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The Cardinal [SCC2016]

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posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 02:18 PM
The Cardinal [SCC2016]

"AND there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night..." yadda yadda yadda. Joseph had heard it so many times he knew it by heart. Pastor Tyler finished the story in Luke, then started to read from Matthew to talk about the Magi visiting the baby Jesus and bringing him presents. Pastor Tyler was new to Joseph's church, and Joseph liked him. He wasn't like old grey-headed Pastor Anderson, who always seemed mournful or angry.

Joseph's ears perked up. He had never heard the story of the magi the way Pastor Tyler was explaining it. There were secrets and deception and intrigue and nasty King Herod who was trying to use the magi to find Jesus and kill him. By the time Pastor Tyler was finishing up his lesson, telling them that we give gifts at Christmas because of the gift Jesus gave the world - Joseph was all ears. Of course, he wanted to hear more about King Herod and the magi. Was that all there was? He started imagining stories about kings and wise men who were secret guardians.

They were dismissed from Sunday School and Joseph went to find his parents, bringing his annoying little sister Teresa with him. She kept trying to shove her picture of the magi in his face to show him how she had colored them. They had purple faces with bright green clothes and orange feet, and she had made the Christmas star black.

"What did you learn in Sunday school today, kids?" their father asked when they found him. Teresa chittered on about the magi and "Frank's sense" and "mer".

"It's frank-in-cense and myrrh, Tee-tee," Joseph corrected her.

"Shut up, Joey!"

"Hey you two, cut it out now and be nice to each other. What did you learn, Joey?"

"Dad, I wanna be called Joseph. I'm twelve, I'm not a little kid anymore!"

"Right, sorry, I'll try to remember. So what did you learn?"

"Pastor Tyler talked about how King Herod tried to use the magi to find Jesus so he could kill him, and how that song, the Coventry Carol, talks about it when Herod killed all those babies. Then he talked about the gifts they gave Jesus and why we give stuff to each other, to show people love like Jesus showed everybody."

"Coventry Carol does talk about that, Pastor Tyler is right. I played an arrangement of it with a small orchestra once that really emphasized that, and it was actually kind of scary."

"Dad, come on, how can a Christmas carol be scary?"

"You might be surprised kiddo, but you probably won't understand until you have children of your own. Sounds like Pastor Tyler had a good lesson though?"

"Yeah, I guess."

They headed out of the new church to the parking lot. Joseph thought that was silly to call it the new church. Dad said it had been called that even when he was a boy, and the old church was this small one-room building connected to the parsonage that burned down before he had even been born, some sixty years ago. Everyone in their small, northern Minnesota town still called it the new church. Things didn't change very often where Joseph lived. Summer always brought mosquitos, and winter always brought snow.

As they pulled in to their neighborhood just outside town, they saw old Mr. Norling taking a small bag out to his trashcan, moving slowly and leaning heavily on his cane. Joseph had to admit he didn't really like Mr. Norling. He always seemed angry, and he had the kind of rocky, gruff face that made him look like he was frowning.

Joseph's Dad waved cheerfully to Mr. Norling and called, "Good morning, Arne!" Mr. Norling didn't seem to respond, he just went inside his house, pulling his pipe out of his pocket as he crossed the threshold.

"I'm not sure why you try, honey," said Joseph's mother softly.

"He's our neighbor, Kate. That's what you do."

Mom just shook her head.

A thought struck Joseph. "Can I bring him some lefse, Mom? Didn't you just make some?" Mom's lefse was always the first thing gone at the church Thanksgiving and Christmas potlucks. Even before Mrs. Pedersen's garlic cheesy biscuits.

"Of course you can, honey, we have plenty. But Joey, he may not be very grateful, you've seen how he doesn't really like visitors."

"Mom! Joseph!" His mother smiled at him.

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 02:19 PM

THE floorboards creaked under his weight, even though he was not a heavy man, and in fact had been losing weight. The chemotherapy destroyed his appetite, even though that boy-child of a doctor they had at the hospital down in Brainerd said he was doing great and the cancer was going away. He knew the truth, though. He was dying, he had been for sixty years.

