Dec 8, 2013

Words for Wednesday: a Christmas story

'Words for Wednesday' is a writing prompt held by Delores at Under the Porch Light.
Use some or all of the week's words, write a poem or a story or a fragment, and visit Delores' current week's prompt to let her know you've joined in.

This week's words are:

It appears that the festive season is upon us.  So, let's begin.

* * *

Marcie opened her eyes to the distant, pleasant sounds of her parents getting breakfast in the kitchen and the aromatic scent of fruit toast.  She remembered it was only two days till Christmas and smiled to herself.  Christmas Eve Eve, she thought, the family phrase immediately bringing back memories of other Christmas Eve Eves where she had thought the same words.

Marcie padded down the steep wooden stairs to the loungeroom. She glanced only a minute at the little Elf on the Shelf her dad had set up on the mantlepiece, just long enough to confirm he hadn't moved during the night. He sat motionless against the wall, his creepy smile and unnaturally rosy cheeks bright in the morning sun. Marcie shivered and hurried round the corner to the kitchen. 

"Dad," she said. Her parents were buttering toast, clearing the dishwasher and chatting. They turned when she came in. 

"Hey! Good morning." Her dad handed her some toast. Her mum smiled over her coffee.

"Dad, the elf didn't move last night."

"Well," said Dad, "I guess he had a rest last night." His face was a little tired-looking. Marcie knew he and Mum had stayed up quite late last night, as their neighbors had visited for drinks. "But I'm sure he'll get up to some tricks again tonight!" 

"I don't want him to," said Marcie. She sat and started on some toast.  "Can you actually put him away, Dad?"

Her father raised his eyebrows. "What? But he's part of the family now! And he only gets to come out at Christmas!"

"I don't really like him," said Marcie. She'd lowered her voice a little to say this, as if to make sure no one else could hear.

Her mum smiled. "I'm not crazy about him either," she said. "Gordon, let's call it a day on the elf. Maybe he can come out again next year."

Dad shrugged. "Okay," he said. " I'll pack him away today."

That day was fun. Mum took Marcie out for some last-minute shopping, and the shops were all beautiful and sparkly with Christmas. People were rushed but seemed happy and there was festivity and goodwill in the air. Marcie and her mum stopped at a cafe and had hot chocolate. The cafe looked out on a park with grassy slopes at one end. Some kids had made a toboggan out of a big piece of cardboard and were sliding down the slopes squealing and yelling with glee.

When Marcie and Mum got home, the elf was gone. Mum checked the hall cupboard, opened a red box, and said "Yep, there he is." She put the box back on the top shelf, closed the door and smiled at Marcie. "All gone!" she said. 

Marcie felt immediate relief.

That night she helped Mum wrap the last presents they'd bought and put them under the tree. Dad made her laugh by pretending to jump up on the mantelpiece to take the place of the elf. She was allowed to stay up a bit late, and they all watched The Polar Express on TV. 

When Marcie went to bed she felt warm and relaxed, and it wasn't long before she was asleep.

She heard the sounds sometime late in the night. 

At first she didn't know what had woken her, and then she heard it. It was a slow tapping sound, like something on wood. Tap...tap...tap. Marcie lay very still and told herself she was dreaming, or that she had imagined it. Tap...tap...tap.  Her heart thumping, Marcie listened again. It was a branch outside, she thought, or ...what did Mum say about strange noises? It was the house settling.   

Tap...tap...tap.  Like something on wood. Something.... on the wooden stairs.  Tap...tap...tap.  It was louder, she was sure it was. It was closer.  Marcie drew the blankets up to her chin and squeezed her eyes shut tight. Go away, she thought, go away, go away, go away....

After awhile she opened her eyes. The sound had stopped. She waited. There was nothing.  Still scared but exhausted from her fear, Marcie at last fell back asleep.

In the morning Marcie's room was golden with sunshine. Marcie woke up and for a moment she had no memory of the sounds during the night. She opened her eyes and looked out the window. The garden was bright and cheery, with birds tweeting and the sun shining on everything. She could hear a lawn mower next door and her parents moving around downstairs in the kitchen.

She remembered the sounds from the middle of the night. The fear seeped back into her; the sunny morning did not dispel it.  Marcie sat up slowly. Her bed faced the bedroom door. Outside was the landing that gave onto the wooden staircase that led down to the loungeroom.

Marcie got a horrible shock but it was not really a surprise. Sitting on the floor just inside her doorway was the elf. Its head with the cherry-red cheeks and knowing smile was turned slightly to face her, and its bright blue eyes were staring straight at her.

* * *

Merry Christmas!

Photo: InspiredinDesMoines/Flickr


  1. A Christmas creepy story....I love it.

  2. Aaaargh. I think that elf might have to fall down those steep stairs. As many times as it takes to ensure he will never climb them again.

  3. Aaaah! That's creepy!
    Great story, but creepy.
    That elf looks a bit like Chuckie...
    I have a ceramic Christmas Elf that I've had since I was four.

    1. I can't be the only one who finds these Elf on a Shelf things creepy!

  4. Some of them are cute, it depends on the facial expressions.



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