Day 11: The Travelers

A Japanese transport plane flying over mountains

Even when things don’t work out right, take the next chance! Fly! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories. Today we have internet relationships gone awry, a flight delay, and strangers on a plane.  Will it all work out?  You’ll have to continue reading to find out.

This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” entry features (some if not all) of the following words: snuggle, impress, mask, collapse, icicle, regret, famous, sneeze, scandalous, spark, impulse, and fantasy.

So here, courtesy of 8L Michaeline, is today’s story.

The Travelers

Kenji snuggled down under his airline-provided blanket, a mask over his nose to keep out the germs and to re-humidify the dry cabin air.

What a way to spend Christmas.

He’d tried to impress his American girlfriend by showing up on her doorstep on Christmas Eve, but his “girlfriend” turned out to be a 300-pound trucker with a wife and three kids. Kenji had collapsed in shock, and then the littlest one sneezed on him and spilled some apple juice on him, accidentally. Kenji regretted those hours on the internet, building up a fantasy future full of love and happiness, only to have his heart dashed to pieces and drowned in a toddler’s fluids. So, now, he was back on a plane – expensive first class, because the economy seats had all been full.

He’d be home by New Year’s Day, and have to explain to his mother why he was in debt up to his eyebrows, and still unmarried at the ripe old age of 31. He asked the stewardess for a bottle of wine, but was informed that no alcohol could be served until the plane was in the air and at cruising altitude.

Damn. Continue reading

Day 10: Botticelli Pizza

Photo courtesy of fearlesshomemaker.com

Welcome the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’ve got a “Happily Ever After” story, with pizza.  This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: secret, story, diary, snowflake, diamond, snuggle, forest, catastrophe, plan, buffet, traffic, surprise, signature, memory, flamingo, and whisky.

So here, courtesy of 8L Kay, is today’s story.

Botticelli Pizza

For some insane reason, I decided I wanted to throw my parents a surprise buffet party for their anniversary at Christmas. I’d fretted about it for weeks—the menu diary, the signature cocktail, the tiered cake, the special music, the decorations, the tableware, the linens. I’d just started my catering company, and, I suppose, I wanted to show off.

Showing off—yeah, it’s always smart to try to show off on your first gig, in front of family, in December.

Why had my parents wanted to get married in December? Practically on Christmas Day? Continue reading

Day 9: Mistletoe Reboot

Couple embracing wrapped in Christmas lights

Welcome to Day 9 of the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’ve got a couple whose “happily ever after” could really use a reboot.  This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: snuggle, impress, mask, collapse, icicle, regret, famous, sneeze, scandalous, spark, impulse, and fantasy.

So here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

Mistletoe Reboot

Maddie looked at the shards of broken glass and dried greenery at the bottom of the ornament box and wondered if the universe was trying to tell her something.

Dan had given her the mistletoe filled globe on their first anniversary; a reminder of when they first met at a holiday party thrown by mutual friends.

Back then they’d been full of plans and dreams for the future.

After they got married, they bought this cabin from her grandparents, envisioning vacations with friends, big family gatherings, and festive holiday celebrations, but it turned out those plans were just a fantasy.

In reality Dan spent most of his time at the PR firm, dealing with his clients and their scandalous exploits while Maddie focused on finishing her graduate work and establishing her counseling practice.

They’d reached a point where they both had successful careers – well respected in their fields if not the elite of the rich and famous – but somehow they’d lost sight of each other along the way.   They’d fallen victim to exactly the problems Maddie spent her days successfully counseling her patients about.

The irony was not lost on her. Continue reading

Day 8: The Duchess’s Christmas Wish

misteltoe

Welcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’ve got a mischievous dowager duchess and a reluctant widower earl in 1870s England, along with some pesky mistletoe.  This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: snuggle, impress, mask, collapse, icicle, regret, famous, sneeze, scandalous, spark, impulse, and fantasy.

So here, courtesy of 8L Nancy, is today’s story.

The Duchess’s Christmas Wish

Bennett Fairbank, Earl of Sandalwood, stood in front of the newly-stoked hearth in the study of his son-in-law’s country house and hoped very hard he had not allowed his beloved daughter Lucinda to marry badly. He’d been about to ask her about the inattentiveness and slowness of the servants in her new home when the maid had finally arrived with tea service.

“I’m so sorry.” Lucinda reached for his hands as soon as the maid had left the room and finally stood still long enough for Bennett to kiss her cheek. “We’ve had to hire so many new staff so quickly, what with fifteen guests arriving for the weekend, and Christmas preparations well underway.”

“I’d have thought your husband would have had a full staff ready for his new bride.”

Lucinda squeezed his hands. “Daddy, don’t—”

“Lady Lucinda, here you are!” A familiar voice grated on Bennett’s ears.

