Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Short Story: "Silver And Gold," By Becke Martin

Small-town bookseller Aiden Flynn doesn’t realize he’s put his life on hold until a pretty waitress and her little man remind him he’s got some hope left where his heart used to live. Golden memories are rekindled along with glittering optimism in this slightly sassy take on holiday heartwarming.

“Please, Mommy – please!”

Aiden looked up from his bowl of spicy goulash. The new waitress knelt down, shushing the boy who must be her son. “I’m sorry, Joey. The mall will be closed before I get off work. I’ll get you a sheet of paper and a pen – you can write a letter to Santa instead.”

The boy chewed his lower lip. “Grandma would’ve taken me.”

Man, the kid was good. What mother could resist that soulful expression? Joey’s mother, apparently; she closed her eyes briefly, but she didn’t respond.

“But this is important,” the young boy whispered loudly, emphasizing almost every other word. “Santa gets millions of letters. What if he’s a slow reader, like me? I need to tell him in person.”

Aiden was always intrigued by human drama, but the boy’s mother was clearly distressed to have an audience. Fair Meadows, Ohio was such a small town, anyone new was bound to attract attention. He took another bite of goulash and pretended to ignore them.

His waitress moved as if to push back her dark blonde hair, then stopped as her hand met the lacy headband that was part of her uniform. Her fingers flailed for a second as if at a lost where to go next, then she reached into her apron pocket and tore a page from her order book. “Here, you can write the letter on this.”

“But Mom . . .”

“Hush, Joey – Santa won’t care that your letter’s not on fancy paper. And I happen to know he’s a speed reader.”

The boy, who looked to be six or seven, had big blue eyes like his mom’s and hair several shades lighter – baby-fine, flaxen and softly curling around his nape. He’d bet the boy was teased about it unmercifully at school.

Aiden pointedly opened the local paper and flipped to the sports section before returning to his dinner. The high school scores weren’t nearly as interesting as his waitress, though, and the realization came as a shock. It had been years since he’d noticed a woman – really noticed her, down to his gut. Why now, and why this woman?

Well, there was the kid. He was a sucker for kids. These days, if a man admitted that out loud people thought “pedophile,” but Aiden had always been fascinated with the intelligence and curiosity of children. He missed kids. He missed being a dad most of all.

Tears swam in front of his eyes, blurring the headlines he pretended to read. It was just Christmas, damn it. He wasn’t normally this maudlin. He’d had ten years to get over his son’s death, eight to adjust to the loneliness, abandonment and guilt after his wife killed herself. There was nothing wrong with him that getting past Christmas wouldn’t cure.

He heard the rustle of paper as the boy slid into the booth in front of his, sniffling quietly and muttering to himself. “I’ll never get the book now.”

At the word “book,” Aiden’s attention was caught again. It could be any book, but he was willing to bet Joey was going to ask Santa for the next installment of "The Adventures of Billy and Buster," an incredibly popular series about a smart six-year-old and his Golden Retriever. Buster was really an alien from the Dog Star who helped Billy solve mysteries and save their town from an evil villain in every volume. The series had a special place in Aiden’s heart.

Every book ended with the boy and dog strolling through the front door of their small suburban home, where smells of a hot dinner wafted out to greet them. Billy’s mother’s question – “What have you two been up to now?” – was such a popular catchphrase, it had been co-opted on every show from "SNL" to "The Family Guy," as was Billy’s response: “Nuttin’, Mom. What’s for dinner? We’re staaaarving.”

As the owner of Chapters, the only book store town, Aiden was... Read On...

32 comments:

Renee Vincent said...

I truly loved this story, Becke! And I posted a review of it on my blog:

http://pasttheprint.blogspot.com/2009/12/becke-martins-silver-and-gold.html

Many blessings to you and your career!

David B. said...

A lovely and tender story. Congrats, Becke.

Becke Davis said...

Thanks for the great review, Renee!

David - I'm so glad you liked it!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Darn you, Becke! You made me cry, and it's not even 10am! This is such a lovely story, and a real Christmas gift!

I'm going to post the link on my Facebook page, right now.

Becke Davis said...

Oh, Vanessa - I'm so glad you liked it!!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas! And, Becke, grazie mille for this gift. Such a gentle, warm beginning to what looks like it'll be a happily ever after for three people who well deserve one. This tale has great passion -- like Aiden, I think -- yet in his style, it's from the heart and uncomplicated. Very charming. I'm so pleased you've shared it with us, and am especially happy to say it's helped urge me along into the holiday spirit.

LisaK said...

Becke, what a lovely, beautiful and sweet story! You have the talent to make the reader feel and that's just a wonderful gift. Thank you so much for this contribution to Christmas!

debbie haupt said...

I loved it Becke (wiping dry my eyes) It was so touching, so tender and so full of hope and joy. A Great Holiday Read!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Deb

Barbara Monajem said...

Becke, this is a lovely story. Thank you so much for sharing it. It conveys the spirit of the season just beautifully.

Becke Davis said...

Michelle - I'm just so honored you liked the story and wanted to share it!

LisaK - That's quite a compliment! Thank you so much.

Debbie - thanks so much, that means a lot to me.

