Honorable Mention - Fall Breaks & Back to Winterby Matt Matrisciano, adultDiamond Cove
Seth smells the trees as soon as his dad opens the car door. They have parked at the end or beginning of several rows of Douglas firs. Seth jumps out of the minivan and plants his feet on the ground with a thud, and not the crunch he wants. He smells ice in the air. His younger brother, James, stops at the door and steps out as if he were starting down a 100-foot ladder he was climbing for the first time. Their parents walk over to a small shack-like office to the left of their car. They come back a moment later, sometimes leading, sometimes following the only available employee.
“You see the signs every so often along the trees?” the employee asks, as he points to various disintegrating and faded wooden signs. He wears no name-tag.
Seth’s parents nod.
“That’s how we number each row. Helps train new folks, helps know where the trees are, helps find people who get lost.”
“But they’re not consistent,” Seth’s mom says.”That sign says 2, that one says T, that one’s solid red, and another’s got IX in green.”
“We alternate each row.”
“Or use whatever they find lying around the side of the road,” Seth’s dad whispers to the kids.
“We also only cut down trees when they’re 5 years old,” the employee says.
“I can’t wait to cut the tree down,” Seth says.
“Keep waiting,” James says. “I’m going to cut it down.”
“I’m older than you.”
“You cut your palm with a butter knife last year.”
“Whichever of you are quieter as we look, you’ll help cut it down,” says the employee.
“We’ll say ‘timber,’ won’t we?” asks Seth.
“Timber!” James shouts.
It’s loud enough to echo and almost escapes to reverberate, but gets captured by the branches.
“Sure we will. We all will,” says Seth’s mom.
“If you’ll come with me.” The employee swings his hand toward the trees ahead. He waits for Seth’s parents to step next to him, and then they head down the path in Row T. “Y’all told me you had heavy ornaments.” The firs stretch on forever before them. “Trees at the far end of this row have sturdy branches.” The five of them walk quite a ways down the path. Seth and James lag behind and stop in front of a puddle. Their parents walk on with the employee.
James steps next to a tree and breathes out deeply several times.
“Why can’t I see my breath?”
“It’s not cold enough,” says Seth. “That’s why it never snows here.”
He stares at the ground and swivels the toe of his sneaker into the dirt.
“Will we see our breath on Christmas?”
“If it snows.” Seth kicks the dirt back over where his shoe has been. “But it won’t.” James takes off a blue cotton glove and dips his hand into the puddle. He shivers and yanks it back and shakes the water off.
Seth looks at the fir near him and tries to climb it, but the branches are too close together.
“Let’s find a real tree. One we can climb.”
He walks between the trees, and James follows.
They cross several rows of Douglas firs before they find a wide gap between the farm and a forest, covered by dirt, mud and dying yellowed grass. It’s still early in the morning, and a bit of frost has survived the night and sunrise. The grass crunches as the brothers trudge their way across. They walk into the forest, staring at the ground, and, when they look up, they see trees upon trees — mostly pines, some crowded together, some spaced apart. There are no paths, but the scent of the Douglas firs is still strong enough they can find their way back.
“Wow, are they all pines?” James asks. “I hope not,” says Seth. “We can’t climb those.”
“What about that one?” James points to a pine that has planks nailed to its trunk. Seth smiles and walks over to it.
He sees himself taking off his gloves and climbing the planks, one by one, with a strong grip and a steady pace, climbing higher and higher, until he’s above all the other treetops. The trunk stretches farther up, and he keeps climbing until, near the top, he comes to a small wooden platform. He stands up and looks down over the side. The ground is hidden, unseen for so long it’s nothing more than a vague and fading memory, like the first day of kindergarten. He scans the horizon and sees nothing but trees upon trees, growing anywhere and everywhere, without pattern. The air whispers a breeze, and some pines sway like slow dancers. The tip of his nose feels swollen and heavy, and a flake of snow lands on it.
“James!” he shouts. “Jimmy!” He looks over the edge of the platform. “Snow, Jimmy!”