The Dowager Duchess of Bridgehampton sailed into the room, bringing with her a blast of cold air from the hallway that reminded Bennett of the long icicles hanging from the eaves, one more task unattended. He might have to take the new servants in hand himself. Continue reading

Day 7: Mistletoe and Ivy

mistletoe-and-ivyWelcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  So far, our stories have included rhinoceroses, villains, celebrations, and love, with settings from Derbyshire to New York.  Today our story location will be “a cabin”, where we’ll be meeting Rob Smith (not his real name).  This “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — features (some if not all) of the following words: snuggle, impress, mask, collapse, icicle, regret, famous, sneeze, scandalous, spark, impulse, and fantasy.

So here, courtesy of 8L Jilly, is today’s story.

Mistletoe and Ivy

Rob Smith (not his real name) fixed a large spray of mistletoe to the deer antlers that branched conveniently over the sheepskin rug in front of the log fire. Saving the free world from the bad guys was what he did, three hundred and sixty four days a year. Accepting personal thanks from a single representative of those he saved was his annual gift to himself on the three-hundred-and-sixty-fifth.

This year he had the Ambassador’s daughter to snuggle with. When he’d returned the gorgeous Gina safe and sound to her famous, wealthy and relieved father, she’d made it clear, in scandalous detail, that she wished to reward him in person.

Gina hadn’t been happy he’d made her wait so long, but really, what better time than Christmas to turn that fantasy into reality?

His pager buzzed. Oh, no, you don’t. Not today.

He turned it off.

It turned itself back on and buzzed louder. Continue reading

Day 6: A New Year of Possibilities

© Eldridge Photography

Welcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  In the the last two stories, we stepped into the past and met Bunny Blavatsky and her magical camera.  Today we’ll be meeting Maggie and finding out whether there is a Happily Ever After in her future, based on the rules from another “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — featuring any or all the following words:  New York, Casanova, giraffe, heartbreak, horseback, love, poetry, celebration, faith, velvet, firecracker, and villain.  Extra kudos with sparkles for Christmas references.

So here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

A Year of Possibilities

Maggie knew her time dating Antonio, aka the Manhattan Casanova, was limited, she just hadn’t realized their relationship was over until New York fashion week rolled around.

Gabriella had big dark eyes, legs that went on forever, and a long, thin neck. It was no mystery why she was nicknamed The Giraffe, especially in the leopard print gown she was currently modelling.

Rumor had it she was attempting to break free of an abusive relationship. Antonio never could resist a damsel in distress. During the show, he had eyes only for Gabriella and Maggie doubted he even remembered she was sitting beside him.

After the show they said their goodbyes, she hailed a cab, and that was that; an inauspicious end to what had been a whirlwind affair full of lavish parties, horseback rides through the park, romantic poetry, and thoughtful gifts.

Maggie had met Antonio on an unseasonably cold day in October on the Staten Island Ferry. She had no coat and he offered his. He was an ideal escort – passionate, witty, charming, and generous – but like the real Casanova, he was drawn to the quest for pleasure and sex like a moth to the flame. Continue reading

Day 5: Bunny Blavatsky Arrives in New York

Welcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Yesterday we learned how Bunny’s camera became magical and today we’ll be meeting Bunny Blavatsky herself, based on the rules from another “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — featuring a short story including any or all the following:  New York, Casanova, giraffe, heartbreak, horseback, love, poetry, celebration, faith, velvet, firecracker, and villain.  Extra kudos with sparkles for Christmas references.

So here, courtesy of 8L Michaeline, is today’s story.

1898 train advertisement with a young mother, her husband, children and a family come to meet them in a horse-drawn sleigh. Christmas Greetings is the banner.

Bunny was not quite so comfortable on the train. She could scarcely contain her excitement about moving to the big city. (I found this at The Old Design Shop. http://olddesignshop.com/2012/12/lake-shore-michigan-southern-railway-christmas-ad/)

Bunny Blavatsky Arrives in New York

I don’t recommend arriving in New York for the first time on Christmas Eve. The train is packed with holiday excursionists, the hansom cabs are taken, and there is no room in the inn, no matter how much money you have. And I didn’t have a lot.

And let’s not even talk about the ghosts.

Ah, Christmas Eve, when the veil between the world of the living and the dead is very thin, and the holidays wears everyone’s tempers even thinner. All of the love, the heartbreak, the celebration and the sheer life of the living draws them nearer.

I found a warm drugstore, and was sitting at the counter, slowly drinking my cup of hot coffee, wondering how I was to find a place to stay on Christmas Day, when a drugstore-casanova came in. Oh, he was ready to help me find a place to stay! Such a masher. The ghosts of three poor girls clung to him. They looked like immigrant girls who had caught some sort of consumption.

The poor dears were in love beyond the grave.

