5 Floating Lanterns

This list is from the wonderful Kayla Vanderbilt who commented on one of my Suggestion Box. posts on my FB page.

The List:




Clump of fox fur

The pitter pattering of tiny feet as they scamper across the entryway just seconds after the front door clicks closed is my clue to put down the knife. I set the last of the bowl of filling to the side of the cutting board where the dumpling dough rests as a small voice calls out, “Erin!”

I stifle a laugh and step back from the counter to wipe my hands on my apron. Right on cue. “In here, Ellie!”  In the next instant, a whirlwind of pink barrels into the room, her short black curls bouncing like corkscrews against her fleshed cheeks. Her bare-feet slip and slide across the freshly polished floors. I cringe as the image of her planting face first into the tile flashes before my eyes.


My midriff breaks her almost-fall, pinning me against the back of the stove. Thank God I haven’t turned it on to start frying the dumplings yet.

Her small arms wrap around my waist and a beaming grin splits her face as she peers up at me with wide, sparkling brown eyes. “It’s Lantern Day!”

I laugh and squeeze her back. “Oh? And does ‘Lantern Day,’” I bit down on my bottom lip to keep my grin at bay, “mean you can run in the house?”

The corners of her mouth turn down ever so slightly, but an extra spark of mischief dances in her eyes.

She smiles slyly and unwinds her arms from around me, hopping back and forth on the balls of her feet and fixing me with her best puppy-dog eyes. “Maybe?” she singsongs.

This time I can’t help the chuckle that bubbles forth from my throat. “What am I going to do with you, little fox?”

Helen giggles. “That’s what Mama used to call me!”

I nod and tweak her nose before turning back to the counter. “Yes, she did. Do you remember why she called you that?”

I swivel toward her and stifle another snicker at the way her face scrunches up in thought.

“Um… ‘cause foxes were her favorite and she loved me the bestest?”  

“Hey!”I plant my hand on my hip and snap the air with my dishtowel.

She shrieks and giggles, skirting just out of my reach. “What? It’s true, isn’t it?”

I purse my lips and arch my eyebrow, crossing my arms. How is it that a 7-year-old already has the sass of a teenager? “What? You think being the baby of the family gives you special privileges now?”

Helen blinks. “What’s a ‘privillage’?”

I smirk. “Never mind. “ I turn back toward the counter and continue stuffing the dumplings. “Did you have a good time at school today?”

“Uh, huh.” Helen nods as she slides her backpack from over her shoulder. “And look,” she sets it down on the tile and unzips the large flap. The corners of my lips twitch as half of her small frame is swallowed by the fabric.

When she finally pops up again, a child-sized, lotus-shaped red lantern with a golden dragon emblem on it is cradled in her palm. “I made it at school today.” She holds it up.

I sigh and once again stop cutting the thick dough into squares. Dinner won’t be done until midnight at this rate, but I rinse my hands and come over to her, bending down to inspect it properly. “It’s very pretty, Ellie.” I finger the material, admiring her design. The lanterns are a tradition in China, floated on the river once a year as a way to honor and send well wishes to deceased loved ones. “Are you going to float it tonight?”

Helen nods. “Uh huh, for Daddy, since you said you were gonna make Mommy’s this year.” She pauses and looks around the kitchen. A frown contorts her lips, and the little brow on her forehead crinkles.

It’s nearly impossible for me not to giggle as she spins on her heel and attempts to fix me with a stern look.

“Ya still haven’t made it yet?” she huffs. “What are ya waiting for?”

I shake my head. “I’ve only been home for two hours–”

“Two hours!” she shrieks. “And you been standing there rolling dough the whole time?”

I stick out my tongue at her. “I assumed you’d want to eat. Was I wrong?”

Helen rolls her eyes and stamps her foot. “Well, duh! Butcha don’t gotta take all day ta make dinner.”

I pause and give her a stern look. “Helen Marie, don’t you sass me. What would mother say if she heard you talking like that? And, for that matter, what will your brothers and sister say when they get home?”

Helen smirked. “They gonna be much hungrier ‘an I am after workin’ all day,” she taunts. “Senior secondary school is much harder than primary. James says so.”

“Uh huh. And do you believe everything James tells you?”

Helen scoffed. “‘Course not. But it’s gots ta be harder ‘cause he’s 18 and I’m only seven.

Darn! She had me with that one. “All right, little fox, enough games. If you go get the supplies out while I finish stuffing these, you can help me make Mom’s lantern while they’re steaming. Deal?”

Helen’s face lit up. “Deal.”

