Snowflakes by Dove
Runner-Up, December 2015 KidPub Writing Contest
I leaned close to the railing, crouched down, listening to the echoing voices of my parents below.
"Are you sure you didn't put it there, John?"
"Then who did? Santa?" My mother's voice exclaimed sarcastically.
"I told you, I don't know!"
"Then why does it have Emily's name on it?"
Silence. I scooted back from the railing, my socked feet rubbing against the carpeted stairs. The clock chimed twelve.
"Listen, Linda. It's already late. Shouldn't we just not bother ourselves with this nonsense and go to bed?"
What? They were coming upstairs? My parents footsteps approached the bottom of the stairwell and I scrambled up the steps, gripping the spruce railing. When I reached the top, I rushed down the hallway to my room, closed the door as softly as I could behind me, and jumped in my bed. I knew I had made a lot of noise but hopefully they wouldn't suspect me if I looked like I was actually asleep. I wrapped the soft blue quilt around me and shut my eyes, slowing my breathing. My parents voices drifted in from the hallway.
"What was that?"
"I don't know…"
I heard my door open softly and light danced across my closed eyelids. I held my breath.
"Hmm, Emily's asleep. Did you check Carter's room?" My dad whispered just loud enough for me to hear.
"Mhm, he's fast asleep." My mother called quietly from across the hall.
"I wonder what that was, then."
"Maybe it was just a mouse or something."
"Do mice really make that much noise?"
"I'm just throwing out ideas."
"Hm. Let's get to bed now."
My door closed and I was submerged in darkness again. I cautiously opened my eyes. They were gone. Good. I took a deep breath and started to close my eyes. But right before I was about to fall asleep, a flicker of light outside my window caught my attention. Slowly, I sat up in bed and looked out my window. My heart stopped.
Standing on the other side of the glass was a creature I could only describe as a sprite. The tiny, humanlike figure had white hair in a spiked pixie cut, large, ethereal looking purple eyes, and delicate, sparkling blue skin. Its ears were pointed and it wore what looked like a tiny white dress made of flower petals. It stared at me and its tiny hand was spread against the frosted-over glass. Suddenly, it stepped back, spreading delicate crystalline wings, leaped off the windowsill, and disappeared. I blinked.
Was I hallucinating?
No way that was real, I told myself. I rubbed my eyes and laid back down, closing my eyes.
I had to get my sleep, after all, it was Christmas tomorrow.
* * *
I woke up to dim winter light drifting in through my window. I squinted for a second before sitting up in my bed and staring in wonder out the window. Outside was completely covered in snow and ice. Long dripping icicles hung off trees like crystals and fluffy white snow sat on rooftops. Flickering candles and christmas lights shone through the windows of houses and the air smelled of cinnamon and sweets.
I smiled, throwing off my covers and getting out of my bed. I quickly threw on a warm, thick off-white sweater over my white tee and grey sweatpants that brushed my knees and reached past my pale finger tips and ran downstairs, my brown hair swirling around me as I went. When I reached the kitchen, the smell of cooking pancakes and maple syrup assaulted my nostrils. I jumped with glee.
"Oh, Emily, you're up!" Mom said cheerily from where she was standing cooking pancakes. Her dirty blonde hair was thrown up in a messy twist and her green eyes sparkled through her glasses as she looked over her shoulder at me, "Merry Christmas!"
"You too, Mom." I said, running over and giving her a cautious side hug, trying not to make her spill the pancake batter all over the counter.
"Say, could you do me a favor and go wake Carter up?" She asked, "Breakfast is almost ready."
"Ok!" I replied, releasing her and running back upstairs to Carter's closed door.
"Wake up, sleepyhead!" I cooed.
"But I dun wannaaaaaaa." Whined my eight-year-old brother through the door.
"Guess I'll just eat all the pancakes then!"
"Uh-huh. And there's syrup too."
This spurred some life into him, as tiny footsteps sounded on the other side of the door and then it swung open. Carter stood there with his blonde hair, blue eyes, and spaceship pajamas on, a bright look on his face.
"PANCAKES!!!" He squealed, running past me and down the stairs. I laughed and followed him, wrapping the sweater tighter around my person.
Dad was already sitting at the table reading the newspaper when Carter and I joined him, taking our seats as Mom came over with a slew of hot pancakes, which she dumped onto our plates. I poured syrup on them and started to shovel them into my mouth. My brother did the same.
"Mmmmmmmm." I said through a sweet, syrup-drenched mouthful of pancakes.
"Are they that good?" My mom asked, bringing over the last batch of pancakes and sitting down. We all nodded. She laughed.
After we were all done eating and our plates were cleared, Dad declared it was time for presents. We gathered in the living room around the christmas tree decked out in ornaments and tinsel. My brother and I just plopped down right there on the tan carpet in front of the tree, and my parents took their places on the brown-cushioned bay window seat. I scanned the massing pile of colorfully wrapped presents and plucked off the first one I saw with my name on it. It was roughly the size of my head and was wrapped in bright red wrapping paper with little white ornaments printed all over it. Taped to the top was a white card that said, 'Merry Christmas, Emily! From Mom and Dad' scrawled in Dad's handwriting. I tore the box open. Inside was a pair of black skull candy headphones with the logo on the left ear phone. I cried with glee and ran over to Mom and Dad, giving them each a bear hug. They laughed and hugged me back. After exchanging 'thank you's and 'you're welcome's, we all returned to our spots and waited for Carter to open his present. He got a green t-rex toy about 3 feet tall that roared when you pressed a button on its foot, squealed with joy, and ran over to give our parents a death hug.
After many presents like that, there was only one gift left. It was a small white box the size of my fist, not wrapped, tied with silver ribbon to keep it together. Written on the box in a handwriting I had never seen before was my name, Emily. I looked at Mom and Dad.
"Is this from you guys?" I asked.
"No, it's not. We've never seen it before." My mom explained.
"Maybe it's from Santa!" Cried Carter.
"It probably is, Carter." My Mother said, feigning a bright smile. It was a good act, but I knew Santa wasn't real. I wasn't going to say so, though, because I didn't want to ruin it for Carter, him being so young. It was probably just a prank gift delivered by my friends. I carefully untied the ribbon and lifted the lid of the box. I tilted my head in confusion. Inside was a tiny silver bell with a snowflake engraved on it, tied to a long blue ribbon. I examined it carefully before lifting it out of the box.
"Who would give you something like that?" My Dad asked in confusion.
"I don't know." I said.
"Santa!" Carter cried.
* * *
That night, Emily sat in her room, still puzzling over the silver bell she had received. She rolled it around in her hand, expecting it to do something magical. Or explode. Anything. But it just lay in her palm, normal as can be. She sighed and stood. Just then, something caught her eye out the window. She looked just in time to see the edge of crystalline wings disappear from sight. She walked over the the window and opened it. Sitting on her windowsill was a tiny white card with a snowflake stamped at the top. In the same handwriting that had been on the box, it read 'Merry Christmas, Emily'.
Sleigh bells jingled in the distance.
Suddenly, the realization hit her.