A world of joy, p.1
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A World of Joy
A WORLD OF JOY

  A COLLECTION OF

  YULETIDE SHORT STORIES

  by

  ASMSG Authors

  Visit ASMSG

  (Authors’ Social Media Support Group)

  At:

  www.asmsg.weebly.com

  Cover Art by Lauren Jolles, AKA Filmchild,

  Filmchild Creations on Deviant Art

  Visit Filmchild’s Site at:

  https://filmchild.deviantart.com/gallery/

  This anthology is a collection of short Yuletide holiday stories. All works herein are included by the express permission of each author. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2013 by: Grey Mouse Publishing

  Written by: ASMSG Authors

  Produced by: Christopher Shields, Publisher & Co-Administrator, ASMSG

  All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of the publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the Authors except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

  Contact ASMSG at www.asmsg.weebly.com

  Cover Art © 2013 by ASMSG

  Cover Art by Filmchild Creations on DeviantArt

  Editors: ASMSG Authors

  Table of Contents

  TIME—Andrew Lennon

  ANGELS OF CHRISTMAS—Carole McKee

  THE FIRST HOLIDAY—Claudia Burgoa

  MASON AND BESS AT CHRISTMAS—Diane Major

  WEEKEND WIFE—Elizabeth Rye (AKA Grace Rellie)

  ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS…—Genevieve Dewey

  SANTA’S CHRISTMAS SURPRISE—Ginny Bryce

  CHRISTMAS COOKIES—Gwendolyn Michelle

  TOMMY’S GIFT—James J. Murray

  AXE MAN—Jessica Knauss

  FROM SADNESS TO JOY—Joseph Ackerman

  CHRISTMAS MEMORIES OF ROME—Judith Works

  ANOTHER CHRISTMAS CAROL—Juliet Kincaid

  THE TICKING RING—K.N. Lee

  SANTA’S VISIT—Kirstin Pulioff

  THE SNOW PERSON—Lorna Dounaeva

  ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS—Lucy Pireel

  BLEAK CHRISTMAS—Marcy G. Dyer

  CHRISTMAS ON CALL—Olga Núñez Miret

  JOHNNY’S JOURNEY AND REUNION—Oscar Wager II

  AN ANGEL FOR MAGGIE—Rebecca Vance

  THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL—Susan Hawthorne

  TIME

  Andrew Lennon

  Part 1

  Christmas was always a really busy time at work, but my mind had been drifting elsewhere all day. All I really wanted to do was get back to working on my Sci-Fi novel. It was a cool, yet cheesy story about aliens who come to earth to teach us the error of our ways. Of course, it would include the killing of anyone who didn’t follow their lead, like humans do in such situations. It would most likely never be a best seller, but I enjoyed writing it, nonetheless.

  At home, my wife Sadie waited at the table, dinner waiting in the kitchen to be served. Lighted candles on the table and wine on ice was a pleasant surprise. It didn’t take a genius to figure out she had something important to tell me.

  Sadie and I live in a small, comfortable house about five miles outside of the city centre. With two bedrooms, bath, kitchen and living room, it was what people called a two up, two down. With only the two of us living in the house, the second bedroom was used as a spare. We’d hoped that one day a child when a child came along, we would paint the room pink or blue. Put a crib in there and cover the walls with Disney characters. We were only in our mid-twenties, so there was no rush.

  “So,” I asked, “what’s the occasion?”

  I knew it wasn’t our anniversary, since that was last month.

  “Sit down and you’ll find out,” She said.

  I sat at the table and waited anxiously. I had no clue what she wanted to tell me. I couldn’t even hazard a guess. After what seemed like forever, but was most likely only a few minutes, Sadie brought our dinner to the table. She had made roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, and peas. One of my favorites. She sat down.

  “Well?” I stood and poured the wine. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on?”

  “Not for me, thanks,” She said.

  I looked at her, blank.

  “The wine.” Sadie gestured toward the bottle. “None for me, thanks.”

  “Oh, um…okay, just for me then?”

