Monday, December 13, 2010

The Glasses: A Christmas Story

The Glasses
by Rebecca Ryals Russell

            Susie jumped up and down on her skinny ten-year-old legs. “Can we get one for our shared-room, Mommy? Please? I love watching the colored lights flashing from my bed at night.” She looked up with puppy-dog eyes.
            Jeannie smiled, “I suppose. You mind, Josh? Lenny?” she asked the twins. At fifteen they seldom cared about anything but she still made it a point to ask. The red-headed twins shook their heads without raising eyes from the eGame they were occupied with at the moment.
            “You boys coming?” Jeannie asked, her green eyes hopeful. They shook their heads in unison. She sighed.
            Several hours later they arrived home with four magnificent fir trees. Each a lush ten feet tall. Mathew placed them into the stands and he and Jeannie put them into place in each room. The first went into the kids’ Shared room, where the boys still played their game. The second went into the dining room centered in a bay window. The third was placed in the family entertainment room beside the wall-screen.

            Susie squealed with joy as they brought out the boxes of decorations, placing a set beside each tree. She dug into the kids’ boxes and began decorating ‘her’ tree, glaring often at the lazy twins who ignored her.
            Jeannie & Mathew placed the last tree, the loveliest, into its traditional place beside the fireplace in the living room. The room was Jeannie’s favorite because of all of the memories it held. She studied the various collectible figurines remembering the occasions connected with each. Mathew wrapped his warm arms around her, nuzzled her neck and whispered, “I love you.” She squeezed him back.
            By dinner time all of the trees except the living room had been decorated and stood in multicolored glory in darkened rooms.
            The next day Susie and Jeannie began the annual baking marathon. For several days they holed up in the kitchen clattering and chattering as incredible aromas emanated forth. Occasionally Susie would stroll through the house carrying a small platter of sweets for the men to try, but none were allowed to enter the kitchen under penalty of a shrill tongue lashing. After a week the two emerged and the stacks of Christmas tins filled with every conceivable convection, stood testament to their efforts. Susie carefully doled the treats daily making sure to keep plenty for Christmas Day when extended family would arrive.
            Now that the main trees were decorated and baking done, the women decided it was time to decorate outside. The twins begrudgingly turned off their game and sullenly followed Mathew to the attic where they hauled out bins of additional decorations. The girls watched while the men hung wreaths and exterior lights on the eaves and trees.

            After dark Susie turned off the lights inside and out. Mathew flipped the breaker and, as usual, they all gasped at the breathtaking display of colored lights and moving figures scattered across the yard and roof. Peeking from every window electric candles flickered and tiny figures waved at passersby.  Susie clapped and danced a jig, swinging first on Jeannie’s arm then Mathew’s. She avoided the twins who stood emotionlessly watching her.
            The next day Susie sent virtual Christmas cards to everyone she knew. Then she holed up in her bedroom making and wrapping presents for everyone coming over the holidays. The twins took a few minutes to wrap their few gifts for the family. Jeannie even took advantage of the quiet to wrap her gifts as well. Each tree received a sprinkling of colorful boxes and bags glittering invitingly in the dancing lights.
            The following day was Christmas Eve. The house began to fill with guests as extended family arrived. Parades blared on entertainment screens throughout the house.  Jeannie, Susie and others again clattered and banged in the kitchen creating enticing aromas that drew the men only to get shoved back until time to eat. Carols rang out via speakers in the kitchen and the women sang along.  The men gathered to watch sporting events on the wall screen.
            Mid-afternoon the long dining table filled to bursting with every traditional food the women could remember. The smells drifted into the entertainment room drawing the men to the table even before Susie could yell at them to come eat. Everyone stood for a moment staring in awe at the abundance and praying. Then the room was filled with a cacophony of laughter, clanking silver on china and light banter. Susie glanced at Jeannie who was beaming red from the heat of the kitchen as well as the pleasure of the moment. Susie grinned and laughed, too.

            Around midnight Jeannie and Mathew sat in the silent living room holding hands. She playfully plopped her legs over his.
            “Another wonderful Christmas,” she sighed.
            “Yep. You’re wonderful,” he kissed her. “Ready?”
            They rose and slowly began decorating the final tree. As each layer of lights or decorations went on, they nibbled at the picnic spread on a blanket before the blazing fire. They cuddled and laughed softly. This was their private Christmas moment. Once the tree was finished, they lay on the blanket in the soft glow of the fire and colored lights.
            “Merry Christmas, Mathew,” Jeannie whispered. “I love you.”
            “I love you, too.”
            A silver-haired old woman sits on the crumbled steps of a building, long collapsed and decaying. Weeds and grasses have overgrown the shapes of structures creating a soft vista from the once rugged hardscape. The entire city as far as she can see is flattened and empty. She is alone.
Her watery gray eyes cloud over as she lifts the glasses to her face again. She pushes the tiny red button at the side. Instantly a soft light fills her eyes and she sees a skinny ten-year-old version of herself hopping up and down with excitement as she asks her mother for a Christmas tree of her own. A slow smile spreads across the wrinkled leathery face.

      Rebecca Ryals Russell is a MG/YA Fantasy Author. Her debut novel Odessa, Book 1 of the YA Seraphym Wars Series is due out April 2011 by MuseItUp Publishing. Book 1 of the MG Stardust Warriors Series, Zarena is due out July 2011 by MuseItUp Publishing. Check her website at Official Website of Rebecca Ryals Russell, Author for more about other upcoming releases as well as her WIP.


Barbara Ehrentreu said...

What a sad ending, but it is bittersweet too. I wonder if we will have these kind of glasses in the future to look back on past joyous times? Great story! It's going to be hard to follow this!!!

Sara Durham Writer ~ Author said...

Rebecca, lovely, thought provoking story!


Unknown said...

Barb, are you not a fan of Ray Bradbury? All of his stuff is like this. I adore his writing and wish I had his wit.

Sara, Thanks for reading.