Several axe chops ring out, and he feels himself falling, and now he’s standing on the ground again, staring at the planks nailed to the pine.
“They chopped down the tree without us,” says James.
Seth takes off his gloves and grips a plank. He looks up the trunk. A treehouse juts out about 50 feet above his head. He climbs to the second plank, the third, the fourth, the fifth.
“We didn’t get to say ‘timber.’”
“You just said it,” says Seth.
He climbs higher and higher and hears his mom shouting his name.
“Come see the tree we got,” their dad yells. “I think it’ll even hold the star up top.”
James walks to the base of the tree. “C’mon, Seth, we should go back.”
“You can have your tree,” says Seth. “I found mine.”
He stares at nothing but the trapdoor above him as he climbs. He sees the ladder running on through the treehouse up to the treetop, and the cold and the snow up there will wake him up forever.
Honorable Mention - A Christmas Taleby Pierre Paul Lesperance, 11MetroWest
Boom! If you wondered what that beautiful sound was, well, it was the obliteration of an ice cream parlor.
Sorry, forgive me for not mentioning my name. It is Anti-Santa. Unfortunately, I’m the brother of a good-for-nothing, dreaded lump of humanity. He is known as Santa. I remember, as children, he was favored by Mother and Father. Also, he was praised for everything he did, while I was put down and bullied, even by nerds. As a result, I became very despicable. At the moment, I’m on a reign of terror, starting with destroying every ice cream parlor on the face of the planet and ruining Christmas for all the little boys and girls around the world. My reason for this is to stop the Santa-praising, snot-nosed children from enjoying the horrific frozen heart attack (aka ice cream) and happiness of Christmas. I know the idea is pathetic, but it’s all I could think of.
Woo-woo, the police and their cars showed up with Santa. In the blink of an eye he conjured the ice cream parlors back. Of course he would undo my wrong deeds to be the hero everyone loves. For example, Santa and I worked on a science project for a school fair, but he did not research or work on it, yet he received all the credit. As a child, I always tried to do good things, but I was detested by everyone. I decided not to be Santa’s shadow and stopped trying to be good. Eventually, I went to the darker side and became Anti-Santa. Suddenly, I felt a tightening pain, and I returned to the present, finding myself being hauled off to a jail cell.
Immediately after I arrived, the jail guards confiscated all of my gadgets, except for my hidden stocking of doom. So, then I received my cruddy food, and I made a makeshift 100 mA battery out of my food. I powered my stocking of doom with the battery. Finally, my stocking was fully charged, so I retrieved a custom buzz saw. As I sawed away at the jail cell bars, a few sizzling sparks ignited, leaking petroleum from my stocking of doom. Frantically, I severed the last bar, while the blazing inferno looked like it was eating away the jail cell like my horrid brother ate all of the food on Thanksgiving. I returned from my flashback, and in the nick of time, I leapt out of the cell before it went kablouee. The smoke and debris temporally blinded the guards, giving me time to escape, and I started making my way back to my home in the South Pole.
Subsequently, I sprouted an idea like a seedling flourishing in the spring. The plan was to stop Santa and Christmas from happening. I quickly jumped to action by preparing my doom jet with weapons like a no-no-no cannon, tickle ray and Hello Kitty GPS — scratch the Hello Kitty GPS. I also loaded anti-present bombs, because nobody likes disintegrated gifts. The bombs are absurd, but I couldn’t afford to get real bombs. My plan is to disintegrate the presents as soon as Santa delivers them. The children will be traumatized on Christmas Day.
As Christmas Eve arrived, Santa was packing his sleigh with goodies at the same time I was loading my diabolical weapons. Who am I kidding? My so-called weapons are cheap like school food, but they will have to do. Following that, I jumped into my doom jet. I then followed Santa’s route so I could drop an anti-present bomb at the house where Santa just delivered a present. By the time we reached Florida, I ran out of bombs. I panicked, so I decided to fire my tickle ray. The tickle ray had no effect because of Santa’s colossal stomach. Santa responded to the attack with a blinding pixy dust beam that he got from the Tooth Fairy. Instinctively, I countered it with a goo shield. At the height of our battle, Santa fired a red ho-ho-ho cannon and I fired a blue no-no-no cannon. I gazed at the power struggle between the blasts. The power struggle released waves of energy, which destroyed our rides.