  She started to eat her meal and I could see she was building up to tell me something important. Finally, she spoke.

  “I was thinking, maybe it’s time we decorated that spare room”

  “What were you planning on?” I asked, not really wanting to decorate the room. I was busy writing my novel, I didn’t want to waste time painting or wallpapering a room that nobody ever even sees.

  “Well that depends.” Sadie replied.

  “Depends on what? Haven't you got any ideas?” I asked. She still hadn’t told me what the occasion was.

  She looked at me and smiled. “It depends on whether it’s a boy, or a girl.”

  I was confused, “What the hell do you mean if it’s a boy or....”

  Suddenly I realized what she was telling me.

  “Wait! You mean…?” I stood up, my stomach somersaulting and my head spinning with excitement.

  “You mean, we’re gonna?”

  “Yes,” she said. “We’re gonna have a baby!”

  “YES!” I shouted.

  I moved quickly around the table, grabbed her around the waist, pulled her towards me and kissed her. Stopped, then looked her straight in the eyes. I had never felt so much emotion before. I felt like I could cry.

  “I’m gonna be a daddy.”

  “Yes, you’re going to be the best daddy.”

  Forgetting the dinner entirely, we celebrated by doing the same activity that had created our new found news.

  Afterwards, we cuddled and lay in the centre of the bed staring at each other. We didn’t speak, we didn’t need to. We just looked into each other’s eyes. We had created life.

  Sadie went for a soak in the tub, while I decided do some more work on my novel. I was going to be busy from then on, decorating rooms, baby shopping, preparing to be a daddy, so I had to make the most of it when I could. I sat at my desk and began to type. As always, I began to lose track of time. I let myself disappear into a trance, into my fictional world where I dictated what happens. I was on a roll tonight. I managed to get two and half thousand words down. I was so full of joy, words just spilled onto the pages effortlessly. I glanced at the clock. It was 10.30.

  “Oh, God,” I said to myself. “I’ve been writing for hours.”

  I assumed Sadie had fallen asleep in the bath. It wouldn’t be the first time, and she was probably drained from the all the emotion. I decided to go and wake her to take her to bed.

  I tried to stand, but I couldn’t, my legs were too weak. I pushed as hard as I could, but I could only lift myself half an inch from the seat. My back was in agony.

  “Sadie!” I shouted. “Sadie, come here, I can’t get up!”

  I was waiting for her to come into the room laughing at me. I probably gave myself dead legs from sitting at the desk for so long. I tried to stand again. Nothing.

  “Sadie!” I shouted again.

  I could hear her coming, she was almost running.

  Slow down. You shouldn’t be running in your condition.

  “What’s the matter?” A woman asked me.

  “Sadie, I can’t get…” I turned my head and looked at the stranger w
ho stood behind me. “Who are you? Where is Sadie?”

  The woman looked at me with a saddened and tired expression.

  She sighed, “Come on Dad, we've been through this. Sadie isn’t here anymore. She’s gone.”

  She began wheeling my chair out of the room.

  Why am I in a wheel chair?

  She was wheeling me out of a room I didn’t recognize. A man stood at the door. I didn’t know him.

  “He’s having another bad day,” the strange woman said.

  Part 2

  I was wheeled to another room that had a tall mirror on the wall. I sat staring into it. An old man was looking back at me. His hair was grey and thin. He didn’t look to be in the best health, and he had an expression on his face of complete shock.

  “Who the hell are you?” I shouted.

  This had to be some kind of dream. I had fallen asleep at my desk. Any minute now, I was going to wake up. I was sitting in front of my computer staring at my novel. Yes, that was it, I remembered.

  “Hey, you! Girl!” I shouted.

  The woman walked in to the room.

  “Girl? Well, that’s not very nice, Dad? Girl? I don’t know anyone by that name. My name is Hayley, thank you very much.”

  “Right, right, okay,” I replied with a lack of patience. “Hayley, where is my novel?”

  “What novel?” she asked.

  “What the hell do you mean ‘what novel’? My novel, you stupid girl! The one I was writing before I fell asleep.”

