Young Adult Fiction posted December 11, 2023

This work has reached the exceptional level
A young mans encounter with a woman evokes lost memories.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

by Austin Yu


T’was the night before Christmas, a dimly lit street, in London. I was pondering a simple question. Why did life have to be so unfair? Why do good people, like my own mother have to suffer? Why did she have to leave me - a chance burst of blood vessels - after the doctor gave us some hope of recovery? And why couldn’t I just seem to let it go?

As I walked and walked, the sound of the double-deckers and cars grew fainter and fainter, and the lights seemed to flicker in sympathy as if they could hear my thoughts. A rock came into view on the black pavement. I ran up to it, booting it so hard it struck the wall of a house in front of me. When I stooped to grab the rock to chuck it further, I heard the clinking of glass from behind Venetian blinds. Curious, I looked in between the slits to spy a large dinner table flanked by a sizable white tree.  

“What are you doing all alone the night before Christmas?” Startled, I turned. Gently observing me, an old lady spoke, accompanied by her two grandchildren in reindeer pajamas. I was startled to have been caught admiring the scene inside and prepared to walk away wordlessly. But the voice arrested me once more. ”I can’t bear another second seeing you outside in this harsh cold.” 

It was good to be among people again. A man wearing a welcoming grin pulled up a chair for me to sit on, and we began to eat platters of barbeque chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, and warm cornbread with a glazed cherry sauce. In between the bites of food were conversations and laughter. But then, something caught my attention.

A candied smell filled my nostrils, but not just any old smell. It was a chocolatey scent, the same vanilla-roasted aroma of my mother’s chocolate-pecan butter cake. But no, it couldn’t be. My mother had died, and I was sitting in a stranger's home. Before I could hide my confusion, the old lady put down exactly what I had envisioned. I indulged in the dessert. It had an identical taste to the cake my mother so loved to make every Christmas when she was alive, except that its sweetness mingled with my tears. 

T’was the night before Christmas, a kind lady, a familiar dessert, my mother bent down with the memories that died alongside her, many years ago.

Christmas Story contest entry

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I created this story to bring light to such a sad reality. Each year, millions of people celebrate Christmas alone, encapsulated by their own struggles and traumas. This story should remind us that Christmas is all about love, and that we should do everything in our power to help others.
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© Copyright 2024. Austin Yu All rights reserved.
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