I’m participating in Susanna Leonard Hill’s holiday story contest. Here are the rules:
1) Must be appropriate for kids,
2) Must be no more than 350 words, and
3) Severe weather must play a role in the story.
I confess, my earlier attempt was a leaky sieve that I couldn’t bear to expose to the blogging elements. But when I heard that San Francisco (all of California) was going to be hit with a severe storm nicknamed “The Pineapple Express,” I was inspired to take another stab at writing something that would, ah, hold water. It’s 345 words. Oh, and I decided to use Maine, our home-away-from-home as the setting for the story.
So ho-ho-ho! Here we go:
By Jilanne Hoffmann
One Christmas Eve night on a tiny island in Maine, the wind howled. Waves frothed among the rocks, and foam frittered across the path leading to the lighthouse, where the keeper and his son, Fernando, waited out the storm.
“Papa,” said Fernando. “Will Santa still come?”
“If we survive the night,” said Papa. “That will be gift enough.”
The shutters rattled. Rain sprayed through the cracks around the door.
In his heart, Fernando knew Papa was right, but in his head, he wished for a bag of marbles.
“I must check the light,” said Papa. “Ships depend on us.”
He took a lantern and climbed a ladder through an opening in the ceiling to the lighthouse tower, leaving Fernando alone.
The wind eased, and the room fell silent except for the logs hissing in the wood stove.
“Papa!” yelled Fernando. “It’s over!”
“Don’t be fooled,” came Papa’s voice from above. “It’s the hurricane’s eye. We are only halfway safe.”
Papa’s footsteps grew faint as he trudged up the spiral stairs of the tower.
Fernando stuffed rags into cracks around the door.
One bag of glorious cat’s-eye marbles, he wished. One handful.
Fernando stoked the fire. The ceiling creaked.
“Papa?” called Fernando.
The wind resumed its howling. The ceiling creaked again.
Shards from the light’s glass fell through the hole in the ceiling.
“Help!” cried Papa. “I’m trapped!”
Fernando climbed through the hole and pulled planks of wood from the broken stairs off of Papa’s legs until he was freed.
Exhausted, they climbed down and lay on their beds by the stove, then fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning they awoke to the sound of a hundred hammers.
“Who could that be?” yawned Papa.
A note and a wrapped present lay next to Fernando:
Sorry for crashing into the light. Will send elves to fix damage tomorrow.
Fernando tore open the wrapping. Green cat’s-eye marbles clicked in Fernando’s hands.
“Merry Christmas, Papa!” said Fernando. “I’m going to thank the elves!”
“Bring tools,” said Papa. “Let’s help them, too!”