As he lit a candle - he didn't like to use the lights if he could avoid it, the electrical co-op were all practically thieves with how much they charged these days - he thought he heard singing. He ignored it and hobbled his way downstairs to the kitchen. After lighting the burner with a match, he heated up a can of soup and made some toast. He felt cold, and tired. That's what you are, a cold, tired, used up old man.

There it was again, clearer this time. "Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child, bye bye, lully, lullay..." The voices came from the direction of the front door. Suddenly angry, he shoved his chair back and made his way to the door, pulling it open with a squeal, ready to yell at them to get off his property. "Lully, lullay, thou little..."

There was no one there, and the singing was gone. He peered out into the moonlit lawn with its crop of dandelions blissfully covered under a blanket of snow. There was no one there, not even footprints in the dusting they had received today.

As he let the door close, he noticed a small package sitting on the porch just outside the door. It had to have been there for a while, since it had the same dusting of snow everything else bore. It was a paper plate, covered in plastic wrap and clumsily tied with a small ribbon. There was a small tag that said, "For Mr. Norling" in what he guessed was a child's writing. He picked it up. On the plate were several pieces of lefse. For a moment he pondered the package. Who on earth would bring him lefse?

Suddenly he heard a child's voice giggling behind him, and he whipped his head around. He saw a flash of movement where the hallway turned toward the garage and bathroom. "Why you little...," he growled. He hurried down the hallway, his cane thumping the dark hardwood.

There was nothing there. He even turned the light on, but the hallway was empty.

Feeling a bit unsettled, he hmphed to himself, flicked off the light, and went into the kitchen. A piece of lefse, covered in butter and sprinkled with brown sugar might be just the thing. Although, it was probably purchased and wouldn't be any good.

He was wrong. The lefse was delicious - it practically melted in his mouth, the smoothness of the lefse blending with the rich butter and molasses in the brown sugar. Exactly as his mother used to make, although he was always the black sheep in his family - everyone else liked cinnamon and sugar, but he preferred brown, or to put lingonberry preserves on it.

He closed his eyes, and saw his mother in the kitchen of their house, rolling out the balls of lefse dough with the grooved rolling pin, picking them up with the thin wooden turning stick and rolling them onto the griddle, each one perfect. Mother had been an expert in it, and every year all their neighbors raved about Mrs. Norling's lefse. She had started teaching Solveig the year that...the lefse was suddenly not as appealing anymore.

Leaving the rest, he moved to the living room, where a fire was burning. He sat down in his soft chair, and took a long draught from the bottle of whiskey on the end table. He could feel the liquor's warmth as it went down. Instinctively, he pulled an old pipe out from his pocket. His rough, calloused hands, hardened from decades of woodworking, ran along the pipe's dark stem and bowl. A tear ran down the side of his face and he angrily scrubbed it away.

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 02:19 PM

"LORD knows," Joseph's father replied when Joseph asked him about presenting Mr. Norling with twelve presents - eleven more after the lefse - personally, "he's not the friendliest old man, Joey. But you can try if you want to."

"Didn't you tell me that unfriendly people probably need us to be kind the most? Won't giving him Christmas presents help him?"

"Son, Mr. Norling is probably 70, 75 years old. Folks that age don't change real easily. You're right, he probably has reasons he's kind of grouchy, but
it's not likely it's anything you can do something about."

"So I shouldn't even try?"

"No, I didn't say that. I just think you should be prepared. I don't want you to be disappointed if he doesn't receive your effort very well. You've seen him yell at the other kids, haven't you?"

"Yeah, but they were being jerks, Dad, throwing snowballs at his windows."

"Still, he could’ve been a bit nicer about it."

Joseph had decided. He made a list and got to work on it. First up was four bottles of his father's ginger beer. Dad usually had some on hand, since he made the starter culture himself and brewed it himself in this big glass jar he called a carboy. The fizzy soda had a bite to it and a taste that reminded Joseph of fresh baked bread. It made his tummy feel warm, which was good on winter days, and he had come to associate it with Christmas.