The river laps at my feet, it’s soft tide washing over them every time I squish  some remnants of eroded grass and mud beneath my toes. I breathe in the crisp, fresh night air, closing my eyes to revel in the peaceful rhythm of cricket song and the murmurs of families gathered along the banks as their hushed conversations float over the crowd. When I open them again, the sun has just touched the edge of the horizon, bathing the murky water in a sea of bright reds, oranges, pinks, and purples that sway in the breeze and dance with the rhythm of the ripples on the surface. A slow smile graces my face and for a moment I imagine my mother, looking down on us from the heavens; the river her canvas, the sun her pallet and the rays her paintbrush.

My throat constricts and I shut my eyes again.  A small, warm hand in mine draws me back to the present. I look over. Helen smiles and points to the faint outline of the moon beyond a swirl of misty clouds.

“It’s time.”

I join hands with my five siblings and together we lower the lanterns into the water. Mother’s is perfect; a royal, regal blue with a violet candle lighting the way, and the silhouette of a mischievous fox carved over the center of the three petals facing the shore, her front paws raised slightly in the air, prancing like a queen of the waves over the simmering surface.

I lean back, training my eyes to the stars. Wherever you are, I thought, I hope you are happy and together always.

The next morning, I swear I see a fox look back at me as it streaks toward the words, leaving only a clump of fur behind.

We are together, Erin, the wind said as it whistles through the trees. And we will always be with you.


6 Royal Wishes

This prompt came from Sheryl Rowdy on my FB Page! Thanks and I hope you enjoy!  

The List

-A name: Margaux

– A place: The Hidden Valley of Everwinter

– A time: (this one trips me up, I’m sorry! Although my interpretation would be something like Midnight on the Winter Solstice.)

– An object inspired by this picture: the morning star

“Think you can moor the boat to the dock without losing it this time?”

Margaux turned from where she perched at the bow of their small canoe. The reindeer’s hooves thudded across the thick, pale blue ice of Glacial River, and the runner’s gliding across its smooth surface made the wood floor vibrate beneath her feet.  She planted her hands on her hips and scowled upon noticing the playful smirk curling up her cousin’s dark lips. “One time!” She rolled her eyes and huffed. “It’s not like it went down stream.” She gestured to the newly sanded black birch frame surrounding them. “And besides, you can’t tell me you didn’t enjoy designing these upgrades.”

Derrick’s onyx eyes glinted with mirth and his crop of shaggy black hair stood straight in the brisk wind that swept across the pass. He moved to stand next to her and caressed the hand carved snow-leopard ice sculpture masthand. It matched the gleaming ivory hue of the tree bark that made up their vessel.

“It is pretty sweet.”

Margaux rolled her eyes and brushed her long, honey blonde braid over her shoulder as it fluttered in front of her pale complexion. “Just toss me the ropes, genius.”

Derrick smirked and went back to the stern, his deerskin boots shuffling. He bent down and reached into the leather shoulder bag resting under his seat. “Okay,” he gripped a sizeable length of rope from the pouch and wound it around his wrist, “Catch!” He stood up and spun round in a singular motion, launching the rope into the air.

“Ass!” Margaux laughed, lunging forward. She caught the opposite end of the rope just before it flopped over the side and collided with the ice, yanking it toward her.

“Nice.” Derrick crossed his arms and arched a brow.

Margaux grinned. “I learned from the best.” She winked as her fingers flew over the thick cord, fastening a perfect cleat hitch around the end of the canoe.

Derrick came over to inspect it and whistled his approval. “You really aren’t a guppy anymore, are you?”

Margaux stuck out her tongue and pulled the rope taunt. “Now all we have to do is get to the dock.”

She turned to face the horizon as they crested the final hill. The sparkling turrets of Queen Lucia’s palace came into view just as the sun rose over the valley. Her breath caught in her throat as the vibrant pinks, yellows, reds, and oranges bounced and danced off of the castle’s opaque diamond walls. The frozen fountain in the center of the courtyard shimmered in the dawn. Several other boats in ranging sizes and types dotted the perimeter in spite of the egregious hour, flanked by  blooming evergreens and pines decorated with sky blue ornaments and snow crystals.

Margaux’s breath hitched in her throat and shivers raced down her spine. She had never seen anything as majestic as the Crystal Palace in all of Everwinter Valley.

“Pretty incredible, right?” Derrick nudged her shoulder and leaned against the side.

Margaux nodded. “D-Does it always look like this?”

Her cousin laughed. “Not always, but the Winter Solstice is the most important day of the year, being the official start of the season for the mortal world, so the queen likes to go all out.”

