21 comments

Oct 25, 2020

Kids Holiday Drama

“Are you sure you want to go?” I ask for the millionth time.


Oliver nods as he adjusts the satchel hanging over his shoulder. I smile, tucking my worry away into a small corner of my heart. It’ll grow there, but at least it’ll be quiet. Jack would roll his eyes at my nonsense.


Something catches in my throat and I swallow hard, pushing the memories down.


Oliver grabs my hand and pulls me through the door. I laugh, a sound so rare in the household I stop halfway through. I shake my head and take a deep breath. This night needs to be perfect. It’s been four months since the accident and Oliver deserves this.


Maybe I deserve this, too.


Perhaps it’s because of the flyers I hung up all week or the emails I sent to every neighbor, but the neighborhood doesn’t disappoint. Oranges, purples, and greens sparkle in Oliver’s eyes. I watch his mouth fall open at the thirty styrofoam gravestones in Mr. Atkinson’s yard and the extravagant light show against the Jeffersons' walls next door.


I crouch and put my hands on his cheeks, warming them. “You ready, kiddo?”


He nods and wraps his arms around my neck. The worry in my heart almost disappears.


Almost.


I stand and take his small hand in mine. We visit Mr. Atkinson’s house first, passing one of my small flyers on the lamp post at the corner of his yard. Oliver’s first Halloween, it reads. Please help us make this night special!


I debated using “us” or “me” in the flyer for a long time. But in the end, I decided with the former. Jack and I had debated this for a year. Oliver’s first big holiday. Oliver’s first Halloween. 


Besides, Halloween was Jack’s favorite holiday, anyway.


I hang back on the porch steps as Oliver approaches Mr. Atkinson’s door and rings the doorbell. A man with silvery hair and a mustache opens the door.


“Oliver! I’ve been waiting for you!” Mr. Atkinson reaches behind the door and presents Oliver with a huge chocolate bar, easily the size of Oliver’s head. He winks at me as he sets it in Oliver’s bag. 


“What do you say, Oliver?”


“Thanks,” he whispers. 


I sigh. If it takes a chocolate bar that big to make him utter a single word tonight, we’re in trouble.


“You’re welcome, young man!” says Mr. Atkinson with an enthusiastic grin. 


Oliver stares at Mr. Atkinson, who gives me a questioning glance.


“He wants you to guess his costume,” I say. “I think he’ll give you something from his satchel if you do.”


Mr. Atkinson puts his hands on his hips and raises his eyebrow as he looks Oliver up and down. It's not much--just the satchel and a dark blue cloak lined with gold. “Hm. Tricky. Are you...an elf, perhaps?”


Oliver shakes his head and turns around to me. I take his hand and nod at Mr. Atkinson. “Good try, Mr. Atkinson.”


He laughs. “Better luck next time, eh? What is he?”


I shrug. “I’m not actually sure. He won’t tell me. Hopefully someone gets it right.” I smile at Oliver and he nods firmly.


Oliver wouldn’t give me any hints. He just looked over my shoulder as I scrolled through costumes online, then finally typed in what he wanted.


“Interesting.” I raised my eyebrows.


“Please, Mom,” he murmured. That did it. Two words. That was almost a record nowadays.


Oliver pulls my arm toward the next house. 


“Thank you,” I mouth to Mr. Atkinson. He winks again before waving and closing the door.


We visit eleven more houses and my heart quickens with every word of thanks Oliver whispers. He hasn’t talked this much in a long time, even before Jack’s accident.


His candy bag bulges, but his smile wanes with every house.


“What’s wrong, kiddo?” I finally ask.


He sniffs and points to his cloak.


“Oh.” I squeeze his shoulders. “The night’s still young, Oliver. Someone’ll guess your costume soon. Let’s go visit Peggy’.” I nod toward the next house and Oliver sighs before walking up the sidewalk and ringing the doorbell.


A woman wearing brightly colored leggings, leg warmers, and a headband answers. “Ah!” Peggy’s face brightens. “A wandering trader, I see!”


