(This Flash Fiction piece was originally composed for the contest, Race the Date. It didn’t even get a mention from the judges, but I liked it a lot so I am putting it on my blog today.)
In the corner of the small apartment stood an old aluminum Christmas tree. The kind that comes with a color wheel and reflects all the colors of light into the room.
It was Caleb’s fifth Christmas; his second without his father. The life insurance money was almost gone. Caleb’s mom had turned to family for help but each in turn explained why they were not able.
So she downsized to balance their frail budget. And when it came to Christmas, there was meager allowance for celebration. The aluminum tree, was practically an antique, but the Goodwill purchase fit the budget.
Caleb loved it. He believed they had the most magical Christmas tree in the world. He loved the way it glowed with color. He loved how it caught every light in the room. He would sit and watch it for hours.
Aunt Patti was bound and determined to be one of the brightest stars of Christmas. She came in with a few brightly wrapped presents, and commented on the outdated tree. She laid out some Christmas pastries and berated the tiny kitchenette. Then she made them all sing Christmas songs. Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Finally she abruptly announced she couldn’t spare any more time.
When she left Caleb was staring at the tree. The light was still on and the setting sun shined through the window, but the tree seemed darker than he had ever seen it.
Caleb’s mom pulled him away from it. They sat on the couch and opened her Bible to the Christmas story. As she finished reading Caleb gasped and pointed at the tree. It was dark outside now, but the tree shined brighter than he had ever seen it.
Caleb loved how it reflected every light in the room.