Margaux’s soft green eyes turned stormy. A knot settled in the pit of her stomach and she nibbled at the flesh of her bottom lip. She pulled her mink-lined fur coat a little closer to her chest before letting her hands twine together. She fiddled with the  silken fabric of her golden gloves, a present from Derrick in celebration of her first Solstice Ceremony.

Six people from all of Everwinter…

Derrick frowned at the sudden change in his cousin’s demeanor. “What’s wrong, Maggie?” He put a hand on her shoulder. Aren’t you excited?”

Margaux gulped, her gaze peaking out to meet his before flicking back to the ground again. “What if… What if I don’t get picked this year?” she whispered. Heat rose to her cheeks.

Oh. So that’s what this is about. Derrick shook his head. He should’ve known.  “You will,” He took her hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze. “You’ve been training all year.”

Margaux let out a long breath.  “But… I’m just a fledgling, Derrick. Every hunter  in Everwinter has more experience than me. How in all of the seasons am I supposed to convince her that I should be one of the ones to take the challenge?”

“Experience doesn’t weigh much against instinct, Maggie, and especially not on the Solstice. Everyone has an equal chance of being chosen today. Even you.”

Margaux sighed and began pacing the length of the boat. “I know… But, a dragon? How can I possibly find a Chameleon Dragon in the middle of the most snowy place in all of the realms?” She shook her head. “There’s no way she’ll even notice me, let alone give me a snowflake’s chance of getting the Morning Star… It’s the lifeblood of Everwinter; she’d be crazy to let a novice like  me light the Everfrost Tree. What if I screwed it up– We’d be doomed!

Derrick swallowed a snicker at his cousin’s panic stricken face. He took her by the shoulders, forcing her to stand still. “Whoa, slow down. First of all, no one knows what’ll happen today, not even the Queen. Getting picked is a gamble; that’s why we all put our names in once. No more, no less. You have as much a chance as any other beast tamer out there, and so do I. Got it?”

Margaux nodded.

“Good. And second, if you are one of the lucky six, it’s an honor to even try to complete the Queen’s challenge–and this is the hardest one she’s given in years.”

“And the most important,” Margaux added grimly. “Elderberry is her baby; what if no one finds him?”

Derrick exhaled, his breath misting in the frigid air. “Someone will find him, Mags. Do your best, and it just might be you.”   

If you want to give me suggestions for my flash fictions, head to my Facebook Page and comment on my #SuggestionBox posts. More information HERE.  


7 Chocolate Coins

This prompt is from Suzanne EmeraldGaze in Nano in a Nanowrimo FB group! Enjoy!

The List:

Names: Helen Baker, Tobey Tarshis
Holiday: Hanukkah
Place: Deserted road in the middle of nowhere
Object: Box of Hanukkah candles

“Tobey! Come on, we’re gonna be late!” 16-year-old Helen scowled as she scanned the ends of the aisles for any sign of her cousin. “Damn it,” she hissed, sliding out of line and pushing past the eager shoppers to maneuver through the aisles. Where had the little whirlwind gone now?

They’d been at the same store for the past three hours while Tobey debated on the perfect Hanukkah gift for his family. It was his first year earning a substantial allowance. According to his mother, he had been saving since Thanksgiving in order to give everyone “the best Hanukkah gifts any 7-year-old can afford.”

When Helen had snorted and raised a bemused brow at her aunt’s turn of phrase, Katherine had simply shrugged.

“His words, not mine.”

Of course, being seven, his mother still thought he was too young to take a taxi or the subway alone to anywhere except school and back home, and sometimes to a friend’s house with enough notice. By the time he earned enough money to by all the gifts though, it was so close to the holiday that his parents were too busy cooking and cleaning to concern themselves with shopping. Thus prompting him to assault Helen with the  biggest, most adorable puppy dog eyes he could muster when she and her family had arrived at their Brooklyn townhouse that afternoon.

At first, Helen had done everything she could to try and worm her way out of trudging all the way to middle-of-nowhere New Jersey to Aunt Katherine’s favorite candy shop, but at her mother’s insistence, begrudgingly agreed.  

A quick glance out the automatic double doors only to see half of the setting sun hovering over the shoreline made her stomach drop. “Mom’s going to kill me if we miss the menorah lighting!”

She sprinted further toward the back of the store, her eyes cutting back and forth through the aisles at her right.

“Whoa!” At the last second, she attempted to dig the heels of her shoes into the tile, but the friction of the rubber soles against the slippery linoleum gave her too much momentum, and she crashed into an older woman balancing a teetering pyramid of packages precariously in her arms.