He took the cardboard pack from some bottles of root beer Mom had bought for Tee-tee and then painstakingly covered up all the root beer logo on the four-pack with construction paper decorated with Christmas trees, stars, angels, and wreaths. When he was ready he bundled up and carried the four bottles down the street.

Joseph got a little nervous walking up the long sidewalk to Mr. Norling's porch. His breath made clouds of mist around him, and it was starting to snow. Apprehensively, he pulled off his glove and touched the doorbell.

From inside, he heard a thump thump thump, then the door unlocked and swung open. Mr. Norling's rough face looked down at him.

"Uh...hello Mr. Norling, I have something for you," he blurted, holding up the four-pack of ginger beer.

"Go away, boy, I don't want anything from you."

"It's just a Christmas present for you, sir."

"I said, go away, boy," the old man growled, and shut the door. Joseph's heart fell, and he stood there for a moment, unsure what to do. Finally, he set the bottles down on the porch, called out, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Norling!"

It was almost the same for the next three days. Joseph brought him some of his mom's special fruitcakes, some traditional egg nog his father had made, and a pair of heavy mittens that he had purchased with his own money. He just shook his head at Joseph, and shut the door. But each day, the present from the previous day was gone.

The sixth present he had been working on ever since coming up with the idea - he was going to sing. They had been working on Christmas carols in choir at school, but the only one he knew by heart was Coventry Carol. He liked the old English lyrics to it.

That night, he bundled up, took a thermos of his Mom's special hot cocoa that she made with heavy cream, and a plain mug that he had painted a Christmas tree on. He made the now-familiar trek down the street to Mr. Norling's house on the corner, and confidently rang the doorbell.
Thump thump thump the old man appeared at the door, opening it and shaking his head.

"Don't you ever learn, boy?"

Joseph just smiled at him and said, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Norling." Then he started singing. "Lully lullay, thou little tiny child, bye bye lully lullay."

Old Mr. Norling changed. His face twisted up and got red, and his brow furrowed.

"Lully lullay, thou little tiny child, bye bye, lully lullay."

"Stop singing that song, boy! Go away! Get off my porch...Go!" he yelled. Joseph looked at Mr. Norling, thunderstruck.

"I'm...I'm sorry Mr. Norling I didn't..." he stammered.

"Get out!" He was actually shaking. Leaving the hot cocoa Joseph turned and ran home.

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 02:19 PM

"...CAME home crying," his mother was telling his father. Joseph could hear his parents talking about him in the den, which was the next room over, as he lay on his back in bed. It was late, he couldn't sleep. He kept seeing Mr. Norling's angry face. What had he done? What was so wrong with singing a Christmas carol? His mind turned around the events of that evening.

A hard knot formed in his stomach. He wouldn't give up. Pastor Tyler had once said, "Hurt people hurt people." Maybe old Mr. Norling was hurt somehow, and that's why he was always so mad. Maybe if Joseph kept being nice to him, he would start to be nice to other people. It was worth a try, and anyway, it was December. That's what you do at Christmas, right? Wasn't it supposed to be about being kind and loving to people, even if they don't appreciate it?

He rolled over and closed his eyes, trying to go back to sleep. He wouldn’t give up.

TO his credit, Arne felt bad for yelling at the boy. It wasn't his fault, of course, there's no way he could have known.
He didn't understand why the Turner boy was doing what he was doing, but there it was. But now, he'd probably ruined it; he didn't think young

Joseph would ever set foot in his yard again after scaring him like that over that cursed carol.

Since the boy had run away, he had heard the ghostly singing again and again. "O sisters too, how may we do for to preserve this day..." The giggling had come back too, making him jump and giving him a fright. A strange glow - always just out of sight – kept appearing also. At times he swore he was not alone. It chilled him to the bone, but he deserved it, he knew. Their ghosts would haunt him until the day he went to hell like he deserved. Wouldn’t be long now anyway.

It was fitting he had scared the Turner kid away. He had actually started to appreciate the young man's effort, and that had started to make him feel just a bit better. But he didn't deserve to feel better. "This poor youngling for whom we sing, 'Bye bye, lully, lullay."

