Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Fiction : Day 11

Hi everyone! Today's request is "Hard Candy Christmas" next up in the queue is "Let There Be Peace on Earth". If there's a song you'd like me to "storify" then please let me know! Post in a comment, my facebook page or send me an email. As long as it is a valid Christmas song, I will write a story for it. I hope you enjoyed yesterday's tale of Techy Grandmas and no reindeers. Today's tale is a bit rambly, but still with the touch of Christmas. I tried to make the song lyrics fit as the character's thoughts, so keep that note in mind. ^_^

To find out more about the Christmas Fiction Challenge, Click here to read and join! 


Disclaimer is at the bottom. I do not own the lyrics or the song, this is merely a bit of of creative fiction for the fun of it. The idea/plot/characters created are my own.  



Titled: "Hard, Sweet Memories : A Random snippet of Christmas Fiction."

Hey, Maybe I’ll dye my hair

A shade of electric pink? No, maybe neon blue. Ha!

I almost laughed at my own reflection in the mirror. A tiny, tear-streaked face, stared back at me, marred by scars and reddened from my last violent encounter. This world was far more cruel to what it could see than what it couldn’t.

I should’ve known better, but sometimes it was a pain to hide things. Sometimes it was easier to just pretend that I could handle it, that I was alright, that everything was okay.

I gripped the edges on the dirty porcelain sink, heaving all the sobs I could out of my thin body. It was best to get all the emotions out somehow, so that I could function when the next day started up. I didn’t want to think about the things that were now stuck in my head.

The sounds of cars and shouts outside reminded me that I was in a gas station restroom and I didn’t dare to take longer than I already had. This cycle was beginning to turn into the kind of thing that I had never expected to happen.

At least, not to someone like me.

Maybe I’ll move somewhere

Yeah. I should move somewhere. I should move far away from hands that hurt me and words that kill me. Why do I stay? I have no real reason to stay. Except, maybe, I’m scared. I keep thinking I have some reason to go back, even when I don’t. I deserve better, somehow.

But I’ve already been through enough. Fear shouldn’t be much of a problem for me. At least, not anymore. Someone is banging on the metal door. It sounds so foreign, but I already think I know who it is.

I wash my face with cold water and rinse my hands with lukewarm. I check my watch before I realize it is no longer there.

I’ve pawned it off in the last city.

Tonight, I just want to be home for Christmas Eve.

Maybe I’ll get a car

Maybe I’ll drive so far

That I'll lose track

Me, I’ll bounce right back


I always keep smiling. Even when it hurts the worst, I am smiling. I won’t ever let anyone know just how bad it is.  Just how dark it is. Just how much it is killing me. My hands are starting to tingle, I guess the water’s warmer after all.

Turning off the taps, I hurry out of the restroom, pausing to hand over the key to the grumpy cashier slouched behind the plastic counter. “Thank you.” I try to keep my hands in front of me, instead of moving up to touch my ears.

My bothersome, troublesome, cursed ears.

Frozen ears.

Ducking my head, I am out of the minimart and hurrying towards the giant eighteen wheeler parked at the curb, ready and waiting to go. Pulling on the sleeves of my old hoodie, I use it as makeshift gloves to open the door.

It’s warm inside the cab and I can feel my ears, for one delicious moment.

The gruff old farmer-driver threw an apologetic glance in my direction. “Sorry. But I gotta keep a schedule.”

“That’s fine.” I huddled into the seat, fumbling for the seatbelt with fingers that don’t want to move as yet. It is far too cold outside.

“Don’t know if you drink coffee, but it’ll warm you.” He gestured towards the plastic cup holders and two tall paper cups filled with steaming liquid. “I put some creamer in it, ‘cause I figure no human can drink the stuff black.”

For a moment, my breath catches in my throat and I am not sure if I should breathe out. But he continues on with his rambling and begins to pull out from the gas station. I figure my secret is somewhat safe for now.

If I can just keep my hands off my own ears.

The coffee is warm and I like it. Somehow, I have caught a bit of good luck amidst all the bad today. Perhaps, things are changing for the better.

Maybe I’ll sleep real late

Maybe I’ll lose some weight

Maybe I’ll clear my junk

Maybe I’ll just get drunk on apple wine

Or coffee. I bet I could get drunk on coffee, but I don’t want to. I don’t want something to numb the pain. I don’t want something to keep me awake. I don’t want something that will remind me I was too weak to face my own reality.

