A guest story for this special day.
(The background to today’s story comes later on.)
THE CHRISTMAS STORM
by Madeleine Johnston
We had just finished baking the hazelnut pie when the storm hit, a monster blizzard with enough wind that it tore down three telephone poles. The Christmas tree lights sparked and went out, as did all the other lights. I noticed snow had begun to fall in heavy clumps. The house shook violently from the fierce wind, and my mother ordered me to retrieve my brother and father. I got them out of the TV room as fast as I could, snatching Posy, my cat, as we rushed to the kitchen.
“I’m scared!” my brother wailed.
“Everything’s fine,” my father said. But I knew he was lying.
My mother handed us our winter jackets. “Go outside! Hurry!”
Just then, there was a tremendous BOOM! Bark and branches scratched my skin, and I smelled sap. A tree had smashed through our house. I screamed and fell on my behind. Posy raced off.
“POSY!” I jumped up.
“Leave her!” my mother said.
“NO!” I followed her through the scabby branches and into the dining room. She was cowering under the table. I coaxed her to me, picked her up, and hurried back to the kitchen.
“OUTSIDE! NOW!” my mother bellowed.
We were ushered into the freezing garage, and outside, which was even colder than the snow I was playing in yesterday. Dark storm clouds had rolled in and were dropping hail on our heads. A huge pine tree destroyed the house on the left, and I heard screaming. I wanted desperately to help our neighbors, but I knew we couldn’t.
I hugged Posy close to my chest. Our hearts pounded together.
“To the rock!” my mother hollered above the wind. We ran through the snow to the enormous boulder in the backyard. The world was black as coal.
We crawled under the rock, my father shielding us with his broad body. Posy hissed. My brother was crying, and my mother kissed my head.
We soon fell asleep, as trees crashed down around us. I worried for our Christmas tree farm.
When I awoke, the wind had ceased. I peered around my dad. The sky was cloudy, we were weighed down by snow, and our house was reduced to a mound of debris. Somewhere, a bird chirped.
I looked up to see a cardinal sitting in one of our Christmas trees. Only part of the Christmas tree farm had survived. The others were uprooted.
The cardinal nibbled on the string of cranberries we hung around the trees every Christmas season.
I heard my father mumble, “Everything, gone.”
“Not everything,” my mother whispered. “For one, we still have part of our farm. And…” From beside her, she pulled the hazelnut pie. It was a bit squished, but not badly. I hadn’t noticed she’d brought it. She smiled meekly. “We’ll be okay.”
And I believed her.
So we sat beneath the rock, enjoying the only thing we had left.
Except for being together.
Foster’s Daily Democrat, our local newspaper, runs an annual holiday art and writing contest. It was open to all students from first grade through high school in the seacoast area of New Hampshire and Maine. Over 2,000 students submitted entries. 34 winners were chosen for the art portion, and 36 winners were chosen for the writing portion.
My daughter was one of the winners for writing. Some of you may have seen my Facebook post about it, and a few people had requested to read her story. While her short story was published in the paper, it was in a special pull-out section that is not accessible on-line. So, I’m posting it here.
Now that you have read Madeleine Johnston’s short story you can see why I asked her permission to republish it here on Learning from Dogs.
May you all have a trouble-free Christmas Day!