How Christmas features in Flight of Destiny

Little Mite 2014

Christmas features briefly in one of my short stories. However it offers a poignant end to “Little Mite”. Little Mite  is a young girl, who has done a very wicked thing and is being punished. The story starts off with a lawn lunch party. Little Mite’s sister is to marry the man of her dreams. Both set of families are meeting to organize what will be a lavish wedding. Little Mite however intercedes, taking the younger brother of the future groom to her father’s carpentry shed, then gluing his hand to a coffee table. She then lashes him with stinging nettles.

Here is an exert…

Carpentry was her father’s passion. He loved the feel of the
different kinds of wood, and whenever he got the chance, enjoyed
working the various woods into useful furniture, which, when
complete, were placed in conspicuous places of honor around the
house.

Little Mite called out Jed’s name in a luring sing-song voice, and
he shuffled nervously closer to her, not knowing what to expect. “Give
me your hand again,” she commanded.
Jed was unsure whether to do so. Still, he’d enjoyed the feeling of
her soft hand in his while running together from the lawn party to the
shed. She was the first girl who had ever really shown interest in him.
Though he continued vacillating between obeying this intoxicating girl
and running to his family, he finally gave in to her and bashfully
extended his hand.

The moment he did, Little Mite grabbed it and slapped it into the
middle of the glue, holding his hand there with all her might with both
her hands.

Jed, shocked by the abruptness and the unexpectedness of the act,
stood paralyzed, mouth open, staring at his hand while the glue
quickly hardened. By the time he’d gathered back his wits, protested,
and attempted to withdraw his hand, it was too late. After a hopeless
struggle, he resigned himself to waiting to see what the little vixen had
further in mind.

When the young girl’s gaffe comes to light, the wedding is soon thrown into turmoil. The young future groom soon turns his attention to an old flame, having been put off marrying a Dashville, following Mitzi Dashville’s prank. Her older sister is bitter towards her younger sister for destroying her dream of marrying Connor Johnson.

Little Mite is punished, but vows to win back her parent’s favor. This is where Christmas comes in. The Dashvilles, less Little Mite, who is grounded go to buy their Christmas presents.

Later that year, at Christmas, when the whole event should have
finally passed into ignominy, Hannah and her parents left for town to
do some last-minute shopping, leaving Little Mite behind. To Little
Mite it all seemed so unfair, but then, she was still grounded.
The time alone got her to thinking. She went downstairs and
opened the family dressing up box, tossing clothes all over the place,
until she found a bright and colorful dress from her mother’s short-lived
hippie days (her father had often ribbed her mother about it,
saying it resembled a clown outfit more than a dress). Slipping into it,
she looked in the mirror. It made her look totally ridiculous. Her plan
wasn’t her best or most original, but without a better idea, she decided
she to hide in her parent’s upstairs clothes closet, and, when they came
home and couldn’t find her, she would jump out and surprise them.

When her parents return, Little Mite’s prank goes horribly wrong…Little Mite’s parents believe they are victims of a burglary. However her older sister knows that the ongoing situation has all the hallmarks of a Little Mite prank and sees a gaping opportunity of gaining revenge on her sister…

 

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“Odd Child” a short story for Christmas, by Francis H Powell

oDD CHILD SMALL

“ODDCHILD”

ODDCHILD .
The Queen had been surrounded by sweet angelic choirboys. The Pope had talked about peace in the Middle East, but had failed to say how he could actively bring this about. Presents meaningful or otherwise had been exchanged. Traditions had been observed. Religious ceremonies had taken place, incense, rituals, stern faces, pontificators, talking about a strange occurrence that had happened thousands of years ago, in a primitive land. There had been no world disasters, no earthquakes, no hurricanes, no tidal waves, not this year, just many untold stories of misery and loneliness, that had blighted the world as ever at Christmas time. Shop keepers had rubbed their hands in glee. Television companies had been bereft of ideas of how to entertain the people. The transport system had been bewildered, as to how to deal with a sudden snap of Siberian weather.

