Promises to Keep
by Jack Koebnig
At the entrance to his landscaped driveway, Alex turned round and his knees almost gave.
The house he devoured with eyes as big as the white saucers he kept neatly stacked in his kitchen cupboard, was huge – a detached mansion surrounded on all sides by mature oak trees.
‘Wonderful,’ he whispered. ‘Just wonderful.’
He glanced at his car which could’ve been the illicit offspring of a Rolls Royce and a top-of-the-range Bentley then at the large garage which would house MARY FOREVER, his private yacht, through the winter.
‘Thanks to him I own this. I own all this.’
Alex Beech wasn’t a clever man nor was he particularly successful at anything he tried, but he had been lucky and as far as he was concerned you only had to be lucky once in life as long as it was big enough.
And boy, had it been big. Costly but big.
Last year he’d taken his wife.
This year it would be his daughter.
He glanced at his daughter’s bedroom window and shrugged. There was nothing he could do.
Alex had made a promise and soon he would arrive in his ridiculous snowman’s suit and close the deal.
He’d never welched on a promise and he wasn’t going to start now. Like this evening, his daughter had wanted hot-dogs and beans.
‘Really?’ she’d asked. ‘I can really have bogs?’ (Bogs was the name for her favourite meal).
‘Of course you can. I promised, didn’t I?’
Last meals should always be the tastiest. Don’t you agree?
Alex glanced at his watch. He’ll be here soon and then I’ll be alone … with everything.
And he smiled.
A deal’s a deal, he told himself. And a promise is a promise …
By Daisy Warwick
Tom danced amongst the snowflakes, musing at the little wet tags of crystallised beauty that melted upon his slippers.
His snowman friend appeared to grow in the air whilst they flew. The delicate falling wisps quickly adding to the bulk of his already frozen biceps.
Every tiny flake of uniqueness had compacted into the most astonishing Christmas miracle that Tom had ever witnessed.
The Snowman pulled him through the air whilst he learned of his own individual obscurity within Nature’s wider order. The vastness of the landscape passed far beneath them at a dizzying pace.
Having had a chance in those last few hours to witness life without leaving a foot print, Tom was amazed to discover how others laughed and worked as naturally as his own family did – reacting to the same kind of aggravation or humour.
It had never quite occurred to Tom before that the pleasure of building the first snowman was universal, or that equally strong bonds of love and friendship existed between people he’d never met.
Racing over the sea, he felt the warmth and familiarity of Humanity incubating him against the frost that appeared to be of no bother to his host.
Suddenly, with a sense of serenity, Tom accepted that there was simply more to life than his own household. He had a space in the world, but he was also part of something bigger.
The singing of carollers performing, ‘Joy to the World’, drifted into his ears via the chiming of the wind.
It hardly mattered that Tom’s own sense of hope was invested in a miracle different from the one they sang about.
That Christmas, Tom no longer felt alone.
That Christmas a miracle had been born. Albeit, out of coal and snow. But,
Tom didn’t question that.
by Dawn L Hollis
Not many snowpeople got to see Christmas, at least not this far south. She had been constructed in a flurry of excitement on the 23rd, with children and adults alike wondering at the thought of a white conclusion to advent. The younger children had played all day, the older sister had emerged to solemnly affix her nose, and even the mother-adult lent her gloved hands to solving a head-related emergency. The father-adult was dragged to see the snow-woman as soon as he arrived home, and he smiled wearily at her. She tried to smile back, but he was too old to see it.
By Christmas Day, for all the promise of another flurry, most of the snow-woman’s surrounding carpet had melted to a grey, dirty slush, but compacted as she was, she froze on. She watched their day through the glass doors. Excitement and activity in the morning, cheerful politeness across the dinner table to elderly relatives at lunchtime, games in the afternoon, tempers fraying at too many expectations and too little fresh air. One of the younger children started to cry, and the older sister was chided by the father-adult.
The older girl tramped out into the garden, approached the snow-woman, sighed and breathed in the quietness. Her lip wobbled with the tears she thought she was too old to cry, even on Christmas Day. She placed her hand on top of the head of the snow-woman, who felt the first tingle of magic run through her.
“It would be nice to fly away.” The girl said, and the magic thrummed louder, but then she dropped her hand. “Pity you’re not real.”
As she walked away, the snow-woman tried to call out that today, she could be real, but the girl didn’t hear her. She was already too old.
by Cath Barton
She had kept it in its wrapping all year, as if to take it out would taint it in some way, make it harder to fly. Now she needed it. There was no snow. No snowman. Only the kite could help her, if the rain would stop. Finally, it did and on a day of stiff breezes and flitting clouds she had gone out with the kite unwrapped but still tightly furled.
From afar you would hardly have seen her, the small girl unfurling the giant kite across the field, yet you would have known that there must have been someone there, someone to hold it down in the gusts of that December day.