He sat before the fire, a bottle of whiskey in his hand. A flicker of movement caught his eye, and a cardinal alighted on a branch of the ash outside. It looked at him before, flitting away again. He heard giggling, then the music started again.

"Herod the king, in his raging, charged he hath this day..."

"Stop it! Leave me alone!"

"...his men of might in his own sight all young children to slay."

Arne Norling pulled the old, blackened pipe out of his pocket, ran his thumb on the stem, and wept quietly while the voices of ghosts sang of his fate in whispers.

EARTH and snow made a muddy slush on the gravel road in front of Joseph's house. It was twilight, and he had a plan. He quietly walked up to Mr. Norling's door and rang the doorbell, then ran back down the walkway and hid behind the pile of snow at the end of his driveway, waiting.

It took a minute, but the old man finally came to the door, his pipe in his hand. He bent down to pick up the present - it was a small Christmas tree that had a few lights on it. Someone had given it to the Turners a long time ago, but Joseph's mother never put it out and had given him permission to give it to Mr. Norling. "Are you sure you want to keep trying, honey?" she had said with concern. But Joseph wasn't going to give up.
Mr. Norling looked around the yard, a strange expression on his face. Joseph remained still, trying not to breathe. Slowly, the old man took the package inside and shut the door.

The next evening it was the same. He put the small, simply wrapped box of tiny ornaments for the tree on the porch, rang the doorbell and ran.
That night, he was working on the final present - a cardinal that he had carved himself and was now painting - when his father came in.

"Hi Dad. What do you think?" He held up the little cardinal by its unpainted tail. "I'm going to put a hoop in it so he can hang it from his Christmas tree."

His dad sighed. "Kiddo, I don't know if Mr. Norling even puts up Christmas tree."

"Sure he does. I gave him one a couple days ago," Joseph said brightly. "Dad, do you remember that pipe we made last year, that we were going to give to Grampa before he died?"

"Yeah, I think it's in a box somewhere, why?"

"Could I give it to Mr. Norling? I've seen him with a pipe in his hand, and I thought maybe he would like a new one."

"If that's what you want to do with it, of course. You put in the work, son, all I did was coach."

"Then that's what I'm gonna do."

His dad looked at him for a moment, and then said, "I think your grandfather would be proud of you, Joey."

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 02:19 PM

AS December days went, the next couple were gorgeous. A fresh coat of new snow had covered everything, and since it had been cold the snow was the crystalline kind that sparkled brightly in the sun. The high only reached about ten degrees despite the clear skies, but the wind held off so the children of the small town braved the temperatures to play outside in the snow. He had given two more presents – an old-style tweed beret that was a different color than the one Mr. Norling wore outside, and a Christmas wreath his parents had helped him buy from the Boy Scout troop’s Christmas tree lot in town.

Joseph had only two more deliveries to Mr. Norling. That evening, he bundled up and walked down the street to the corner, where Mr. Norling's little house sat. He eased the gate open and headed up the walk, the set the small package down, rang the doorbell, and hurried off to hide behind the snowbank.

Mr. Norling appeared after a time, and slowly bent down to pick up the package, turning back inside. Joseph waited a moment and was about to go when the door was thrown open. Mr. Norling’s face had turned red, and his brows were drawn down in rage.

"Do you think this is funny?" he yelled. "Tease an old man? You stay away from here, boy! Keep off my property! If I ever catch you..." he didn't finish the threat, but just shook the package in his fist out at the snow and dark.

Joey's heart pounded in his chest, and he didn't dare move. He noticed his breath coming out in cloudy puffs. What if Mr. Norling saw his breathing? He tried to hold his breath.

Mr. Norling finally threw the now-crumpled package, turned and slammed the door behind him.

Joseph ran home as fast as he could.

A few days had passed since the boy had delivered the pipe. Arne was in his hallway, facing the ethereal, glowing figure of a young girl that stood before him, holding an old doll that looked charred. Her dress was blackened and dirty, burned in places, and her face was covered with soot. She looked at him with sad eyes.

