advent ghosts

Advent Ghosts 2016

Today I’m participating in the 100-word #adventghosts2016 flash fiction event run by writer Loren Eaton. You'll find links to all the stories at his blog, I Saw Lightning Fall. Here’s my piece.

Christmas Eve at the Tree Farm, Candler, North Carolina

Every year this night I wait for her, bed down in our fields with my fleece, my flask, my fire, my gun.

Takes twelve years to grow a Fraser to a size you can sell. Takes that long to raise three children right, but only one to lose a wife.

Midnight she picks her footless path through the snow. Nothing but mist pulled together into the shape I once knew.

My heart speaks: I love thee, I love thee, I love thee.

She turns amid the firs with a look only the dead can wear, and whispers, Who are you?

Copyright 2016 Joseph D’Agnese

My previous contributions to the Advent Ghosts events are here.

#AdventGhosts2014

Today I’m participating in the 100-word #adventghosts2014 flash fiction event run by writer Loren Eaton. Here’s my piece. Links to all of this year’s stories are here.

Assassin in Jack’s Backyard, AD 1660

“Are you…a demon?”

I straddled his chest and peered into his eyes.

“I am the frost at the pane. I am the art in the flake. I am the cold that will enshroud your grave forever. My name is Winter.”

“Damn you, then!”

Mine is the touch of the north and south, the touch of the wind, the touch of the tundra, the horrible frigid blade that bleeds feet, frosts toes, stills hearts, and rends minds.

He was a fair chunk of ice, he was, when I smacked his face and sent his head across the drifts of snow.

Copyright 2014 Joseph D’Agnese

My 2013 and 2012 contributions are here.

#AdventGhosts2013

Today I’m participating in the 100-word #adventghosts2013 flash fiction event run by writer Loren Eaton. Here’s my piece. Links to all of this year’s stories are here.

Winter in Amsterdam

Peerenboom’s eyes opened to find his partner looming over his deathbed. “Oh, Jan! My sons want to change my will. They say our business is corrupted by weird doings.”

“I loved you as a father, Albers! Why shouldn’t I inherit?”

“That pact was made fifty years ago. I’ve grown old…but you! You look as young as ever. How—?”

“I got sloppy,” said the other Dutchman. 

Skin pale as Venetian milk glass, he grasped his crony’s hand.

“Sleep, friend, sleep.”

“So cold,” Peerenboom thrashed. “So cold!”

“Ja, like the grave.”

So ended the partnership of Peerenboom & deWinter, purveyors of ice.

Copyright 2013 Joseph D’Agnese

#AdventGhosts2012

Today I’m participating in the 100-word #adventghosts2012 flash fiction event run by writer Loren Eaton. Here’s my piece. Some back-story follows…

Befana

Epiphany morning, Arturo Saverio — literary scholar, occasional poet, and more frequent goat butcher — found a spectral hag poking his kitchen fire with a broom. 

“La Befana! I have longed to see you ever since childhood! Mamma told me I was foolish to believe. But then, she never thought I’d amount to anything.”

“Caffè!” screeched the hag. Her lips looked as if she’d been chewing coal.

Saverio brewed espresso.

The witch hobbled to a chair, dragging her flaming broom after her. “Oops.”

Whoosh.

Later, she warmed herself in the glow of the writhing, burning man.

“Eh. Maybe your mamma was right.”

Author’s note:

My mother grew up believing not in Santa Claus but in La Befana—a witch who supposedly brought gifts to good little Italian kids on Twelfth Night, which many Christians celebrate as the Feast of the Epiphany. That feast commemorates when the wise men beheld the Christ Child in the manger. That encounter was regarded as a critical moment, a meeting of two cultures:

—Gentiles, meet Jesus.

—Jesus, meet three dudes who symbolize the rest of the outside world that will adore you.

According to Italian legend, the hag known as La Befana was invited by the Magi to meet the Christ child but turned it down because…she had too much housework to do. (Pausing here for your ?!?!) Later realizing the error of her ways, La Befana committed to traveling the world (or at least Italy) on Twelfth Night, leaving presents at the home of every child.

That origin story varies greatly, but it’s the one that I first heard, so I’m sticking to it. These days, Italians do actually embrace Santa Claus (they call him Babbo Natale) but purists still root for the hag. When we lived in Rome, we’d see these Christmas stalls set up in Piazza Navona where people were selling tons of little La Befanas.

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Copyright 2003 Denise Kiernan

That, in part, is why I chose La Befana as my subject  The way I figure, it’s bad enough extending an annual invitation to a hirsute fat man to climb down your chimney. What would it be like to expect a toothless, immortal witch?

I encourage you to visit the entries of other writers taking part in this event.