Silent Night

A story a day until there’s a sleigh! This holiday season, I’m sharing a new flash fiction piece inspired by a holiday song every day of December until Christmas. Today’s story is inspired by Silent Night. You can read more about the origins of the song here.

Franz sat upright in his usual spot behind the organ, his back straight as a conductor’s baton, watching in horror as the two guitarists dressed in their Christmas finery mounted the steps to the altar. The musicians stopped midway up the stairs, faced the crowd, and started strumming in unison. The choir rose, and Franz didn’t know whether his heart could bear their betrayal. Not one of them would meet his gaze.

Father Joseph, a young upstart from a neighboring region who Franz would never have chosen to lead the parish, beamed from his elaborately carved wooden chair on the altar and spoke to the crowd.

“And now an original song in honor of our Lord, Jesus Christ, whose entry into the world in a manger centuries ago marked a new phase for mankind and brought hope to all.”

Instinctively, Franz channeled his anger onto the foot pedal of his organ, the organ he’d been playing for every mass for nearly thirty years. He pushed his foot down hard on the pedal and water gushed out, soaking his leather boot. The floodwaters had been cleared out of all other areas of the church in time for the Christmas mass, but poor Franz’s organ remained in disrepair because “there wasn’t time.”

The choir began to sing, “Silent Night. Holy Night.”

Franz smashed his foot down against another organ pedal. He knew there was nothing holy about guitars! They were but the most pedestrian and secular of instruments!

More water spurted out of his battered organ, and riding along the wave of liquid, like a surfer, was a small mouse.

Franz suppressed a shriek but the mouse quickly scurried toward a row of pews where the Schmidt sisters, all five of them, sat with matching dresses and pinned back braids. One by one each of the girls squealed and jumped to their feet, rustling their skirts to discourage the wayward mouse from climbing up their undergarments. Their mother, a weathered woman, worked to quiet them while their father gently brought his boot down on the mouse and then toed the body under the pew in front of them.

The commotion temporarily halted the guitar players and choir, but once the Schmidt sisters sobs turned to muffled tears, the guitarists began strumming again. Father Joseph had risen, but he sat back down in his chair, his oversized robes and the sheen of the wood making him look like a smug boy king on an oily throne.

Again the choir, true Judas’s each and every one of them, began signing, “Silent Night. Holy Night.”

Only the music wasn’t the only thing Franz could hear. The painful strumming of the guitar and the no longer angelic voices of the choir were accompanied by the high pitched squeaking of the dying mouse, who must have been only temporarily stunned by the smash of Mr. Schmidt’s boot and then escaped to somewhere else where it could lend its voice to the dreadful hymn.

There was only one instrument in the church that could have drowned out the mouse’s moans, but it sat in front of Franz inert, a true sign from on high, if there ever was one, that God did not regard guitars as holy.

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