Arne Norling fell to his knees, tears streaming down his face.

"I'm sorry Solvie, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt!"

The silvery-blue girl stepped toward him, reaching a hand toward his face. He expected pain, well-deserved torment before his final death, but all he felt was a chill, as if someone had pressed an icicle to his cheek. Suddenly, the little girl grinned impishly and ran around him to the front door. She turned and waited expectantly by the doorknob.

His joints creaking, Arne got up from his knees and walked down the hall to the front door. Solveig's ghost brought her hands together as if clapping, but he heard no sound. He reached for the door, and Solveig bounced up and down on her toes, still clutching her doll with one hand and pointing to the doorknob with the other.

He opened the door, and sitting on the threshold was a small package, wrapped in gold paper with a shining red bow. Trembling, he picked it up. Twelve presents. No matter how terribly he had behaved, the boy had still given him twelve presents. He wiped his eyes on his sleeve.

He opened the box, and inside, nestled in a bed of tissue paper, was a small Christmas ornament. It was a hand-carved cardinal, painted a deep scarlet and sealed with varnish. There was a small eyelet with monofilament and a hook to hang it on a Christmas tree. He picked it up and turned it over in his hands. On the bottom the letters "JMT" were burned in. The boy must have carved it himself. His eyes burned as they filled.

He looked back at the glowing apparition. She smiled at him, her quirky little smile that had always warmed his heart. She reached toward the cardinal in his hand, and he held it toward her. Her finger touched its orange-yellow beak, and frost formed on the ornament.

Then she was gone. Behind him he heard the singing again, but it was fading. "That woe is me, poor child, for thee and ever mourn and may for thy parting neither say nor sing, bye bye, lully, lullay."

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 02:19 PM

"BABY, I thought I had you but you pulled it out at the end! Nice game," his Dad said to his Mom as they put the cribbage board and cards away. It was a board Joesph had made for his parents last year. It had taken a lot of convincing for Dad to allow him to use the drill press alone, but Joseph proved he could do it safely and his father gave in.

Joseph sat on a chair near the fireplace in their small home, reading a book and sipping from a mug of hot chocolate. He loved the smell of the oak and ash logs as they burned. Combined with the scent of pine coming from the Christmas tree, the flickering Advent candles, the twinkling tree lights and presents wrapped under their tree, it gave him a feeling he couldn't really identify. It was like sinking down into a soft, bed of pillows under a heavy blanket. He felt warm, and safe. He could almost forget Mr. Norling shouting at him to get off his porch. He didn't think he would ever sing that carol again – the thought frightened him now - but he was glad he had gone through with his plan for the twelve presents all the way to the end. He hoped someday Mr. Norling might not be so angry.

Christmas Eve was always quiet at the Turner household. They had no other family close, so it was just the four of them - Mom, Dad, Joseph, and little Teresa. They always had a special meal of fondues - first they would fry marinated venison in hot oil, and dip apples, bread, and crackers in Mom's delicious cheese fondue, then they would finish by dipping more apples, dried apricots and dried cherries in chocolate. Joseph and his father would have egg nog, while Mom would have hot tea with cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. It was the same every year, and Joseph looked forward to it all month long. His friends thought his family was strange for this tradition - they all had soup, or ham, or traditional Scandinavian things like a julbord with meatballs and herring, or maybe smørbrød and rømmegrøt.

They had just finished with the venison and the cheese fondue when the doorbell rang. Dad looked at Mom curiously. "Kate honey, are you expecting anyone?"

"Not a soul," she shook her head.

Joseph's father walked into the front room to go get the door. After a moment, he called out: "Son, would you come out here please?"

Joseph got up and walked into the front room. There was his dad, and to his shock, old Mr. Norling. His dad held the four-pack of bottles Joseph had given Mr. Norling days ago, now empty.

"Hello, Mr. Norling," Joseph said quietly. His heart raced. Was he going to be yelled at in his own home?

"Did you carve this, Joey?" asked Mr. Norling, holding up the little red cardinal.