  Hayley sighed. She had a look of deep regret on her face. There was something familiar in her expression.

  “Dad, listen, you haven’t written anything for years. You stopped all that when mum got sick. Don’t you remember?”

  “Who the hell are you? Why do you keep calling me Dad? I’m not your father. Where is my wife?”

  She ran out the room in tears. I heard her shout, “John, you’re gonna have to see to him. I can’t do this anymore.”

  A man entered the room.

  “John, I presume?” I looked at him with a hardened stare.

  “Come on, Bill,” he said. “You can’t keep shouting at her like that. It’s not fair.”

  “Who the hell are you? How do you know my name? Who are you people?”

  He shook his head, his face a picture of disappointment, and sat on the bed next to my chair.

  “We have been through this, Bill. I’m John, and that lovely woman through there is my wife, Hayley. You know, the woman who has been taking care of you for the last year? Your daughter?”

  “Don’t be so bloody stupid. I haven’t got a daughter…not yet. Sadie told me she was pregnant, but only just. Baby’s not due for at least seven months.”

  “No, Bill, you've had one of your dreams again. You are a Dad. Hayley was born forty-five years ago. Your wife, Sadie…” He took a breath. “Sadie died two years ago, Bill.”

  I started to cry, what was going on? Had my life passed already and I’d forgotten the whole thing? No, it couldn’t have, I would have remembered. It was only an hour ago I was writing my novel. It was only this afternoon that I was told I’m going to be a dad.

  “No!” I shouted, “You’re wrong. This is just a dream! It’s just…”

  My breath ran away from me, my chest felt as though it was closing in on itself. I felt a shooting pain down the side of my body, and I could feel myself going numb. The room became a blur. I heard something, I heard someone shouting.

  “Bill! Bill! Oh God, Hayley quick, call an ambulance! He’s having a stroke!”

  Part 3

  When I awoke, I was staring at a bright light. I turned my head to see a woman standing over me. It was Sadie, and she had been crying.

  “What’s the matter, love?” I asked her

  “Oh Dad, it’s just…” she sniffled through her tears.

  Wait a minute? Dad? I blinked a few times to clear my vision. She wasn’t Sadie. She wasn’t my wife. It was that woman from before, that Hayley.

  “Listen, ahem, Hayley, I’m sorry. I don’t know if you’re sick or confused, but I’m not your…”

  She cut me off before I could finish. “Dad, you’re sick. The doctor says it could be anytime now.”

  Her crying had gotten heavier, I was still very confused as to what was happening. I couldn’t wake from this dream. Was this really happening? Was this woman I was looking at, my daughter?

  “You’re my daughter?” I asked. I didn’t sound like me, my voice sounded, frail, old.

  “Yes,” she replied. “I’m your daughter, Hayley. You remember? Me, you and Mum, Sadie, we’ve been through a lot you know. You remember John, my husband? I’m just so sorry I never got to give you grandchildren. I just…Oh God, Dad, I’m so sorry.”

  Her crying became uncontrollable. I tried to sit up and do something, I didn’t know what exactly I could have done. Give her a hug maybe? I don’t know, it wasn’t nice to see a young woman crying.

  I started to feel tired, my vision was beginning to blur again.

  “Sadie?” I asked.

  “No,” She blubbered. “Hayley.”

  “I love you.”

  Everything turned white. It was like a really bright light shining right in front of my eyes, it didn’t hurt. It felt like I had just awakened from a dream. I could hear a voice.

  “Bill,” It said.

  I turned to see a silhouette. It was growing, moving towards me.

  “Bill.” Again, in a soft voice.

  It’s an angel, I thought.

  “Bill.” The voice again.

  I looked up, the light began to fade away. My vision began to come clear again.

  “Bill, wake up hon, you fell asleep at your desk.”

  It was Sadie. She was glowing, and looked more beautiful than ever.

  “So then, Daddy,” she smiled, “What are we going to call our newest arrival?”

  I kissed her on the forehead, then stroked her tummy.

