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Posts Tagged ‘Advent Calendar Story Train

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I have been honoured to take part in Ari Meghlen’s Advent Calendar Story Train. What is the story train about? Basically, a set of authors have been given the prompt ‘The Gift’ and have one thousand words to write a story. Each day of advent, one story is released. When Christmas 2022 arrives, there will be twenty-four flash fiction stories of different genres and different styles that represent the phrase ‘The Gift.’ Links to all of the stores can be found here (some have not been released at the time of posting!). Today is my turn and here is my contribution to the Advent Calendar Story Train.

The Gift by Darlene Foster

Cory Henderson dropped to his knees and studied the pile of parcels under the tree.


“Just a few more minutes, please Mom,” he begged. Like most nine-year-olds on Christmas Eve,
he didn’t want to go to bed.


He counted the packages. One from Uncle Bob; usually something to do with sports. Two from
Grandma and Grandpa; always the best because they knew exactly what he wanted. One from Mom and
one from Dad. If they paid attention to his hints, a PlayStation was sure to be in one of those packages.
Something from his older brother, away studying in China. The old couple across the street, who he did
errands for, dropped off a small package. One from Aunt Margaret and Uncle Joe, another from his
cousins Jim and Jeff and an odd-shaped one from his best friend, Jerry. Yup, ten presents for him to
open on Christmas morning.


A bright light in his window woke him up from a dream of opening hundreds of presents. At
first, he thought it was the light from Santa’s sleigh. Then, he thought perhaps a spaceship had landed
nearby. He got out of bed and tiptoed to the window where he could see it was not Santa’s sleigh or a
spaceship causing the brilliant light. Mesmerized, Cory stared at the flames leaping out of the roof of the
house next door.


He suddenly remembered that two boys lived in that house. The family moved in two months
ago from another country. They spoke with an accent and kept to themselves. The boys were younger
than him, about five and seven. He felt a knot in his stomach


What if the people were still in the house?


Just as he heard the wail of fire trucks, two hooded figures ran out of the front door. Each adult,
covered with a blanket, carried a child. The blankets appeared to be wet when they dropped to the
ground. The family stood shivering in their pajamas, staring at their home ablaze.


Cory ran out of his room calling, “Mom! Dad!”

His parents, already up, frantically pulled coats out of the closet.


His dad threw a jacket his way. “Hurry, put this on and go outside. And stay well away from the
fire.”


The fire department arrived. In no time, long hoses sprayed water into the flames. Cory’s mom
handed out warm coats. He noticed that even wearing his parkas from last year and the year before, the
boys still shivered.


Heavy smoke filled the air. It smelt weird. Kind of like the time his mom burnt the chicken and
the smoke alarm went off. The fire was under control just as it started to snow. All that was left was a
burnt-out shell.


Corey’s mom motioned everyone to follow her back to their place.


She served hot chocolate and homemade gingerbread cookies. The neighbours, Mr. and Mrs.
Zafrani, spoke quietly. The boys, Omar and Jamal, didn’t say anything. Their large brown eyes starred at
the Christmas tree covered with twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments. Beds were made up, the little
boys in his brother’s room and their parents in the spare room. As the boys were about to go to bed, they
started to cry.


“There, there,” said their mother as she hugged them. “Don’t cry. At least we are all safe and
warm.” She thanked Cory and his parents and they all went to bed.


Cory felt sick. It was Christmas Eve and they had lost everything. They would have no presents
to open in the morning. How would he feel if it happened to him? He tossed and turned and no longer
looked forward to the morning. How could he open all those gifts when they had nothing?


He had an idea, jumped out of bed and put on the light. He pulled out coloured paper, a pair of
scissors and some Christmas stickers from his desk drawer. Two gift tags made, he wrote Omar on one
and Jamal on the other. He stopped for a minute and then made two more. Tiptoeing into the dark living
room, he pulled out four of his gifts from under the tree. He replaced the tags with new ones. Corey
went back to bed and fell asleep with a smile on his face.


The next thing he heard was his mom saying, “Wake up. It’s Christmas morning. Omar and
Jamal are up already.”


Corey never slept in on Christmas morning.


He raced into the cosy living room where his dad had started a fire in the fireplace. Jamal and
Omar stared at the tree as if they had never seen one before. Cory reached under the tree.


His mom gasped and said, “Maybe we should wait to open the gifts.”


Corey ignored her and handed a gift to each of the spellbound boys.


The oldest boy read out his tag. “To Jamal. From Santa.” His eyes grew wide.


“Open it,” said Cory, hardly able to contain his excitement.


Jamal carefully removed the wrapping from his gift as if he were undressing a baby. His round
face beamed when he discovered a PlayStation.


His dad looked at Corey with raised eyebrows. He turned to Omar holding onto his gift like it
would disappear if he loosened his grip. “Don’t you want to see what’s in your package?”


The young boy ripped the package open and smiled with glee as he pulled out a baseball glove.
“I love to play baseball!” He slid his left hand in and punched his right fist into the mitt.


Cory’s mom looked over at her son with tears in her eyes. “I think you deserve to open one of
your presents, dear.”


Fun and laughter filled the rest of the morning. Cory loved all six of his gifts, but the look on the
faces of those boys as they discovered gifts under the tree for them was the best gift of all.

Welcome to the Advent Calendar Story Train, where you can read through 24 stories under the theme The Gift. Thank you for reading today’s story. The next one will be available to read on December 9th, titled “The Annual Giving“.  The link will be active tomorrow when the post goes live.

If you missed yesterday’s you can go and read it here.


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