"Yes sir,” he said quietly. “I..I only know how to carve a couple things, but birds are one of them. I like the cardinals because of their colors."

Mr. Norling nodded, and looked intently at Joseph. Joseph noticed he was wearing the beret he had given him. "Son, I need to say I'm sorry," he said gruffly. "You didn't deserve to be treated like that."

"Uh...I'm sorry I upset you, Mr. Norling."

"Lucas," Mr. Norling turned to his dad, "Would you give me a minute with him?"

"Sure, Arne, why don't you do have a seat?" He gestured into the family room.

They sat down as Joseph's dad left the room. Mr. Norling crumpled the beret in his big hands a few times, looking around. Then he spoke.

"I used to have a sister, Joseph, a little sister like you do. Her name was Solveig, but we all called her Solvie. Matter of fact she was just about the same difference in age - about five or six years younger, am I right?"

"Yes sir, Tee-tee - ah, Teresa - is six, I'm twelve. And a half," he added. “And I prefer Joseph, sir,” he added in a rush.

Mr. Norling nodded, and his chin bunched up once or twice.

"It doesn’t excuse how I behaved, son, but I want to explain something. See, when I was your age, my father was the minister at the church here, and we all lived in the parsonage. Me, and Solvie, Pa, and Ma..." he trailed off. After a deep breath, he continued. "She loved cardinals...loved them. Had cardinals all over her room - pictures, figurines. Ma even knit her a sweater and cap that had cardinals on them. I carved her a cardinal for Christmas once, just like the one you gave me."

He took a deep breath. "You see, son, she died when I was about your age. It was..." he stopped, and he seemed to struggle. He took another deep breath, then continued. "It was my fault. My Pa was practicing carols with my Ma over in the church, and I snuck in and got his pipe. I thought I would try to smoke it, you know, like a grownup. But I didn't know what I was doing, and...well..." Tears flowed down his face freely now, each one following the one before it. "Solvie got caught in the fire, wouldn't come out of her room, y'see, so my Pa, he went back into the parsonage, and..."

Joseph started putting pieces together. What had he done? How could he have been so stupid?

"Mr. Norling, I'm..." but the old man bulled on.

"Ma, well, she didn't last long after Pa and Solvie died. So I got sent off to an orphanage for a few years, ‘til I got too old for it. Not sure why I came back here, but I felt like I had to, so...well, that's neither here nor there. Look," he said, turning his watery eyes on Joseph, "You're a good kid, Joseph. You had no way of knowing, I know that. You did a nice thing for me, and I was mean to you over it, so I'm sorry, young man."

"It's OK, Mr. Norling, I think I understand now. Can I...can I ask you a question?"

The old man nodded.

"You said they were practicing carols that night. It was Coventry Carol, wasn’t it?"

Mr. Norling's chin bunched up again, and he looked down for a moment, then back at Joseph and he nodded.

"I'm really sorry, Mr. Norling, I didn't mean to..."

"I know, son, I know. It’s not your fault," he said, shaking his head. "Look, I brought you something...for Christmas. I'm not much for wrapping, though, seems like a waste of time to me." He held out a rolled up bundle of what looked like leather.

Joseph took the old, worn leather and untied the strap. It was a scrip, and inside were a dozen pristine carving tools with pale handles in what Joseph guessed were maple. He looked up at Mr. Norling, surprised.

"That's my old set, son. I can't carve anymore, my hands hurt too much. But you keep that, and keep carving. I expect to see you enter something in the county fair next year, okay? They always have a carving ribbon. You win it, son, win that ribbon." He nodded, as if since he said it, it was already done. "Yah, you win it."

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 02:19 PM

"BOY, I knew you would do it," he whispered to himself.

It was a cool evening in early September on a Sunday, the last night of the county fair. Not long after sundown, he'd heard the doorbell ring. A box sat on the porch. Inside was a hand-carved cardinal sitting on a branch of spruce that had been fastened to a block of wood with the letters "JMT" burned into the routed edge of the base.

He had worked at carving with the boy several times since that Christmas Eve when he had stayed for chocolate fondue at the Turner's house. He had laughed that night, maybe for the first time in sixty years.