  “Hayley. Let’s call her Hayley,” I whispered.

  The End

  ANGELS OF CHRISTMAS

  Carole McKee

  It is the day before Christmas and I once again awaken with swollen eyes. Swollen eyes from crying. Crying because my two terrific children will have no Christmas. The year is 1981. When the stark realization of no Christmas hits me again I begin to cry. My kids deserve better! This is my fault. I should have listened to my gut; should have listened to my friends; should have listened to my parents. But I didn’t. I married a drunk.

  It started out fun. We dated, we laughed, we danced, and we drank. Well, he did anyway. I usually stopped at two because I was never fond of alcohol. John threw money down for drinks every night. When I asked how he could afford it, he told me he made really good money. A red flag popped up when he said it, because to me, it didn’t make sense that he didn’t own a car and he was behind on his rent. But I stuffed that red flag back deep in my brain, assuring myself that there was a reason. I always gave people the benefit of the doubt. When he asked me to marry him I said yes, even though my gut was telling me no. But John wanted to be a father to my kids. He said he loved the kids, and he seemed to enjoy having them around. Their own deadbeat father couldn’t be bothered, so John’s attention and affection toward my children was definitely a plus. In fact, it was the deciding factor in my resounding ‘I do’.

  Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for our marital heaven to take a turn down the road to hell. We were only married a month when John quit his job. To this day I believe that when he saw my paycheck he saw enough for all of us to live on. I really did make decent money, since I belonged to a union and enjoyed the high pay and many benefits that came along with the job. It was around that time that I learned that he had lied about how much money he made. According to him, he cleared $400 a week, which was not too bad for the late ‘70’s. The truth of the matter was that he made $4.00 an hour, almost minimum wage. It was no wonder he was behind on his rent and didn’t own a car. Everything he ear
ned went to buying booze. Not only that, but he worked for his uncle and he borrowed money from him constantly. His uncle took what he owed him out of his weekly paycheck, so many times his check was less than $30 a week. So he had lied. It didn’t take too long to find out that it wasn’t the first time or the last that he didn’t tell the truth. I soon realized that if my husband’s mouth was moving he was lying, or at least grossly exaggerating the truth. It was time to leave.

  I packed up my belongings and my two elementary school children and ran. I knew I could do better on my own and not be the chief supplier of food, clothing, shelter and alcohol to a pathological liar.

  But then the bottom fell out. I lost the use of my right hand. With almost 15 years of experience as a keypunch operator, I suddenly found myself disabled for that field. Tests after tests were run, trying to find out what caused the disablement. Finally it was discovered that a nerve entrapment way up in my elbow was the culprit of my disability. Surgery was in order. Although the surgery was necessary to release the nerve, there was no guarantee that I would ever be able to work as a keypunch operator again. The job required accuracy and speed, and I might not be able to regain the latter.

  On the day before the surgery, I heard from John. Ironically, he was still my husband because I couldn’t afford to pay for a divorce. It was the first time I had heard from him in almost a month, so imagine my surprise when I answered the phone, and the even bigger surprise by his news.

  “Honey,” he started out. “Listen. I’m in North Carolina. I’ve changed, Honey. I think I got it all together now. I’ve been accepted into the police academy. It’s what I’ve always wanted. I’m going to be a cop.”

  “Well, good for you. Hope it works out.” was my response.

  “I want you with me,” John added. “Give me a chance to make everything up to you. Move down here. You and the kids. Sell the furniture and pack up the rest and just move here. We’ll start fresh. New place, new city, everything new. I’ll be making a good salary so you won’t have to work. Please. Give me another chance.”

  Well, of course I needed proof. I had heard so many stories that I had no plans of falling into another one of his traps. He told me he was staying with a military paralegal on Fort Bragg, so I planned on doing some detective work before I made any decisions. My kids actually missed John. He wasn’t much of a husband, or much of a father, but he was a great playmate for them. I called the number he gave me when I was sure the paralegal would be there. Luckily he answered when John was in the shower. Great.

 
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