Purple Snowflakes

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 Purple Snowflakes.

Lyric launched herself down the hill, her skis gliding over the purple snow, the hue closer to lavender than indigo and unlike anything she’d ever seen before.

The end of times was proving to be both unusual and more fun than she’d expected when she’d first heard the news.

There’d been pandemonium when the story broke–heads of state, religious leaders, and scientific experts all appearing on Meta Stream to let the citizens of the universe know their days were numbered. People mainly responded in one of two ways: embracing debauchery and trying to eke out the most of their remaining days or clinging to religion in hopes that their divine being would see them through The Big Bang II: the Bangenning or the End? (Entertainment executives found a way to market everything, even the end of the world.)

Lyric hustled herself out of the city where there was chaos on every corner and headed upstate to the slopes. Skiing had always been her go to when she was stressed about work or relationships. It was her favorite thing to do, and she hoped it would be the last thing she was doing when the time came.

Everyone knew it would be soon but no one knew exactly when.

The universe was starting to give way. The blue sky was falling, and it was mixing with the blood of the damned to form purple precipitation. In warmer climates, there was purple rain–where Lyric was, purple snow.

Lyric sped down the slope faster than she’d ever gone before–blood’s both thicker and slicker than water. She didn’t have much incentive to slow herself down. The end was inevitable and so what if she met it a bit earlier by careening into the trunk of an evergreen tree.

She made it down to the bottom of the run in record time all in one piece. Her breathing was heavy as she took off her goggles. It was starting to snow again–purple snowflakes so pretty you almost forgot they were colored by the blood of the damned.

The remains of the sky shifted toward night. The beleaguered moon rose. The other thing Lyric always loved about coming upstate was being able to see all the stars. She gazed up at them now and watched as one by one they fell from the sky.

Coming Home for Christmas

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 Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

Faith was never a requirement for coming home for Christmas. 

Jacob’s mom had invited him home every year—even the year after he’d screamed at her for raising him Catholic and scarring him for life. 

The next year she’d asked the same as before, “Are you coming home, honey?” 

“I’m not going to midnight mass,” he’d replied, cutting to the chase. These were the days you had to pay for long distance calls. 

“Fr. Ruiz will be disappointed.” 

“Fr. Ruiz can bite me.” 

“Oh, Jacob, honey, don’t you know God is listening?” 

Fr. Ruiz actually wasn’t a half bad guy, not like some of his brethren who would later be revealed as monsters in holy frocks, but Jacob didn’t have the patience for his mother’s passive aggressiveness. Not when he was twenty-two. 

Things had softened between them over subsequent holidays. He’d returned to midnight mass a few times when the roads were icy, and he was worried about her driving alone. He’d even stood in line for Communion the year his mom had recovered from a heart attack. Faith has a way of finding you in moments of crisis. 

This was his first Christmas without her. The church was boarded up—Fr. Ruiz long dead too. There was no midnight mass to go to. There was no tree to place presents under in the living room—only boxes he was trying to fill with his mom’s stuff so he could sell her house and return to his on the West Coast. 

He’d sorted through her books, kitchen items, and clothing. Everything went into a box to give away. She had an extensive collection of rosaries, a couple of them Jacob had given her himself. With the rosaries, he found a stack of prayer lists written on yellow sheets ripped from a legal pads. They were all dated and written in his mother’s looping handwriting. Every list, his name was at the top. 

He thought of all those years where she’d shown faith and he hadn’t and wondered how things evened out. Had his mother’s intercessions kept him in God’s graces, and what would happen to him with her gone. Was she still praying for him in heaven? Should he pray for her? 

When he was a kid, they’d always ended their dinner prayer by saying, “And may the souls of the faithfully departed Rest In Peace. Amen.” 

Jacob took a rosary in each hand and said the full prayer. It was practically sacrilegious the way he was holding the rosaries. He should have been saying Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s. He didn’t care. God could think what He wanted to think. Jacob only hoped his mother was somewhere listening. 

The Brink of Despair

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 It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.

The night I was rescued from the Brink of Despair, I heard the angels sing. My salvation came shortly after midnight according to the logbooks.

I’d been on the Brink for months–battered there by the crush of humanity’s folly and the waves of my own regret. I’d lost someone, and then I’d become lost myself, marooned on the Brink.

