Kay: “A Grizzly Wedding” Christmas Story

Kizzy Macklin clutched the glass of champagne, now warm, and shifted rightwards at the head table, away from the drunken and leaning Peter Frederick Fordyce-Fisher III. Why her sister wanted to get married on New Year’s Eve, a day when the entire population had an excuse to behave badly, was baffling to her. You didn’t have to look any further than Freddie to realize the whole affair was one giant fiasco. But that was Carlie all over.

“Zhe looksh like an angel,” Freddie slurred, gazing in Carlie’s general direction, his eyes unfocused. Kizzy didn’t believe he could actually see Carlie, but he wasn’t wrong. Carlie did look beautiful in her simple white dress, her naked shoulders gleaming in the candlelight, and that giant diamond tiara blazing brighter than a lighthouse on top of her head. That thing was so big that if she stood outside, the refracted light would cause tanker ships to collide. Continue reading

Jeanne: Bear With Me on This – A Christmas Short Story

After reading Michaeline and Jilly’s amazing entries, I’m pretty embarrassed to post this one. Through the magic of multiple marriages, I am blessed with copious numbers of children and grandchildren. Every year I host a big do on Christmas Eve and attend a second one on Christmas day. Which leaves very little time for writing.

I’ve actually given up on moving forward on whatever work-in-progress is in progress in December each year, but since this is my first year being an Eight Lady at Christmas, I didn’t want to ignore the annual short story tradition here. But while the spirit was willing, the creativity (and writing time) were weak. Many apologies. Continue reading

Jilly: Breaking With Tradition – A Christmas Short Story

Where does the time go? Can you believe this is the fifth year of the Eight Ladies Christmas Short Story Challenge?

Check out Elizabeth’s post here for the rules and this year’s story prompts (I think I got ‘em all). And go here for Michaeline’s spooky and moving ghost story.

Below is mine—not exactly a HEA, but something sunny to contrast with Michaeline’s dark night of the soul 😉 .

***

Breaking With Tradition

Mia Bougainvillea glowered at her husband-to-be, wondering yet again what on earth had induced him to propose marriage. It was beyond baffling.

She knew why she’d accepted. He was her boss’s son. A brilliant scholar. Rich. Classy. Stylish. Blond, tanned, and perfectly proportioned. Out of her league. She’d been drunk on flattery and Dom Perignon. And now here they were, on her island, in a collision of cultures that had bypassed fiasco and was thundering toward disaster.

“Sorry, Mia. I’m not walking up there.” The midday sun reflected off Arthur’s mirrored shades as he stared at the sacred volcano, powerful and mysterious. “It must be five miles to the top.”

“It’s traditional,” Mia repeated. She folded her arms grimly over the knot of her bridal pilgrimage flame-print sarong.

His lower lip jutted. “I gave you my grandmother’s diamond solitaire. Isn’t that traditional enough?”

She shook her head, dislodging a few fragrant petals from her flower crown. “We have to walk to the crater and ask for Pinguis’s blessing. No islander would get married here without it. You said you were looking forward to it. You said it would be fun.”

“I was ambivalent at best.” His voice rose to a whine that made him sound like a colicky, grizzly baby. “Furthermore, when you first broached the idea I didn’t know it would be so damned hot.”

“You’d be cooler if you lost the suit and tie.”

“For the last time, Mia, a gentleman does not wear a skirt, even in the tropics.” He leaned forward slightly, eyes narrowed. “Are you naked under that wrap?”

“Of course. It’s customary.” She slanted a glance at him. “Many people find it sexy.”

“It’s embarrassing.” He smoothed out a non-existent crease in his sleeve. “Why don’t you put some proper clothes on—something that fastens. With a zipper. Or buttons. I’ll take you for lunch at the yacht club.”

Pinguis, help me. The honeymoon was over, and they weren’t even married yet.

“It’s not too late, Arthur,” she heard herself blurt.

