Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy Boxing Day! And a little short story of mine to celebrate...

Dear Readers:
I hope you all had an amazing Christmas! My little girl enjoyed hers immensely, except for the fact that my whole family visited and got the stomach bug. We still found a way to enjoy all the presents (and I was thankful we did Christmas a week early so that we actually were able to eat Christmas dinner before the virus hit). 

Yesterday, on actual Christmas, after everyone left, I received an email from that told me I hadn't logged in for 3 years. THREE YEARS?! How has time gone by so fast? It's terrifying to say the least. So I figured I'd take a look at The Writer's Cramp, a short story/poem contest where a prompt is given and you have 24 hours to respond to the prompt.

The prompt was as follows: Tomorrow is Boxing Day. Having lived my life in the US, where it's not observed, I had no idea what Boxing Day was until Wikipedia came along and I looked it up. For tomorrow, come up with your own interpretation of what Boxing Day is - the more outrageous, the better!

So before I give you my entry to the Cramp, what is Boxing day actually? Well, I had to go to the Wiki source to be sure :-)

Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally celebrated the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box", from their masters, employers or customers,[1] in the United Kingdom, The Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, Bermuda, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and other former British colonies. Today, Boxing Day is a public holiday usually falling on 26 December.

All right. So I didn't win. While it was a bit disappointing, the entry that won was beautiful, heartwarming and perfect for the Christmas holidays. Mine was a bit more Grinchy... edgy... not so heartwarming. So I knew I was making a risky move from the get go. I don't regret it though because I had a blast writing it. Let me know what you guys think. And if anyone can find the set of Easter eggs I put in it, you get mad props, and maybe something else if you post your answer!

The Box

Tomorrow is Boxing Day, and this year, I’m going to win first place.

I finger the glistening wood of the box that I have just completed. Each whirl and curve is perfect and the polish only enhances the delicate finishes. The piece of wood I selected has more warm tones of golden brown than I can count. I found it three years ago, by the lake next to our house. Pietra, my sister, laughed when she saw the expression on my face as I stroked the piece in reverence.

“Grazia, you shouldn’t dream of being a bird when you’re a fish,” she said then, handing me a rock to polish. “Father wouldn’t approve.”

I sigh, but pick up the piece anyway and tuck it in my skirts. “Just promise me you won’t tell him,” I said. I can’t help that I dream of spreading my wings.

I am the daughter of a stone craftsman, and while we have enough business to put food on the table and clothes on our backs, we are not considered even middle class. I don’t need the beautiful dresses that Malizia, the woodcutter’s daughter, wears, but what I wouldn’t give for medicine for my ailing mother, who can barely get out of bed from the early arthritis in her joints. She hasn’t smiled in over a year, and some days, she decides not to get out of bed at all.

The first morning Mother stayed in bed from pain, I devised a plan to give my family everything they deserved. Every year in our kingdom of Artigiano, which is known for its unparalleled skill in woodworking, the day after Christmas, known as Boxing Day, a woodcrafting competition is held. Everyone is eligible to turn in a handcrafted wooden box to the kingdom’s master artisans who rule our kingdom and reside in the castle. The boxes are all labeled with numbers prior to the judging so it doesn’t matter if you are old or young, fat or skinny, rich or poor, male or female; only the box is judged. The family of the winner is showered with gold, and the winner is trained by the master woodworkers in the castle to eventually become one of them, never to return home. I would grieve to never again see the tender look on my father’s face, the warmth of my mother’s gentle touch on my hair, or peals of unrestrained laughter from my sister, Pietra, but it’s a price I am willing to pay. And for all my talk of doing this for others, my heart quickens at the thought of training with the masters and seeing a look of jealousy on Malizia’s face.

The rules are minimal; the box must be crafted from a single piece of wood with only a single embellishment—but gold, silver, gems, or any other precious materials that cannot be afforded by the masses is not allowed, to keep it as fair as possible. But there’s no such thing as fair in this world. The rich hire tutors to train their young in woodworking techniques; Malizia has had personal tutors her whole life. I have no tutors; I just have quick hands and a love of a challenge.

My box is the result of 6 months of labor and love. It has an intricate maze built into the surface that is the perfect map of our city Artigiano from the skies; the only way to open the box is to guide a small sphere of obsidian snowflake granite through the maze to the castle. It’s a work of art. My work of art.

“What is that?”

The box is suddenly plucked from my hands. It is Malizia, her golden curls swinging, her green eyes flashing at me.

“A stonecutter’s daughter made a box?” She fingers it slightly, eyes narrowed, looking between me and the box with an increasing sense of disbelief.

“Please, Malizia,” I plead. “Give it back to me, I need to present it tomorrow.”

A slight smile curls on her lips. “No. I know this wood. This is from wood that my father cut.”

“I found the wood,” I start, but as I say the words, I already know I’ve lost.

“This is my box,” she declares. “I can’t believe you were about to present it as yours. Be off, stone girl.” She flounces off with my most precious possession, and my heart breaks in a million pieces as I see her go.

I suppose there’s always next year, but I know deep down I'll never enter again.

The guard turns the key, as the girl screams and pounds on the cell door.

“Those poor villagers,” he chuckles to his partner, clipping the set of keys to his belt. “They don’t realize this little contest is held so that the master artisans can make sure no one can outdo their work, and they can stay in power.”

“It’s a mistake,” Malizia shrieks. “It’s not my box.”

“That’s what they all say, my dear,” says the other guard, as he leaves the prison in total darkness.

Hope you enjoyed it! Happy Boxing Day!
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  1. Wow, I bet Grazia is glad that she didn't get to show that box now! Great job!

    1. Thanks, Lekeisha. I so appreciate your comments!

  2. Great story Christina! I loved the way the story flowed, the pacing, and that ending is a killer. Way to go!

  3. I love an ending where the villain gets what's coming to her. If only real life were like that more often >:)