December Writing Challenge: Red 24

(If anyone knows who created this image, please let me know. I’d love to give proper credit!)

Author’s Note: This piece has been edited and now appears in “Angel Songs, 20 Christmas Short Stories and Poems, plus Recipes” by Dona Watson.Β Click here for more info.

Little did I know when I forwarded a copy of a December photo-a-day challenge to photographer Jacqueline Ashford that it would return to bite me in the heels. Jacqueline happily accepted the challenge and has started posting her pix on her blog. I love today’s picture! (You can see it here.)

But then, me and my big mouth, I excused myself from the photography challenge with something along the lines of “Now if those were writing prompts…” And of course, Jacqueline challenged me to keep pace with her — me with my pen and her with her camera. Well, something in me can’t let that one go by.

“Unfortunately,” I missed Days 1 and 2, so I’m jumping in here on Day 3. The theme is “Red.” So here we go — today my Christmas present to you is a bit of flash fiction I cooked up. Enjoy!

…and I dare any of my writing friends to keep pace. (grin)

by D.L. Watson

The old man ran his hands through his hair and growled in frustration. His wife bustled in, wiping flour-dusted hands on her apron.

“What’s the matter, dear?”

“I can’t find my coat!” He leaned over to look under the bed but couldn’t get past his belly. “Oof!” Every year it seemed harder to get down that far.

“Tsk, tsk,” the old woman chided. “Have you been sneaking cookies again?”

“Bah!” He waved one hand in the air.

“You might want to save room so you can eat more on the road. You wouldn’t want to disappoint the children.”

In spite of her words, the twinkle in her eye made him smile. As always. She bustled over to the armoire and tugged open the door, then pulled out a red velvet jacket.

“Is this the one?”

With one hand on each side of her head, he kissed her on the nose. “You, my dear, are amazing.”

She chuckled. “But isn’t the coat supposed to be in the armoire?”

“True. But even if it weren’t, I’m sure you’d still know exactly where it was.”

“Oh, pschaw.” She waved him away but the blush in her cheeks betrayed her love for him. She shook out the jacket and held it up so he could slide his pudgy arms into the sleeves. She tugged the fur collar up and smoothed the fabric down across both shoulders. “Oh, don’t you look handsome, dear.”

“You say that every year.”

“And every year I mean it. The uniform just looks so nice on you.”

“And you look beautiful in your apron with a dusting of flour on your nose.” He kissed her on the cheek. The clock chimed 11:45.

“You’d better get going.”

“Yes, dear. I’ll be back before you know it.” He gave her a wink and pulled open the door. The cold air swirled in, bringing with it a few powdery snowflakes. He called outside to his helper, “Everything ready to go?”

A faint yell came from the barn, which he took to mean “Yes.” With a final tug on the hem of his red coat, he strode out the door toward the waiting team of reindeer. He grinned when he heard her call out behind him, “Be careful, Nick! Don’t forget to let Rudolph lead and don’t eat too many cookies!”

The End

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