For last week’s meeting of Renegade Writers we were asked to write a piece with a theme about Christmas up to 600 words. We don’t usually have themes, but sometimes it’s good discipline. My piece Christmas Card is exactly 600 words and it is below. Renegade’s site is publishing as many as we can so please go and take a look, they are much better than mine!
Kevin was woken by persistent beeping.
“Damn” he said as he checked the electric meter. He pushed the green plastic key in; “…there should be plenty” he mumbled, but it appeared it hadn’t gone on.
He found the receipt soaked with tea at the bottom of the bin, it told him he’d put £30 on the previous day, Christmas Eve. He pressed Emergency, all but 1p had already automatically been used during the night.
“Damn!” he said as the room went dark.
Opening the curtains the room flooded with orange street light.
Kevin rang Customer Services; a pre-recorded message wished him season’s greetings and told him they were closed until the 27th. He rang Emergency and was told there was nothing they could do as he wasn’t registered as a person at risk.
He thought the only place that may be open would be Rupyal’s, they didn’t celebrate Christmas. It was drizzling but mild for the mile and a half walk. They usually opened at 5am, but today a notice said they wouldn’t open until 10am.
As Kevin turned towards home the rain changed into an icy blizzard of snow which surprised him, it hadn’t been mentioned in the weather forecast. The street lights were transformed into an odd pale creamy yellow, morning hadn’t broken and it felt much darker. He choked as he breathed in what smelt like a bonfire. The snow was thickening and getting slippery under foot, Kevin pulled his jacket in.
A clanking and crackling was approaching behind him. He looked around and there was a single round light pushing through the storm. The noise stopped beside him and a tram pulled up. A man in grey coat and peaked cap leant out from the back.
“D’you need a ride mate?” he called out.
“You going up High Street?” Kevin said without thinking.
Kevin jumped on. The tram was empty, it smelt of stale tobacco and sweat and was cold, but dry. A sign told him ‘no spitting’.
The conductor came to him.
“Sorry” Kevin said, “I’ve got no change on me”.
The conductor smiled.
“Dunna worry duck, it’s Christmas, no Inspector’s today” he said and winked.
The tram rattled along, it didn’t stop. Kevin wiped clear a patch on the steamed up window to look out. The streets were much darker than usual but the snow was relenting. He recognised the church in the gloom, he couldn’t see the War Memorial which was his usual place to stand up and get ready for his bus stop. As he stood the conductor pulled at a wire which ran along the ceiling. The clattering of the tram slowed down and it stopped.
“Is this a special for Christmas feels just like the real thing” Kevin asked the conductor.
“No, we run everyday, usually packed at this time” he replied looking at him oddly.
The tram grumbled off up the hill as Kevin turned towards his flat. Looking back up High Street, there was no sign of the tram or snow and orange streetlight glare competed with a pale lightening in the sky.
Trying the electric key in the meter one last time, the power immediately kicked in, the tree lit up, the television flickered into life and the central heating pump began humming.
Kevin was making a pot of coffee when he heard an envelope drop through the door. It was a Christmas card, his first.
“Odd” he said when he’d opened it, “…how very odd”.
It was a picture of a tram dated 1908 travelling past the parish church, inside it was unsigned.
Tim Diggles, 2014