Somewhere in the middle of all this was Oddchild. Oddchild didn’t quite fit in amongst all of this. He was part of a sizable family. He had listened and observed all that had passed in front of him. He had been silent and pensive, alienated by it all, unobtrusive, but with moments tinged with oddness.

Lunch had not passed without incident. The family were stunned into a tight knotted silence as Oddchild, while a succulent force-fed turkey was being passed around, had nestled himself under the table, taking with him a bowl of nuts, which he gobbled, while the family mused at this sudden change in his behaviour. The sanctity of the lunch had been broken. There was little point in trying to reason with him, coax him out, and he was beyond the age of being castigated. His behaviour just had to be reconciled with. Aunt Austere had pondered and intrigued as to whether Oddchild had perhaps taken some kind of drugs, that had prompted such behaviour. As she has slapped some cranberry jelly on her plate, wedged between some sprouts, she sighed and arched a disapproving eyebrows upwards. Mother had demanded in a soothing motherly tone
“Would you like some wine dear.”

Oddchild had not answered, his mind was elsewhere. Father had looked silly in his paper crown, which had been extracted from a cracker, along with some heinously unfunny insipid jokes, that the family had cheerfully tittered at. Still Oddchild huddled under the table. Members of the family cleared away the remnants of an excessive meal, having stripped a sizable chunk from the turkey, which they would still be eating over the next few weeks, served up, in one form or another.

“Aren’t you hungry dear.” Demanded Mother with noticeable desperation, stacking some plates, still nonplussed at Oddchild’s Christmas dinner breach of etiquette. Still no response, so she shrugged and shifted a quick concerned glance in Father’s direction, while Aunt Austere reflected on Reverent Glib’s sermon, before switching the subject to the shooting season. Then an awkward outburst of coughing from Aunt Gimp had ruptured the conversation, sending Mother scurrying for a glass of water. Calm was finally restored, as Aunt Gimp finally managed to suppress the fit. Aunt Gimp’s mind was a deluge of stories concerning the war, in fact her mind had never really moved on since this period.

Finally Oddchild came out of his splendid isolation, removing himself from under the table. He held a gawky expression on his face, averting the gaze of the two aunts and the rest of the baffled family, who tried to hide their looks of surprise. He did not utter a word, he just slipped casually back into the throng. The family trooped into the living room to continue the next part of the proceedings, coffees and a viewing of the Queen’s annual speech to the nation. Aunt Austere had not liked her speech of the previous year. There had been too much attention spent on people with dark skins of different faiths, rather than the white Anglo Saxon majority. Dark skins seemed to disturb Aunt Austere greatly. She could not get her head around the idea that such people had been born and bred and raised in the same country as her and were more than fully integrated into society. It hadn’t been an “annus horribilis” this year for the Queen. One of her family’s favourite sports “fox hunting” had been banned, but this had not deterred the hunters, who either found loopholes in the law or simply broke it. Aunt Austere often sang the praises of a sport in which fifty or so dogs chase after a fox with the objective of tearing this beautiful animal to pieces, in the name of a “noble British tradition”. The Queen’s eldest son had married a woman who had he looks of some “dowdy weatherworn aunt” which had no doubt heaped a certain amount of embarrassment on her. However no palaces had been burnt down, there had not been too many notable scandals, “toe sucking incidents” “court cases involving forgotten conversations with servants” “Princess Diana revelations” “young drunken or drugged up royals on the front pages.”
With the TV switched off, lunch firmly lodged in the their stomachs, the question of how to occupy the hours of the day that remained, usually a sturdy walk was the answer. Oddchild unrepentantly led the way, with his sudden outburst. The logical progression being a huge inter-family argument.

“You are all mad, the whole lot of you.”
Two Aunts shot rapid shocked looks at one another, the rest of the family drew in sharp intakes of breath. A log fire crackled and hissed.
Aunt Austere took up the challenge.
“I think you were the one who spent the entire lunch hidden under the table, so if anyone’s mad, it’s you dear.” She had a vague contented smile emanated from her face.