Oliver gasps and I turn to him, worried, but he just smiles--big enough to show all of his teeth.


I look back at Peggy. “Um...what’s a wandering trader?”


Peggy laughs. “Only one of the best things about Minecraft!”


My heart stops and suddenly I’m wiping tears from my eyes.


“Oh, I’m sorry, Meg--did I say something?” Peggy leans forward as Oliver clutches my hand.


“No, no. It’s just…that was their favorite video game to play. Minecraft. Jack played it with Oliver every Sunday.”


Peggy’s face softens. “It’s our favorite, too. In fact...hold on right there.” Peggy disappears into the house.


I take a deep breath, kneel, and look Oliver in the eye. “Do you still play, honey?” I ask.


“Every Sunday,” he whispers.


I wrap my arms around him and close my eyes. “I’m sorry. I miss your dad more than anything, kiddo.”


He buries his face in my shoulder.


“Um, hi,” says a voice at Peggy’s doorway.


Oliver lets go and I straighten. There’s a young boy around Oliver’s age standing next to Peggy. He wears a costume made of tiny green squares.


“A creeper!” yells Oliver. I jump; I don’t think I’ve ever heard his voice that loud.


I glance questioningly at Peggy and she smiles. “Another Minecraft thing,” she whispers.


The boy at her side giggles. “I’m Max. You’re a wandering trader, right?”


Oliver nods and the boy grins. “I think you’re missing something. I hope you like this as much as candy.” He holds up a stuffed animal and Oliver gasps.


“A wandering trader’s llama!” he says. He stares at Max. “For me? Are you sure?”


I might be having a heart attack. Sentences. He’s speaking full sentences.


Max nods. “I have a lot of this stuff already. And...and maybe we can play sometime. Together.” He smiles.


Oliver blinks, then nods. “I’d like that.”


He squeezes the stuffed llama to his chest and I choke back a sob. 


Peggy leans forward. “We’re all here for you guys, Meg. I hope you know that. We’ll always be here for you.”


As I think about Mr. Atkinson’s giant chocolate bar, and the thousands of twinkling lights from the houses, and the stuffed animal in Oliver’s arms, the worry disappears entirely from my heart.




An ode to my favorite video game.

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21 comments

Leilani Lane
23:02 Oct 25, 2020

I'm 22 years old and a proud Minecrafter. :)

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Lina Ozz
05:55 Oct 26, 2020

I love the sheep in Minecraft. Isn't there a rainbow one? If only there were rainbow sheep in real life :( Minecraft is so fun, love that you included that aspect in this story!! :)

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Leilani Lane
19:23 Oct 26, 2020

Thank you!! YES JEB THE RAINBOW SHEEP. Amazing. Minecraft >>>> social media any day. :)

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Lina Ozz
19:28 Oct 26, 2020

Agreed!

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Molly Leasure
04:51 Oct 27, 2020

Awww, this is a precious story. Always tugging my heartstrings. I, too, love an occasional weekend spree on minecraft. I'm in the midst of building a castle in the mountainside...cue LotR music. Dwarves beware, I'm coming for you! As for the story *cough*, there are a couple things I'd like to say (regarding other people's comments, cause I'm here and why not). 1. I don't mind the flier, I mean, it's like when you make fliers for a birthday party or any other kind of flier. The one thing I'd say about the flier is that I wouldn't really w...

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Leilani Lane
14:05 Oct 27, 2020

Oh my gosh, THANK YOU!! That is such a brilliant idea, to have Max peeking around. Love love LOVE that! Also, yes--the face on the flier is like a missing kid... OOPS. LOL writing way to fast again and not catching those little mistakes.... "Peggs" classic, classic. XD This time I'm going to make the edits right away, i.e. today!!! Also, MOLLY I'M SO SORRY I HAVEN'T READ YOUR NEW STORIES YET. BUT my goal is to spend a ton of time tonight after work just reading reading reading, there are so many I want to read and I love the creativ...

