Round Robin Blog Fest - Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas! It's been a year. Enough said about that, let's have a little fun today!
Our last Round Robin Blog Fest for 2020 is always a good one. Write a short story, flash fiction, or use an excerpt from one of your books. One of the things I realized this year is that I only have ONE book set at Christmastime. In light of that, I pulled out a story I'd started last summer and just hadn't gone back to yet, but it's a story that wants to be told.
In a light-hearted Hallmark style, it's about a single mom with two kids. Her daughter has Down's Syndrome and her son is exceptionally talented in his own way. Kennedy Fowler has inherited a family home lovingly called The Doctor's Inn and has opened it as a bed and breakfast to be able to stay home with her kids. That is how they meet Mr. Bah-Humbug, actor Shawn Kyle who is in town to perform in a show at the local theatre for the holidays.
Here for your reading pleasure, is a rough version of a work-in-progress called The Doctor's Inn...
“But everyone needs to have a Christmas tree.” Teagan stood and held out her hands as if completely exasperated by the situation. Her slanted eyes were wide behind the thick lenses of her glasses.
Her mom shook her head. “Teag, not everyone celebrates Christmas the way we do. Some people have different traditions or different cultures even.”
The girl’s eyes grew impossibly wider. “No way.”
“Maybe Mr. Kyle is Jewish.” Kennedy leaned against the door jamb.
“What’s Jewish?” Teagan asked then turned to Shawn. “Are you Jewish?”
“No, but I have friends who are.” He grinned. “They celebrate Hanukkah and have their own traditions like lighting a menorah and having twelve days of gifts.”
“Twelve days?” Her mouth dropped open. “Mom, can we be Jewish this year?”
Kennedy sighed. “That’s not quite how it works, honey. How about if we bake some cookies this afternoon? That will keep you from hounding our guests.”
Teagan hopped up and down a few times and clapped her hands. “Cookies. Mr. Kyle, do you like cookies? Maybe my mom and I can make you a Christmas cookie tree instead.”
“I’d like that.” Shawn met Kennedy’s gaze. His smile softened.
The girl ran toward her mother then paused before she turned to face him. “Do you want me to decorate it too?”
He glanced at his watch. “Since I have to leave for the theatre soon, that might be the best idea. I’ll bet you’ll do a fabulous job.”
“Of course I will.” She ran out of the room without another glance back.
“Sorry about that.” Kennedy winced. “Usually she asks a few questions then keeps her herself. For some reason, she’s taken a shine to. She seems determined not to give you any peace. It’s okay if you tell her you need some quiet time. She might be differently abled, but she can understand when someone needs privacy.”
Shawn stood and stretched. He’d never heard someone call a person with Down’s Syndrome “differently abled.” It suited Teagan perfectly. “It’s fine. She’s sweet. She’s also a lot smarter and more confident than I was at her age.”
“Funny,” she said. “I would have thought that as an actor you would have been the class clown and full of more confidence than anyone could handle.”
“No.” His face warmed. “I was the guy in the middle of the classroom with his head down and a comic book to cover the outside of a classic novel. Sometimes I’d listen to the teacher, but not always.”
Kennedy juggled the laundry basket to get a better grip. “I’d better get this started or it’ll be midnight before anyone has clean bedding today.”
The loud clatter of utensils hitting a hard surface came from the kitchen followed by the scrape of a chair across the floor and cupboards banging.
“It sounds like Teagan’s setting up to make cookies.” He smiled.
“Oh no. She meant right now, didn’t she?” Kennedy’s face paled as she dropped the laundry basket on the floor. Sheets and pillowcases fell out while she raced toward the kitchen.
Shawn followed and stopped short when he spied the eight-year-old at the kitchen island with boxes and bags from the cupboard sitting everywhere. She glanced up and grinned, her teeth coated in brown from eating chocolate chips. In front of her sat a bowl filled with various ingredients. He covered his mouth as he tried to stifle a laugh.
Kennedy’s expression wavered between amusement and resignation. “Could you do me a favor, Teag? Please don’t add anything else to that bowl until I get the laundry going, okay? When I get back, we’ll start over to make sure they don’t taste like smelly shoes or anything.”
“Okay, Mama. I’ll wait.” Teagan bowed her head and stirred the current contents of her bowl. At least she hadn’t added any liquids yet.
