Monday, December 16, 2013

I Won't be Home for Christmas (1,000 Prompts Contest Entry)
Gillian first knew about the freak snowstorm when her boys jumped into the bed with her squealing excitedly. "There's so much snow, Mama! Come see! Come see!" 

Reluctantly, she allowed the children to pull her from under the comforter. She hadn't slept well. She never did when she was traveling. It didn't seem to matter how nice the hotel was, or how many of her home comforts she had carried with her. She just couldn't drop off to dreamland and stay there all night unless she was at home in her own bed.

She shook her sleepiness quickly once the boys had tugged her to the window, though. She could see what her children had been so excited about.  There was so much snow that she couldn't even see most of the cars in the parking lot. There were heaps of snow in orderly rows, like someone had made fifty or so large, roughly car-shaped snowballs and left them in a line, waiting for a fantastic snowball fight to begin.

Part of Gillian was as excited as the kids. There was something wonderful about so much snow. But that part was hard to hear over the part of her that realized what impact this was going to have on their travel plans. They weren't going to be able to make the rest of their journey by Christmas. No way.  And going back home wasn't going to be an option either. Her car didn't even have four-wheel-drive. They were in for the duration. 

There was no need to tell the boys about her worries just yet, though. "Who wants popcorn for breakfast?" she asked. She settled the boys with a Christmas movie and the ice bucket full of microwave popcorn and ducked into the bathroom to read the weather reports on her phone. 

It wasn't good news.  Work crews were rescuing stranded drivers, but it would take days to clear out the roads for safe transit.  The Department of Transportation warned holiday travelers to stay put.  Gillian considered her options. They were few. 

Peeking out the bathroom door, she saw the boys cuddled up on the bed she had slept in, still wearing their long-john style pajamas, and stuffing their faces with popcorn. Their uncombed hair stuck out all around their heads.  They were practically an advertisement for Christmas morning, maybe especially Jack, who had a huge gap where he had just lost both his top front teeth. 

And what kind of Christmas morning was she going to be able to provide, here in the hotel? One of the reasons they had been traveling was because she couldn't afford to do anything much this year. Her mother had sent them travel money and had Christmas stockings and gifts waiting for the boys at her house. What did she even have in the car? A few candybars? Certainly no gifts.  What would they even do for food? Popcorn wasn't going to keep them happy for two or three days. 

She decided it would be better to go downstairs and talk to the front desk people and see what they could suggest.  She carefully instructed ten year old Steven to watch out for six year old Jack and locked the boys in the room, tucking the key card into the front pocket of her jeans. She took the car keys with her, too, in case she could find a way to retrieve more of their things from the car . . .

To be continued :-)

This story came from a prompt

303. A giant snowstorm the week before X-Mas has stranded your family at a hotel in the middle of the country. With all the stores closed and all your relatives far, far away, how would the holiday change? Would you still be able to have some fun in such strange circumstances? Why or why not?

The prompt is part of this contest at Build Creative Writing Ideas.  Whether or not I win, I had fun writing this, and avoiding the rewrite on my novel for a little while :-)

1 comment: