14 comments

Holiday

The boy peeks from behind the wall into the kitchen. The smell of chocolate chip waffles had coaxed him from the comfort of his bed, a place he was quite disinclined to depart from on this snowy Saturday morning. He watches quietly as his mother flurries around the kitchen in her usual refined chaos, zipping through cupboards and yanking ingredients from their haphazard placements across the countertops.


The boy loves to watch his mother cook. She is a magician and an artist in the kitchen. And in life. 


“And what are you doing awake, kiddo?”


The boy jumps as his mother sings the words in her light, melodious voice. She doesn’t bother to look at him; she simply continues mixing ingredients in the big glass bowl in front of her, occasionally pausing to open the waffle maker and pour a large spoonful of batter onto the iron plate. The boy can see little bits of chocolate laced throughout the mixture. He can smell the chocolate, too.


He walks inside the kitchen sheepishly. The enticing aroma of the waffles gets stronger. His stomach growls; he covers it with his arm to muffle the sound. “I was watching you. And,” he adds as an afterthought, “it’s Christmas Eve. I can’t sleep when Christmas is almost here!”


“Watching me? Why on earth would you spend one of your only days you get to sleep in watching me ruin your waffles?”


“You never ruin them, Mom.”


“That’s my boy. You always know what to say.” She finally looks at him with a twinkle in her eye, smiling crookedly. She turns back to the waffle maker, opening it, where a perfect chocolate chip waffle rests inside. She carefully eases it off the hot cast iron and onto a plate. She holds it out to the boy. “Come on, now. Don’t let this get cold.”


“Thanks, Mom.” The boy grabs the plate and hops onto the barstool, his stomach gurgling loudly now. He doesn’t bother to hide it this time. The sound ceases as he shoves a forkful of the waffle into his mouth, chewing so quickly he doesn’t taste it; he only feels the quick burn against the back of his throat. His eyes water. His mother wordlessly hands him a glass of orange juice, which the boy gulps down gratefully.


She leans her elbows against the opposite side of countertop across from him, placing her chin in her hands, smiling as she watches her son gobble the waffles down in mere moments. “Something tells me you enjoy––or, rather, enjoyed, I guess––that waffle,” she says. “Would you like another?”


“Another and another and another,” the boy answers immediately. She laughs as she grabs his empty plate and slides two more waffles on it. She takes one for herself.


The boy and his mother eat, watching the snow fall gently outside their window. The boy feels peaceful, calm, happy––he has grown very fond of this Saturday morning routine. It is a point of tranquility amongst the coming busy weekdays.


“I have something for you,” the boy’s mother says quietly.


He turns to her. She’s smiling again, but… sadly, perhaps. A ghost of a smile.


“Really? You do?”


“Yes.” She hesitates. “An… heirloom, so to speak. It was given to me by my father. So, I wanted to give it to you, since it’s Christmas Eve. And, like last year, you’re allowed one gift to open on Christmas Eve. Would you like to see?”


“Yes, please!” The boy exclaims. He quickly swallows the last bite of his waffle, using the back of his hand to wipe the remaining chocolate from his mouth.


“Good. Wait here. And use a napkin.” She wags her finger at him as she straightens.


His mother departs from the kitchen, heading toward the ladder to the attic. The boy moves about in his seat, restless and excited. Christmas Eve is always an exciting occasion; he yearns to know what this year’s present will be.


The boy hears his mother rummaging about from the attic and can hardly keep still as he hears her footsteps make their way back to the kitchen. She emerges in the entryway, holding something behind her back. He cranes his neck, attempting to see the present behind her. She easily sidesteps out of his line of sight, turning so that he can't catch a glimpse. The, she slowly eases the present in front of the boy's eager eyes. She pauses.


“Ready?”


“Ready!”


“Just making sure.” She brings her hands in front of her, her left hand clasping the gift.


The boy narrows his eyes. It’s about the size of his hand. At first, he can’t tell what it is; then, he realizes it’s a small green teddy bear, with round ears and small beaded black eyes and a black nose. It looks worn, but clean, and the fur is thick and plush. He smiles as he looks at it.


