Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Home for Christmas (11/20/08)
TITLE: Truth and Dare
By Marita Vandertogt
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“Till I tell you,” she said.
Archie Smithson is hiding behind a snowbank across the street. He thinks I can’t see him. I can’t. All I can see is the pompom on the top of the toque his grandmother knit him for Christmas last year. It’s bright red. You can’t miss it.
“Throw that snowball at me, and it’s war.” I yell at him through a white fog pulling my tongue in long enough to form the words, throw them across the street at the red pompom, and then stick it back out.
“You’re cheating.” Kerry glares at me from eyes that seem to lay on the top of her scarf. That’s all I can see of her, except for the white tinted eyebrows and scarlet forehead.
“Okay,” I say back, my tongue starting to lose sensation. But I can’t quit. My words are thick again as I ask her the next question.
“You owe me a truth, something I don’t know.” My sentence finished just as a snowball, perfectly formed, made its way toward my head.
“Duck” she pulled me down but not in time. My hat flies off with the force, just missing the top of my head.
“A truth.” I say again, ducking now against the inevitable as another, then another fly across the tops of our heads. Archie is not alone, but we don’t dare look up.
I pull my tongue in now. It’s a divided fight. Kerry pulls the scarf away from her face and starts to say something.
“I didn’t hear you,” I tell her, forming a snowball now trying to make it round so it will pick up speed going across the street, but my gloves are too big. They were my brother’s. You can wear them this winter, my mother told me. They’re still good. “Good for what.” I’d yelled back at her. “Good for nothing.” Which I was now proving.
Missile in hand, I stood up long enough to spot my target, but too long to avoid getting pelted on the side of the head. I tossed mine at random, and sat back down.
“This is silly,” I tell Kerry. “I’m going to sit here till they get bored.”
“We could be snowed under by then,” she stands up and tosses hers, about three minutes in the making.
“Archibald Samuel Smithson” we hear his mother’s voice, loud against the cold air. “Dinner is ready. Get in here right now before it gets cold.”
“Kerry, Allison.” Our own mother’s voice calls from the veranda. “Dinner.” We can smell the turkey and pumpkin pie making its way through the door. Christmas dinner, nothing better. Every year the same, but still exciting. My tongue is trying to thaw. I panic for a minute in case I won’t be able to taste the cranberry jelly, or the mashed potatoes. I beat Kerry through the door.
Later that night, we sit around the tree, counting the bulbs that burnt out. My dad has stopped fixing them. “Next year,” is all he says.
“The truth,” I whisper to Kerry again, the fireglow on her face. “You still owe me a truth.”
“Oh yah,” she smiled. “Well, this is big. Promise you won’t tell anyone.”
“Crosses,” I tell her, pointing to my heart.
“Well, I found out Archie Smithson like Anne Marie. Asked her to the Christmas pageant.”
“No,” my voice is loud. “That’s not a new truth. Everybody knows that.”
“Sorry, but that’s all I got right now.” The smile on her face curled down. “I need more time!”
That was many Christmas’s ago. Years have passed, but not inside my heart. There is no place like home to celebrate Christmas, no matter how many memories you have to go through to get there.
“Dinner’s ready,” I call to my grandchildren, faces covered in snow, pulling a brand new slick and slippery plastic sled. “Don’t let the turkey get cold Kerry,” I whisper under my breath, my tongue still sensitive to the winter air. “And don’t forget, you still owe me a truth. I’m still waiting.”
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