Today I am sharing one of the last stories from my collection Flights of Fancy as it is one I wrote for Christmas.
I would also like to invite you to share your fiction here too in December with one of your stories.
- I know how busy everyone is at this time of year, but perhaps you have a short story you have already published on your own blog and would like to share with another audience over here.
- I will leave the word count to you but as an approximation I would be happy with stories between 500 and 1,500 words…if longer then I am sure it will not be a problem.
- If you are an author I will also be delighted to share the link to buy your work on Amazon.
- Some of you are already in the Cafe and Bookstore and I have all your details, so no need to include again, but if you are new to the blog then I will need some information.
If you are already in the Cafe and Bookstore then please send the following to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- The link to your short story if already on your blog
- Or, your word document of your story.
If you are new to smorgasbord the please send the following to email@example.com:
- The link to your short story if already on your blog
- Or, your word document of your story
- Your amazon author page link for your books (so I can find your bio and book covers)
- Links to your blog and two other main social media links.
Here is my short story from Flights of Fancy which I hope you will enjoy….
Father Christmas come to visit
The little girl lay in bed, her blonde hair spread over the pillow. She was asleep, but from her restless movements it was obvious that she was in the grip of a disturbing dream. Dark rings beneath her eyes gave her small face a pinched and unhappy look.
Downstairs, Jenny looked at the Christmas decorations hanging from the pictures and light fittings around the room. In the corner, the tree lights sparkled and flashed through the tinsel, and presents for Sophie were piled beneath its green spiky branches in a colourful heap. The family and the neighbours had rallied around, determined that Sophie would have everything that her father would have bought her this Christmas.
Jenny rested her hands on the mantelpiece and stared at the photograph in front of her. It was the last that was taken of them all together. They smiled out of the picture, brown and happy on their holiday in the south of France at the end of October. It had been their first family holiday in three years as business had been tough, and there had been no extra money for trips or any other luxuries. Ironically, she now had more money than she knew what to do with, but she would give it all back in a heartbeat.
Jack had inherited his father’s building business and although in the initial few years work had been plentiful, there was now more and more competition for fewer contracts. He and his small team worked seven days a week usually, and she could see from his face that this heavy load was taking its toll. Just after their holiday in France, Jack began to experience chest pains that he dismissed as indigestion after eating and drinking too much while they were away. Jenny had at first asked him to go and see their family doctor, but after two weeks and getting increasingly concerned about Jack’s lack of energy and grey pallor, she had then begged him to go and get checked out.
To keep the peace, Jack had begrudgingly taken a couple of hours off one evening and gone to the surgery. The next day he was in hospital undergoing tests and that afternoon it was decided that he needed an emergency operation. It had all happened so fast they had barely time to talk about the situation and Jenny had been unable to take Sophie into to see her father before he was rushed off to theatre. Jenny had called out to him as he was wheeled away but she had no way of knowing if he had heard her soft “I love you.”
She and Sophie had sat in the family room, playing with coloured bricks and a jigsaw to pass the anxious time. There had been other families in the room all looking nervously at the clock until doctors or nurses entered to reassure them that their loved ones were safely recovering from their operations.
As the evening wore on, more and more of the waiting families left the room to visit their relatives in recovery or back on the wards. Jenny and Sophie were alone when finally a tall man in a green scrub suit entered the waiting room, loosening the mask from around his face. Jenny took one look at his eyes and knew from their bleak directness that there would be no visit to the recovery room for them.
Resting her head on her hands she allowed the tears to fall; here in private she could grieve. Away from the eyes of her small daughter who could not understand why Daddy was not coming home from work every night. She had tried to be strong for Sophie’s sake, but she had watched her normally lively child lose weight, become silent and withdrawn. Jack was gone and tomorrow was Christmas Day. How could she face it without him?
She heard a noise from upstairs. Sophie would be having one of her nightmares, crying for her daddy, tossing and turning, and reaching out into the dark. Wiping the tears from her face, Jenny walked upstairs to her daughter’s bedroom. She opened the door quietly and was startled to see Sophie sitting up in bed, clutching her teddy bear and staring across the room.
Her mother looked across and saw the toy cupboard with a plate of mince pies and a glass of sherry on the top. Suddenly she felt warm air flow over her. She blinked and stared at the glowing light that grew brighter and brighter. Clamping a hand over her mouth, she darted a glance over at Sophie. Her daughter was smiling and holding out her hand to the light. Jenny’s eyes were drawn back across the room and she gasped as in the glow, she saw a figure materialise.
