Hey, it’s the holiday season. I hope you have holidays warmed by the love and affection of family and friends.

I am looking forward to a blessed holiday that still includes my parents and brother and little sister, all who have struggled with health issues this year.

I thought I would celebrate by offering the gift of a quickie story for you to enjoy.

This little treat won the Merry Little Apex Flash Fiction Contest in 2014. It’s only 249 words, but packs a reminder that gifts come in all shapes and sizes.

Looking forward to a productive and blessed 2017.

Stockings Hung at the Hearth

Thea Hutcheson


     Sinterklass has a list.  My name is on it. And I’ve been very bad.  I lied to my mother, stole from the village, poached from the Duke.

     On Christmas Eve my sister Julia snores quietly under our thin blanket.  The wind howls, sending frigid fingers through chinks in our mud daub hovel.  My bare feet are blocks of ice against her threadbare stockings.

     I pick a louse from her silky hair, and crush it.

     Mama is working.  “Whoring pays poorly,” she’d said, “but it keeps us in bread.”

     Old bread, moldy bread, rat-chewed bread.  But bread most days.

     I hate the taste of bread.

     The door creaks.  My heart skips a beat.  Mama wouldn’t clump in heavy boots.  I smell pipe smoke, see a flash of full white beard in the pale moonlight poking through the cracks around the door.

     I hold my breath as the shadow crosses to the hearth where my stockings hang, newly darned with stolen wool.  He reaches for them and I hear rustling and soft thumps.  Then, with a swirl of crimson cape, he’s gone.

     Mother returns in the pearly dawn.  Nudging Julia, I pad over the frosty floor to the stockings.  Hers holds a small corn husk doll.

     Uncovering a hole in the room’s corner, I retrieve two wrinkled potatoes, a withered carrot, a soft apple, and a skinny hare to roast on a spit over the six precious lumps of coal in the bottom of my stocking.

     “Today we feast!” I cry.


The End

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