The boxes began tumbling one by one, but the woman managed to keep a tight grip on the bottommost three.

Helen leaned forward to brace herself on the woman’s shoulders to keep from face planting. She thanked her relentless ice-hockey coach for teaching her the value of quick reflexes, as she was somehow able to keep herself upright and grab the woman’s arm when she began to teeter backwards in the same instant.

“I’m so sorry!”

The woman offered her a light smile. “It’s quite alright dear.” She shifted the three remaining packages under her right arm and bent forward. Her wrinkled hand reached out to grab the  nearest overturned one.

Heat licked at Helen’s cheeks when she realized what the woman was doing. Well? Don’t just stand there like an idiot. Help her.  

She dropped to her knees and scrambled to gather the remaining boxes. She pushed herself up from the floor, and with her free hand helped the woman resituate the packages.

“Here you go.” She handed over the smallest box, grimacing at her clumsiness. “Sorry about that… Again.”

The woman chuckled. “Where’s the fire, hon?”

Helen blinked. “What?”

“You were running awfully fast there.” She winked and nudged Helen’s shoulder with her own. “Hot date tonight?”

Helen bit her lip to keep from laughing and shook her head. “No, just some… last minute shopping.”

The woman’s eyes twinkled. “Well, thank you for helping me back there. Happy holidays!”

Helen smiled. “You too.”

She wandered every aisle of the store before, finally, her cousin’s signature red hair and freckle-peppered face peeked out from the very end of the shelves by the farthest wall. “Tobey!” Her shoulders slumped in relief as she trotted toward him. “Thank God! Where have you been?”

Tobey cocked his head to the side and gave her a strange look. “I told ya, I‘m shopping for Mom and Aunt Maggie.” He smiled and showed Helen the things he’d picked out, an array of Hanukkah candies, including the milk chocolate dreidels, her favorite.

Helen pressed her lips and raised an eyebrow. “Can you afford all that?”

Tobey frowned and stuck out his tongue. “‘Course I can; I’ve been saving for it forever!”

A smirk twitched at the edge of Helen’s lips. “Come on, squirt,” She took his arm and started leading him back toward the front of the store.  “We’re gonna miss dinner if we don’t get out of here.”

“Okay, but…” With his free hand, he held up a netted bag of gold-wrapped chocolate coins and flashed a sneaky smile. “Do you think this is enough?”


8 Flickering Candles

This year Christmas Eve is also the first day of Hanukkah, so in honor of that, this prompt is from a fellow writer in the NanoWrimo FB Group. Thanks Barb!

The List

Name: Joshua

Holiday: Hanukkah

Place: New York Apartment Complex

Object: Candles.

Joshua hung his snow-sodden coat on the hook to the left of the door, letting it drip onto the towel he had placed atop the small tile entryway. He slid out of his shoes and wool socks, soaked to the bone from spending the day trodding through New York.

He turned toward the small kitchenette and riffled through the cabinets until he found a clean coffee mug and the last packet of Earl Grey tea. He filled it with hot water and let the tea-bag steep. He wrapped his hand around the steaming cup, leaving it there for a moment until he could finally feel the blood flow seeping back through his frozen fingers. After a moment, he picked it up and wandered toward the window sill where a modest, silver menorah overlooked the bustling city. Two candles stood at attention in the holders, the shamash, or servant candle, in the middle, and one in the holder farthest to the right.

Joshua smiled as he picked up the match most to the left of the menorah and lit the  shamash. He picked it up in his right hand and held it horizontally over the other candle, looking out toward the crowded streets blanketed in rich oranges, yellows, and reds as the sun set over  the skyline. As he looked out at the other holiday displays; noticing that almost as many windows were adorned with menorahs as festive Christmas trees, he couldn’t help the warm glow surging in his chest.

As a novice in a new city at one of the most cut-throat companies in Manhattan,  Joshua sometimes felt like Juda Makkabee, outnumbered in that narrow mountain pass and surrounded by an endless sea of Greeks. Moving far from his family and all he held dear in Colorado had been one of the  hardest decisions to make when he received the opportunity shortly after finishing his graduate degree. More than once, he wondered how a small-town boy like him would ever find his way in such a crowded and competitive city.

As he finished the last of the traditional blessings, his Zadye’s voice echoed in his mind. The army had great minds and intellect to help them win the war, but it was faith that kept the oil burning. No matter what you do in New York, or how out of place you feel, keep the faith, and miracles are sure to happen.