Continue reading

Michaeline: A Christmas Ghost Story

Welcome to this year’s Christmas story challenge! Here’s a somber little number to get us started on one of the longest nights of the year. Check back on Elizabeth’s post outlining the rules through the week! She’s also got a nice list of stories from challenges past. 

Unbeliever

A grizzled ghost from an old magazine looks at a young woman in a bed, possibly.

Stronger than death. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The first thing you should know about me is that I was a nuclear physicist. I didn’t believe in woo-woo, and I didn’t believe in goddamn ghosts. I believe in the laws of nature and mathematics. And, yeah, sure, my girlfriend told me about that baffling Hamlet and his “more things in your philosophy” quote. But ghosts aren’t real. I never believed.

The second thing you should know about me is that I was supposed to get married last Christmas to the most beautiful woman on the planet. Kind, smart, super-sexy and she loves me too. But I was hanging lights on our house (our first house) after a freak rainstorm, and the law of gravity ruled against me. What a fiasco. No wedding, no honeymoon, and she still wears my diamond and gets drunk every night while I continue to not exist. Believe me, it’s the last thing I wanted.

And yet, here I am. And it’s been nothing like the woo-woo people led me to expect. No tunnel, no bright lights, no mysterious angels with blazing swords, carving out a stairway to heaven. And, baffling enough, it’s not been anything like my serious atheist colleagues have posited, either. No nothing. I’m just hanging around the house, still grizzly from the three-day razor stubble after my last Thanksgiving, ambivalently sloughing around the house and the estate, alternately angry at my fate and overjoyed to see Jenny’s sweet naked face in the mornings. There was supposed to be nothing after death. Not something. And I’m still having trouble believing it.

And so this is Christmas, one year later. Jenny’s got her wedding dress out – I’d never gotten to see it, and I want to blurt out how wonderful she looks. She’s having trouble with Continue reading

Elizabeth: 5th Annual Christmas Week Short Story Challenge!

© Eldridge Photography

Long-time readers of the blog may recall that around this time of year we tend to take a break from talking about writers and writing and do a little storytelling instead.  It’s like a multi-week version of our regular Friday Writing Sprints.

We’re kicking off this year’s Christmas Week Short Story Challenge today and several of the Eight Ladies will be posting their stories during the next week or so.  All of you blog-readers are welcome to participate as well.  You can post your own story (or a link to your story) in the comments below on this post or on any of the upcoming Short Story posts.

The rules of the Challenge are simple – write a short story based on the specified prompt and include at least three of the random words on the list; extra points for including more than three words and extra points with sparkles for Holiday references.

Prompt:  A December 31st Wedding

The wedding for your short story can be any kind of wedding, anywhere.  Whether it’s been planned for months or spur-of-the-moment; it’s between childhood sweethearts or mortal enemies; or it goes off without a hitch or crashes and burns – the details are completely up to you.

Oh, and here is a set of random words to give you some food for thought:

angel                 ambivalent         blaze              baffling

zipper                estate                 fiasco              honeymoon

blurt                   eruption            collision          diamond

mysterious        grizzly                naked              drunk 

Whatever length story you want to write – that’s exactly the length we’re looking for.

While you wait for this year’s stories, feel free to get in the mood by checking out some of last year’s entries:

Even better, try your hand at today’s words and post your results in the comments for all to enjoy.

Let the challenge begin!

Michaeline: December is Story Time!

Christmas postcard with Santa Claus and bag of toys in a basket suspended by greenery from an airship, with "Greetings to one and all - Merry Christmas." Color postcard, ca. 1916. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. N39376.

Christmas goes so well with an airship or two! (Image via Missouri History)

Well, another NaNo here and gone for some of us on Eight Ladies. Three thousand words is better than nothing, and I take heart in the fact that December has often been a great month for story for all of us.

Want proof? We have our Christmas week stories! The tradition started Continue reading

Nancy: They Shoot Flamingos, Don’t They? A Chrismas(ish) Tale

Happy New Year! It’s official. It’s now 2018.