“Jack” she gasped. Riveted to the spot she watched her husband reach out a hand, take a mince pie from the plate and raise it to his lips. He ate the pie and grinned across at her. She felt the warmth of his gaze as it rested on her eyes and her mouth and an overwhelming sense of peace passed through her. Jack nodded once and then walked across to his daughter’s bedside. In complete silence, he reached out and touched Sophie’s outstretched hand. A radiant glow spread across her face and she lay back down on her pillow, still clutching his fingers. Her smile transformed her face and the dark rings and pinched, sad look disappeared. Her eyes closed and her breathing settled into a gentle rhythm and she was peacefully asleep.
Her father turned away from the bed and crossed over to the door. Jenny stood absolutely still as his body passed in front of her. He stopped and she looked into his eyes and felt a gentle touch on her shoulders. He smiled at her and all the love that they had shared was in that wonderful look between them and she knew that he was saying goodbye. He moved out into the hall and turned for one last glance over his shoulder. Gradually the light faded and the figure disappeared, but the warmth inside her remained.
She stood for a few minutes with head bowed, absorbing and taking strength from that feeling before crossing to her daughter’s bedside. She looked down at Sophie, sleeping peacefully for the first time in weeks. She kissed her forehead gently and then moved over to the toy cupboard where she stared at the plate with its two mince pies.
Three had been put out for Father Christmas. Jenny smiled; everything was going to be fine. It would take time, but the warmth inside her would carry them through.
This year Father Christmas had really come to visit.
©Sally Cronin 2009
One of the recent reviews for the collection.
When I picked this one up, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve read a few other books by Sally Cronin, but I knew these were going to be much different (in a good way). Ms. Cronin has published a collection of ~10 short stories and a novella, ranging in style from murder to fantasy, revenge to humor. I loved all of the stories and will struggle to decide which ones to include in my review…
To begin with, the book kicks off with the main character saying, “On my forty-third birthday, I murdered a woman.” Okay… we’re in for something dark and funny. What a great tale! In some ways, it’s very telling about society, and in others, it’s a little shocking. I found myself wondering whether the guilty party should be punished or not. It’s wonderful when a writer can prompt that question. I also worried she might’ve been describing my mindset on a number of occasions. Oops!
From there, we jump into a woman mourning a loss. She kinda/sorta visits her husband and dog, and it will make you get a little sappy. Afterward, I devoured a few tales about marriage, war, love, and a talking parrot who knew exactly how to motivate a woman to leave her ne’er-do-well husband. One thing is for sure; this collection shows the author’s range in developing memorable characters, kooky plots, and a touch of sentimentality in each and every relationship we develop throughout life.
The one I want to touch on the most is the final story, the novella about a group of women around~80ish who live together in a senior’s complex. Unfortunately, a rough family moves in nearby, and things begin to go downhill. Drugs, theft, abuse… then it leads to murder. The surviving women in the group want revenge, thus plotting out how to rid themselves of the two ruthlessly mean parents and their five children who descended upon the town. Some of the kids cannot be saved and must be made to disappear. Others might survive foster care. It truly was a fun story, and I focused on the humor element, as those Jackson’s needed to be taught a lesson!
Cronin has a clear and strong writing style. By incorporating personal experiences and emotions into her characters, she’s made various types of people come to life. Whether it’s struggling with weight loss, interpreting people’s impressions of you, or stopping yourself from doing the things you want to do but shouldn’t do, the cast in each of these stories reminded me of many events in our lives. The girl who steals our boyfriend… the guy who treats his wife poorly… the daughter who can’t recognize her mother isn’t just an elderly woman… the lady struggling to keep the weight off… or the guy misses his wife. It’s all there, and as a whole, this represents so many wonderful and pain-filled stages of life. Now we can laugh or cry together about them.
I definitely recommend reading this book for its levity, ability to watch others get revenge (without you going to jail), and perhaps some motivation to make changes in your own life. What a great collection.
If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews Sally’s books and reviews 2019
Available: Amazon US
and on: Amazon UK
More reviews can be found on: Goodreads
Thank you for dropping by and if you have a short story that you would like to share then please get in touch..thanks Sally.