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Week #49: Creative Writing Challenge – Christmas Snow

December 25, 2021

10 cm of snow had fallen overnight… the only things is… the snow isn’t white.

It was the day before Christmas and Candice was with her mother at the mall. The little girl hung tight to her mother’s hand, eyes wide and mouth closed. Candice knew better than to tell her mother how scared it made her when strangers jostled her shoulders or caught the heels of her shoes. Candice’s mother squeezed her hand and surged ahead toward the toy store.

Candice’s mother dragged her through the aisles and instructed her to sit at a Polly Pocket Playstation near the back of the store. The Playstation had three chairs, just big enough for Candice to sit comfortably. Candice swiveled in her chair, bored with Polly after only a few minutes. In the superhero aisle she saw a mother stretch an arm toward the top shelf while being tugged from below by a red-headed boy. A store worker placed stuffed dogs in a pile, each black nose poking out between floppy ears.

Candice heard a faint “Ho Ho Ho” from the front of the store. Her mother had promised a visit with Santa, but that had been forgotten along with dance recitals, cookie making, and getting a tree. Instead, Candice had been ushered to Grandpappy’s house and told to “mind”, while her mother went to her two jobs or to the hospital to visit Andrew, Candice’s little brother.

Candice heard her mother’s voice cut through the “dings” and “bleeps” of toys. “I need a Tickle Me Elmo, can you show me where they are?”

“I’m sorry ma’am. We’ve been out of Tickle Me Elmo’s for three weeks now,” a sales person reported.

“I’ve been everywhere and no place has them. My son Andrew is in the hospital this Christmas and it’s his only Christmas wish. Are you sure you don’t have any in the back?” Candice’s mother asked.

“I’m sorry. We just don’t have any.” The sales person walked away.

Candice winced as her mother appeared at the end of an aisle. Her mother walked to the Polly Pocket Playstation and sank into a plastic chair. The pink legs bowed. Polly and her Kozy Kitties were crushed under her mother’s elbows as she hunched over the Playstation. Candice was still.

“Ho Ho Ho.”

Santa appeared alongside the Polly Pocket Playstation. His bead was scraggly and white, and “Santa” was embroidered in the white band of his hat like there was a possibility he’d forget. Candice’s mother raised her head and focused her red eyes on Santa. To Candice it seemed an impossibility that her mother would be crying in the middle of a toy store, so Candice ignored it. Santa, on the other hand, did not.

“Dear child. Christmas Eve isn’t a time for despair, it’s a time for hope,” he told Candice’s mother.

“There’s no hope left Santa. Leave us alone,” Candice’s mother spat toward the red-clad figure hovering above them.

“Of course ma’am, but first, tell me your Christmas wish. You never know when it might come true.” Candice’s mother relaxed her pursed lips as Santa reached out a white-gloved hand toward her. There was no smile, but Candice’s mother didn’t look like she wanted Santa to jump off a cliff anymore.

“I wish that a Tickle Me Elmo appeared underneath our Christmas tree tomorrow morning.” Candice’s mother paused. “Actually, just leave it on our kitchen table. There’s no tree.” She hung her head, avoiding Candice’s eyes on her.

“And for you little one?” Santa directed his gaze toward Candice in her pink chair. Candice had been waiting for this opportunity and wasn’t going to squander it with a bad wish. “I wish that it snows tonight and that the snow tasted like bubble gum.”

“As you wish ladies. Merry Christmas to you both.” Santa held his hat with a hand as he bowed deeply toward Candice and her mother, and then shuffled up the video game aisle.

After three deep breaths, Candice’s mother rose, grabbed Candice’s arm and said, “Let’s go home.”

Candice’s mother went to the hospital and Grandpappy came to watch Candice that night. She fell asleep to Grandpappy’s snores rumbling over the noise of infomercials for vacuums and jewelry and shakeweights.

The morning dawned clear as Candice opened her eyes and jumped down the stairs. She passed Elmo on the kitchen table and went straight to the front door. Candice flung open the wooden barrier and smiled as she spied the ten centimeters of snow that had fallen over her front yard. A passerby would have noticed two odd things about the snow; it had fallen only in the front yard of Candice’s house, and it was blue. Neither of these things surprised or bothered Candice as she launched herself into a drift with her mouth stretched wide.

Candice’s mother arrived home thirty minutes later to find Candice in the middle of the yard, her clothes and mouth stained blue, and a wide smile on her face. “Momma, it’s bubble gum,” Candice exclaimed.

Candice’s mother studied her daughter for a moment and then rushed up the steps into the house. A moment later Candice heard a whoop.

“Thanks Santa,” Candice whispered in between bites of bubble gum flavored snow.

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