If you want to give me suggestions for my flash fictions, head to my Facebook Page and comment on my #SuggestionBox posts. More information HERE.  


9 Shining Jewels

This one is a bit different. It takes place in winter, on an anniversary rather than a holiday. The list is from Leslie Conzatti over at The Upstream Writer. Her first book is available on Amazon

The List:

Name: Shanya
Time: The Great Northern Hunt
Place: An abandoned tower in a remote forest
Objects: Nine magical jewels

Rasheen’s labored panting as his massive paws pounded against the snow-covered ground in tandem with her worn deerskin moccasins was Shayna’s only sign of progress as they sprinted across the vast forest floor. Her makeshift shoes had worn down to the soles, and the top piece of animal hide flapped in the frigid wind, exposing her frost-bitten toes. Thick flakes tumbled around them, blanketing the bronze plates covering her shoulders. Her breaths crystallized in the frigid air; it licked and gnawed at her cheeks, coloring the flesh until it burned. Her skin gleamed with a luminescent pink tinge from spending so many months braving the harsh winters of the Meragiae forests, but they had no choice as long as the Northern Hunt knew they were alive.

She’d done her best to make suitable clothing from the leaves and foliage littering the ground after her own had been shredded in their first encounter with the Hunt last winter, just days after her brother had stolen those nine accursed jewels from the Hobgoblin in the Seian Mountains. The hides from her kills provided a sliver of extra warmth, but it wasn’t much against the constant blizzards howling across the land.

For once, she envied Rasheen and the greedy tendencies that had overtaken his moral since their parents murder at the hands of the Huriant tribe in the last war for the fruitful lands that were once a safe haven for Druids. His stupidity had caused their predicament in the first place, but at least the curse would prevent him from freezing to death until they found a way to cure the therianthropy.

If they ever found a cure.  After a year on the run, and two months alone dedicated to evading the Great Northern Hunt and their merciless slaughter of all foreign magical creatures, Shanya began to doubt the possibility that they would ever make it out of the forest alive, let alone with her brother in his rightful skin.

She almost let out a sigh of relief as the trees finally began to thin around them, but the thundering of horses’ hooves echoed through the woods.

Rasheen growled and turned to face the onslaught of hunters, his cumbersome wolf body acting, not for the first time since they began their quest, as a shield of protection for his sister.

Nonetheless, Shanya was acutely aware of  the bone-knife at her hip. She whipped around and in one fluid motion pulled the last  arrow from her pack, notching it in her battered bronze bow. She took aim as best she could through the icy sheets of of snow and wind. Her eyes watered and every breath seares her lungs  as the arrow glided through the air, but a triumphant grin burst forth from between her chapped lips when she heard the whoosh, clink, and agonized groan that meant it was a direct hit.

“Maybe we’ll live through this after all, Ra.” She looked down the wolf.

Rasheen nuzzled her hand and offered a big, toothy grin before bending down on his front paws and scooping her up on his back.

Shanya barely had time to grip two clumps of fur in her hands before he plunged into the undergrowth to their right. The jolting movement knocked the midnight black hood from her head and exposed her ashen blonde hair.

They raced through the brush. Branches stung as they ripped and scraped at Shanya’s already pulsing skin. Air chomped at the open wounds. She gritted her teeth and clenched her jaw, swallowing the scream bubbling from her throat.

Finally, they emerged in a small, round clearing. Shanya let out a long breath as she slid off of Rasheen’s back.

The wolf spun and faced the path, his ears perked. Shanya froze and clutched his side, watching the shaking leaves without blinking. They quivered and quaked as the Hunt galloped past.

“Where did they go?”

“They’ve vanished, sir.”

“Impossible. Druids are many things, but not invisible. They’re merely hiding, waiting out their journey until this blizzard passes.”

“But, if that’s true, how will we–”

“They have to reveal themselves sooner or later, if that ridiculous girl really does plan to bargain with the Hobgoblin.”

His harsh laugh ricocheted through the clearing and seeped through Shanya’s bones. She hugged Rasheen that much tighter.

“Shall we make camp here then?”

“Yes, but only until dawn; if I know those two, they will vanish again long before the sun peeks through the clouds. Keep your men on high alert, and be prepared to move out at any sign of a disturbance.”

Shanya slumped and stroked her brother’s fur. What are we going to do?

Rasheen shook his fur and pushed his nose beneath her arm.

She stumbled, gulping back a laugh as she turned to face the center of the clearing. A large grey tower blocked out the rays of the setting sun, it’s dilapidated and crumbling state offering beacon of hope.

