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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)

TITLE: Season of Espionage
By Anita van der Elst


EJ could dimly see the numbers on the little cuckoo clock’s face as it ticked quietly in the dark. He’d been patient for oh, so long. Not just hours, but days and weeks. That visit to Santa seemed to have been years ago. Every evening since then with his little safety scissors he’d snipped a link from the green and red paper chain he’d made with his mother to help him grasp the concept of time. He’d had his usual bath and let his mother tuck him in. Still, waiting for Christmas was beyond this five-year-old little boy’s capabilities. And on this Christmas Eve anticipation got the better of him.

Sure that his parents were long fast asleep he slowly eased his bare toes out from under the covers. Silently, so silently, he slid his feet into his Batman slippers. Stealthily, so stealthily, he inched his way down the hall past the master bedroom. Next was avoiding the one squeaky tread on the staircase. Was it on the right of the sixth step down, or on the left of the fifth? He chose the middle ground on both. His sigh of relief was almost as loud as the creak would’ve been.

Several times he thought he heard footsteps coming after him. But every time he glanced behind him, he saw no one. At the foot of the stairs lay another obstacle in the shape of a fluffy Airedale named Clyde. But EJ was prepared. As Clyde’s nose lifted and a whimper rose, EJ slipped the doggy treat out of its hiding place in the pocket of his robe. Once again it was a silent night. Well, silent except for the snuffling and crunching.

EJ slid his slipper-clad feet from one shadow to the next. Finally his goal was in sight. His eyes rounded as he spied a multitude of shapes heaped under the Christmas tree. Carefully he pulled out the little penlight and brushed a few doggy treat crumbs off of it. Thankful that he knew the letters of the alphabet and just which two of those letters belonged to him, he aimed the thin beam.

I will only open one gift, he thought self-righteously, as he crawled around the tree looking at gift tags. Aha, here was one for EJ. As he pulled it out from the pile, the paper crackled and he froze for what seemed an eternity. Cautiously and soundlessly he maneuvered the box out into the open. With nimble fingers well used to disassembling mechanical toys and then just as easily reassembling them, he worked the tape loose, folded the bright paper back and opened the box. The erector set he’d asked Santa for! Oh, boy! But now he knew he’d have to wait until morning to play with it. He didn’t want his parents to know he’d peeked after all their admonitions not to. Expertly he replaced the paper around the box, pressed the tape back into place and slid the box back under the tree.

In the morning no one seemed the wiser for his little midnight foray. He felt he portrayed surprise and joy quite adequately over the wonderful erector set. Whenever he played with it, he remembered his successful and secretive espionage adventure with great satisfaction even thinking he might have a career like James Bond someday.

Twenty-five years later, standing in the shadows of the upstairs landing, EJ, a.k.a. Agent 007, grinned and smothered an affectionate chuckle. In the living room below two small twin towheads bent over a brightly wrapped present as carefully, so carefully, their fingers worked at opening it. Whispered elation rose over the pirate ship Lego set. Both heads swiveled around to check for surveillance. Then with great meticulousness two sets of hands smoothed the wrapping back onto the box. Not one shred of evidence from their evening’s espionage would remain and the secret tradition was safe.

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This article has been read 625 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke10/30/08
I was frozen on the stairs right along with EJ! Yes, this one drew me and in and kept me all the way through. Fun!
Gregory Kane11/01/08
You captured the childlike excitement of Christmas perfectly. I so enjoyed this piece, I read it out loud to my family.
Sharon Kane11/03/08
You painted the scene so perfectly I had to hold my breath while I was reading so as not to make a sound!
Lisa Keck11/05/08
Well stuctured. I could see the little boy sneaking down the stairs and feel the adventure and suspense. Way to bring it full-circle as that boy later watches his own sons.
Robyn Burke11/06/08
Way to go Anita!! I'm so proud of you!!!
Shirley McClay 11/06/08
Excellent! I love how you ended it with the twins! Double the trouble.Congratulations!!
Lisa Keck11/06/08
It just dawned on me that EJ could be my favorite kitchen make-over guy. Congrats on 3rd place.