The old man slowly went back inside, and sat down painfully by the fire. His cancer had metastasized, and he'd quit the chemo some time ago. He was overdue now. Young Joseph had been good company in his final days. The boy had talent, real talent.

He was cold and tired in his body, now, but the last months had taken the cold out of his soul. His eyelids grew heavy.

Solvie was there then, standing next to his chair and looking at the fire.

"Time to go, isn't it Solvie?"

She nodded. He felt a chill on as she laid her ghostly hand on top of his.

"Alright. I’m ready."

He set the cardinal on the end table next to his chair, and draped the boy's blue ribbon over its base.

As the chill spread up his arm, Arne Norling closed his eyes for the last time.

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: yup, that's the ticket

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 02:19 PM

Looks like I didn't need all the placeholder posts! Whoops!

Thanks for reading!
edit on 12-15-2016 by PrairieShepherd because: Didn't need this one!

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 02:51 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

That was pretty awesome if you ask me! One of the most colourful entries I've read!

And now I'm hungry! Lol

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 04:10 PM
a reply to: swanne

Thanks swanne! You want some rømmegrøt, right?

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 04:43 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Well done s/f

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 05:25 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

You are awesome!

Had to go full on lurker mode for a while. I was like, "C'mon! Get on with it!" I come back and have a novel sitting there! LOL. Something like 30 minutes later, cup in hand, I sit down and start to read. Bam! Back to the real world. The place falls apart if I do not hand-hold people through a couple processes with clearly written instructions... by me! So, finish up and with a re-filled cup this time I get to sit down and pay attention. Well worth the wait!

Thanks for throwing in words I can't pronounce! Well played sir!


posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 05:30 PM
Excellent story, great use of dialogue.

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 06:32 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd
Omgosh Shep that was just amazing! And that doesn't even begin to tell you how much it touched me!!!! It has to be the best story I have read of yours yet!!!! Thank you sooo much for sharing with us!!!

Ahhh, I sit here with tears!!!!!!

posted on Dec, 15 2016 @ 06:48 PM
a reply to: PrairieShepherd

Oh Shep it was just fantastic!

You had me on the edge of my seat from the opening post.

Crying like a baby-of course that's just from these darned seasonal allergies...

I can hardly wait to see 'writer' under your name, deservingly.

posted on Dec, 16 2016 @ 09:57 AM
a reply to: Jdennis10
Thanks Jdennis10! I liked your entry also - really good haunting feel throughout.

TEOT! How're ya doin?
Glad you liked the story! And you're welcome for the unpronounceables. I had fun putting a little Minnesota "up nort'" in da story, yah, you betcha. Oh and mmmmm....eggnog.
Now, where's your entry?

a reply to: AugustusMasonicus
Thanks Augustus! I was actually concerned I had used too much dialogue - I have to remember to be careful and read through the dialogue to make sure it sounds like people actually talking. Sometimes when I'm trying to advance the plot with speakers they can sound absolutely ridiculous.

a reply to: Martin75
Aw, thanks Marty! Am I mean if I feel like I've done my job when I make people cry?

a reply to: TNMockingbird
Thanks, Chirp! Must be the time of year, sounds like Marty had a little allergy attack too.

Wait - are you two actually allergic to my writing?!?

posted on Dec, 16 2016 @ 10:13 AM

originally posted by: PrairieShepherd
Thanks Augustus! I was actually concerned I had used too much dialogue - I have to remember to be careful and read through the dialogue to make sure it sounds like people actually talking. Sometimes when I'm trying to advance the plot with speakers they can sound absolutely ridiculous.

I thought you handled it well, it was not over done or too expository.

posted on Dec, 16 2016 @ 03:25 PM
John this story of yours touched me and brought tears to my eyes. Wonderfully written with a message of hope and love. Thank you!

posted on Dec, 16 2016 @ 03:30 PM
a reply to: Night Star

Thank you, Star Elf.

posted on Dec, 16 2016 @ 04:05 PM
a reply to: Night Star


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