December 07, 2011

Red Writing Hood - 12/7/11 - The Doorbell

We’d like you to craft a piece of fiction or creative non-fiction around the holiday season, keeping in mind that for some people “the holiday season” begins around Halloween and doesn’t end until well after the New Year is underway.

The piece should begin with “The doorbell rang” and end with “snow began to fall.”

The middle is up to you, and the entire thing should be under 300 words.

Familial Obligation - Check

The doorbell rang – Westminster chimes breaking the silence. I could imagine Mary composing herself as she approached. She’d managed to display her ‘happy to see you’ expression upon opening the door.

“Merry Christmas, come in!” Translation:  Come in, but don’t let those brats of yours touch any of these priceless antiques.

“Merry Christmas, I replied. How are you tonight?” A bit tipsy?

I hoped dinner was ready to be put on the table, so we could get this evening over and done with. I mean, I love my brother, and I tolerate his wife, but the stress of containing two active preschoolers in House Beautiful is more ‘Fa la la la la’ than I can stand.

Gary was sitting in the parlor, watching The Golf Channel on his gigantic TV. He had a nice fire going in the woodstove; this was the only room in the house that looked lived-in (not that I’d been invited into the rooms upstairs; I assumed they were also filled with treasures from estate sales). Mary should have been born in the 19th century, and her wardrobe matched the era. All she needed was a bonnet and she’d have been right at home at a WCTU meeting – except that she’d have a buzz on, unlike the other teetotalers.

Dinner was as bland and unimaginative, like always. We exchanged pleasantries, like acquaintances who meet on the street after a long absence. After twenty-five years of these get-togethers, Mary still remained a stranger to me.

After dinner, we returned to the parlor, and Gary turned on the news. Lucky for us, the meteorologist described slick travel conditions. We thanked Mary and Gary for their hospitality, and hurriedly got dressed to face the inclement weather.

Now free, the children clapped as snow began to fall.


  1. I have visions of MISERY as you get trapped on the road and saved by her.

  2. Oh, the painful family visit. The picture painted is so very dreary. I don't know if it's my browswer, but I'm having a problem seeing the line right above the WCTU meeting.

    I would have liked to see more dialogue, with the imagined "translations". I thought those were funny and showed a lot about the relationship between the SILs.

  3. I like the translated version of the conversation. You capture an awkward evening out very well. :)

  4. Oh, the interaction between this characters is great. I LOVE the way you wrote what they were REALLY thinking after their words.

  5. I have been in that house. My children have broken things in that house. I can imagine the glee of the savior that was snow!
    Great piece and so vivid! I loved this!

  6. Gosh, we've all had one of these, haven't we?? Excellent job capturing what can be really awkward family get-togethers!

  7. Well done! You created a whole relationship there with just a few paragraphs.

  8. Wow, so relatable. This could totally be me when we visit my aunt and uncle. Great job!

  9. ugh... shudder.

    altogether too relatable!


Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments...I get all warm inside just reading them!