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An Old-Fashioned Christmas Tree (sample)
Julia H. West
Originally published in Dragons, Knights, and Angels Magazine, December 2001.
Camille Gunderson stood in the middle of a crowd of her children, their husbands and wives, and her grandkids, listening to a choir sing Christmas music. Behind the choir, the colonists disassembled the skeleton of the colony ship. A crane swung huge girders through the air to drop neatly behind the Robison City museum and the townsfolk cheered, their breath frosting in the icy air.
Someone held up a child and blocked Camille's view. It didn't matter—she couldn't see through the tears filling her eyes. Fifty years ago, when the colonists had shuttled down from that ship to the surface of Kuyper, they'd never thought this day would come so soon. Crowds of warmly dressed, well-fed people, a beautiful city.…
When her eyes cleared, there was nothing to see. The last of the girders was stacked, and the starship was no more. Every piece could now be used again by the colonists it had carried to Kuyper.
The choir sang "O Little Town of Bethlehem" as their last number, and Camille couldn't even sing along like she usually did. Her throat was too tight. Then the laughing, chattering crowd started to break up. Parley, Camille's eldest son, took her elbow gently. "Are you okay, Mom?"
She wiped at her eyes with one mittened hand. "I'm just a sentimental old fool. But that ship was home for my first ten years."
"Tell us, Granma. Tell 'bout when you were little," said Emma, Camille's granddaughter. Only her eyes showed over the blue knitted muffler around her neck.
"Well, Emmy, that starship—the very one they just took apart—brought Mama and Papa and Ben and me to Kuyper. We all lived together in one little room.…"
"Walk while you talk, Mom. We'll all freeze if we stand here," said Parley.
"…A tiny little room, where the beds and the chairs folded out of the walls. We didn't have any snow. We didn't have any trees—at least live ones."
"Did you have Christmas, Granma?"
"Oh, yes, we had Christmas. We sang together, and had the most magical Christmas tree, like something fairies made. All glittery and shiny."
"Magic," Emma breathed. "Fairies!"
"Well, not really," said Camille. "But I thought so. I was a little girl, like you." She tickled Emma's cheek where it showed above the muffler. She couldn't wait to show the child exactly what she meant.
Cover design by Danica B. West, all rights reserved. Photomanipulated from MorgueFile free photo at http://mrg.bz/yNECgI
To read the rest of the story:
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Other stories by Julia H. West from Callihoo Publishing:
The Peachwood Flute (collaboration with Brook West)
Weeds (collaboration with Brook West)
|Banner by Danica B. West
This page created 22 September 2011
Last update 21 March 2014