How To Find What You Came Here For

Welcome to the worlds that populate my brain!
The short stories you find here are the product
of a vastly overactive imagination
powered by coffee and M&Ms.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Past

The doorbell rang, sending the idiot dog into a frenzy of barking.  John reached for the paper towels and followed the cheerful golden retriever to the door, mopping up puddles of liquid excitement as he went.

“Hi Dad,” his daughter greeted him.  “Sorry about the doorbell.  I just…I guess it still feels a little weird to just walk in.”

“No problem…gave the dog a thrill.”  He gave her a one-armed hug.

“So how is Toby doing?”  She leaned down to pet the dog, just barely a year old, relieved that her dad had company in the new house.

John quirked an eyebrow at the grinning dog.  His daughter had talked him into adopting him, naming him Toby after a cartoon dog she’d loved as a child.  He had to admit, the idiot was keeping him busy, mostly buying shoes and drywall to replace what the dog destroyed.

“He’s fine.  Cheerful,” he said.  And dumb as a box of rocks, he added to himself.

“We’re planning on having Christmas dinner about seven, and I was thinking you could spend the night so you’ll be there when the kids open their presents, OK?”  She watched him closely.

“Sounds good,” he agreed.  He could feel the awkwardness between them, but he was helpless to change it.  His wife had always been the link that helped them connect.

Her task complete, his daughter hugged him and let herself out.  John stood at the window and watched her drive away. 

“She’s worried about me, Becca,” he spoke, staring out at the bare trees shivering in the wind.  “Our first Christmas without you…I guess we’ll figure it out.”

He ran a hand over the head of the dog leaning against his leg, lost in the memory of happier times.  Outside the window, snow began to fall.

This post is a response to a prompt from Write On Edge:
"We’d like you to craft a piece of fiction or creative non-fiction around the holiday season, keeping in mind that for some people “the holiday season” begins around Halloween and doesn’t end until well after the New Year is underway.  The piece should begin with “The doorbell rang” and end with “snow began to fall.”  The middle is up to you, and the entire thing should be under 300 words."

Thanks for stopping by, and please let me know what you think in the comments!


  1. Oh, the description of the dog was the best ever, had me laughing out loud. Idiot dog, puddles of liquid excitement. Perfect! ;)

  2. The subtlety here is lovely and heartbreaking at the same time. His feelings about the dog remind me of how my grandparents were about the dog they adopted from my uncle, that combination of irritation and hidden affection. You took an impossibly difficult time and showed it to us with a light hand. Nice job.

  3. This is so sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. I LOVED his attitude toward the dog - I think we've all felt that way about our pets at one time or another :)

  4. This made me smile and cry. Beautiful, yet with a great touch of humor that added to the piece! Thank you for writing!

  5. This is really beautiful, so well-done! It's amazing how much awkwardness can exist between people who love each other and have known each other all their lives, especially with loss thrown into the mix.

  6. Thank you all for your comments! I struggled with this one - the story wanted to be bigger than 300 words.

    I'm hoping I can fix a glitch on my computer so I can go read everyone's links. I've only gotten to read one so far today!

  7. "Puddles of liquid excitement" lol!
    This is a weird post for me, because I can see it on the horizon for our family, with aging parents.

    Just one concrit: formatting his thoughts... Italics usually work well for that, and leave the "...he thought to himself." non-italicized.

  8. The whole bit with the dog and the doorbell was excellent, and the gentleness with which you handle the grief and the awkwardness is really nice.