I want to sleep, just a little bit, my eyes are so tired and the road before me is blurring into something that I cannot understand. It’s like a black mush, with flecks of white and red. I yawned and took another sip of the coffee.
It is warm now and not so hot as it was before. I almost miss the scorching heat, but I guess that is my own thing. Most people prefer to drink their beverages tempered in some way or the other. The driver seems perfectly at home guzzling it down in its present state. I wonder how old he is. He looks old. I bet he probably has a family. Then again, if he did, why on earth would he be out here delivering other people’s stuff on Christmas Eve?

I smiled when he caught me looking at him and then turned my face to stare out the window. I couldn’t fall asleep. I didn’t want him to have to wake me…I didn’t want him to have to touch me.

Me, I’ll be just

Fine and dandy

Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas

I'm barely getting through tomorrow

But still I won't let

Sorrow bring me way down

Ah, Dearest Heavenly Father…tonight should be Christmas Eve. I think, I haven’t really looked at a calendar and all that, but I’m sure it is. The driver said so. Thank you for sending him, from wherever he came. I did need a ride. It’s far too cold to be out there and walking.

I just want to be home for Christmas.

I want this coldness to go away. I want my ears to stop hurting. I miss home.

Hey, maybe I’ll learn to sew

Maybe I’ll just lie low

Maybe I’ll hit the bars

Maybe I’ll count the stars until dawn

Me, I will go on


I always go on. It’s not like I have a choice. This road is really beginning to look like mush in way too many varieties. I hope I can handle this. Something is sure wrong here.

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m hitchhiking to the very last place on earth that I should probably go. Well, at least this guy was kind enough to not think I was some kind of weirdo. He hasn’t even tried to ask my name or any questions or anything.

That’s really nice of him.

I watched the road signs blurring by and then I realized that the numbers were changing faster than I’d been counting. My exit would soon turn up somehow. That was kind of good. I was still holding the empty disposable coffee cup in my hand.

“We’re almost there, kid.” He announced. “You sure someone’s coming to pick you up?”

“I’ll be fine. I know my way from there.” I made myself smile for him with all the cheer I could muster out of my tired body. This wasn’t the kind of Christmas I wanted, but it was the kind that I was going to have to deal with.

Some time passed.

“We’re here.”

I struggled to push the sleepiness away and sat up straight. The cab was dark now and I was able to reach up and feel my ears. They were twitching, faintly. Something was out of place, but I didn’t have the time to devote to it.

“Thank you for everything.” I smiled again as I climbed down from the cab, and walked past him.

“You sure you’ll be fine?”

“Just fine.” I waved the empty cup. “Thanks again for the coffee.” I hurried off to the corner of the road before he could follow me. We’d entered my hometown and from here, I knew there was a motel just down the road. The Mom and Pop restaurant there was probably a good bet for a quick meal, if I could find a way to work for it, which I was almost certain that I could—if they didn’t know who I was.

The cold blew in a little colder and I tugged the hood further down over my head. I’d dumped the coffee cup in the trash can near the post office and now I put more effort into keeping a light jog. The restaurant came into view and I let myself in.

Maybe I’ll settle down

It was nice in the diner and they were kind enough to trade off a full meal for the sake of washing the dishes and sweeping the floors—and cleaning the bathrooms. I did it all. A full meal was something worth paying for and I’d have paid, if I could.

They thanked me for doing a thorough job as I headed out. I made myself smile again.

It was a short, cold walk down the historic main street and a quick run once I was out of sight of most prying eyes. I could travel easily over the icy, slick roads, my feet knew the way and my heart knew the rest.

When I finally reached our lane, my feet slowed and my heart hiccupped. I stopped for a breath. A slow, almost painful breath, then stamped the snow from my feet in the street and trotted up the cleared walk.

The house was tastefully decorated with fresh greenery and red-ribboned bows around the candles in the window, with a matching wreath on the door. Every window was lit and a tall Christmas tree could be seen through the living room window. I could almost feel the warm fire and smell the hot chocolate that was usually somewhere close by.

A happy shiver ran through me and I stabbed the doorway with one frozen finger. The warm fuzzies were falling away and now the cold was beginning to creep over me again. I tried not to think about the energy it had taken to sprint all the way here. It was too cold to think about that sort of thing.

There was no answer, so I rang the doorbell again.

Sounds of grumbling and yelling from within had me take a step backwards, uncertain. The storm door was yanked open and then the screen door rudely pushed out.

“What do you want?” The irate man snarled.

“H-hi.” I swallowed hard. “Is Mom-?”

“Zenna?” She appeared just over his shoulder, her face tight and drawn as if someone were sucking the life out of her from behind. “Jeff, stand back.” She forced her way around him, elbowing him back into the house to stand in the doorway herself. She looked me up from head to toe. “What do you want now?”