A rush of patrons flooded into the store, and a soprano voice from heaven commanded the masher to “Move on out, Dooley. You should be ashamed to break hearts tonight.”

She was a red-headed goddess, and I could see the traces of stage make-up around her eyes. She extended a hand. “Sarah Kelso. You look fresh off the boat!” Continue reading

Day 4: How Bunny’s Camera Became Magical

She saw through the veil, until a curse ripped it away and showed her the terrifying realness of the world. (via Wikimedia Commons)

Miss Cook lived well into her 80s, never looking a day older than she did that Christmas Eve in 1898. (via Wikimedia Commons)

Welcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’re continuing with another story, based on the rules from the first year of our annual “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — featuring a short story of no more than 500 words including ‘Derbyshire’ and at least three of the following:  Darcy, Rhinoceros, Woolly, Admire, Love, Mine, Villain, VolcanoGhost.  Extra kudos for including more than three, and kudos with sparkles for Christmas references.

So here, courtesy of 8L Michaeline, is today’s story — a holiday ghost story.

The Return of Mr. Glossop

The music room was ready for the seance; the dearly departed Mr. Glossop’s prized rhinoceros head gazed phlegmatically over the scene below. Colonel Black firmly ignored the stuffed beast and gave his cameras a final check. With any luck, they would capture Mr. Glossop’s image, and the all-too-material Mrs. Glossop would fund his society for psychic research. The cameras were primed, and gelatin plates waited below for the cameras’ reloading. Black shivered. Snow was falling again.

Miss Cook drifted in, a cloud of white muslin shod in woolly slippers to ward off the drafts. “I see they have followed my directions perfectly.” She stepped lightly into the magic circle of thirteen chairs and wafted into the club chair at the head of the table.. Black saw her check the mechanism that would lift the table into the air.

“It’s Christmas Eve. You’ll hardly be needing that with the veil so thin,” Black scolded. He’d photographed her phantasms in Liverpool, and he admired her very real abilities. Continue reading

Day 3: ‘Twas Daybreak on Christmas

Welcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’re continuing with another story, based on the rules from the first year of our annual “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — featuring a short story of no more than 500 words including ‘Derbyshire’ and at least three of the following:  Darcy, Rhinoceros, Woolly, Admire, Love, Mine, Villain, VolcanoGhost.  Extra kudos for including more than three, and kudos with sparkles for Christmas references.

So here, courtesy of 8L Kay, is today’s story — a fun mash-up of Pride and Prejudice and The Night Before Xmas.

‘Twas Daybreak on Christmas

Sleigh-Silhouette’Twas daybreak on Christmas, and all through the hall
All the servants were stirring, for tonight was the ball.
The Yule log was laid and the mistletoe hung,
In hopes that Sir Darcy’s fling would be flung.

Miss Lizzie still nestled all snug in her bed,
While nightmares of family danced in her head.
But Mary and Kitty, and Lydia, too,
Argued at breakfast about whom Darcy would woo.

Then out in the parlor there rose such a clatter
Jane sprang from the table to see to the matter.
Maids had dropped glasses, which smashed on the floor
The butler was livid and gave them what-for. Continue reading

Day 2: “The Christmas Wager”

Welcome to the 8LW 25 Days of Stories.  Today we’re continuing with another story, based on the rules from the first year of our annual “Christmas Week Short Story Challenge” — a holiday version of our Friday Writing Sprints — featuring a short story of no more than 500 words including ‘Derbyshire’ and at least three of the following:  Darcy, Rhinoceros, Woolly, Admire, Love, Mine, Villain, Volcano, Ghost.  Extra kudos for including more than three, and kudos with sparkles for Christmas references.

So here, courtesy of 8L Elizabeth, is today’s story.

The Christmas Wager

“Oh, Papa, what have you done now?” Charlotte asked her father as he sat at the table calmly eating his Christmas pudding.

He raised his head and peered at her over the top of his spectacles with a frown. “What have I done?”

Charlotte pointed to the man standing in the doorway. “Lord Bickershaw has your note of hand for this house. He claims he won it from you.”

“Oh. That.” Lord Atherton sighed. “Meant to tell you about that, my dear.   I was testing my new mathematical theory–“

“By gambling?” she interrupted.

He rubbed his forehead as if trying to erase a bad memory. “I don’t know where I went wrong. Things were going splendidly all evening, then all of the sudden they took turn for the worse.”

“About the time Lord Bickershaw joined your table, was it?” she asked, with a glare toward the doorway. “Everyone knows he cheats.”

“How dare besmirch my honor,” Lord Bickershaw interrupted. “If you were a man I would call you out.”

“Don’t let my sex dissuade you. I must warn you however, I’m equally skilled with both pistol and rapier.”

“A little spitfire, aren’t you.” Lord Bickershaw looked her up and down. “Perhaps you’d care to make a wager of your own.” Continue reading