The doorbell rang, harshly rupturing the night. It had been dark for hours but now the sky was gently being invaded by the gathering clouds.
She stirred, surprised. She must have fallen asleep. She pushed the blanket to one side and drew her jumper around her tighter, shivering. The old gas fire glowed dimly, powerless against the worst of winter.
She eased herself up and cautiously made her way across the room, remembering the coffee table and the trailing lead of the electric kettle.
She flicked on the hallway light. Who on earth could it be? The bell sounded again. She muttered to herself about patience as she looked out the key. She opened the door, the chain still on.
“What on earth are you doing here?” she opened the door properly. “You needn’t have come.”
“I left as soon as you put the phone down. I had to leave the car on the top road and walk down, it’s so icy.”
She wrapped the slighter, frailer woman in her arms and they both breathed deeply, both secretly relieved to see the other.
“You better come in before we both catch our death of cold.”
The daughter released her mother and stepped into the hallway, noting the cold air. She didn’t take off her outer things.
“I’ll make us both a cup of tea,” she said, heading to the kitchen.
“I brought the kettle into the living room, to make it easier.”
A standard lamp was switched on and the kettle filled. They both sat down on the sofa, a little awkward for a moment.
“Why didn’t you say anything earlier?”
She shrugged her shoulders.
“Don’t worry, it’ll be alright. We’ll get through this together, I promise.”
She drew her mother close and pulled the blanket over them.
“No one should be alone at a time like this.”
Outside, the snow began to fall.
We’d like you to craft a piece of fiction or creative non-fiction around the holiday season, keeping in mind that for some people “the holiday season” begins around Halloween and doesn’t end until well after the New Year is underway. The piece should begin with “The doorbell rang” and end with “snow began to fall.” The middle is up to you, and the entire thing should be under 300 words.
314! I promise I have taken all your advice to your heart and I’ve been utterly ruthless to get it to this point. It was about 450 when I first wrote it. I started writing then stopped and let it stew for twenty-four hours whilst I decided where it was going. Then I came back to it and wrote it all out before leaving it a while. I attempted to whittle the beast into shape but had to employ my husband as an editor, he has no emotional attachment to my words whatsoever! Having tamed it to more manageable proportions (350 ish!), I left it to stew for another twenty-four hours before merciless going on a back space button rampage before posting. The irony is if I try to write a longer piece then it always falls short, can’t win. (Oh and I’ve posted the original, wordy version separately!)