“I don't use Zenna anymore." I scuffed my shoe along the step. "Mom, It’s Christmas-”

“So? Were you expecting a present or something?” She crossed her arms over her chest. “We’ve been through this before. Why can’t you just leave us alone?”

“Yeah!” My stepdad chimed in, his own dark glare smoldering in the background. “We could do without your yearly begging of-”

The coldness of the air stabbed straight into my heart and I took a careful step forward. She leaned away, but didn’t budge from the doorway. “Mom…”

“You can’t come in.” She lifted her chin.

I sucked in another mouthful of cold air and spat it out to the side. “That’s fine.” I hadn’t expected her to let me in this year either.

“Just go away!”

“Go where? I don’t have anywhere else to-”

“I don’t want to hear your excuses!” She was shaking, the coldness reaching into her once-warm house. “Jeff, make her go away!” She rubbed her arms, turning around.

“I’ll go if you give me Dad’s field journal.”

She stiffened. A nervous laugh bubbled out of her mouth. “What would you want with that?”

“With what? What is it?” Jeff looked from her to me. “What are you talking about?”

“Dad had an old brown leather journal, filled with papers and stuff, about so big.” I gestured with my hands. “If you give it to me, I won’t come back here.”

Jeff stared at me for a long moment. “Never?”

I nodded.

“Jeff no!” Mom panicked. “You can’t do that! You can’t just give her what she wants! She’s an ungrateful little-”

“You won’t ever hear from me again.” I made myself smile.

Jeff whirled around. When he returned, there was a bulging, battered leather journal-like folder in his hand, held together with two fat rubberbands. “This it?” He held it out of reach of my Mom’s straining hands.

I nodded quickly, unable to believe my luck.

“Take it.” He threw it out and I scrambled to catch it. “and don’t ever show your face here again!” One arm curved protectively around my now sobbing mother.

I cradled the bundle to my chest and kept the smile fixed on my face. “Don’t worry.” I told the closed door. “I won’t. I have enough of what I need now and I won’t have to bother you for anything ever again.”

Maybe I’ll just leave town

I shuffled down the walk and down the lane, heading back into town. There wasn’t much else I could do, though it felt wonderful to know that I finally had Dad’s last gift after all. In the shadows of the main street, I tore off the rubber bands and then held the book between my two hands.

There was warmth spilling out of it and I could feel my eyes burning, trying to cry tears that were not there. It was a gift that had been worth the wait.

It was Mom’s loss. I was nothing to her without Dad and he certainly couldn’t come back. I missed him more than she could possibly understand. I missed him enough that my ears ached. The cold seeped through again and I reached up to rub my pointed, elf ears. It was a sign of an aching heart, whenever a loved one was nowhere to be found. I rubbed them a little harder than before, trying to bring some feeling back into them.

They tingled faintly from the new warmth spreading from my hand. I smiled and then pressed the book together again between my palms. This time, I whispered the words that went with the actions.

“A Christmas blessing, from father to son, mother to daughter. A Christmas blessing of families and fun, of love and laughter. My father gives this to me, his daughter. May the Lord’s blessings be upon this family in this holiday season.”

Traditional words to unlock a precious family artifact—if you had any elven blood inside you. I’d seen my father recite the words when he sealed the book for me. He’d promised it would be my Christmas gift one day. Then he’d died. Mom had seen it as the only moment of him that she could bear to keep and for that reason, I was never allowed anywhere near it.

Never allowed to touch or see the one thing I needed to keep my inner spirit alive. I could now feel something stirring deep in my stomach. It was tempting. Incredibly tempting to yank it all out and drink it up, but I knew enough that I couldn’t—no—shouldn’t, do that. It had been too long since I’d been living in the human world and unleashing that kind of energy in such a small town would no doubt cause the sort of problems I’d been trying to avoid.

I sighed, focusing on the book once more. It wouldn’t do to get ahead of myself.

The journal glowed a rich gold as light and warmth spilled out from it. The book shimmered until there was nothing left of it, but a smooth, ivory spike, resting in the palm of one hand. An Elf’s spindle.

My father’s spindle.

I smiled. The Elf King’s daughter. A new warmth spread through me as I traced a circle above me in the night air and a curtain of heat shimmered to life. The ice melted away from me as I slowly walked back into town. I tucked my hair behind my ears and lifted my head just a touch higher.

There wasn’t anything to worry about this time. There was no need to hide. An elf without an artifact could be a problem, but an elf princess with a legendary artifact was nothing to be worried about.

