January 2, 2017

Once Upon A Time

By Linda Brooks Davis

Christmas has passed. It’s filed away in a drawer labeled Once Upon a Time.

Weeks ago you unplugged the lights and stuffed them into bins. Unhooked ornaments from brittle branches and set them into their compartments. You wrapped the angel topper in tissue and laid it in its box. And swept pine needles into the dust bin, thankful the hubbub had passed.

Standing in your spacious closet, you slump as you remember Christmas Next is waiting the other side of This Coming Thanksgiving.

More accurately, Christmas arrives just after Halloween.

Actually, it’s more like Labor Day when department stores herald the advent of Christmas.

Come to think of it, Labor Day’s just the other side of Independence Day, for heaven’s sakes. And that’s only …

Your eyes slant toward the wall calendar. Last Independence Day faded in July’s bright sunlight and reappeared overnight as First Day of School. Labor Day and Halloween scattered in rust-colored corkscrews before you could shout, “Go, team! Go!”

Thanksgiving’s turkey platter sat out a full month. Why put it away with Christmas elbowing its way around the table?

Now post-Christmas weeks have melted away. And the years? Why, they disappeared in a puff. Days, weeks, and months bled into one another, it seems.

Your gaze rests on a box in the corner marked Fragile. Very Fragile. Extra-Ordinarily Fragile.

You kneel. Lift the lid. And innumerable calendar pages flutter in your memory, years of them.

You peel aside yellowed paper. It crackles, and your tears well. Once upon a time the tissue was crystal white, and it folded without a sound.

The ornaments … oh the ornaments. The red ones were redder and the greens, greener … the rusted hooks shone like silver … once.

Even now snow clings to the paper-thin balls. You sprayed it onto the tree yourself. Once upon a time.

Music swirls in your head—“Jingle Bells,” “O Holy Night,” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful”—as it did when you were ten.

You catch a whiff of Christmas. Cinnamon. Ginger. And peppermint. Cookies made from scratch, as it was done way back when.

Splinters of memories whirl. They twirl and swirl. And swim. They coalesce in one shimmering idea.

You set your hands on the computer keyboard. Or pick up a pen. And a once-upon-a time tale takes shape.

We writers live in make-believe worlds rooted in reality. We thrive on what-ifs that are more real than make believe. We make notes at stop lights and under the hair dryer, but it’s the turn of that woman’s head, the tone in her voice, that flicks on the lights.

We abandon chores to jot a final sentence in Chapter Twelve, but the words were born somewhere in our memories, perhaps some Christmas Past. Or a mealtime prayer. We bolt upright from deep slumber to scribble the best idea yet, something that’s been scratching at us for days, a bit of dialogue that harkens back to supper time.

Once upon a time.

Linda Brooks Davis winner of 2014 Jerry B. Jenkins Operation First Novel and 2016 ACFW Carol Award, Debut Category, has lived in multiple states and outside the U.S, but she speaks Texan. Born and reared in Raymondville, a small farming town in the southernmost tip of Texas, Linda holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees. She devoted forty years to the education of students with special needs before settling down to her lifelong dream: writing. Set in 1905 pre-statehood Oklahoma, THE CALLING OF ELLA MCFARLAND, an inspirational historical with a strong romantic thread, debuted on December 1, 2015.When not writing, Linda enjoys Bible study, reading, and researching genealogy. She and her husband dote on six grandchildren, three of whom arrived in 2005--in triplicate form. In her first published article, "The Choice", which appeared in 2011 in LIVE, a publication of Gospel Publishing House, she chronicled her daughter's agonizing at-risk triplet pregnancy and the heart-wrenching choice her medical team placed before her.Linda likes to brag on her daughter and son, both veterinarians who like one another well enough to practice together. In Texas that's called learnin' to get along.You may visit Linda at Porch light's always on.

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