Rasheen nudged her forward, and Shanya offered a soft smile as they started toward it. At least for tonight, they would be safe.

If you want to give me suggestions for my flash fictions, head to my Facebook Page and comment on my #SuggestionBox posts. More information HERE.  

10 A Prancing Puppy

Part 2 of my 12 Days of Christmas (and other holiday stories) series! This Prompt was from Tanner Childs: Write about a puppy finding a home for Xmas. 

Thanks for the prompt, I hope you enjoy!

The incessant barking had echoed from the back seat for so long, Mary  wondered if she would even remember what silence sounded like when she heard it… Correction, if she ever heard it.

“Tell me again why we agreed to get Hannah a puppy for Christmas,” James shouted as he finally turned the corner of the entrance to their neighborhood.

Mary groaned and tightened her earmuffs. “I will when you remind me why we had to pick it up three days before the actual holiday! How in the world are we supposed to keep it a secret until Christmas? Are we going to send her to Sarah’s for a sleepover three days in a row?”

“We don’t!” James chuckled. “At least, not if it keeps barking like this! Why did you have to pick the Yorkie, Mer?”

“She wasn’t nearly this talkative in the shelter!” Mary shifted in her seat and tried to press the earmuffs even tighter around her head, but they refused to budge. “Maybe just the car; she’ll be better when we get get home and she has room to run.”

James hummed. “God, I hope so. It’s a good thing we have a big backyard or we’d really be in for it!” He pulled into the driveway and hit the garage door opener. He inched their Range Rover in and switched into neutral as the van coasted into position. He turned the key and yanked it out of the ignition, slumping against the back of the driver’s seat. “Phew; we’re home!”

“Now let’s get Lucy out of that damn crate!” Mary swung the car door open and hurried to unlatched the trunk.

Their new house guest turned in endless circles, yipping and growling at the bars of her confinement. Upon seeing her new owner, she stilled and cocked her head to the side and let out a small, questioning whimper.

Oh, good. Maybe it was just the car she didn’t like after all. Mary reached forward to pick up the crate.

The moment her hand hovered over the bars, Lucy sprung up on her hind legs and launched herself toward Mary’s outstretched hand, rattling the bars of the cage the shelter had sent her with as she attempted to nuzzle her nose into the woman’s palm. Her bright eyes sparkled with energy and her tail waggled at warp speed. She pranced left and right on her back paws, and Mary couldn’t help the silly grin that spread across her face.

“Well, you’re a playful little thing, aren’t you?”  She picked up the carrier and walked around toward the yard, where James was jimmying with the special, dog-proof lock they’d purchased for the occasion.

“Just making sure it’s nice and tight,” He pushed himself up from where he’d been squatting on the balls of his feet in front of the gate that fenced off their backyard, brushing the remnants of snow from his pants.

“James, look at her!” Mary held the cage toward her husband. Lucy yapped and wiggled even harder at the sight of her new “Daddy.”

James let out a hearty laugh and stepped closer to the cage, bending down so he was nose to nose with the small canine.

“Well, what have we here?” James reached through the bars and scratched the patch of fur just between Lucy’s ears. She rumbled happily and pushed against his hand. “Mer, I think we might have another dancer in the family.” He undid the latch on her cage and let the door swing open.

Lucy bounded down into the snow, slipping on a patch of slush and somersaulting forward.

Mary gasped and hid her snicker behind her hand.

James smirked and crossed his arms, watching as the little pup blinked up at him with kind, black eyes before scrambling to her feet and shaking the stray flurries from her glistening black and tan fur coat. She trotted back to Mary’s side and stood on her back paws again, bouncing on her toes and barking excitedly until Mary finally scooped her up into her arms.

“And she’s a little ham too,” Mary laughed.

“Just like our Hannah,” James agreed as he came over and rubbed the little dog under her chin. “I have a feeling they’re going to be fast friends.”

Christmas morning, 12-year-old Hannah crept down the stairs just as the sun began to peek through the clouds. The clock by her bedside table only read 6:32 by the time she shimmied out from beneath her warm covers and slid into her favorite blue slippers. She had tried her hardest to fall back asleep when she’s first woken up at 4:30, but only managed to doze off a handful of times, too distracted by the visions of puppies dancing in her head.

Her parents had been acting strange since Ms. Summers had dropped her back at home after her sleepover with Sarah. Usually the three of them, her parents and Sarah’s mom, would sit in the kitchen for hours, talking and laughing over cups of coffee or glasses of wine.

But not this time.