Tucking the ivory spike inside my shirt, I broke into a light jog as the town lights came into view. Leaving town was probably a good idea.

Maybe I’ll have some fun

I stopped in at the diner again, this time, the face at the counter was familiar, the trucker from before who had kindly given me a ride.

His head snapped up at my entrance and he squinted for a moment, from beneath his weather-beaten cap and then nodded. “Hey.”

“Hey.” I took a seat two spaces away from him.”

He chuckled. “Nice to see you again.”

I returned the nod. “Same here. I thought you were heading out tonight.”

“I was.” He sighed, waving his hand for another bowl of soup and a sandwich. “Seems like something’s all locked up though.”

“You won’t find anyone up this time to night to take a look at it.” The cook slid a bowl across the counter. “I could get hold of Ben’s brother-in-law at about ten-ish for the engine, if you want him to take a look at it, the rest is a bit on the-”

“Aren’t you going to order something?” The driver was looking at me, his expression shaded in gray, thanks to his cap.

“I-I’m fine right now.” I waved towards the window. “I was just going to-”

“Get her a bowl of this.” He tapped the bowl and then bent his head back over his own bowl, spooning the steaming soup into his mouth. “Is there anyone earlier than ten?”

“Sorry. It’s a small town. Most folk travel out to the city, since it isn’t that far away. You could probably call someone, of course by the time they get here-”

“Mind if I take a look at it?”

Both heads turned to stare at me. I looked down at the paper napkin I’d begun to scrunch in my hand.

“You know to fix trucks?” The cook tried to clarify.

I shrugged. “I know how to fix stuff…truck, car…house…crops.” The soup bowl was pushed in front of me, with a spoon stabbed inside the thick liquid. “It couldn’t hurt to just-” My nervous fingers fumbled with a lock of dark hair, tucking it behind one pointed ear. I couldn't outright explain why I could help, but if either of them cared to notice, that was all the explanation I was willing to give.

“Elf?” The cook sneered. “Magic doesn’t fix everything you know.”

“I’d appreciate it.” The driver said, quietly. “Enjoy the soup.”

“…thanks.”

Maybe I’ll meet someone

And make him mine

I drew out the ivory spike and held it up to the front of the truck. I hardly had to concentrate to release the energy with in. A pale green glow settled over the front half of engine and then it was suddenly sucked away.

“What happened?” He was at my elbow, his expression worried.

“It found the problem.” I tucked the spike up my sleeve. “It should run fine for now, but you should stop the first chance you get to have someone take a look at-”

“Where you headed?”

“Huh?”

“Need a ride?”

“Yeah.”

“Hop in.”

I did.

He drove for a long time. I stopped counting signs and numbers and other important things. I spent time warming my fingers on the vent, even though I did not need it like I had before. We talked randomly about mismatched topics.

I told him I was a university student with a nice, fat degree and absolutely no job prospects. He told me he was a widower with no kids and one goldfish. We laughed. We talked. We were silent. The sun rose. The day changed over. The morning was brighter and more promising than the gloom of the day before.

The driver introduced himself as Peter McLeon. I told him my name was Danica Mallas. He turned out to be a little younger than I thought he was.

“Fifty?” There was the faintest hint of outrage in his voice. “I’ll have you know I’m only forty-three.” 

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. He was easy to talk to and he wasn’t trying to pry into my life. He didn’t even seem to have a problem with what I was and who I was. That was unexpected. It was also very, very nice. “Then, I should say thank you Mr. McLeon.”

“I’m not that old.” He scowled. “Pete’s fine.”

“Then Pete it is.”

“and you?”

“Danica’s fine.”

“It’s a pretty name.”

“My dad named me.”

“Merry Christmas, Danica.”

“It’s been Christmas for most of today.”

“Didn’t know your name before that.”

“Cute.”

He smiled.

“Merry Christmas, Pete.”

Me, I’ll be just

Fine and dandy

Lord it's like a hard candy Christmas

I'm barely getting through tomorrow

But still I won't let

Sorrow bring me way down



Disclaimer and rights. © Sara Harricharan. I do not own the lyrics, the song or anything of the sort belonging to the song "Hard Candy Christmas", I only retain the rights of the original characters I have created and the plot, which are solely my own creation and any resemblance to an actual event, person or place, is entirely coincidental as this is a work of fiction.

2 comments:

Qzie said...

These are really fantastic, just wanted to say. Keep up the good work. :)
Also, you should do one of I'll Be Home for Christmas.

Joanne Sher said...

I have NEVER heard this song. EVER. But the story was even better. You are SOOO incredibly creative, girlie! LOVE it.