Those who have been courageous enough to ask have wondered what it’s like on the Brink. Howling winds, icy rains, clinging to the Precipice of Hope until my fingers bled, I grew weary.

On the night of my rescue, I was shouting out into the void as usual, going hoarse with my litany of complaints. The void swallowed my words, and when I could no longer speak, I was forced to listen.

I thought I would hear nothing but the wind for I was alone on the Brink. Instead, there was singing, soft at first, and then growing louder. I did not know the verses, but I joined in on the chorus.

Filled with the music, I gave up my grip on the Precipice of Hope. I began to float. For so long, I thought I would have fallen.

Later I’d find out the angels had been singing to me the whole time. That’s how I knew the chorus. They were always there waiting for me to hear them.

Holidays in Heaven

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 White Wine in the Sun.

Everyday’s a party in heaven basking in the eternal glory of God, but during Jesus’s major holidays HEAVEN IS LIT.

Of course, Easter is the most savage.

Jesus is up in the D.J. booth making the beats and yelling at the crowd, “Who died for you?”

And everyone shouts back, “You died for us!”

All the wine that can be made from water is flowing on the taps and people are swimming in the baptismal pools.

The party lasts all night or what feels like all night. Time isn’t fixed in heaven like it is on earth.

At the end of His DJ set, Jesus recreates the Ascension, rising up even further into the heavens, and then the beat drops, and He becomes this like huge disco ball shining light on everyone.

And the whole crowd is like, “Oh my God!”

Then, God takes over the DJ booth, and He’s like, “Whose house?”

And all the people in heaven are like, “Your house.”

The Devil inevitably tries to sneak in, and St. Peter, who’s like a super cool dude but a scary looking bouncer, throws him out like, “You’re not welcome here, Lucifer.”

The Devil shows up at Christmas too, which is more of a cozy, traditional type thing where we’re all dressed in matching onesies by a giant fireplace. St. Peter kicks the him out then, too, but he does give him a fruitcake before he goes, which is nice, I guess, if you like fruitcake. I’m pretty sure the Devil likes fruitcake.

Model Mother

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 Mary Did You Know?

God chose only one woman, the Holy Virgin Mary, to bear his son, Jesus Christ, but there have been many women since then chosen to portray Mary–in pageants and films, as models for paintings and statuary. Marsila was one of these women.

“I need you to hold the baby like you love the baby,” Lorenzo, the artist and her husband, said to her.

“I do love the baby. How could I look like I am anything other than loving him?”

Marsila did love Vittorio, their second son, but after a week of holding him while Lorenzo sketched, her arms ached.

“I do not see love on your face, my dear. You think not of the baby but only of your own weariness.”

“I think of Vittorio’s weariness and my own weariness,” Marsila said. “He needs to take his rest.”

Vittorio fussed in her arms, adding credibility to her complaint.

“It will take only a few minutes more if you would would focus and put yourself in the mind of the Holy Virgin Mother, blessed be her name.”

Marsila smiled. She supposed that Mary would be happy to be holding the child of God in her arms.

“Ah, Marsila, what are you believing?” Lorenzo scolded. “Mary is not some worthy comb-maker’s daughter giving birth to a regular boy. She has given birth to the Son of God who will die on the cross to save us all from sin.”

“Do you think she knew all that, Lorenzo, when Jesus was a baby in her arms?” Marsila asked.

“Of course she knew! The bible tells us the angel told her. Now, try to look like you know.”

Marsila flipped her expression in the opposite direction to a frown.

“Too sad,” Lorenzo shouted. “You need to look like you are loving the baby!”

Vittorio, upset by his father’s outburst, started crying. Marsila brought her cheek to his and started rocking him in her arms, trying to soothe away his discomfort. She closed her eyes and willed Vittorio to do the same. If Lorenzo wouldn’t let them rest, then maybe they would nap together like this, Marsila standing and Vittorio resting on her bosom.

“That’s perfect, my dear” Lorenzo said. “Now hold still.”

Marsila didn’t take a breath.

Internal Memo: Santa Entry and Exit Protocols

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 Back Door Santa.