Once Kennedy left to throw the bedding in the washing machine, Shawn strolled over to check out the bowl. “What kind of cookies are you making?”
“Christmas tree cookies.” Teagan held up a wooden spoon. “Want to taste?”
“I’ll wait until they’re baked.” He leaned back slightly as he caught an overpowering whiff of pine or cedar. He was never sure which tree was which. “What’s that smell? Did you shove a whole Christmas tree in there?”
Teagan giggled. She handed him a little brown bottle with a simple white label. “It is one of mom’s special magic potions she makes. They make the house smell good, but I bet they would make my cookies taste great.”
Shawn read the bottle then frowned. “Cedar essential oil. I’m not so sure those are supposed to be used in cookies. I think you should ask your mom so we don’t poison anyone.”
“Did I do a bad thing?” Tears shone in her wide eyes.
He placed the bottle on the counter. “You were trying to do something nice for a friend. I don’t think that’s part is so bad, is it?”
“Not unless I poison him and make him sick.” Teagan wiped the back of her hand across her face and left a trail of white flour from the far corner of her eye straight across her button nose and rosy cheek.
Shawn chuckled. “You have flour on your face.”
“Really?” This time she wiped her entire arm across her face which smeared flour on her sweater as well. Then she reached into the bowl and wiped her powder-coated finger on his cheek. “So do you, Mr. Kyle.”
“Some friend you are.” He huffed before he reached into the bowl to dabbed more flour on her nose.
She copied him again, this time using so much flour it cascaded down the front of his shirt. Their laughter seemed to bounce off the kitchen walls as they threw flour at each other by the handful. With each throw, the kitchen began to look like a snowstorm blew through.
“What are you two doing?” Kennedy’s sharp voice came like a bucket of ice water.
Teagan and Shawn both froze in mid-toss. They stared at each other with their mouths hanging open and hands full of flour. Slowly, they faced Kennedy and winced.
She snapped a picture of them both. “You two are so busted. That one’s going on the inn’s website. I can’t think of a better way to show people how much fun we have around here at Christmas, can you?”
Shawn swiped one more smear of flour across Teagan’s forehead. “I know I can’t.”
The girl flashed an impish grin. “At least we both smell like Christmas trees.”
“Yeah, and we look like powdered jelly donuts.” He chuckled.
“Jelly donuts? I love jelly donuts.” Teagan raised her eyebrows then began to giggle.
She went to slap her hand down on the counter as she chuckled and hit the rim of the bowl. Flour, chocolate chips, cedar oil, and chunks of walnuts flew all over the countertop, the floor, Teagan, and Shawn.
As Kennedy howled with laughter, her son Reese came running into the room from his bedroom. He took a couple steps back as he gasped. Once his own giggles kicked in, he had to lean against the wall in order to stand up.
Tears ran down Shawn’s face as he held onto the counter for support. He had no idea when the last time was he’d laughed so hard that his face and stomach hurt. His life just hadn’t been that funny until now.
Kennedy took a few more pictures then reached out to shake some of the flour out of Teagan’s hair. She kissed her daughter’s powdered forehead leaving the imprint of her lips behind. “Why don’t you go take a shower while I clean up, young lady? Reese, could you help your sister turn on the shower. The tap’s been a bit sticky again.”
“Yup. Come on, Cookie.” Reese tried to keep his distance, but Teagan chased him down the hallway determined to hug him.
Shawn started to wipe the mess off the counter and back into the bowl before he glanced at the clock. “I’d better do the same if I plan to make it to rehearsal on time. I’m sorry about leaving you with the mess. I could call the director and—”
“I’m used to it.” She flashed a smile. “I’m glad you’re not upset about being covered in flour and whatever else she put in there.”
He took a whiff of his shirt. “At least I smell good. All I need is some tinsel.”
“Like a cedar forest or a Christmas tree.” She paused. “How did she manage that?”
Shawn handed her the bottle of cedar oil. “Do cedars make good Christmas trees?”
“Spruce trees work better. Pines are nice too.” She studied the little brown bottle. “I guess I’d better move my oils before she starts making mad scientist potions with them when I’m not around.”
He swiped his finger along the countertop. As he walked past Kennedy, he wiped it off on her cheek. “Have a fun day.”
HAVE A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON!
Please drop by to wish these amazing writers Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, etc!!