And yet, I come offering my 2017 Christmas story. It’s a long one. (Had I been a wise woman like Jilly, I would have posted it in two parts.) It’s involves a bit of romance. And a clandestine organization. And, as promised, flamingos. Whether you’re nursing a hangover, agonizing over returning to work, or mulling over your new year’s resolutions, I hope you enjoy it!

They Shoot Flamingos, Don’t They? A Christmas(ish) Tale

There had to be a better way to make a living.

Going straight was for the birds. Literally. I glanced down at the deflated inflatable flamingos I clutched by limp necks. Who the hell had ever heard of flamingos in a Christmas lawn display? There weren’t flamingos in Bethlehem or at the North Pole. No respectable Christmas story featured the ridiculous pink birds. But Mrs. Leary had insisted that the damned things – part of her year-round yard décor on her 2-acre plot in the heart of Beverly Hills – be included in the Christmas decoration design.

“Miss Klauson, you wanted to see me?” Old Mrs. Leary, probably never very tall but now well under 5 feet, with tight shoulder-length curls shot through with gray, tottered toward me.

“Please, it’s Sandy.”

Sandy Klauson. Seriously. I mean, Jesus of Nazareth. Never let it be said that Ms. X doesn’t have a sense of humor, but if she had to cut me loose a few weeks before Christmas, she sure as hell could have come up with a better cover name for me. And a better civilian job. And a better place than LA at Christmas time, under a beating hot sun with nary a snowflake in sight. X had probably done it out of spite, but it was ridiculously unfair. Anyone could have made the mistake of tranquilizing an overly handsy ambassador from a small but important US ally. OK, so it was more of a choice than a mistake, but still.

Mrs. Leary sucked in her breath and opened her eyes wide in surprise. “Oh, this is a catastrophe!” She reached out and petted one of the limp plastic birds. “My dearly departed husband gave me these flamingos on our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. I’ve had them in my yard ever since.” Her eyes filled with tears.

Well hell. So much for the suggestion of rehoming the birds in the trash can.

“I don’t know what happened.” I didn’t mention the small slits I’d found in their throats. “I found them like this. But I’ll fix them for you. We’ll make them good as new.”

Mrs. Leary wiped away a tear. “Oh, you’re a good girl. Thank you, dear.”

As the old lady returned to the house, I looped around the outskirts of the palatial building until I found TJ, the job foreman, and explained the dilemma and my plan. “I’ll just take the van, find a garage or bike shop, and have someone fix these for me, like a flat tire. I should be back in a few hours.”

Across the lawn, the old lady emerged from the side door with her oversized chauffeur – whom I suspected doubled as a body guard – steadying her, and headed for the detached garage. Her daily 2 PM outing to get a newspaper, a cup of tea, and a comb-out at the beauty parlor. Yes, I’d clocked her movements and done some recon. So sue me. Old habits die hard.

I turned back to TJ, who’d been watching me watch her. He had his own interesting habits, and with his height and heft, I wouldn’t mind having him at my back in a fight, just like Derek…I wouldn’t let my mind go there. Still, TJ would have been good Company material, and if X hadn’t lost her mind and fired me, I might have recruited him.

TJ shook his head at me. “Get the old lady’s birds fixed. But you can’t take the van. We still have half the strings of lights in there. Take an Uber and get a receipt.”

I nodded and headed for the front gates, which stood wide open to give us easy access to our van and equipment that Mrs. Leary refused to let us park in her driveway. I’d just pulled out my phone to contact an Uber – and yes, I would save the receipt and turn it in for reimbursement, thank you very much, since X had frozen my assets – when something caught my eye. Something that didn’t belong on this neat, narrow, tree-covered street in the Hills.

The scuffed black work boots immediately gave away the game. Half a block down and on the other side of the road, leaning against the side of a shiny, black, expensive-looking pick-up truck, thumbs hooked in the belt loops of his jeans, wearing a tight blue tee shirt that showcased his broad chest his rock-hard biceps, with his long legs stretched in front of him and crossed at the shank of those boots I’d know anywhere.

“Bastard.” Continue reading