Monday, December 24, 2012

Three Minutes of Regret

Normanday #56: Make your list and check it twice.
Another year has come and gone. Was it everything you hoped it would be? Did you break that record for the longest finger nails? Were you nicer to your little brother? Did you start working on that new invention? Yeah. That’s what I thought. Write for three minutes…

…and make a list of all the things you wish you’d done in 2012, but didn’t.

Email what you wrote to woof at bright dot net by the end of the day December 30 (put “Norman Always Uses His Time Wisely” in the subject line). I’ll post as many of my favorite entries as I want next Monday. Include your first name (or, even better, use a pen name) and age (unless you’re tortoise-old). If you’re a published children’s or young adult writer, include a biography to be posted with your entry.

Here is the entry from last week when I asked you to write for three minutes…

…describing whoor whathas come down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

A chill runs down your spine, and it’s not from a breeze coming down the chimney. An eerie voice echoes through the room. The glass bulbs on your tree rattle. One falls and shatters on the floor.

“I am the Ghost of Chimney Ashes Past,” says a voice.

“Who’s there?” you stammer. Your teeth are chattering now. You thought that was only something that happened in cartoons.

“I am. Down here.”

You look down. There on the hearth is a shriveled up bit of talking ash.

“I once was a jolly piece of green and red wrapping paper decorated with tiny cartoon Rudolphs and snowmen with sunglasses,” it says. “Somebody lovingly folded me around a thoughtful gift. But I was callously shredded, wadded, and tossed into the fireplace.”

You feel bad. Well, as bad as it’s possible to feel about throwing away wrapping paper. You try to make amends.

“Come in,” you say. “Have a little eggnog.”

The wrapping paper ash hesitates for a moment, then eases over the threshold.

“I guess I could come in for a second. But don’t think I’m not mad any more because I am. And I’m totally going to haunt you all night and make you revisit past Christmas indiscretions.”

“Fine, fine,” you say. It doesn’t seem very Christmassy to argue.

You get out two mugs for the nog. As you pour, you realize there isn’t enough left for the both of you. Because it’s Christmas, you decide to let the ash have it all. It’s the least you can do since you threw him in the fireplace.

He takes a little sip, then starts to gulp.

“This is good!”

You watch the ash finish off the nog. By the time he’s done, you notice a little green and red seeping back into his color. And he doesn’t seem quite so wrinkled. Before you know it, he’s a swatch of crisp green and red wrapping paper decorated with tiny cartoon Rudolphs and snowmen with sunglasses. You remember him now. Your mom used him to wrap up the socks she got you that year.

“Look at me!” he cries. “I’m like new!”

“Huh,” you say. Other than that, you’re pretty much speechless.

Later that night as you’re in bed trying to fall asleep so Santa will come, you wonder whether there was something special about the eggnog—maybe the nutmeg was magic—or if it was your simple act of giving that restored the Christmas paper. Right as you’re about to drift off to sleep, you remember the wad of peppermint gum in your mouth. You reach to your nightstand hoping for something to spit the gum into.

Ah, this swatch of paper will do nicely.

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