The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
A Snow Day Every Day
by Stephanie Ayers
“It’s the most magical place on earth!” Serena told Ben. She offered him a wide “trust me, I’m the older sister” smile before straightening and sliding her hand into their mother’s. “Isn’t that right, Mommy?”
Kristin looked down at her daughter and gave both her children a half smile. She’d been chatting on her phone, not paying attention to what the kids talked about. She hesitated for a moment, but Serena’s shiny eyes pleaded with her to agree, so she did. “Absolutely. Your sister is smart, Ben. She wouldn’t steer you wrong.”
Serena gave a little clap and dragged her mother and brother forward. “Come on! I can’t wait to show you!”
The entrance into the village was like something straight out of a fairy tale. The Lemnock Society had done a fabulous job of preserving everything. A large golden archway bordered with a golden fence enclosed the village. “Christmasville” sparkled on thick gold lettering in the center of the arch. White powder and fluffs of cotton gave off the appearance of a recent snow. Midsize decorated evergreens guarded the entrance on either side. A few wrapped gifts of varying sizes tumbled from beneath the trees. Serena and Ben expelled their ooo’s and ahhh’s as they crossed the threshold.
Inside the gate was even more exciting as the village came to life. Cardboard buildings rose taller than their mother in scattered increments as far as they could see. In the center of their path, a mock pond had been created, and life-sized statues posed in various positions on the ice. One twirled slowly, while another made an eight repeatedly.
Both children’s eyes glistened as they took in every sight.
“See? I told you it was amazing!”
They stopped at the first street light. It was made of black iron and two small row houses were displayed in the lamp amid fluffs of fake snow. Lights shone in the windows. Shadows moved gently behind the lights. Everything about the street light exuded comfort and joy, right down to the small figure walking a dog on the street in front of the houses.
Serena clapped her hands together. The further they went into the village, the stronger her desire to live there became. She saw no schools. The one church had a friendly, smiling minister waving from the door. Snow covered the ground everywhere, and every house glittered with lights and shiny decorations. They marched down one side of the street, down through the alleys, until they came upon Santa’s house. Here the streetlamp was different. Instead of tiny houses covered in snow, a tiny sleigh filled the lamp, elves dancing around and hanging from the sleigh as they dropped gifts into the sack on the back.
“Mommy!” Serena said, tugging on her mother’s arm. Her arm extended and she pointed forward where eight reindeer grazed in front of a castle. Jubilant ho-ho-ho’s spilled from the house, and she could see Santa through one window. “Don’t you wish you could live here forever? We could never be sad.”
Kristen smiled at her daughter. “Yes, that would be nice, but wouldn’t you miss your friends?”
Serena laughed as she stepped onto the fake pond and swirled around one of the children posed there. “I would make new ones.” She danced to a different statue and spun in a circle in front of it. “We could ice skate every day.” She pointed to a small grouping of child statues hovered around a sled. “And sledding! Oh, Mommy, it would be a snow day every day!”
“I don’t know. What do you think, Ben?” Kristin smiled at Serena again, then frowned when Ben didn’t answer. “Ben?”
Her eyes searched the village. No Ben. Panic rose in her throat.
Serena took Kristen’s hand and tugged. Kristen stared at her daughter.
“I bet he went to see Santa. Don’t worry, he’s here somewhere.” She released her mother’s hand and circled around another skater.
Kristen stared at the castle ahead of them and nodded. “I bet you’re right.” She held her hand out for Serena, who kept moving further away, intermingling with each of the statues on the ice.
“Serena? Are you coming?”
“Can I just stay here if I promise to stay here? I promise I won’t go anywhere else.”
Despite the growing dread in her stomach, Kristin agreed.
“Okay, but don’t go anywhere else. I’m just going to go in the castle and find your brother.” She started to walk off, then stopped. She turned around and watched her daughter pretend to ice skate toward the small wishing well in the center of the pond.
“Don’t make any wishes, okay?”
Kristen sighed. “Not until we get back. Let’s save your wishes for the whole family, okay?”
Serena grinned. “Okay.”
But Serena didn’t wait. As soon as her mother disappeared, she slid to the edge of the wishing well.
“I wish… I wish…” She turned around to see if her mother watched. Kristin was nowhere in sight. She switched to a whisper. “I wish we could live in the village forever,” she said, staring into the well as if watching her words cascade into it. She skated from the well toward the children on the sled and froze in place, her leg extended behind her. A tear glistened on her cheek as she realized what living in the village forever meant. She watched as Kristen and Ben approached, her mother calling her name. Her throat scorched with the desire to scream yet no sound came out. Horror crossed Kristen’s face as she froze in her place, her eyes locked on the statue of her daughter, powerless to stop Ben from freezing in place too.
“If only you’d listened,” Santa called from the castle. “If only you’d listened.”
Fiction © Copyright Stephanie Ayers
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Stephanie Ayers:
The 13: Tales of Macabre
Can you survive all 12?
Killer watermelons, murderous jewelry boxes, centenarian sea whisperers, creatures of myth/legend, and more…
This supernatural story collection will make you reconsider everything you thought you knew. At night you’ll hover under your covers while looking over your shoulder in the day. Down, down in the depths they fell; bodies in the dark of a liquid hell. Can you survive all 12?
This is the second collection in The 13 series. Will you survive all 13?
With forward by JM Ames and poetry by Stacy Overby.