Before Break: A Short Story
By Caroline Jung
“Listen, you don’t eat the candy canes! Gosh, you just have to place them on the tree, it’s really not that hard!” Shalia pouted and moved away. She was in kindergarten, a huge accomplishment for herself. She had short, brown hair that wrapped her face, as if it was a scarf. Her sister, Lucie, was seven, and she too had brown hair, except it was long and cascading. Both their eyes were bright blue, especially when they were frustrated. Their mother was scolding Shalia for unwrapping candy canes and eating them, for they were using them to decorate their Christmas tree.
“But it’s actually very hard,” Shalia muttered under her breath. Meanwhile, Lucie had also been pilfering candy canes, bit by bit. The difference was that Lucie had learned to avoid her mother’s eyes.
“Yeah, we need those!” Lucie chimed in. Shalia glared at Lucie with her bright blue eyes, but Lucie just snickered. Their mom didn’t notice.
“All the while, let’s enjoy decorating this tree. We only do this once a year!” their mom said.
The decorating process went on, with sharp cries and shrieks, until finally they ran out of ornaments and swirled their tree in ribbon. Unlike some families, they had used the same plastic Christmas tree for years. It wasn’t because they were trying to save money, but because they didn’t want to clean up a once living tree (which, don’t we all). However, the experience was the same to them, and they could have cared less.
A thunderous shout interrupted them, “What are you doing?” their older brother, Benny, who was in high school studying for his midterms, was at the top of the stairs, looking down at his family.
“Um… decorating? What else would we be doing? Why are you mad? Is it because you weren’t invited to decorate? Let me just point out that you clearly told us that you wouldn’t be doing some ‘time consuming little nit bits!’” Lucie pointed out.
“Yeah, no, that’s not what I was thinking. Actually, I can’t remember what I was thinking, thanks to your screaming and shouting at your lungs for an hour! I so greatly appreciate it.”
“Oh yeah, no problem,” Shalia chimed in, not knowing what sarcasm was as a 5 year old.
“You know Benny, I know you’re under stress, but you could try to calm down a bit. Take a moment to breath. Please,” his mother said, “It really isn’t fair for you to shout at your sisters. You were just as loud as them, maybe even louder.”
“Ha!” Lucie shouted under her breath.
“What did you just say Lucie?” her brother intertwined.
“Nothing, nothing at all.”
“I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t be shouting,” Benny said. A smile formed over his mother’s face. He added, “But here’s the thing. I CAN’T CALM DOWN, THERE’S TOO MUCH STRESS.”
“Okay, I’ll be right up to help you study,” his mom said.
“No, that’s not what I need. What I need is for this house to be somewhat silent!” Suddenly, ironically, everyone became silent. “Just like this!” he said. He walked off to his room and shut the door.
“Well, my girls, promise me that you won’t storm off into your room like that. If you need help with something, please ask! I am your support — that’s my job as your mom!”
“Okay!” Lucie and Shalia shouted together.
“Please!” their brother’s voice came drifting from upstairs.
“Have fun with school and midterms!” Lucie shouted up.
“Argh, not again!”
*This is basically the story that we are all going through right now. Yes, midterms (midterms actually inspired this story, who would’ve known). However, let’s enjoy when that stress and burden gets lifted after Thursday! Happy Holidays everyone!*