Oddchild had to concede on this point, but he was referring more to their narrow perceptions of the world, he pressed his point.
“I’d rather be under the table than have to listen to some of your drivel and watch you gorge on bounteous amounts of food, while a third of the world is starving, while you sermonize about a world you have little understanding of.”

“We have lived through the war, my dear.” Said Aunt Gimp proudly, Father adjusted his paper crown, Mother stared into the fire. Aunt Austere’s eyes were flaring up, her mind was a storm. The turkey had long since gone cold and the atmosphere that prevailed was now equally frosty.
Mother thought she should try her hand at a little arbitration.
“Your Aunt’s did their bit for the war effort you know, dear.”
What spying for the Nazis.” Said Oddchild tossing his head back with mirth.

The tone of his voice and acerbic remark hadn’t gone down at all well. Father’s eyes bared down on him, Mother had lost her composure.
“I think you should apologise, said Mother, with her hands on her hips.
“Apologise for what.” Muttered Oddchild, reflecting on the rasp of his previous remark.
He turned to the two Aunts.
“It’s no wonder, neither of you got married, the pair of you will go to the grave crusty bitter virgins.”
Mother was the first to speak.
“Now you really have gone too far.” She said. Father paced up and down, he had taken off his paper crown by this point.
“I’ve never heard such a wicked remark.” Said Aunt Austere her face all creased up and severe.
“Turn your hearing aid up” muttered Oddchild sarcastically under his breath.
“What” barked Aunt Austere.
“Forget it.” Said Oddchild.
“Well I certainly won’t forget this Christmas” said Aunt Gimp mournfully.
And there it was just 364 days until the next torturous ritual of more of the same.

 

FOLLOW Francis H Powell, on Twitter

https://twitter.com/Dreamheadz

 

Francis H Powell, author of Flight of Destiny, 22 quirky short stories…

I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.

Interview with Charles Dickens 2015

Charles Dickens small

 

We have managed to bring back the ghost of Charles Dickens for a special Christmas visitation.

Interviewer: Welcome Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens: You stirred me from the grave, I suppose I am obliged to answer your questions.

Interviewer: One of your most famous works is “A Christmas carol” where did some of the ideas come from?

Charles Dickens: I had just done a speech at a charity event, after which I decided to go on one of my “nocturnal walks” I always had problems to sleep, while walking I had the idea for this book. I based some of the characters on people I knew, the lead character Ebenezer Scrooge was based on a counselor in Edinburgh. It took me eight long weeks to write, during which I wept, laughed, and wandered around London at night, long after most sober folks had gone to bed. Of course I wanted to draw my reader’s attention to the plight of the poor. I had visited the Field Lane ragged school (a charitably run school) in the Saffron Hill district of London, which had inspired me in some of my ideas for Christmas carol. What I observed at this institution was a sickening atmosphere … of taint and dirt and pestilence”

Interviewer : Your own upbringing couldn’t have been easy…

Charles Dickens: I craved a good education, but my life nosedived when father was sent to prison due to a debt. Following this I was sent to work in a blacking or shoe-polish factory, a very sobering experience and one I could never forget.

Interviewer: It could be said that the character Ebenezer Scrooge, is a very relevant character in modern times, as we have a world dominated by money and materialism. Your character Scrooge cares nothing for the people around him and mankind exists only for the money that can be made through exploitation and intimidation. From the spirit world have you noticed this?

Charles Dickens: It is true in London the kind of poverty I was used to seems to have diminished, but avarice seems to be plentiful. If anything greed is more prevalent in the modern day than it was in day. I see many children expect an I phone for their Christmas presents, while others scrimp about in the dirt on really low levels of sustenance. I see in modern times there are sweatshops in Bangladesh, children living in slavery and abject conditions.

Interviewer: You were a “superstar” in your times…

Charles Dickens: I was a master of self-promotion, I was mobbed in America, people even tried to cut locks of my hair. I performed to sellout crowds, the audience paying to hear me read. At the time of my death I could claim to be the most famous man in the world. At the same time I was a very private person and didn’t live the invasion of my privacy. I bowed out from public life at St. James’ Hall in Piccadilly by reading A Christmas Carol” my parting words were “…from these garish lights I vanish now for evermore, with one heartfelt, grateful, respectful, and affectionate farewell.”

