A Christmas Kludge

velutinous-soft & smooth like velvet
eldritch-weird; supernatural; eerie
kludge-an inelegant improvised solution to a problem
transpicuous-easily seen through

*The four words were to be used in a piece for this week's Mid-Michigan Word Gatherers meeting. I was/am sick, but thought you might enjoy this short story. I've included the definitions for those of you not willing to head to the vocabulary site yourselves. :) You're welcome!

A Christmas Kludge, by Kristine E. Brickey

It was Christmas Eve. She’d made it. She’d sworn this year that she would find joy in the holidays or die trying. She’d shopped and wrapped. Played holiday tunes as she baked and frosted Santa shaped cookies and strung popcorn on string. Now, her living room glowed as bright, multicolored lights illumined the perfect tree, so big that the angel’s halo brushed the ceiling. 

Now, nestled on the couch, covered in a dove gray velutinous blanket, she could finally relax. It was almost over, the whole Christmas extravaganza. In twenty-four hours her family, settled in clumps around her as the Hallmark movie played them into Christmas Day, would have to leave her alone. Despite the predictable plot of the holiday film, inevitable sniffles began to be heard from around her living room. She didn’t suppress her smirk. Merry freakin’ Christmas, she thought, as she let her eyes travel from face to face before settling back on the screen. They wanted Christmas. She was giving it to them. 

The handsome stranger on screen seemed to stare into her dark eyes. She looked away, noticing an eldritch wavering of the space in the room. Her family seemed not to notice, in fact, seemed frozen in place as she looked back at the television. She must have imbibed more than her fair share of eggnog, she thought, as the angelic Hallmark character reached out of the screen to take hold of her hand. She should have been terrified, but instead, she felt her body moving gently forward to stand beside him in the snowy village square, the setting of the film.

Clearly, she was dreaming. She must have fallen asleep on the couch. “You’re not dreaming,” the angel beside her smiled, evaporating her thoughts.
“Mmm, hmmm,” she nodded, not believing him. She would be canceling the Hallmark channel first thing in the morning she thought.
“Don’t blame Hallmark,” he laughed, taking her hand and leading her toward the twinkly lights of the thirty-foot decorated Christmas tree she’d just been watching on screen. “It’s your own stubborn refusal to embrace the true spirit of Christmas that’s brought you here now.”

She scoffed. What did he know about her. “I know your transpicuous Christmas cheer isn’t fooling anyone,” he answered her unspoken derision. “It’s time to let go of your anger and loss and open your heart to the future.”

Without warning, she began to shake. He’d stated her feelings so simply, but it wasn’t simple. This time of year brought back too many emotions, too much loss, too many memories of what might have been and would never be. Even after so many years, the magic of Christmas only brought her emptiness. To appease her family, she’d done her best to fake it. She’d played the part. They’d fallen for it, believed her powder sugared jolliness and jingle bell smiles. 

“It isn’t about them believing it,” the angel whispered, turning her to face the tree as he stood behind her. “It’s about you believing you are worthy of happiness and love and life.” He hands rested gently on her shoulders, directing her gaze to a shiny silver ornament. Her sad face reflected back at her. “You are worth more than you know,” he whispered. “You deserve happiness.” Her reflection showed tears streaming down her cheeks. “Believe in your worth,” he whispered, squeezing gently, encouraging a wisp of a smile from her. “Close your eyes,” he said. “Now, believe…”

She came to on the couch, her mother tucking the velvety blanket beneath her chin. “Merry Christmas, sweetheart.” She looked around at her family, gathering sleepily. Credits were rolling on the screen. She must have dreamed it, she thought; but a lightness filled her heart. 

Perhaps it was only a dream, but, perhaps, she only needed to believe. 


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