12/6/07

Christmas 07: The Forgotten Christmas

One day Nora noticed something different in the window of The Little Christmas Shop she always passed on her way home from school. ["Noticing" is not an active verb. Start with action.] At the bottom of a crooked Christmas tree stood a small angel [we need more description—color, texture, etc.] and it looked like he had only one wing. She inched closer to make sure she wasn’t imagining things and saw that his left wing really was missing! Now why would the old shopkeeper put a broken angel in the window?

This bothered Nora [again, not an active start] and for the next few days she would pause by the shop to see if the angel had been removed. He was always there, looking rather sad and forlorn. Finally, at the end of the week, Nora’s curiosity got the best of her, and she went into the shop. [Condense the first two paragraphs, making them tight and active and one event.]

“Well, well, what can I do for you, young miss?” asked the old shopkeeper as he peered through small round spectacles perched on the tip of his nose.

“Sir, that angel in the window,” Nora said, “why does he have only one wing?”

“Oh, he lost it on his way down from Heaven,” the shopkeeper said bending so close to Nora that she could almost touch his bushy white eyebrows. [Is this Santa? I like the hints.] “Every year an angel flies down to Earth to announce Christmas, however I think this little one had an accident… ”

“An accident!” Nora gasped. The shopkeeper’s spectacles almost slipped off his nose.

“Yes, he tumbled from the sky and I found him one night lying in front of my shop. I tried to help him but he just stands there, all sad and motionless. So I’m afraid we won’t have a Christmas this year...”

“No Christmas!”

Nora couldn’t believe it. There had always been a Christmas. Yet what if the shopkeeper’s story were true?

No Christmas…that meant no tree, no lights, no presents, no carols, no turkey dinner with cranberry sauce (she loved cranberry sauce), and…the next thought was unbearable…no school
holiday! [no ellipses]

“Look,” the shopkeeper said shuffling to the window, “take the angel. Perhaps you can find his missing wing…” [no ellipses]

“Me find his missing wing?!”

“You want to have Christmas, don’t you?”

“Yes, but…”

“Well, take him,” he said.

Nora reluctantly put the angel into her schoolbag and left the shop. She had almost reached the corner when she decided to bring back the angel. She turned around and saw that the window was completely dark. Over the door was a sign: “Closed because of No Christmas”

As she walked down the street, the Christmas lights in the other shops went out, and that beautiful decorated tree in the town square – it was practically bare. People were scurrying about and didn’t seem to realise that Christmas was gradually disappearing.

When Nora got home she saw that the wreath made of holly and mistletoe on the front door was gone.

“Why did you take down the Christmas wreath?” she asked her mother.

“Wreath…what wreath?” her mother answered.

Nora went up to her room without saying another word. The old shopkeeper had been right. She sat on the bed, holding her head in her hands. Then she took the angel out of her schoolbag and examined the tiny hole where his wing had been.

“How am I going to find your wing? It could be anywhere. Please, help me!”

The angel remained silent. It seemed to Nora that he grew sadder and sadder. She placed him on the window sill. As she looked out, she noticed that the Christmas tree which had been in the neighbour’s living room was no longer there.

She hardly slept that night. During the following days [how many days? the shorter the time frame, the better] things got worse –all over town Christmas lights and decorations were vanishing.

“Are we having turkey again for Christmas,” Nora asked her father hopefully one evening, “with lots of cranberry sauce?”

“Christmas?” he asked, poking his nose over the newspaper he was reading. “What’s Christmas? Nora, are you all right?”

She was in despair. Now even her parents were forgetting. Soon she would be the only one in the world who remembered Christmas.

At last Christmas Eve arrived, and the town looked as dull and ordinary as it did the rest of the year. Nora had spent the entire week searching for the angel’s wing and it was like trying to find a seashell in an ocean of sand. Now she was on her way home thinking about the evening
and how empty and lonely it would be. As she crossed a small park, the streetlamps went on. The lights shining through the branches reminded her of Christmas trees, which made her feel even more miserable. [How old is Nora? Too young to be walking alone after dark.]