Interviewer: Your private life was turbulent.

Charles Dickens: Well I fathered ten children, things were all right for a time, then there was increasing pressure as I became more and more famous and Catherine could not cope with this. Then I met Ellen Ternan and things grew even worse. When we split up wild rumors spread about, some said I was having an affair with my sister-in-law, Georgina. Those were very prim and proper times. I had most of the children living with me and encouraged them not to see their mother, I was a most unreasonable man in this way. I am now a restless spirit.

Interviewer: It has been an incredible experience speaking to you.

Charles Dickens: I must drift back into my spirit world.  Maybe I will return next Christmas.

 

FOLLOW Francis H Powell, on Twitter

https://twitter.com/Dreamheadz

 

Francis H Powell, author of Flight of Destiny, 22 quirky short stories…

I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.

How to write the perfect ghost story…

The perfect Ghost story small

What are your feelings…Ghosts…do they exist? They are ridiculed, have been made mundane, absurd films like Ghostbusters have trivialized them. Kids aren’t blinkered and naïve. Cynics rule.

Christmas seems the perfect time to unleash a Ghost story.
Whatever many writers set out to write thrilling stories to a cynical disbelieving audience. Perhaps the golden age of ghost story telling, the Victorian age, was a period when readers were far more susceptible to believing in ghosts. Modern day readers are far more pragmatic, scrutinizing what they are reading. Equally houses are lit up with bright neon light, streets are not dark and shadowy as they were in past times. I guess very few writers who write ghost stories have ever encountered a “real” ghost, so they are letting their imagination run wild.

For a Ghost story to work it has to sustain a high level of tension, from the opening sentence to the last. Short story format works really well on this account. The author faces a mountainous task of how to conclude their story. It’s not like a crime story…in which all the reader’s questions can be answered at the end, the reader of a ghost story has to be engaged by the plot but at the same time needs to feel uneasy and on edge. A successful ghost story should be overflowing with atmosphere, descriptions of sounds, colours, feelings should prevail. A good Ghost story should not be too far removed from reality, not too fantastical, this way the reader can believe in it, imagining themselves facing such an encounter with a phantom. A good ghost story should not be like a distant long long ago fairy tale, the reader should be led to believe the story takes place in the recent past. Writers should shy away from the over used “old lady” or “tiny infant” go for a ghost that is some ways a mirror of yourself and representative of your fears. Indicate gruesome happenings but let your reader fill in the details.

You can test your ghost story by telling it in a room filled with bright light, during the middle of the day, if you scared under these circumstances your story is on to a winner.

Where should a writer look for their ideas? Should they venture back to their childhood and tap into their childhood fears? Do we have to have led troubled lives to write a good ghost story? With M R James, considered an undoubted master of the genre, apparently this was not the case. A colleague of James’s once said, perjoratively, that his was a life untroubled – a smooth progression from Eton to Cambridge and then back to Eton. He never experienced real life; it was in every sense academic. So seemingly an academic, living in a rather insular world has the makings of a great ghost story writer and perhaps it is the ghost story genre that allowed him to challenge the rational world he inhabited, that lay behind his motivation.

How should we write our ghost story? In the third person or the first person. One option, might be…write it in the first person, but make it obvious the narrator is untrustworthy, flitting between reality and madness.

Ghosts like people, come in many forms and have different missions, whilst amongst the living. Some return from the dead to wreak vengeance; others have good intentions, wanting to help a loved one. Some are the spirits of people who were murdered or committed suicide and so are not at peace and are still troubled beyond the grave.
What we can say definitively all ghost stories should always contain a lot of suspense, always trying to create anticipation and excitement. Atmosphere is vital in building tension in the
story.

 

FOLLOW Francis H Powell, on Twitter

https://twitter.com/Dreamheadz

 

 

Francis H Powell, author of Flight of Destiny, 22 quirky short stories…

I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.