The Girl Who Spent Christmas Eve in Faerie: First

Fiction By Anna // 12/22/2012

At the age of sixteen, Anita stayed with her aunt and uncle the day before Easter luncheon to help scour down the house before the rest of the family arrived. After half a day of housework, her cousin grabbed her shoulders and asked her to please stop singing or I’ll start calling you Princess again.
“Sorry,” Anita said with a crooked smile, remembering her old annoyance at the nickname. In middle school, she had dressed like a black tent, grown her bangs in her eyes, and even streaked her white-blonde hair with red to escape it. But, unfortunately for her cousin, she’d kept right on singing until now, when she could finally revert to styles she liked with the other theatre and choir kids.
Her security in her madness didn’t keep her from trying to explain. “It can’t be helped, really, what with Dad the composer and Mom the lyricist. You know they taught me phonics through Broadway-style songs, right?” Anita’s vocabulary had progressed “a dream is a wish” to “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and only relaxed when she could recite “Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool!”
Her cousin moved her hands to her hips. “That doesn’t mean your life has to have its own soundtrack.”
Anita considered this just long enough for her smile to become a grin. “Nah, soundtracks don’t have words. It is, however, a musical.”
This held true even in Anita’s earliest memory, of her mother sweeping her up in overlong mohair sleeves to sing her to sleep. She remembered peeking over the sweater to see Dad watching them—well, Mom, really—with eyes so tender they might have bruised. By the time Anita grew up, the vision was probably half fiction, but the lullaby they and only they crafted was all fact. Anita learned to hum it before she spoke.
Her parents kept writing music, but as Anita got to be university-age, she stopped practicing it and took it seriously instead. When someone she knew played in a wedding, Anita gave him sheet music written by her dad. The success drew out curiosity from the four corners of their local college town. As Anita grinned on in satisfaction, requests to hear more started dropping into her parents’ laps.
“You could record a CD,” Anita suggested to her mom over hot chocolate on Thanksgiving break. “A demo, at the very least.”
Her mother tapped on the tabletop, then said slowly, “Only if you sing for it.”
Anita’s good mood and giant marshmallow hadn’t so blinded her as to agree right away. “I get enough choir practice. To really make me love the project, you might need to write something new for me.”
“I think your dad and I would like to write something that fits you.”
“You know better than anyone what I can sing down to my bones.” Anita smiled down at her mug. “Ask me again after finals.”
Over the next month, Anita studied into the wee hours of the morning while her parents wrapped presents, until at last all was ready. On Christmas Eve, her parents handed her beribboned sheet music.
“Now, it’s unfinished. You’ll call us careless, but we spent the last month completing another song for you and just can’t find it.”
Anita raised an eyebrow, waiting for more information, but her dad finished with, “This is the second attempt.”
Her mom added, as if to herself, “I know I liked the other one better, but it’s gone right out of our heads…”
So Anita spread their latest creation across the floor. With her back against the fireplace bricks, she curled up her legs inside the semicircle and read by the colored Christmas tree lights. She tried to lose herself in the music, but every sound became a distraction. The embers crackled, the clock ticked well past eleven, and the wind dashing snow against the empty streets. Even her heart beat seemed audible.
Anita stretched out her legs with half a yawn, half a sigh. I had no idea how much I looked forward to this until it let me down. Normally she would be reluctant to say anything like that about a piece by her parents, and in and of itself she still liked it well enough. But she had imagined her song as something to make it clear that even in the darkest place, everything would turn out right.
She rubbed her hand across her face. “If I even had the notes, I’m sure I’d come up with the right lyrics.”
She might have let it go if not for what her mother had said. This was the wrong song, but there had been another one. And she might have let it go if something had not happened while she was already thinking of finding it again.
“Just the notes…” Anita whispered.
Ding doooong. G and E flat. “No, those aren’t the ones,” she mumbled—then sat straight up. “Oh! Oh, the doorbell. Should I get it?”
The last log in the fire broke, casting sparks. Anita’s gaze traveled down to her boots; she didn’t have the excuse of bare feet or pajamas. “Oh, fine.” She slid to her feet using the fireplace and crossed the room.
She forgot to peek through the spyhole. For a writer, that would have been the first order of business—no, of etiquette. But singers play by different rules, and Anita opened the door and kept it between her and the visitor. The streetlights outlined a tall man with straggling red-brown hair, not quite shoulder-length but just about everywhere else.
Snow clung to the stranger’s boots no matter how hard he stamped his feet on Anita’s doorstep. That was just as well, since her first words were hardly an invitation to come out of the cold. “It’s late. Who are you?”
He met her eyes at once. The indoor house lights barely illuminated his rugged, unhandsome features. His skin puckered into small moles on his right cheek and under his left eye. His nose hooked over the rust-colored wrap of his homespun scarf. He reminded Anita of the house across the street, whose owners spent Christmas in Tennessee. They left it strung with lights to discourage thieves, but for all that color, it stayed dark in all the windows.
She felt as tired as he looked but with none of the sadness. “I’m sorry for snapping,” she sighed. “Let’s just get this over with so we can both get some sleep, okay?”
“Yes, best just to have it out.” He spoke through his scarf in an emotionless voice. “The song made for you is missing.”
Goosebumps rose on Anita’s arms. “What?”
He turned his palms up and shrugged. “The song is out there, but it’s gone now.”
She almost came closer, but her fingers wouldn’t release the door. At least hiding half her face made the two even. “How do you know about that?” she said in a low voice.
“The song was made for you, and so it was yours. But because it was yours, it could be stolen, and so it’s gone.”
“You’re…” She shook her head and forced her tongue not to stutter. “You’re not making sense.”
“Liar.” He didn’t sound mocking, but his eyes seemed greener, and maybe his brows quirked at her.
Anita swallowed. It made sense for a dream, right enough, but who actually talked like that? If she’d dozed off by the fire from squinting at notes, all she’d need till she awoke was nightmare logic.
This will test it. She tossed her pale hair. “Are you… real, sir?”
“Well, yes, I.” He just stopped in the middle, blinking. “‘Sir’?”
The way he only questioned the title, and not the oddness of the question itself, reassured Anita. She smiled. “So my song is stolen. Any bright ideas?”
His eyes lit up. Definitely green. “I can help you find it, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Oh, and how?” Don’t bargain with your dream, girl, she thought. But maybe sorting this out will make me feel better when I wake up.
“I can take you to it. You just have to let me help you.”
“So you know where it is?”
Beneath the folds of his scarf, his chin lifted. “I didn’t take it.”
“I didn’t mean to imply that you did.” Anita could afford to be quite calm now. “But you seem to imply that you’re the only one who can help me find my song.”
“Not by a long shot, if you want to pay a heavy ransom,” he said. “Your song wouldn’t have been taken unless you were driven to get back to it. Eventually.”
Her eyes narrowed. “I don’t follow you.”
“To get the song on your own terms, listen to mine. Just give me the right to help you.” He held out his hand.
While Anita stared at it, the family’s snowman-shaped wall clock chimed midnight with a tinkling rendition of “Silent Night.”
“Christmas day,” she murmured. Her thoughts were already miles away from the room; her feet only had to follow.
The stranger’s eyebrows furrowed as if he was worried. “Please make your choice.”
If Anita had been a writer instead of a singer… maybe she’d have done it all the same, just to see.
She shook his hand in its threadbare cutoff glove. “All right.”
With the words and pressure of his hand, the doorstep began to fall away. As Anita swayed at the cliff sloping out under her feet, her grip on the rough fingertips became thin air. She reached out and seized a rail of rope in the sudden darkness, so thick it seemed to hit a wall. But not for a long, long way across the chasm before her.

