Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)
TITLE: Christmas Goose
By Karlene Jacobsen
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“In a minute!” I called back.
“NOW!” I did not respond except to move.
Oh, how I hate being the kid! Always gotta do what the grownups say! I can’t wait ‘til I’m old enough to choose for myself. I grumbled as I grudgingly followed Pop and Mom to our hideout, near a river, kicking my feet through colorful leaves.
The hideout filled with folks like us. Cowardly, frightened, and weak, was my opinion.
Parents counted heads. “Everyone’s here!” Someone announced.
I sat pouting in the corner. If I had it my way, we would fight; “stand up for our rights,” I say!
No one agrees with me, not even my friends. They all huddle close together, shaking and clattering amongst themselves.
Someone began trumpeting loudly, and then one blast from Grand pappy’s bill drew everyone to attention.
“We must have order!” He bellowed. As the oldest survivor, everyone looked to him for guidance.
“You all know yesterday was Thanksgiving Day. That means the countdown has begun, so we must use extreme caution. If we must exit this stronghold, do it late at night, and don’t go alone.” He gave specific instructions regarding buddy systems and lookouts.
“I’ve placed several of our elders in charge of activities. Get involved. Avoid temptation to go outside. Keep the little ones quiet. It is imperative that we remain invisible for the next thirty days.” A low rumble rolled through the inhabitants in agreement with Grand pappy’s directions.
Two weeks passed. Spending so much time huddled together was stifling. My mind turned in search of ways to sneak outside for air. I needed to stretch my wings. After years of experience, I knew telling my friends of my plans would lead to Pop plucking my tail-feather, so I kept to myself. I forced myself to get involved in some of the activities.
One week before Christmas, we began irritating each other. I think someone was in serious need of a dip in the river. P-U!
I poked my head outside. A blanket of snow covered the beautiful leaves I left behind three weeks ago. Maybe Pop wouldn’t mind a quick romp in the snow, I thought.
“Pop, it snowed!” I announced, hoping he would take me out for a look, but instead he told me to stay in the hideout. The other kids heard me and began pestering their parents for a moment in the sun.
Pop gave me that, “Look what you’ve started,” look and shook his head. I was a prisoner and there was no hope of escape!
The night before Christmas Eve, was the end of my patience. I heard thunder all around me for an undetermined amount of time; Grand pappy said they were gunshots. Everyone was scared, and I was annoyed. We were such cowards.
Grand pappy said that if we could hold out one more day we would be “home free”. That night everyone played games in contented anticipation of freedom. The night guards decided we were as good as free so they sat with their families and slept when everyone slept.
This was my chance. Oh, I know I could wait another day, but what would be the fun in that, right? Besides, I felt the air warming and was afraid the snow would melt.
I waited until everyone slept, and then I made my move. I snuck outside and into the snow.
Snow flew in every direction as I kicked and flapped my wings. Some got on my tail and I made a game of shaking it off. I was having so much fun, I did not notice Grand pappy running after me, trumpeting for my attention.
It was not until I heard thunder clap from behind a bush that I noticed I was not alone. I ran for cover under a bush and looked back to see the offender. He, a large man in a red-checkered jacket, walked out from behind his bush toward a crumpled bird on the ground. He lifted it by its feet. Air expelled from my lungs. It was Grand pappy!
“Believe me, I know the difficulty of being stuck in here for thirty days, but it’s important that we stick together.” When I finished my story, there was not a dry eye in the hideout. I did not want any of them to be the “Christmas Goose”.
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