Barbara! I'm so glad you liked the story! It's great to see you here.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Mon, that's why I felt strongly about sharing Becke's story after she was generous enough to say ok. Good short stories should look deceptively simple, like there's nothing to em but story and emotion. when you think back on them, that's when a reader puts pieces together and goes, 'wow, that was pretty deep,' or maybe they never realize it, which is even better. But if one really digs looking at what bones are holding up the skin of a story, it's easy to see why this one gets the blood flowing. You go, 'oh, what a great way to take care of that potential problem in a line; that could have been a nightmare, but that device headed it off at the pass, etc." It's part of why category deserves respect, because of the nature of writing vigorously, yet still conveying full-impact emotions, ebbs and flows w/out the luxury of 10s of Ks of words.

a thing of beauty when it's done right. I do dig the shorts.

Becke Davis said...

There are more comments at the end of the story, if anyone is interested.

Anne Buono said...

Oh Becke - I'ts wonderful. What a wonderful way to start the week before Christmas and really get into the holiday spirit. Have a safe trip and a very Merry Christmas...

AnneB

amy kennedy said...

Oh Becke, I'm at work and had to keep helping patrons -- but then I'd sneak away to read more...here's the thing, I could have kept reading about these people forever. I want to know what happens after Ginny finds out he's the author and what will Joey think of Buster...

You brought me to tears, it was beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Gannon Carr said...

Loved, loved, loved it! So sweet and poignant. Wonderful job, Becke!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Michelle, I hear you on the difficulty of writing a good short story. I just did my first one, and I sweated bullets. I only hope it's anywhere near as good as Becke's!

Rosie Murphy w/a Gabriella Edwards said...

I am so happy to see my wonderfull CP have her great writing displayed. Thanks, Michelle! Becke's writing never fails to entertain. You should read her NaNo--fabulous story! And it's a freaking NaNo! (I shouldn't like her so much.)
Anyway, I keep trying to convince her that this story is just the beginning of a novel. It doesn't have to be her usual single title length, but maybe an American Romance(?)
I want to hear more about everyone as well. Okay, it's about me again. I don't think it's very nice to leave me hanging! *grin* Loved it! It's beautiful!

Pamela Keener said...

I agree I'd love to read more about Aiden, Ginny & Joey & even Freda. Becke, that is good writing. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
Love & Hugs,
Pam

Gannon Carr said...

I agree, Rosie! We want more, Becke!

Becke Davis said...

Oh, you don't know how I needed to hear this. I've had the drive from hell today, and I wasn't even the one driving. Shortly after my computer battery died, we drove smack into a white-out blizzard. I called Michelle at one point as we sat PARKED on I-75 South.

It was such a horrible drive, and then I come here and read all these wonderful comments -- now you all are bringing me to tears!! (And at my age, I can't even blame PMS!)

AnneB - I'm so excited to see you here! I'm glad you liked the story.

Amy - Has Michelle been talking to you? She thinks I should expand this into a novel, too.

Gannon - I'm really honored that you like my story, knowing how much you read!

Vanessa - I hope I'll get a chance to read your story! I'm sure it's wonderful.

Rosie - What would I do without you? I hope you all noticed the shout-out to my Gerard-Butler-addicted critique partner in the story. I had a hard time squeezing that in without changing the mood!

Okay, now Rosie, Keri, Michelle and and a bunch of you think this should be a complete story. And my NaNo story, which was supposed to be a novella, apparently needs to be a full story, too.

I think I need a month on a deserted island with nothing to do but write -- except, you know how that goes. All that nothing to do would make me brain dead. I always get more ideas when I don't have time to write them down!!

You've all made this a wonderful day . . . month . . . year! Once I get to Florida, looks like I'll be working on Aiden and Ginny's story some more. I just hope I can pull it off!

LisaK said...

That's wonderul news, Becke! I'm very much looking forward to reading more about them!

Becke Davis said...

Wish me luck, Lisa!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, what happened? I left a comment when this went up and it WAS there, I swear! Anyway, Becke, just wanted to say I love the story - really heartwarming and emotional! Great stuff.

Waving madly to Michelle and the Bellas. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Becke Davis said...

Anna - I've done that myself before. I think I've posted but when I check later it's not there. Probably something to do with the security word or something. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story -- you know I'm one of your biggest fans, so that just gives me chills. THANK YOU!

amy kennedy said...

Becke -- Clearly, great minds think alike, it needs to be a novel. It makes sense -- perfect sense, you've got all kinds of conflict built right in, plus we'd have some lurve scenes...yes?

Becke Davis said...

Amy -- The Magic Eight Ball says, "signs point to yes!"

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Becke, this is wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing it here, what a great idea to post it, it's a true Holiday gift! (And it would definately make a great full length too, glad you're thinking so!)

Blessings and Happy Holidays!

Becke Davis said...

Leanna - It was so nice of you to read my story! Your encouragement is greatly appreciated. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Joan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan said...

Hey Becke!
I was just wondering when am I going to get "the REST of the story"!!!
I loved the story and want MORE!!!
Joan

Becke Davis said...

Joan, sorry I missed your comment. I'm working on a romantic suspense story right now. Maybe I'll go back to this story when it's completed.

TracyGrahn said...

I really like this story. The central theme of story is very appreciating and story is also written in very well form.
The title of the story Silver and gold is also well suited. Silber kaufen
can also be used


Really liked and waiting for the next one.