Comments

:)

It did seem really familiar while I was reading it, and I couldn't remember if you'd posted it here or had let me read it before, or had just told me about the idea.
I like it.

Kyleigh | Sun, 12/23/2012

:)

I really do like this. You definitely showed rather than told.

"...with eyes so tender they might have bruised."

"...His nose hooked over the rust-colored wrap of his homespun scarf. He reminded Anita of the house across the street, whose owners spent Christmas in Tennessee."

I love the revisions. And I am so glad you posted...and wrote. I'm praying for you, Anna!

p.s. And thank you for your consideration/kindness in not publishing my comment on your blog.

Lucy Anne | Sun, 12/23/2012

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

:)

This is pretty cool. I can't wait to read more if you choose to continue :D

Maddi | Thu, 12/27/2012

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

:)

See, I can put a smiley in my subject line, too!

The next part should be up soon. I just need to do a more complete editing of the crazy version. I'm glad the revisions help to show and all of that. Those are some of my favorite lines, actually. :)

(PS: Megan, thank YOU for leaving that comment for my eyes only. It was very encouraging, and I've been praying for you, too. And congrats on becoming a monthly writer!)

Anna | Mon, 12/31/2012

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Anna--

I don't exactly remember how I said to you those things that I said, but something happened the day after that made my feelings increase. But the fact that I don't have those feelings as strongly anymore, shows that your prayers work. Because God is ever so present. I've been praying for you too, and I hope you are better.

Thank you so much for praying! It really means so much.

And thank you!

Lucy Anne | Mon, 12/31/2012

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is great! I love how you

This is great! I love how you kept the magical feel of the first version, but still feels new and different and somewhat more magical. I have to agree that this version's better, not because the original was bad, but because the imagery in this one's so amazing! I also really liked the "if she were a writer" sections. :)

Elizabeth Anne | Sun, 02/03/2013

See him with his books:
Tree beside the brooks,
Drinking at the root
Till the branch bear fruit.
See him with his pen:
Written line, and then,
Better thought preferred,
Deep from in the Word.
~John Piper

This is great! I love how you

This is great! I love how you kept the magical feel of the first version, but still feels new and different and somewhat more magical. I have to agree that this version's better, not because the original was bad, but because the imagery in this one's so amazing! I also really liked the "if she were a writer" sections. :)

Elizabeth Anne | Sun, 02/03/2013

See him with his books:
Tree beside the brooks,
Drinking at the root
Till the branch bear fruit.
See him with his pen:
Written line, and then,
Better thought preferred,
Deep from in the Word.
~John Piper

holy moley, I need to be writing this story

Thanks! I wanted to keep the magical feel, but in a slightly less confusing way, starting with more realism to get Anita to Faerie. :)

Anna | Sat, 02/23/2013

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

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