Had you been able to see from above, as the birds do from the trees, you would have seen the girl skipping around the three sides of her kite, smoothing them down. You would have seen the gold silk ripple, maybe even heard its whispered rustle, the whisper that said it was getting ready to lift off. You would have seen her, the small girl in a scarlet coat, you would have seen her grasping the string, the string which must have been much stronger than it looked, and you would have seen her tugging it once, twice, three times to check it was secure.
You would have seen them lift off and the miracle of it, the girl and the kite, flying together into the blue of the sky. You would have seen them dip and rise, dip and rise between the clouds. But what you would not have seen from that distance was that up there, in the high pale of the sky, the first snowflakes were falling onto the small girl’s face, her shining joyful face as she flew, holding onto her kite.
Holding Very Tight
by Jan Kaneen
It was minus twenty degrees at the North Pole and the Snowman’s tears were frozen solid behind his coal black eyes.
‘I’m not going back, not tonight, not ever.’ His face was set hard, cold.
Santa sighed. It was a ho-ho–hopeless situation. ‘It’s the same for all of us, Snowman. We’re all duty bound, without exception. It’ll never change. We have no choice.’
The Snowman stared beyond the white horizon, past the undulating shifts of turquoise into the midnight blue, seeing only yesterday’s electrical firelight, the beautiful flickering fake firelight glimpsed through a misted window, that he’d longed to feel the tangerine warmth of. The Aurora Borealis was nothing in comparison.
‘It’s not the same for me,’ he choked, gulping down the mighty monster of despair that was stirring in the frigid middle of him. ‘I always have to choose. That’s what I can’t bear.’
The Snowman looked over Santa’s bowed head toward this year’s joyful boy who was highland flinging in blue and white striped pyjamas, spinning wild and free amongst the happy throng, between Frosty Jock and Swedish Snögubbe.
‘Why does it always have to be this way? Stay here and live, take him back and melt.’
A small, blue-white corpse reeled into his mind’s eye, frozen open-mouthed, as if taken by surprise.
The Snowman felt his hard heart start to melt, like it had last year and the year before that, warmed by the inevitable compassion that always dragged him back. Santa felt it too and placed his hand on his friend’s cold shoulder, wishing he had a better Christmas gift to give.
The Snowman thinned his lips into half a smile and turned to trudge through the deep drifts toward the music.
A flurry of italic snow-dust spiralled weakly in the growing distance between them.
by Abigail Van Kirk
She stands, silent, on the snow-dusted, frozen sand. It crunches with every slightest shift. The hush is broken only by the lap of the slushy wakes, though the current is too powerful for the lake to be frozen completely, and this is how she prefers her nature. Half-frozen where her steps will be covered soon enough, and then melted to leave nothing but hot summer sand.
The young lady reaches to undo her bun that had once been done up neatly, perfectly, but was now in ruins. For a moment, her frozen fingers fumble, but snap the vintage clasp—her mother’s. The white lace dress and petite matching flats are the mother’s choice, too. It is thin and inappropriate for a winter wedding, but she hardly minds shivering now in the open air by her beloved lake, rather than heaving and sweating in the cloistered church.
As a little girl, her shared room had doomed her to little privacy, so her tendency had been to stay up until early morning’s hours, especially on her favorite day of the year. It had always been and still is Christmas, the reason she had insisted on having the wedding on Christmas Eve. Night has yet to fall, and the sun reflects off the blistering white, but one night ten years ago gives her hope, still. Her hazel eyes and child’s hopes had not been deceiving her the night she was certain a snowman was made from Santa’s blizzard, and at the lake now she would wait for him to carry her away. Or, she would wait as the little Matchstick Girl, her mother’s favorite fairy tale to read by the fireside. It will please her mother to have a Matchstick Bride, and the thought makes her laugh into the half-frozen air.
by Carol R.Smith
One morning, when the ground was covered in crisp, white frost, and my breath hung in the air, I found an object nestled inside the hedgerow. The brightness of the low-lying sun forced my gaze downwards, catching a gleam of light. I carefully reached between the bare branches and pulled free a glass globe. I wiped it off and put it in my pocket.
Back home, whilst warming myself by the fire, I examined my find. When shook, white specks swirled around a central figurine, reminding me of something I played with as a child. I placed it on the mantelpiece and got on with my work, paying little attention to it, or the encroaching clouds outside.
I was woken in the middle of the night by bright light filtering through the slatted blinds; several inches of snow had fallen. Shivering, I went downstairs to light the fire. The glass globe still sat on the mantelpiece, but I noticed something odd. The snowman inside had vanished. I picked up the globe and discovered it was completely empty.
My moment of disbelief was interrupted by a noise outside. After quickly throwing my boots and coat on over my pyjamas, I opened the door. My boots broke the eerie silence as I crunched across the snow, tracking strange marks. Rounding the corner, I came to an abrupt halt when I found myself facing a huge snowman.
He wore the same hat and scarf as the snowman in the glass globe. When he grabbed my hand, everything started spinning. I cannot be sure what magic the snowman weaved — or what exactly happened next — all I know is that now I am sitting on my mantelpiece, imprisoned in the same glass globe, waiting for someone to come and shake me free.