Santa and I plummeted to the ground. The power struggle developed into a purple wormhole. Santa was the closest one to the wormhole. I thought this was better than how I had planned it.
I watched as Santa’s body was about to be consumed by the wormhole. At that moment, I realized that destroying Santa and making others sad would not make me happy, because I would be very lonely not having anyone to fight. Instead, there was this urgency to save Santa that came over me. I was seeing Santa as a boy, my brother. I knew I had to save him.
I quickly mustered all the strength I had and pulled him to safety. Santa, with a disbelieving look on his face, gave me the biggest hug I had ever received.
Santa and I are now partners. Presently, I am again known as Joseph Kringle, which was my birth name. I use my super technical skills to build cool high-tech toys. I’m now head of the North Pole toy engineering department, and I’m leading the elves into a new era of creativity. Today, kids around the world enjoy these new toys and games that keep getting better each year. And I am now finally at peace with myself.
Honorable Mention - The Season of Givingby Jacob Hartman, 10Stoneybrook West
The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. I usually get lots of presents from my mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and even Santa. My brother, sister and I are very lucky, since we usually get a lot of the things we want each year. Last year, Santa even brought us a large flat-screen TV for our playroom so my brother and I could play all our Xbox 360 games. Call of Duty is my favorite, especially when I get to play it with my friends on Xbox Live. But sometimes I remember there are children out there who are not so fortunate, and I feel lucky to have all that I have.
My family goes to Holy Family Catholic Church, where we learn Christmas is the season of giving, not just receiving presents. We learn to spread good will and be kind to our neighbors. Each year, our church has a Christmas tree in the lobby that has angel ornaments hanging from it. Every angel has the age of a boy or girl on it who is less-fortunate and would like to have a good Christmas, just like me. The angel will list items the child wants for Christmas, but their families can’t afford to buy them.
My brother, sister and I each choose an angel from the tree whose age is the same as ours, and we go to Target with our parents and purchase the items for that boy or girl. Every year I save up my money and use it to buy one of the items for a boy who is my age, and my mom encouragesme to wrap the present myself. I feel so good that I can do this for a child in need, and I hope to continue this tradition as I grow up and become a parent myself.
Last year, I picked a 9-year-old boy who wanted a football of his own to play with. I love to play football and have a few balls of my own that I use to play with my dad and brother. It made me sad to think of a little boy who didn’t even have one ball to throw around with his family or friends. I was so thrilled to purchase this football from Sports Authority. I took it home and immediately wrapped it, putting a bow on it with the angel glued on it. I made a special card for him and put it with the football, telling him I hoped he had as much fun playing with his new football as I had with mine; that I hoped he has someone to play with him, like I have my dad and brother.
The following Sunday, I took the present into church and placed it under the Christmas tree with all the other presents from our family, friends and parishioners.
I hope that I made this boy happy and wish I could have seen his face as he opened his gift. Maybe one day I will be able to meet him in person and play football with him.
Each year, I am reminded that the holidays are about giving and making someone other than myself feel good. This year, I have been saving my money, and I want to get two angels off the tree at church and make two 10-year-old boys have a good Christmas, just like me.
Honorable Mention - Winter Wonderlandby Riley Kennedy, 10Courtleigh Park
Ring, ring the sleigh goes, Presents wrapped with sparkly bows. Lit-up Christmas trees, Presents, all for me. Graceful angels up above, God’s great abundant love. Snowball fights, Kids throw with all their might. Ice-skating for everyone, Come on down, it’s quite fun. Don’t you love this holiday? Season where the snowflakes dance and play. There’s no time for summer sand, Let’s cheer for Winter Wonderland.
More Stories of the Season
Kearney Publishing Corp.7901 Kingspointe Parkway, Suite 28Orlando, FL 32819407.351.1573 | Fax number: 407.363.3954
Kearney Publishing Corp.