Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)
TITLE: Christmas Carole
By Shirley McClay
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Carole ducked her head into the pelting snow. She trudged down the winding driveway clutching her bag of gifts. The world was a hazy mist through her fogged glasses. She took them off and tucked them in her pocket. Three steps later she tugged them out and replaced them on her nose. She’d go with low visibility.
Rounding a bend Carole saw the house. It was a gingerbread type and the draping blanket of snow looked like thick frosting.
The porch was a haven from the wind and she was barely able to force a song through her frozen lips. The words to Silent Night wrapped around the cozy house and slipped inside and into the hearts of the residents.
The door opened and Helen peeked out. Her curled white hair was striking against the red glittery sweater she wore. A green gift bow stuck precariously on the side of her hair and ornament balls hung from her ears.
“Come in child… before you catch pneumonia! “
Carole let herself be ushered into the entryway. Scents of baking and evergreen boughs warmed her sinuses and she needed a tissue… now.
She pulled off her gloves and grabbed the tissue hanging in the air near her arm. Putting it to her nose she blew. Carole reached for the second tissue dangling from helpful fingers. Her hand jerked to a stop. It wasn’t the sweet little old lady as she had expected. A flannel shirt was in front of her eyes. She followed the buttons up to the face. It was a man.
Carole’s eyes trailed down his arm to the tissue he was offering and her face burned with the memory of her noisy use of the last tissue. She stared at his face as he grinned at her. She noted that his smile crinkled his eyes at the corners and a dimple decorated his cheek. His eyes were a cinnamon shade that matched his curly hair and he had the most perfect nose she had ever…
“You might want to use this before your nose drips.” The horror of his words overshadowed the tingle that tickled her spine at the timbre of his voice.
She grabbed the tissue and spun away from him. After decorously wiping the drip Carole kept her back to him and removed the scarf from her neck. The snow crusting it was melting down her neck.
She tried to think of something to say. “You sing bass, right?”
“Yes, Sweetie... and he plays concert piano and is a Veterinarian Surgeon.” The lumberjack in front of her was all of that? Another stereotype debunked.
Helen took her outerwear as she effervesced. “Darren is my grandson. He was headed home today but all the flights are canceled so he is stuck with me for Christmas.”
Another one of those ridiculous tingles. “I put my SUV in the ditch when I tried to turn into your driveway. I may be stuck here a while, too.”
“The forecast is calling for several more inches tonight. You can have the spare room and I’ll take the couch.”
“Darren has a fire going in the living room. You too youngsters go sit and get acquainted.” Carol noticed the wink Helen flashed at Darren and flushed. She wondered just how much more uncomfortable she could get.
She settled into a rocker and held her hands out to the fire. The warmth made Carole drowsy and content. Darren scooted onto the piano bench and soon the room seemed to vibrate with Christmas hymns and his bass voice. She joined in with her soprano.
After several songs, cups of hot chocolate, and a plate of Christmas cookies, the two had become friends and were able to laugh over their awkward meeting.
“So what made you come out and sing Christmas carols in a snowstorm?” He leaned back on the couch and rested his feet on the coffee table. Helen dozed in another rocker.
Carole grinned at his question. “It’s not as crazy as it seems. Both your Gran and I were going to be alone for Christmas. She likes my singing so I thought I would surprise her with some carols. I didn’t expect the bad weather… it wasn’t nearly as bad in town.”
“Her own Christmas Carole, huh? Nice.”
She laughed at his pun and decided that this might be the best Christmas this Carole ever had.
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