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Molly Leasure
21:15 Oct 27, 2020

Haha! Good, glad to help xD! I thought it might be cute if he peeked around, the way curious kids often do. Oh, getting a jumpstart on the edits, I like it! Proscratination be damned. Oh, don't worry about it! I know what it's like to be busy and have SO VERY MANY stories you want to get through. I just happen to have a little more time on my hands than other people do xD...

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Ray Dyer
16:58 Oct 26, 2020

Absolutely beautiful - and I have to admit that I came at it from the mother's perspective. I've got so many hobbies that I have to run away from new ones before they suck me in! But, not living in a box, of course I know enough about Minecraft to get by in polite society... I love that the story doesn't elaborate too much on the incident that led to this point. We get enough to feel a stake through our hearts, and that's so very effective. The heartwarming soul of this story brings out the best of Halloween. Also, of course, the writi...

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Leilani Lane
19:27 Oct 26, 2020

Thank you so much, Ray!! What a wonderful comment, as always. :) I would have totally come at this from the mother's perspective, too... if I didn't get EXTREMELY into Minecraft this year, what with quarantining. XD

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Ray Dyer
20:01 Oct 26, 2020

My boss has a son who is obsessed with Minecraft, and he was telling me all about it about two weeks before my daughter came home talking about how all her friends were playing it. I knew just enough to not sound like a dolt while she was talking about it...totally dodged a bullet there!

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Leilani Lane
14:00 Oct 27, 2020

Hahaha I love it!!! Honestly, ever since I switched out social media time with Minecraft (and Reedsy) time, I've been a loooooot happier lol!

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Ray Dyer
14:19 Oct 27, 2020

What a FANTASTIC idea!!!

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Stephen Closson
10:26 Oct 26, 2020

I never imagined I would get the feels about something relating to Minecraft, but here we are. Nice going with this story! It reminds me of how me and my dad used to play Nintendo together when I was a kid, I forgot how much I missed that.

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Leilani Lane
19:25 Oct 26, 2020

Hahaha this was kind of a reach but I really wanted to do a Minecraft story. XD Aw, that's so cute!

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A.g. Scott
00:01 Oct 26, 2020

Hi! Thought this was sweet and well-written, and Lina covered the tiny critiques I had. -The flyer strikes me as an odd thing to do, maybe it's just me. News of a tragedy like that would spread naturally, and then the boy wouldn't have to look at a flyer of himself and question anyone's motives... - What was in Oliver's satchel that he was going to give to the person who guessed right? - It feels like a set-up, something Max does out of obligation or something -- I feel like it might be better to have him do it authentically, out of the...

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Leilani Lane
00:19 Oct 26, 2020

The flyer has more to do with Oliver than the accident--he's a boy that has difficulty with social situations. I think some could look at this as autism or something similar, I left that open-ended (hence why his quietness even before the accident is referenced), so the mom was preparing the neighborhood. I'll take a look at it again, sounds like it's not needed. Thank you so much for reading and for your critiques!!!

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Noel Pine
02:55 Oct 27, 2020

Sheesh! This was so good! Man, well done! I’ve been looking for a story with a lot of emotion in it for a while! Amazing job!

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Leilani Lane
14:01 Oct 27, 2020

Ahhhh thank you so much!!! :)

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Lina Ozz
23:26 Oct 25, 2020

Aww. I love this story so much! It’s simple and touching and matches the prompt and genre very well. I love the creative and social ideas you’ve succeeded in conveying here, too. It's far more multifaceted with the inclusion of his dad's death. Tiny critiques: I hang back on the porch steps as Oliver approaches Mr. Atkinson’s DOOR and rings the DOORbell. A man with silvery hair and a mustache opens the DOOR. “Oliver! I’ve been waiting for you!” Mr. Atkinson reaches behind the DOOR and presents Oliver with a huge chocolate bar, easil...

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Leilani Lane
23:45 Oct 25, 2020

Thanks so much!! Will apply those critiques!

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I enjoy how something small like a video game can spark such joy.

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