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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)

TITLE: In Excelsis Deo
By T. F. Chezum
10/08/08


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Walter’s arm trembled as he inched his cane toward the door. He turned the knob, pulling it open as wide as the chain would allow. “Can I help…”

A throng of smiling faces huddled outside his house breaking into resonating harmony at the sound of the opening door.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your hearts be light.
From now on our troubles will be …



***


“Sweetheart, hurry” Evelyn’s voice chimed through the house. “You’ll miss the carolers.” She clapped her hands in appreciation of the singing.

“I heard them from here.” The elderly man shifted his weight in the recliner.

“Just pay him no mind.” She forced a smile. “Can I get you some hot cocoa? It’s very chilly tonight.”

“No thank you ma’am,” one of the young musicians said.

“You tell Pastor Carlson that we’ll be there for his Christmas sermon tomorrow.” She teetered against the doorframe.

“Are you alright?” A young man stepped forward from the group and propped her up.

“Evie.” Walter shuffled to his wife’s side.

“You sing so beautifully.” The elderly lady’s voice waned. She coughed. “Can you sing Angels we have heard on high?”

“Come now … You need your rest.” Walt nudged her arm. “And the youngsters have other places to go.”

“We must remember why we celebrate.” She motioned to the group. “It’s my favorite Christmas song.”

The small assembly of singers huddled close. A burst of steam rose into the night air as they sang in unison.

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains
Glo-oo-oo-o-oo-ria, in excelsis Deo…


Evelyn slumped forward.

Glo-oo-oo-o-oo-ria…

“Sweetheart.” Walter put his arm around her.

The voices sporadically silenced.

Evelyn collapsed to the floor, dragging her husband down on top of her.

The band of singers stared in stunned silence.




Walter leaned forward on his chair in the waiting room. “How is she doing?”

Dr. Fitzgerald sat beside the elderly man. “She’s resting.” He shook his head. “She suffered a major cardiac episode … There was a lot of damage to the heart muscle. She’s very weak.”

“Can I see her?”

The physician nodded as he stood up. “I’ll take you to her room.”

Walter sat at his wife’s bedside. “Evie?”

Evelyn’s eyes cracked open. She tried to smile.

“I’m sorry.” The aged man caressed her hand.

“Why?”

Sadness welled in Walter’s eyes. “The hospital is no place to spend Christmas.” His voice cracked.

“But we are together.” Evelyn’s voice faded. “Remember …” She gasped for a breath. “Remember the reason.” Her body went flaccid.



***


Through the years
We all will be together,
If the fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.



A tear traced the creases on Walter’s cheek. He gazed into the distance.

A buzz spread amongst the group. “Sir?” A young man stepped forward. “Are you alright?”

“I was just remembering.” He heaved a sigh. “Can you sing Angels we have heard on high?”


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This article has been read 519 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 10/10/08
What a moving story. Well done.
Jan Ackerson 10/11/08
Great job with the flashback and flash forwards--very well done.
Emily Gibson10/12/08
The bittersweet of tragic memories of sad Christmases renewed each holiday. This was heart-felt.
Joy Faire Stewart10/13/08
Very touching story and a gentle reminder that the holidays aren't always a happy time for everyone.
Karlene Jacobsen 10/14/08
Bittersweet and tender. I enjoyed this very much.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/14/08
Your bittersweet story made me sad for Walter.
Leah Nichols 10/16/08
Awwww....I almost cried with this one....great job. I liked this piece very much!