To Reindeer, Elves, and Board Members:

Due to the evolving nature of home design, it has become necessary for the operations team at North Pole Enterprises to reconsider the most effective method for me, Santa Claus, to enter and exit homes on Christmas Eve.

While the standard chimney technique has always presented its own set of obstacles like soot, lingering embers, and heavy fumes, the consistency with which we could use the chimney made it the best strategy for a century and a half; however, the decline of chimneys in home design and the lack of use of existing chimneys has made this method less reliable in the last half century.

In recent years, we’ve been choosing a method of entry on a house by house basis, but this has caused a lot of stress for team members in the moment and has generated discord among the reindeer. Last year this led to Donder and Blitzen being left behind in Bristol. I am happy to report that these key members of the sleigh team have returned this year despite that incident.

The operations team has been busy at work this year identifying the optimal strategy for entry and exit, and the report they’ve produced, which will be released later this week, suggests that our best option will be to use the back door when there is one available. The back door allows discretion and also will not require as much physical exertion on my part as the chimney entry and exit.

One additional benefit to the back door method is that it will allow us easier access to the kitchen in most homes. In the event that families fail to leave out cookies, milk, etc., I will be able to help myself out on the way out. You know as well as I do that Santa needs his snacks if he’s going to make it around the world in one night.

I am grateful to the operations team for their hard work, and I am looking forward to putting their research into practice on Christmas Eve. With all of us working together, my hope is this will be the best Christmas yet.

Ho ho,

Santa Claus


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 White Christmas.

Nancy had always loved this picture of her mother and father–the two of them in their late teens, sitting beside each other at a diner, two vanilla milkshakes on the table in front of them, two red straws in each glass. It was a polaroid picture, the border a creamy white. Her parents weren’t looking at the milkshakes or at the camera. They were looking away from each other–her father to his right intrigued by something happening in the diner, her mother to her left staring out the window with a hand under her cheek.

They were two kids on the precipice of a life together–marrying, raising kids, working, retiring, and eventually passing away within a year of each other.

Nancy knew how it would unfold for them because she’d been there for the unfolding. She was born less than a year after the photo was taken. There was a marking on the back, “James & Linda, April 1965.”

Her mother had told Nancy, shortly after James’s funeral, that Nancy was conceived on their wedding night. She was insistent about it in a way that made Nancy suspicious, but she also knew it was important to her mother that she believed her story, so Nancy didn’t press the issue.

She and her mother talked more in the year after her father died than they had for most of Nancy’s life. See, some parents grow away from their spouses and closer to their children over time, but Nancy’s parents weren’t like that. Her mother and father were a unit like the sun that their children orbited like planets.

Now, with their sun gone, Nancy and her siblings were divvying their parents’ belongings and preparing to sell their house. They were supposed to review each and every item together before taking anything, so Nancy made sure no one else was watching as she tucked the polaroid into her purse.


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 Wonderful Christmastime.

“Don’t look down.”

“How am I supposed roll the ball if I don’t look down?”

“Look at the pins, not at the cheese, love.”

Betsy examined the wooden ball in her hands that Gavin had referred to as “the cheese.” She had half a mind to hurl the cheese at his head rather than at the nine pins that mocked her on the other side of the lane. So far this game of skittles had proved much more challenging than the bumper bowling games she’d played growing up in the suburbs of Chicago even though on the surface the games seemed similar.

“Are you going to throw or not?” asked one of the players from the other team.

“You can’t delay the game,” said another.

Betsy was a last minute sub for Torpedo Alley, the premier skittles pub team in West Sussex, and she was feeling the heat, especially from Gavin, the team captain.

“One, two, down the lane,” Gavin said to her with an accent Betsy once fantasized about when she was making her plans to study abroad in England. Now, it was just annoying.

“I’m trying to focus,” she said. The noise in the pub didn’t help.

Betsy centered her attention on the pin closest to her in the diamond pattern on the other end of the alley. If she could just hit that one.

She squared her shoulders, rounded up, stepped forward and released. The ball sped down the wooden alley until it struck not the pin she desired but one out on the farthest edge.

Betsy threw up her arms, “Woohoo!”

Meanwhile, Gavin let out a moan and a couple of his Torpedo Alley teammates stepped toward him to comfort him.

Betsy turned toward where he’d sunk down onto a wooden chair, “I finally got one.”