“I hope you like it,” his mother says softly. “My dad gave it to me when he left for the war. I always took it with me, wherever I went. It became a part of me, especially when he didn’t… anyways. And, now, it can be a part of you too, if you want.” She bites her lip. “I… well, I altered it a little. I hope you’re okay with that.”


“Okay?” The boys says, his eyebrows raised in surprise. “It's... it's awesome, Mom! It... it looks just like me!” He stares at the teddy bear in awe.


“It does, doesn’t it?” His mother says gently, smiling as the boy gingerly takes the teddy bear from her, careful not to pull too hard. “I thought you two looked a little similar.” She ruffles his hair, watching as he grins down at the little animal tenderly cradled against his chest.


“I love it, Mom. Thank you.”


The boy reaches forward and wraps his mom in a hug with his right arm. His left arm is gone––just like his teddy bear's. 

September 28, 2020 03:43

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14 comments

Thom Brodkin
19:08 Oct 07, 2020

The best part about this story is how his disability didn't mean anything. He was a normal little boy. I'm wondering how I would have reacted if this were performed instead of presented as a written story. I know it would still have been great but it would have missed the lesson at least to an extent. I also want to compliment you on your skill as a writer. This was a fantastic story but it was also perfectly delivered. You have a gift for tone and flow and realism. Three cheers to you and your story. I loved it. I happened to use...

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Lina Oz
21:41 Oct 07, 2020

Hi, Thom! Thank you so much for giving my story a read and for your lovely comment. I really appreciate your viewpoint, and it's a definite confidence boost. :) I'll go read your story right now! Excited to read your work.

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Thom Brodkin
21:48 Oct 07, 2020

Absolutely and thank you!

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A. K. Wilson
17:52 Oct 04, 2020

This is really sweet, and shows what the chistmas spirits all about. I enjoyed that you shows the emotions and made the scene without flooding it with too much detail. Its really well done

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Lina Oz
04:49 Oct 05, 2020

Thank you so much for giving it a read and for your lovely comment! I really appreciate it :)

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Lani Lane
04:15 Sep 30, 2020

Aw this is so cute!! Really awesome imagery in the beginning, too, and great reveal in the end. The only thing I would say is to delete the “I would love to!” from the boy—for me it kind of interrupted the flow there, and for some reason I just can’t imagine a kid saying that (I’m not sure how old this kid is though, but from the beginning I thought he’d be pretty young). Same with “of course, Mom!” after she says “ready?” I think it would be fun if he said ready in return. “Ready?” “Ready!” And: “Okay?” The boys says, raising his ...

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Lina Oz
16:34 Sep 30, 2020

Thank you so much for reading it and for your comment!! You always have such good feedback :) I will definitely incorporate your advice and change his language. You're right; he sounds a bit formal/older. I can't remember how kids speak! Lol. Thanks again!

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Lani Lane
18:51 Sep 30, 2020

...but then again, I don't have a lot of interaction with kids so maybe ignore my suggestions lolol :D

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Iris Silverman
19:45 Sep 29, 2020

This was so precious. I could just envision the little boy's eyes lighting up when he received the present. This could easily be one of those Disney animated shorts. That's kind of what it reminded me of:) I loved it. Great job

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Lina Oz
19:02 Sep 30, 2020

Thank you so much for giving it a read and for your lovely comment; I really appreciate your thoughts! :)

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S. Closson
15:58 Sep 29, 2020

Aww, that was such a sweet story! It was well written and the ending was excellent. Nice going!

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Lina Oz
17:52 Sep 29, 2020

Thank you so much for giving it a read and for your kind comment! :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
09:45 Sep 28, 2020

Oh this was so sweet ☺️ I knew SOMETHING was up. And I love how short this story is, kept things from getting stale. Keep it up! 😙

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Lina Oz
03:38 Sep 29, 2020

Thank you so much for giving it a read and for your thoughtful comment! I really appreciate it :)

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