The moment Hannah stepped over the threshold, they herded her upstairs to unpack her overnight bag before whisking Ms. Summers toward the kitchen and talking in hushed tones for the better part of the next hour. When Hannah wandered back into the kitchen for a snack sometime later–the spicy aroma of fresh-baked gingerbread was impossible to resist- all three of them had stopped talking and pulled out their phones, failing miserably at their attempt to hide the fact that whatever they were talking about had to do with her.

A shiver of excitement skipped up Hannah’s spine as she ventured back toward the stairs and crouched by the bannister. She did her utmost to concentrate on the intoxicating taste of her favorite Christmas treat. Don’t get your hopes up. You know Dad said he hates dogs. Even so, her spirits soared when, about ten minutes later, her parents led Mrs. Summers to the door. She held what Hannah could only assume was a cage in her right hand. A large white blanket forbade the young girl from seeing inside, but she swore she heard a small but distinctive yip echo through the entry way just as Ms. Summers latched the front door behind her.

Hannah’s slippers shuffled over the carpet as she inched closer to the tree. She surveyed the piles of presents stacked beneath it’s branches, looking for anything that might resemble whatever it was that her best friend’s mother had taken out to her car a few days prior. She circled the perimeter of the pine, taking care to avoid the needles that covered the tree’s skirt. The skip in her step tapered however, when after her fourth go-around, nothing jumped out at her.

Her shoulders drooped as she sighed and turned away from the rest of the gifts. “Oh, well, there’s always next year.”

Halfway up the stairs, the smallest whimper caught her attention. Her gaze snapped back toward the tree. She held her breath and listened a little longer.

Something rattled near the window sill, and another, louder bark resounded in her ears.

Hannah sprinted back down the stairs and raced toward the back of the tree, toppling stacks of gifts as she barreled toward the sound. Sure enough, nestled in the far left corner, behind the very last stack of presents was the same cage she had seen Ms. Summer’s take two days prior. Hannah gasped and barely contained her squeal of excitement as she tore off the white covering to reveal a tiny whirlwind of black and tan fur.

“A puppy!” She dropped to the ground as a bright grin split her face.She fumbled to undo the lock at the edge of the cage, and the dog pressed it’s nose to the hinges in an attempt to help.

When the door finally swung open, Lucy darted out of the cage and onto Hannah’s lap, knocking her backwards and into yet another stack of unopened gifts.

Hannah shrieked with laughter as as the puppy’s front paws pinned her down by the shoulders and her small tongue darted out to leave little, sandpaper kisses all over her cheeks. “Shhh! Haha… Stop!” she yelped. “You’re going to wake Mom and Dad.”

Mary shook her head from where they watched, leaning against the doorway to the kitchen. She nudged her husband and offered a knowing smirk upon noticing the adoring glint in his eye as he watched his daughter bond with their new family member. “And you said you didn’t want a dog.”

If you want to give me suggestions for my flash fictions, head to my Facebook Page and comment on my #SuggestionBox posts. More information HERE.  

12 Cookies Baking

Part 1 of my 12 Days of Christmas (and other holiday stories) series!) Expect another tonight or two tomorrow!

Based on a prompt from the Daily Flash Fiction Group on FB. 2/26/16 You need to let it warm up…

“Jenna, how are those cranberry key lime pies coming ? I need them by four if they’re going to get to Mr. Elbridge’s party on time!”

“The last batch just went in the blast chiller, Aud.” Jenna laughed and wiped her hands on the front of her flour-stained apron. “Would you relax? It’s only 1:30. We’ve got loads of time!” The oven beeped and she sauntered over to take out the latest batch of gingersnaps.

“I know, I know.” Audrey scooped the last of the dry ingredients into her mixter and turned it on high before straightening. She took a deep breath and brushed a stray piece of blonde hair behind her ear. “But Thomas is one of the richest men in town, Jen! I can’t afford to screw this up. I need that money if I want to keep the shop open.”

Jenna put down the white piping bag she’d been using to ice the sugar cookie snowflakes. “We’ve been prepping for a week, Aud. We got this!”

Audrey offered only a week grin in response as she added the crushed candy canes to the now smooth chocolate batter. “God, I hope so.”

Just as she was scooping the last of the mix into the cupcake liners, her phone rang.

“It’s your sister,” Jenna said with a smirk. “Think the fire department’s shown up yet?”

Audrey rolled her eyes and snatched the phone from her assistant, trading it for the chocolate-covered spatula.”Oh, shut up. She’s not that much of a disaster in the kitchen.” I hope. Coming home to a sea of smoke and blackened cabinets was suddenly a very likely possibility.

