Last December, 18 bloggers collaborated to write A Holiday Story. Each of the authors added their voice to what turned out to be an amazing piece of fantasy.
I don't think anyone was happy when the project ended. Many of the writers wanted to continue and there were requests for more on my FB page from readers as well. After weighing our options, we, the authors, decided to maintain the integrity of A Holiday Story by keeping it holiday oriented and presented at holiday time. So we began a second project.
This past July 18 bloggers, some original participants and some new friends, presented Storm Past. Equally successful, this piece took on a completely different tone, way darker. Once again we were sad to see it end.
Today I'm so proud to present a return to last year's A Holiday Story. As always, I've listed the author of each segment above their contribution along with a link their blog. They each have a unique style of writing and voice, I encourage you to check out their blogs.
Before you read on, be sure to read the first three chapters:
A Holiday Story
A Holiday Story: Part Deux
A Holiday Story: The Finale
Karen of Baking In A Tornado
Bethryn hung up the phone in a daze. So many thoughts swirled through her mind. She had a job interview and she actually was ready. There was hope that she would not so much lose the house as move on from it.
But there was trepidation too. This was a new, start-up company and it would entail a move. Can she take that kind of a risk with her son?
"Stop", she told herself. Talk to Leon, hear him out, get the facts before mentally taking the steps. It might not be right for her. She might not be what they're looking for.
She did know this, though, three years ago holiday time was about painful change. This year holiday time holds promise.
And this she knew too: if ever there was a time it was now. Damon had shown that he was ready to move on. As they took those steps over the next few days, whether Leon Atnas would ultimately be a part of it or not, there was more to share here at home. The key, the quill feather pen, the old ink well, the special paper, it is all part of Damon's history.
Her mother's story still needed to be told.
Tamara of Confessions of a part time working mom
Long after everybody had gone to bed, Bethryn was lying there, wide awake, thoughts chasing each other through her mind.
She never had a video job interview, and her last "regular" interview was many years ago. What questions would Leon ask? Was she going to be able to answer them at all without making a fool out of herself?
The last couple of years she had been taking care of Damon at home, living off the insurance money she got when her husband passed away. She didn't have any current business skills, much less some that might be required in a fast-paced start-up environment.
She realized that she had forgotten to ask Kamryn what field Leon's firm was in, and where it was located. Where exactly would she have to move?
"Since I can't sleep, I might just as well get up and do some research" she said to herself.
She poured herself a chai tea and logged on to the computer, but as she googled "Leon Atnas", the only thing that the Urban Dictionary came up with for ATNA was the acronym for "all talk no action."
Bethryn was confused.
"OK, I get that it's a start -up firm and they may be super busy, but shouldn't they have a website?"
She took a long sip of her sweet and spicy tea and all of a sudden it hit her. LEON ATNAS was SANTA NOEL backwards! Oh my goodness, what was it? An all year round Christmas shop? A toy store? A bakery? All of the above?
Lydia of Cluttered Genius
Bethryn's mind was reeling with the possibilities. Her heart was pounding, but she forced herself to think clearly: It could just be a coincidence. Right?
She closed her laptop and sat back. If it was a Christmas-related field, she'd have this completely under control. She knew kids. She knew toys. She was comfortable in all things related to gifts. Working with someone who baked would be easy, too. She and her mother had spent countless hours in the kitchen baking sugar cookies and cakes around the holidays.
Bethryn allowed her mind to wander around all of the thoughts, and she drifted off into a restless sleep. Tossing and turning, she continued to wake herself up as she murmured questions of what this opportunity might entail.
The next morning, she stumbled out into the kitchen and greeted her mother and Damon who were happily putting together a puzzle.
"Mom, Damon, we need to talk."
Robin of Someone Else's Genius
They continued with their puzzle as if she hadn't spoken. Bewildered, she spoke again, increasing the strength of her voice.
"Mom. Damon. We need to talk!" No response. It was as if she didn't exist here, in this moment. Suddenly she couldn't remember what important enough to drag her from a fitful sleep, what she desperately needed to discuss with her family.
A fog began to cloud the image of her mom and son, commiserating over the puzzle pieces and she felt unsteady. Her head began to swim and half-realized memories floated by, but she couldn't grab ahold of any to ground her in this dream state.
A figure materialized in front of her, amidst the swirling grayness. It was Wywren, her late husband! Only . . . something was different. She couldn't put her finger on it until he held out his hand to introduce himself.
"Welcome, Bethryn. My name is Leon Atnas. Shall we begin?"
Meg of Just A Little Nutty
She reached to shake Mr. Atnatos' extended hand but found herself being helped up into a small blue sleigh and seated next to the man she felt that she already knew. Two exquisite, intricately hand stitched quilts were placed upon her lap as her thoughts swirled quickly, as she tried to make sense of all of this. The horses were signaled and they were on their way. Faintly, she could hear Frank Sinatra crooning about having a merry little Christmas.
The sleigh was picking up speed and seemed to almost float along the top of the empty snow covered street. The wind, smelling lightly of peppermint, rushed past her cheeks and swirled through her hair but was no colder to her than a warm summer's day. It tickled her neck and she smiled and laughed.
He glanced over at her, clearly enjoying her happiness.
His eyes were soft golden flakes of amber that sparkled slightly and drew her in. His smile was a little crooked but genuine. His face was so expressive and her eyes wandered around, drinking up the delicious familiarity she saw there.
She had so many questions to ask him. Then he started humming along to the music and her senses seemed to scramble a bit more.
He leaned towards her and whispered in her ear, "Bethy, you need to get up."
"What?" She asked him, extremely confused.
~~~ Continue reading here: A Holiday Story: First Steps ~~~