I would like to share a short story I wrote two years ago which I hope to publish in a collection of stories next year. I have since written three more short stories and hope to add six more to complete the collection.
Last year I posted one chapter a day for nine days but I am a little late due to being sick but I will post a few chapters or more a day until Christmas.
Here is the first chapter. Hope you enjoy it and that it puts you into the spirit of Christmas.
The True Meaning of Christmas
A Short Story
Copyrighted by Janice Spina 2014
The little girl’s name is Clarinda. She is ten years old with long dark brown hair and beautiful blue eyes. She has never known what it is like to be warm or to have a full stomach. It is two days’ before Christmas and the house is bare of any signs of the holiday.
Clarinda woke up this morning and heard someone crying. She got up, grabbed her thin bathrobe and wrapped it around her quickly as she tiptoed over to the door. The floor felt cold under her feet and she felt around for her slippers, tattered as they were, they would be better than nothing at all to keep her feet warm. As she slowly opened her bedroom door the sounds were louder and she realized that they were coming from her mother’s room.
Clarinda’s mother, Miranda, was not well and hadn’t been for as long as she could remember. Muranda had progressively gotten weaker since her last two pregnancies with Clarinda’s siblings, Andrew, four and Brenda, two. Clarinda listened as she passed by her sibling’s bedroom to make sure they were not awake and needing her attention before going to her mother’s room.
In order to put food on the table for the family, Miranda had to take in washing and ironing for other people, well-to-do people. They paid well enough for her to keep her children in mended clothes and provide some meat on the table at least once a week. Her husband, Holden, had died in a tragic car accident six months after their daughter, Brenda, was born leaving her with three children to care for.
Miranda sat on the edge of her bed with her head in her hands as she cried. Her mind was whirling since the loss of her husband. She was so devastated that she was too weak to continue working to take care of her children. She couldn’t afford to buy food never mind Christmas presents. Miranda looked up as the door to her bedroom slowly opened and Clarinda’s head popped in.
“Mommy, are you okay? Why are you crying?” Clarinda’s beautiful blue eyes looked at her mother with surprise and concern. They belayed her age and showed a deep intelligence. Clarinda’s eyes mirrored her father’s and only broke her mother’s heart each time she looked at her. The other two children favored their mother with their green eyes and blond hair.
“Oh, sweetie, I’m all right. Just a little tired today. Don’t worry, everything will be fine. Can you be a good girl now and go check on your brother and sister and bring them down to breakfast. I’ll make your favorite today – pancakes. We have one egg left and enough flour to make a few pancakes. You have been such a big help to Mommy. Now, go on hurry up, honey.”
Clarinda left her mother’s room and went to check on her siblings. Andrew and Brenda shared the same room and both were now awake and chattering together as Clarinda entered. She told Andrew to get dressed as she changed her sister’s training diaper and dressed her in her pink pants and top. Brenda always wanted to wear pink – it was her favorite color. She smiled her sweet toddler smile after she was dressed and cuddled with Clarinda to say “thank you.”
Clarinda loved her brother and sister as if they were her own children; after all, she had been both a sister and a mother to them since they were born. She did all she could to help her mother but she was only ten and didn’t realize a lot about life yet and what it entailed to raise a family. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath and took Andrew and Brenda by the hands and brought them down to the kitchen for breakfast. The enticing smell of pancakes was in the air and she found herself salivating and hurrying to set the table so they could eat. Their dinner the night before had been meager with a potato and a little gravy made from a soup bone and a piece of bread to sop up the precious liquid.
She put Brenda in her high chair and told Andrew to sit down as their mother flipped the first pancakes onto their plates. Clarinda had to cut up the pancake for Brenda and blow on the pieces so she wouldn’t burn herself trying to eat too fast. Brenda made ‘num num’ sounds as she stuffed the pieces into her mouth as fast as she could. Clarinda took care of her siblings first before taking her first bite and felt herself melting with the delicious taste.
Miranda looked over at her children as they ate like it was their last meal. But, she thought sadly, it could be if her health didn’t improve soon. She didn’t know what she was going to do. She didn’t have anyone to turn to and didn’t want to lose her children if she asked the state for help. Clarinda was such a godsend and was already doing so much to help her. Could she ask her to do the washing and ironing too? No, she thought, she would have to do it herself but would have Clarinda bring the basket of clothes to the Antonelli’s house and receive payment. Yes, that is what she would do.
Clarinda cleaned up the children’s faces and then tackled the table and the dishes in the sink as she waved at her mother to go lie down and rest. Miranda kissed her sweet daughter’s face and patted her on the head as she passed by to go to her room to rest.
Miranda called out to her daughter on her way to her room, “Thank you, sweetie, for cleaning up. I will just rest a little and then I will tackle the clothes and ironing. If you could bring the clothes over to the Antonelli’s afterwards and pick up the payment that would be a great help to me.”
“Of course, Mommy, I will be happy to help you. I will watch the kids while you rest. I love you, Mommy.” Clarinda was fearful that her mother was going to die like her father did. She told her mother every chance she got that she loved her, thinking that maybe she would keep her healthy longer that way. She always felt terrible that her father died before she could say, ‘I Love you, Daddy,’ one more time. Clarinda could feel tears brimming in her eyes and used her sleeve to wipe them away so that her siblings wouldn’t see her crying. She had to be strong for them.
Miranda lay down and fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. She stirred in her sleep dreaming of her husband and his hand was reaching out to her. She reached forward to touch his hand but it just seemed too far out of reach.
That’s all for this post. Look for Chapter Two in the next post today. Thank you for stopping by. Please help those in need this Christmas season. You just may save a life by your kindness. God bless you!
Blessings to all!
Remember: Reading Gives You Wings to Fly!