She was about to leave the park when she saw something float down [passive; make it active] from the air and land in the middle of the path. It was a small feather. She looked up in the oak tree and there was a sparrow flitting from branch to branch. [Personally, I'd like a more magical finding of the feather] She picked up the feather and held it up to the light, turning it around. It seemed so delicate yet strong. Suddenly she had an idea, such a good idea that she ran home and dashed upstairs to her room.

The angel still stood on the window sill, looking sadder than ever. She rushed over to her desk and rummaged through the drawer, pushing aside some drawing paper and crayons. She pulled out a pair of scissors, a string and a pot of glue. She sat down and began to wrap the string around the stem of the feather. She neatly trimmed the tip with the scissors. Then she took the angel from the sill and carefully fastened the feather onto his left side, adding a little dab of glue to make certain that it would stay. She held him up and was proud to see that the new wing matched the other one – well, it almost did.

“Please, little angel, wake up,” she cried, squeezing her eyes shut.

Nothing happened. She held the angel close to her and repeated, "Please, please, wake up!"

After a few minutes, she felt a stirring in her hand, followed by a faint sensation of warmth. Nora opened her eyes. The angel moved his head. She put him back on the sill. He tottered about and rubbed his eyes, and actually stretched his wings!

“Where...where...am I?” the angel asked, looking about in a bewildered way.

“In my room,” Nora said, “but quick, we have no time to lose. You must announce Christmas…”

The angel yawned and flapped his wings.

“Oh, now I remember what happened,” he said. “On my way to Earth I was caught in a terrible storm. My left wing broke off and I tried to land on the doorstep of a little Christmas shop and an old shopkeeper…”

“I know that,” Nora raised her voice impatiently. “Please fly and announce Christmas!”

She threw the window wide open. The angel gazed at the stars glittering in the vast sky and with a quick little hop flew out, flapping his wings as hard as he could. As his feet grazed the top of the trees, Nora could hear his tiny voice call, “Let it be Christmas!”

It began to snow. Soft flakes silently covered the neighbourhood with a beautiful white blanket. One after the other Christmas lights flashed on. In the house next door, the tree once more glowed and in the distance she could hear some carollers singing.

The angel flew higher and higher until he became a mere speck in the night, yet Nora could still hear him calling out, “Let it be Christmas!” [End here.]

And it was Christmas, the most wonderful Christmas she had ever seen.

I like this. But not the title. Change that. Make the passive scenes more active.

What I liked best: The whole story concept.

Magazine ready? It's very, very close. With just a few changes, yes.

3 comments:

wordpaintervs said...

This was lovely. How nice that a child could save Christmas. In my minds eye, I saw the bird that was sent to drop the feather (to give up a feather) and as if in slow motion watched it drift on a current of air.

When I first began to read the story I thought of the 'angel' as a statue and then than in the telling, saw how it must have had feather like wings.

I enjoyed it very much. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This was a delightful story and I enjoyed the efforts she made to make Christmas special. I think it deserves a vote for the special story it is.

Emily M. said...

I vote for this one. Overall, I loved the story's problem and resolution. I love the image of the small wingless Christmas angel. And Nora is a great name.

Two suggestions: 1-the intro doesn't really grab me--"One day Nora noticed something different..." It's a little slow, and it made it harder for me to get into the great story. I'd cut the first sentence and begin with the second, maybe revised to include "The Little Christmas Shop" and then say "Nora inched closer..." instead of "She inched closer."

2-I think you can cut the last sentence and just end with "let it be Christmas." "Let it be Christmas " is a joyful sentence... or, if you feel it needs something else, make it more specific then the vague "most wonderful Christmas." Give us a specific image of Nora enjoying that Christmas, maybe.