“There was a man who dwelt in a churchyard”.
“What does dwelt mean?” Maddy asked, wrinkling her nose. ” He lived by a churchyard,” Nick explained, silently cursing himself for using a Shakespeare quote, but being an old English major he just couldn’t help himself. “And one night each year…”. Maddy interrupted again, “I don’t like this story. Tell me one about Elsa”. Nick had no idea who Elsa was but knew better than to ask. “This is a Christmas story.” Maddy rolled her eyes dramatically, and at that moment, she looked so like her mother that Nick felt something move inside him. “Look, I’ll make you a deal. If you don’t tell, you can have a cookie.” Maddy smiled, showing the gap in her teeth, and Nick felt another tug. She ran over to the plate gleefully and offered Nick one of the clumsily iced cookies, saying, “I made them for you, ” and then she asked, “Where’s your red suit?”
“I’m in disguise,” Nick said, “So, on Christmas eve, the man can leave and visit one special person and of course, that special person is you.” Maddy was snaking her hand towards the plate. She knocked it, and it fell with a crash onto the stone fireplace, a fireplace that Nick had built with local stones, so long ago. The landing light came on, and Lynne’s voice echoed down the stairs, “Maddy is that you? I hope you’re not eating the cookies we left out for Santa?” Maddy squealed and said, “Santa said I could have one. Ask him, Mom.”
Nick watched his wife enter the room. Although Nick noticed some new lines around her eyes, she was still beautiful. “Sleep now, or Santa won’t come,” Lynne said. Maddy yawned as she said, “But Mom, he’s already here.” Lynne shushed her and bent down to smooth the impression out of the chair where Nick had been sitting.
His girls were changing, and Nick knew that’s how it should be. He was the only one who would never age, never be a day older than the day of his accident. Nick said, “Merry Christmas, my loves. Until next year,” but all Lynne heard was a ghostly whisper of the wind in the chimney.
Adele Evershed was born in Wales and has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore before settling in Connecticut. Her prose and poetry have been published in over a hundred journals and anthologies such as Every Day Fiction, Grey Sparrow Journal, Variety Pack, Reflex Fiction, Free Flash Fiction, Shot Glass Journal, and Hole in the Head Review. Adele has recently been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net for poetry, the Staunch Prize for flash fiction, and her first poetry chapbook, Turbulence in Small Places is available to purchase here at Finishing Line Press.
Read more of her work @ thelithag.com.
You can find her on Twitter @AdLibby1