He shook the present near his ear, trying to guess what it might be. It was a box with things that shook inside. Peanuts? He ripped the paper off. A box of treats. He dared let his hopes rise.
The second was small and oblong, like a pencil case. But when he peeled it open, it was a collar with a nametag in the shape of a
His eyes lit up as he turned to the largest box. It was almost half as tall as he was. It was loosely wrapped, with holes along the sides for air holes. And only one kind of present needed to breathe.
“We got a puppy!!!” He squealed, grabbing a fistful of shredded wrapping paper up in the air, and it snowed down around him.
He shredded off the wrapping paper of the last box, and the stood stock still, hardly daring to breath. Slowly, very slowly, he reached out and placed a shy hand on the lid.
“Go ahead, son. Open it!” His mother beamed at him. Beside her, his father nodded encouragingly.
Taking a deep breath, he flipped the lid of the box off and saw…
“ITS EMPTY!!!!!” He wailed.
His own cry woke him up. But he breathed a sigh of relief. It was only a nightmare.
He reached for his glasses on the night stand, and saw the time. 6:23 AM. Conflicted, he sat in bed for thirty seconds. Finally, he decided he couldn’t stand it anymore. Usually his mother and father opened presents together, after breakfast.
But this Christmas, it had to be different. So much was at stake. He had to know if his nightmare was a reality. It was really eating at him. And besides, if there really was a puppy, it might be awake already, and very scared, wondering why it was in a box. He had to save it.
He galloped down the stairs and saw a modest pile of presents at the foot of the wobbly, delicate tree. He didn't like these trees, but it was his mother's favorite kind, for soem reason. It wasn’t until he turned on the lights that he saw what he was looking for. A large box, in snowflake wrapping paper, that was almost half as tall as he was.
But first, he dug through the other presents. He found the box that rattled, and opened it. Treats!
Shifting through the pile, he found the oblong present. Except it was a roll of socks for his father. Embarrassed, he shoved the opened present under the sofa. He picked out the only other oblong present.
It was a collar! Small and adorable, and just right for a puppy. It had a square nametag, though, not a heart.
And finally, he turned to the large box that was half as tall as he was. Without any of the hesitation of his dream-self, he ripped the lid off and reached inside and pulled out…
“A kitten!?!” He wailed in dismay.
Throwing the kitten back in the box and slamming the lid on top, he began to cry. Not just little sniffles either. Big, obnoxious wails that make a wheezing, diabetic walrus sound attractive.
“What? Tony, what are you doing awake so early?” His father looked at the opened presents. “What happened to our tradition? Opening presents as a family?!”
Tony was too distraught to answer any of his father’s questions. Between sobs and gulps of air, he howled, “This is the worst Christmas ever!! Santa told me we were getting a puppy!!!"
"Well, Santa can't do everything," His father sighed.
"Santa can go chew on a stinkbug! I hate him!" The child blubbered. Fat tears rolled down his face.
Sighing again, heavily, his father clamped a hand on his son's shoulder and looked him in the eye. He began to give him a lecture. He started with Thanksgiving, and for each day between the two holidays, he gave a reason why Tony should be thankful for what he has. Neither father nor son noticed the small gray and white striped kitten nose its way out of the box.
Lights! Bright, beautiful lights! And that scent! Like winter and spunk in the air. The kitten scrambled over the pile of presents towards the source of this wonder. It was a playhouse! With shiny, solid rain drops hanging from the sides of it. Tentative, the kitten batted at one of the shiny objects. It swung back and forth charmingly. Perking up its ears with glee, the kitten batted at the object again. But it went flying off the playhouse! Oh no!
Frozen, it watched the object sail through the air. The large, shouting animals standing in the corner, a large one with a deep scary voice, and a small chubby one with keening cries that hurt its ears, didn't see the object fly, or land safely on a cushy, plush chair. Letting out its breath, the kitten went to explore the playhouse. There were steps spiraling up through the spicy green prickles. Such an adventure!
Up, up up, the kitten climbed, stopping to smell a curious smell here, pausing to reach out and poke another shiny object there, and occasionally untangling itself from a vine that wasn't alive, but still grew berries that glowed with life somehow. At the top of the pointy playhouse, through the rafters, the kitten could see a star. Instinctively, it wanted to reach the star, to be on top of the world and look down in the superior way that only cats can manage.
Standing as high as it possibly could, the kitten stood up on its back legs, tiny needlepoint claws digging into the rough brown surface in its playhouse for security. It's bright amber eyes were focused on the star, and it reached up, almost in a trance. It didn't notice the tree sawying dangerously back and forth until it was too late.
With a yowl that was drowned in the people's yelling, the kitten leapt awkwardly from the tree as it toppled down, down, down, straight for the small crying child.
The kitten landed gracefully by some feline miracle on the soft plush chair next to the ornament, purring with contentment. Finally, it was quiet, no wailing to hurt its ears. Unconscious children don't cry.
(Written originally as a Write Off, then modified casually for the Flash Fiction Contest. Nothing serious, just spur of the moment stuff. Moral is, love kittens no matter what.)
Edited by Aderia, Dec 30 2012 - 11:32 PM.