At Carrot Ranch the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo is winding down and the regular weekly prompts have resumed. This week Charli’s November 1, 2018, prompt is to, “in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a festival of lights. It can be any holiday, event or moment. Express the hope of light over darkness. Or use it to highlight injustice. Go where the prompt leads.”
The prompt led me back to some characters that I haven’t heard from in a long while, back to the fold. I think I needed this family, needed to return to the comfort of their simpler time and place. Writers are fortunate; we can create gentler settings and kinder characters and happier endings if we choose. But that’s art, always Imitative; that’s not the real work. Our Work as humans is to try and write our own lives through our choices and the characters we surround ourselves with. Our free will is our candle. Choose kind. Be the Light.
Star of the Show
Hope made her guess. When her mother had incorrectly guessed Mary, Joseph, wise man, sheep, donkey, cow, inn keeper, and even baby Jesus, Hope finally told her what part she had in the Christmas pageant.
“It was my idea, Mommy! I got them to let me do my idea!”
“What, Hope? What role can possibly be left?”
Hope smiled broadly, her eyes radiating her pleasure. “The star! I’m going to be up on a ladder behind the stable dressed up like the star!”
“Do you have lines to memorize?”
“Nope. I just have to shine.”
“Oh, Hope, you do. You’re a natural.”
“Yup, our Hope is the star of the pageant. You girls get your boots on, let’s go snowshoeing.”
They hadn’t noticed him enter the kitchen, still in his boots, still dressed for outdoors.
“What? Now? It’s so dark out.”
“Maybe I have a surprise for you.”
“Ok. Let’s go, Hope. I’d rather tramp after him in the snow and dark than have to go through guessing again.”
He led them behind the house and up to the top of the meadow where the sugar woods began. Lights from neighboring farms and houses twinkled from the rolling hills that framed the frozen lake that was now an empty blackness in the moonless dark.
Below them they could see the glow from their own kitchen window.
Suddenly the cupola of their high barn lit up, beaming out over the bare trees and snow covered fields. The beams reached across to where they stood in the snowy meadow.
“Daddy! You put a star in the cupola for Christmas!”
“Think I’ll leave it throughout the long dark winter, Hope. We’ll shine our light every night.”