“But we lost, love,” Gavin said. “Our perfect season ended.”

A tear rolled down his cheek.

Making a Brit cry was hardly as poetic as Betsy thought it would be.

The Memory Shop

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 Christmas Without You.

“It’s truly the best gift you can give someone this time of year.”

Melissa hesitated to take the box the saleswoman held out to her. The package looked innocuous enough–black cardboard with a sleek surface like you might find on the wrapping of any high end tech product. The saleswoman looked too perfect to trust, though. She wore her blonde hair slicked back into a French braid with no loose ends whatsoever and was dressed in a cyan blue polo shirt tucked into tight fitting black pants.

“So he would just download this to his brain?” Melissa asked.

“Yes. The entire process takes about fifteen minutes.”

“That seems pretty quick. My iOS updates take longer and that’s without restarting the device,” Melissa said, trying to make the last sentence sound jokey to hide her nerves.

“The program doesn’t catalogue and replace all memories rather it acts as a filter when memories are brought to mind to make them more cheerful and pleasant.”

“So he’ll still remember the time I burned the turkey at Thanksgiving?”

The saleswoman looked toward some of the other customers waiting in the lounge area giving Melissa the sense she was taking too much of her time.

“He would remember you burning the turkey,” the saleswoman said. “But, and I’m speculating here, if your reaction to that situation was negative and resulted in a fight between the two of you, then the filter would act to soften that argument and in the end you’d be laughing.”

Melissa thought back to that night. Even though the turkey burning was clearly her fault, Phil had spent the night on the couch. They’d barely spoken to each other for a couple of weeks after that.

The saleswoman held the box out to her again. The memory enhancer was what Phil said he’d wanted for Christmas. Lots of couples they knew were using it. Shirley and Sal said it saved their marriage.

If she gave the box to Phil, it’d be an opportunity to hit reset. Yes, some of her past behavior had made him resentful. The memory enhancer offered an opportunity for a fresh start. Maybe after using it he’d want to spend time with her and the kids again. Maybe she could be a better wife moving forward if he had a different conception of who she’d been in the past.

“So what do you think, ma’am?” The saleswoman asked. “We offer gift wrapping in the store.”

Lap Battles

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 Minuit, Chrétiens.

Jackie liked sitting in Grandpa’s lap far better than sitting on Santa’s. He sat on Grandpa’s lap all the time. There was no pressure about it.

Whenever his mom dropped him off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, Jackie would always find Grandpa sitting in his recliner in the living room in front of the television where he’d watch old football games that looked real grainy. Sometimes Grandpa would ask him to come sit on his lap, sometimes Jackie would hop up on his own, uninvited but welcome. He’d stay up there as long as he wanted–usually until Grandma called him into the kitchen for chocolate milk and SpaghettiOs.

When his mom took him to see Santa on the other hand, Jackie would have to wait in line while a million other kids sat on Santa’s lap first. Then, he was barely on Santa’s lap at all–only long enough to say a couple things he wanted for Christmas and to take a picture his mom would send out to everyone she knew like Santa was someone special.

Santa didn’t even listen. Two years ago, Jackie had told him he wanted to go to the zoo, but Santa never took him there. Jackie had said the same thing to his Grandpa while sitting on his lap, and they were at the zoo the next weekend. Sure, Santa delivered presents under the tree on Christmas Eve but where was he the rest of the year?

Grandpa was always there when Jackie needed him. Grandpa picked him up from preschool when his mom had to work. Grandpa had put Jackie on his shoulders when they went to the Georgia Bulldogs football game so he wouldn’t get lost in the crowd. Grandpa had taken him to the hospital when he’d hit a tree sled riding and hurt his forehead real bad.

Plus, Grandpa’s beard was better than Santa’s. Sometimes Jackie liked to play with his beard while he was sitting on Grandpa’s lap, and Grandpa didn’t mind. Meanwhile, when he’d tried to touch Santa’s beard, he’d accidentally pulled it off him, which scared Jackie so much he’d peed his pants (he’d been waiting in line forever).

And Santa had stood up, knocking Jackie off his lap while saying, “You little shit!”

Grandpa never talked like that to Jackie. Grandpa never talked like that at all….well, except when the Dawgs were losing.