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A Halmark Moment

Vocal+Assist December Prompt

By PJ WattsPublished 4 months ago 5 min read

It had been a long time since he had been home - back to the large, chilly wood panelled rooms of the vicarage. In fact, it was the first time he had returned since the morning he had turned 18. On that day he had woken up at 6am, showered, dressed, thrown all that was his in his tattered rucksack and, without remorse or regret, walked out of the front door. He had never intended to return - had spent years finding a place for himself in the city and a life that he could truly call his own. And he had been successful. He had a modest flat, a good job that paid very well and a life he enjoyed. But, of course, as was always the way with the best laid plans of mice and men, he had been pulled back. Back to the sterile, unchanging collection of rooms that had mapped his childhood.

And, of course it was Christmas Day.

It was all darkly nostalgic. The four of them sitting across from each other at the ridiculously large table - the lonely points of a cold compass. The table did more than emphasise the spaces between them - it mirrored the rigidity of his father, the sharp angles of his mother’s face, the vulnerability of his brother’s gentle soul. It certainly served as a metaphor for these parents of his, he thought: hard, solid, utilitarian - too big for the space they occupied.

It also, he thought wryly, exposed his mother’s dinner offerings. The turkey - set in front of his father’s place - was, he thought, adequate in size, but, in line with all the jumble of his memories, had an anaemic hue - as if it had been boiled rather than roasted. The plate it had been paced on was large - too large - and even the variety of vegetables circling the fowl corpse in insipid shades of orange, green and something approaching yellow did little to suggest celebration.

Although, to be fair to his mother, she had branched out since he had been gone. He had clocked the new addition to the feast - a new small china bowl containing something textured, creamy-brown. Bread sauce apparently. He had smiled broadly at her - more shark than sunshine - commending her innovation.

Maybe he had done them all a favour - arriving unannounced before they had started eating - sitting himself down in the empty place opposite his father. They hadn’t even picked up their cutlery and he guessed he had disturbed them before they said Grace - their ritualistic mouthing of words of thanks without thought or truth.

His father had answered the door - and been momentarily struck dumb by the sight of him. The prodigal son returned. He had deliberately chosen his most expensive suit, worn his most expensive watch, a silk tie and, to top it off, a Santa hat at a jaunty angle across his head. He had made his way in, past his speechless father and entered the dining room, a broad smile shaping his lips. He had wished his equally astounded mother a happy Christmas, and then ruffled his brother’s hair, his smile softening as he did so.

His parents continued to stare at him still so shocked they did not notice their youngest son quietly leave the room. Soon, however, their shock morphed into frustration and then anger as he made himself comfortable at the end of the table. His father - voice so brittle it could have cracked - asked him why he was there. He had not been invited. He was not welcome. He didn’t tell the truth - the stuttering, miserable phone calls from his younger brother - his unhappiness so familiar but somehow so much more painful. It had hurt him to hear it. He wasn’t the altruistic type - preferring to meet his own needs rather than the needs of others - but he wasn’t unkind. And he had always loved his brother. It had not taken him long to hatch a plan - to put things in place.

He had stopped his father’s complaints short with a raised hand. Slowly, as he heard the thumps of his brother’s footsteps jogging down the stairs, he had taken an envelop from his jacket pocket. He had stood up, throwing the envelop across the table and wishing his father a Happy Christmas.

His father had opened the envelope. The mortgage on the vicarage - paid in full. The deed now with his name on it. He watched his father’s complexion change from pale to bright red, his eyes shining bright with anger. His mother hurried to his father’s side, reading over his shoulder.

“I’m not a monster,” he said pleasantly. “You can either buy me out or we can sell it. Shall we have a decision by January 1st? My lawyers number is on the envelope.” He looked down at his brother, who had a ratty rucksack over his shoulder. “Ready?” He asked. His brother smiled broadly - relieved, grateful, a little worried.

He looked back at his parents - both were gaping at him.

“Now there’s a Hallmark moment,” he murmured.

The brothers left the house. The near hysterical, rage-filled threats from his father, his mother’s shrieks that he couldn’t do this, that it was illegal, immoral was silenced once the door shut.


About the Creator

PJ Watts

Lecturer from Wales: always dreaming of the sunshine in a cold, wet land.

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Comments (14)

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  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knock3 months ago

    A Hallmark moment, indeed! Delicious, every last bit of it. Revenge is best served..., out in the cold!

  • Novel Allen4 months ago

    I love the artwork, I love the story. The best revenge is success, indeed.

  • Jay Kantor4 months ago

    Dear Jane - You are just a marvelous 'Original' StoryTeller among the many vm village snippers/with sharp scissors. *I've subscribed with pleasure to continue viewing your work. It is certainly your 'Hallmark' moment to shine so I'll be brief and DELETE this comment in a few minutes so not to take up space: The 'Parable' re; the Prodigal Son reminded me of a Jewish Passover theme: The Four Questions: I was always the 'Simple' Son and my Twin was the 'Wise' Son; he is 12 minutes older and the 'Alpha'...still is. Dad would say to me: "So Big-Shot what else ya-got!" Jane, I'm just a retired legal writer "Morphed" into a self described "Goof Writer' nothing more. Not into contests/rewards, it's just fun for me at this stage. I also lecture (Zoom) pro bono as an adjunct professor and after all of the years I don't know how to answer the 'current' stream of questions. For instance: "Why is it that someone's religion or how they wish to believe a cause for inhumane wars." This is just a 'Shonda' and way above my pay grade. Sorry to ramble. OftenTimes stories such as yours bring out memories of my own; as is told to me by my readers. With Respect - Gotta go and send out my 'Hallmark' Cards Jay, Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Village Community -

  • I love a story that's happy... for the right ones! "He wasn’t the altruistic type - preferring to meet his own needs rather than the needs of others - but he wasn’t unkind. And he had always loved his brother."

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Superbly and discreptively written!!! Congratulations on the Leaderboard win!!!💕❤️❤️

  • Celia in Underland4 months ago

    Check you out lady! Woop Woop!

  • L.C. Schäfer4 months ago

    Good stuff, can't wait to see what you write next 🙌

  • This is such an incredibly well written tale. Nicely done,

  • D. A. Ratliff4 months ago

    Love the descriptive writing and a good revenge story! Yea, for rescuing the brother!

  • Awww, he came back for his brother. That was so touching. I loved your story!

  • River Joy4 months ago

    This was so good, you set quite the atmosphere amongst the family. It did in fact feel "darkly nostalgic" really great response to the prompt!

  • Celia in Underland4 months ago

    So many brilliant lines but this... Sounfs like Chritmas at mine "It was all darkly nostalgic. The four of them sitting across from each other at the ridiculously large table - the lonely points of a cold compass." The build up to the twust. Perfect 🤍

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