Happy Merry Christmas Pagan Jewish Sacred Special Secular Holiday Turkey Shoot Time Off From Work Season Ya’ll.

    Reply
    • December 22, 2019 at 3:35 pm
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      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone. Have a relaxing break!

      Bit too busy at the moment. Will be back in Febuary.

      Reply
  • December 20, 2019 at 4:15 pm
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    Ken C.,

    You are on a roll! Way to go! Congrats! Have a great holiday!

    Reply
  • December 20, 2019 at 4:16 pm
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    Congrats to the winners! (All of us) and Thanks for the votes that placed me second. I appreciate them!

    Happy Holidays!

    Reply
    • December 21, 2019 at 4:52 am
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      Well done guys Ken C and others. Merry Christmas hay channukkah and happy holidays all

      Reply
      • January 2, 2020 at 1:18 pm
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        What time does the new Prompt come out?

        Reply
        • January 2, 2020 at 8:37 pm
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          Well sheeyit I was thinking our break was through the 8th.
          I just emailed Phil so probably won’t be out until tomorrow morning.

          Reply
    • January 9, 2020 at 11:52 am
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      Ignore my comments here. I’m testing out formatting for my upcoming story submission…

      *bold*
      _italics_

      Reply

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