Tuesday, December 11, 2012

CFF #12: Hope For The Holidays by Judith Post

Do spirits know it's Christmas? Can Death itself recognize its significance? We may never know for sure, but this little paranormal treat from Judith Post might make you wonder. Read on and please leave a comment...


Judith Post

            Loralei pulled the gingerbread from the oven and set it on the deep, window casement to cool.  Tammy and Chris hovered close.  Since the two, young ghosts had come to live with her and Death, they'd taken on their mortal forms, as did any spirit who stepped onto this property.
            Tammy licked her lips.  "Gingerbread's Scythe's favorite Christmas dessert?"
            Here, Death was referred to as Scythe Black, and when he entered the little, stone cottage he shared with Loralei, he, too, took on his mortal shape.  
            "We're making all his favorites.  He works long hours over the holidays."  Not everyone could endure the joy of the season.  The obsessive expectations sometimes proved too much.
            Chris glanced at the stockings hanging from the fireplace mantel.  December twenty-fifth had come and gone.  Loralei had flown, as usual, to celebrate Christmas with her brother, and Death worked.  The kids had waited patiently.  "My last stocking had a big, red apple and an orange, hard candies and a slingshot." 
            Tammy rolled her shoulders in her ten-year-old, imperious way.  "Santa drove a horse and buggy back then.  Things have changed.  I got a doll."
            Loralei's stomach did its usual, sad twist when she thought of how little Chris and Tammy had received from life.    Both ghosts had been just plain neglected.  She'd had a hard time thinking of presents to put in their stockings.  Ghosts didn't need much, but they were sort of like real kids since they'd moved here.  Not that they went to school or needed cell phones.  They didn't have friends.  They didn't need new clothes either.  What they died in, they wore.  She'd settled on Game Boys, books, and puzzles.  Things to pass time.
            She was distracted from her thoughts when dozens of ravens flew over the yard to settle in the trees near the woods.  A few minutes later, the front door opened, and the Grim Reaper stood on their porch.  When Death stepped over the threshold, his black robe blurred, becoming jeans and a T-shirt.  His skeletal form filled into the tall, muscled man of dark beauty, whom she loved.
            He crossed quickly to take her in his arms. 
            Lord, he felt good.  She craned her neck to study his face.  "You look tired."
            "'Tis the season."  Christmas wasn't lights and presents for him.  He nodded toward the door.  A long shadow stood framed on the other side of the glass.   "Shade lost a young girl today.  She wouldn't go to the Light.  He could use some company, but it's your call.  It's our special day."
            "You left the poor man outside in the cold?"  A blanket of snow covered the ground.  Icicles dangled from tree branches.  Winter in its glory.
            Death smiled.  "Temperatures don't bother us.  We're not mortal, you know.  We only get to feel like it here."
            "Invite him in."  Loralei pushed out of his embrace to wave the man inside. 
            As he stepped into the cottage, his shadows firmed, and a tall man—as black as ebony—stood before them.  He wrung big hands together nervously.  "Scythe told you that I'm fine if you don't want me to stay, didn't he?  I can always go to our holding area…."
            Loralei raised an eyebrow at Death.  "They call you Scythe at work now too?"
            He grimaced.  "It's sort of nice, having a name instead of a job description."
            "Does Shade have a name?"
            The big man looked uneasy.  "I took one from a mortal I liked.  Raleigh.  Scythe calls me Raleigh."
            Tammy grabbed his hand and tugged him toward the kitchen.  "I've never met a Shade.  Can you do tricks?  Fade like we do?"
            Shade blinked his surprise.  "You aren't afraid of me?  Most people cringe."
            "But we're not people.  We're ghost kids."  Tammy tugged harder.
             Shade's shoulders relaxed.  He followed her to the heavy, oak table where she put him to work, helping them set it. 
            "Do you eat a lot?  'Cause you're really big."
            Chris, two years older and much more responsible, shushed her.  "We have plenty of food.  Remember your manners!"
            Death inhaled the mingled scents of cinnamon and ham, Brussels sprouts and bacon.  "The house smells wonderful."
            Tammy looked longingly at the oven.  "We've been waiting on you."
            "And we can't look in our stockings 'til after we eat," Chris told him. 
            "Then I say let's eat!"
            They all worked together, carrying food to the table.  They laughed and talked, and Loralei caught Shade, watching them, with a bemused expression when he didn't think she noticed.  Their meal finished, they went to the sitting area to watch the kids open their presents. 
            Flames crackled in the fireplace.  Ebony curled on Shade's lap, purring with contentment.  And Death and Loralei snuggled on the couch.
            Beaming with her goodies, Tammy looked at Death.  "What did you buy Loralei?"
            "We agreed not to get each other gifts."
            "Nothing?"  Chris looked surprised.
            Death pulled Loralei close.  "She's all I need.  The present I thought I'd never get."
            "And you?"  Chris turned to Loralei.
            "I have Scythe and you two.  What more could I want?"
            Tammy frowned, and Shade laid a hand over hers.
            Voice thick, he said, "You have no idea what a true gift this really is."
            "Do so.  Never had it before.  You need some ghost kids of your own."
            His expression grew serious.  "You know, I might have one in mind."
            A lost girl, just like Tammy.  Loralei smiled.  It was their first Christmas as a family, and she couldn't be happier.                       


Bio:  Judith Post taught elementary school before having two daughters and becoming addicted to writing.  She's a believer in write what you read.  At that time, she read mysteries, so sold short stories to Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen mystery magazines, and several Womansleuth and Barnes and Noble anthologies.  Then she discovered paranormal novels and was seduced to the dark side.  She has four novels and several series of novellas available online at amazon, Barnes and Noble, smashwords, and more.


  1. Lovely story, Judith! I loved it and am glad Shade had a happy ending! Merry Christmas to you and yours and a safe holiday too!

  2. Thanks, Leila! Hope you have happy holidays too.

  3. Well, you certainly wrote a unique Christmas story, Judith. It was very well written and a pleasure to read. I will look you up to read more of your work.

    Merry Christmas.

  4. Judith, I like your story...a lot! I have a story of The Grim Reaper of my own. I call him Grim. An unusual sort of family Christmas. Thank you for sharing. Congratulations are due on your being published as well. Way to go!

  5. What an interesting and wonderful take on a family Christmas. It shows that every family can celebrate together, whoever they are.

  6. I love just about anything paranormal, so this was a great read for me! Merry Christmas. :)


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