“Oh, yeah? Is that why you told her to make those crappy slice and bake cookies  for Charlie’s christmas party tomorrow?”

“They’re not crappy; they’re just not as good as mine.”

“Damn straight they aren’t.” Jenna flicked the spoon for emphasis and splattered the last of the batter all over the silver counter-top.

Audrey shook her head, but a smile twitched at the edge of her lips. “Oh, just shut up and clean that mess while I take this.”

Jenna put her hand to her forward head in a mock salute. “Whatever you say, boss.

“You’re such a dork.” Audrey turned on her heel and stepped through the swinging door that lead to the back alley behind the bakery.

She leaned against the brick and hit the accept button on her screen. “Hello, Loren? Are you okay?”” Oh, God, please don’t let her have set the whole apartment on fire! She strained her ears, but could hear no wails of fire engines or blares of the smoke alarm. Phew.  Maybe she wasn’t crazy to think Loren could handle cookies after all.  

“Audrey? Oh, good. I put the cookies in, but nothings happening!”

Then again, maybe not.

“Oh, yeah? How long have they been in there?”

“Ten minutes, just like the package said. But every time I check them, they still look raw.”

“Did you preheat the oven first?”

Loren’s brows scrunched in confusion. “What?”

Audrey’s throaty chuckle echoed through the receiver. “Well, no wonder they aren’t cooking!”

“Stop laughing, Aud.” Loren deadpanned. “Just because you’re some kind of baking prodigy…”

“You shouldn’t need to own a bakery to remember to turn the oven on, Lor. Didn’t that cooking class you took teach you anything?”

“But I did turn it on, I swear.” She stomped over to the oven and put her hand on the red knob.

“Is the little red light lit up?”

Yes, Aud. I’m not completely kitchen inept.” She tugged on the knob, but again, it wouldn’t move. “I just… ugh… can’t get this stupid knob to… Argh… turn.”


“Yeah. I’ve been trying to set it to bake, but–”

Audrey’s snicker cut her off.

“What? What did I do?”

“Lor, that knob that you keep pulling on, did it make a little clicking sound when you turned the oven on?”


“That’s just the power knob Loren! Not the knob to heat the oven.”

“Is it?’ Loren’s brows shot up in surprise. “But then, how do I…?”

Audrey let out a long sigh. “Where is Charlie, I’m sure he could show you.”

“He went over to Tyler’s house for dinner. I… err… figured that was safer than me trying to, y’know, cook something.”

Audrey smirked. “Ha. yeah, probably. Especially if you can’t even handle store-bought cookie dough.”

“Oh, I can handle cutting up a roll of dough, Aud. It’s your fancy oven that’s got me stumped.”

“It’s not that high-tech.  

“More than mine.”

“That’s ‘cause yours is ten years old and has never been used.”

“Hey! I’ve used it!”

“Oh, yeah?” Audrey raised a brow and stuffed her free hand in the pocket of her apron. “When?”

“Well… Oh, there was that time when… Wait, your mother-in-law hijacked the kitchen that day didn’t she? What about… No, you kicked me out after I lit boiled water on fire.”

A loud “Ha!” sputtered out of Audrey’s mouth before she could stop it.

“All right, fine, so maybe I haven’t used it that many times.”

“Told you so.”

“But all the more reason for you not to leave me alone with this, this, robot of an oven!”

Audrey bit down on her bottom lip to keep from grinning.. “A robot, Lor, really?”

“Well, tell me how to work it then!”

“Okay, okay. Take the cookies out and set them on the counter.”

There was some shuffling in the background. “Done.”

“See that silver circle behind the big red knob?”

“…The one that says bake and broil?”

Audrey stifled a laugh even though she swore she could actually hear the heat rising to her sister’s cheeks. “Yes, Turn it to bake That should set the temperature straight to 350. Then wait for the oven to beep and put them in again.

“Um… Aud, there are two bakes. Which-”

“The one without the black background. The other is the convection oven.”

“You mean this thing is a two in one oven? Are you sure it’s not a robot?”

“I’m sure, Lor. Trust me.” She glanced at her watch and gasped when she realized they’d  been talking for almost 30 minutes. “I’ve gotta go finish the order for that big party tonight. Think you can take it from there?”

“Can I call you if I burn the house down?”

Audrey rolled her eyes and stepped over the threshold. “Ha, ha, very funny.”

If you want to give me suggestions for my flash fictions, head to my Facebook Page and comment on my #SuggestionBox posts. More information HERE.