Copyright November 2016 St. Louis Writers Guild – All rights reserved
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“Book Tree at St. Louis Public Library, Central Library”
Photo by Lauren Miller
Cover design by Brad R. Cook
T. W. Fendley
Brad R. Cook
The Scribe is published monthly digitally by the Saint Louis Writers Guild with an annual print issue. The editorial staff invites Guild members to submit original submissions of poetry, short stories, or articles about writing (4,000 words or less) for publication in this magazine. The Scribe is promoted to more than 1,000 people on our mailing list. Submissions should be sent by the first of each month to -- put SCRIBE in the subject line.
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[In this issue
by Lauren Miller
by Laurie Brown
by D. L. Jenkinson
“One day a snowdrop fell, and then another. At the end of the late November day the valley of trees was covered in a lush blanket of freshly fallen snow; at nightfall, a full moon appeared, gently illuminating the landscape below.”
Throughout 2016, each of our covers has highlighted the cultural and literary treasures of the St. Louis area. We’ve featured several area bookstores: Main Street Books in historic St. Charles (January), The Bookhouse (February), The Novel Neighbor (March), and Left Bank Books (April). We’ve covered literary events hosted by the St. Louis Writers Guild, such as Writers in the Park (August) and our upcoming conference, Gateway Con (June). We’ve also featured local, cultural attractions that inspire us, such as the Missouri Botanical Gardens (May), the Old Courthouse (July), the St. Louis Art Museum (September) and local art at The Grove (October). In November, we recognized the St. Louis Blues’ 50th anniversary and now for December, we feature the book tree, a tradition at St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library. (This year, it should go up sometime during early December if you want to drop by and see it for yourself!)
Next year, our magazine’s look will change, but the theme will remain the same – a celebration of the literary scene in St. Louis and the Midwest, and our commitment to delivering to you original and engaging poetry and prose, and the up-to-date news on what’s happening here at the St. Louis Writers Guild.
Come celebrate with us this holiday season on December 3 rd and honor the winners of our Young Writers’ Contest (details on our website at ). If you are unable to attend, we’ll list the winners in the January issue, so be sure to pick up a copy of The Scribe.
Lastly, I’d like to take a moment and thank all of our editorial staff, a volunteer base of talented writers in their own right, who make this publication possible. Thank you for everything you do to make The Scribe come into existence each month, and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of it.
Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season, and thank you for your readership and support of the St. Louis Writers Guild.
By Laurie Brown
I wasn’t prone to lying as a child. I believed it was bad to lie, and I was a pretty honorable girl. Not a goody two-shoes, of course. I ate the baking chocolate like everyone else and, like everyone else, was shocked by the cruel discovery that chocolate could be horrible beyond belief. No, it wasn’t anything sneaky that forced me to lie. It was the very socially acceptable pastime of reading that made me to tell a whopper, and it resulted in my severe embarrassment and possibly the end of what could have been a stellar musical career.
It was Christmastime, and I had just read Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. It wasn’t the sort of thing I normally read as it didn’t involve a girl more or less like me in a contemporary setting more or less like mine. I can’t remember now why I selected it, but I did, and it completely transformed me. In my mind, I was now living in the Netherlands (which I had never heard of before nor had the faintest idea where it was), and I was desperate for some silver ice skates. Never mind that I had never been on ice skates before. I lived in California, on the coast, and there wasn’t an ice skating rink for miles. There was only the Del Monte Gardens Roller Skating Arena where the line to get in wrapped around the corner and where a boy might hold your hand for the couple’s skate. Or maybe not. Regardless, they had excellent pizza at the snack bar.
So, there I was, wrapped in a snowy, faraway land of a dream in my head while contending with the fourth grade and the upcoming school Christmas pageant. I was in the school band, band being an extremely generous word considering the noises, squeaks and honks that were our usual music-making. I played the clarinet for reasons I don’t know. For the pageant, my classmate Kenny Gordon, playing the saxophone, and I would perform a duet of I Love You Truly. For weeks we practiced that piece over and over in the multi-purpose room. One of its purposes was music class once a week, with band practice after.
Our teacher was a little mole man named Mr. Sherry. I liked him a lot because he was very patient, which you would have to be if you were attempting to teach a bunch of grammar school kids how to play (aka not destroy) musical instruments. Perhaps he was on medication.
Anyway, that Christmas season I was seeing a lot of Mr. Sherry as I practiced my duet and, while still wrapped in my Hans Brinker fantasy, I confided to him that my family and I would be going to Amsterdam for Christmas. Why I did this I have no idea. We were a working-class family who spent our holidays at home with our pine tree and our turkey dinner my mom made. We did not jet off to foreign countries to get in a little skiing or whatnot during the Christmas break. But when I said it, I believed it, at least for the split second it came out of my mouth. Yep, me and the parents and the brother were flying off to the Netherlands, wherever that was, for Christmas. That was happening.
Mr. Sherry was taken aback and impressed. The instant I saw those things pass across his face, I snapped back into reality and felt the shame of my lie. I set out to avoid Mr. Sherry after that, which was difficult because of the upcoming pageant and I Love You Truly. But I was a kid, with Christmas on the brain and eventually I kind of forgot about my lie and proceeded to enjoy the anticipation of the holiday, my classroom party, and whatever book I had moved on to, Hans Brinker now nearly forgotten.
The night of the Christmas pageant was very exciting. Going to the lighted school with my parents, all of us dressed-up, seeing the awkward tree in the multipurpose room that had been set up by the janitor and decorated with kid-made ornaments, the plates of cookies Saran-Wrapped for later. What a night! Eventually the audience took their seats, all us kids waiting, wriggling anxiously in the hallway for our parts in the show. We in the band took our seats first and we squeak-honked out something that sounded vaguely like Jingle Bells. Kenny and I then got up and began our duet. I remember our performance as if it were yesterday. A more plodding, Frankenstein-paced rendition of the melody had never before been heard. I…Love. You. Tru…ly. Tru…ly. I. Do. Were people laughing? Surely not. Sometime after the New Year, we finished our number, took our bows, and returned to our folding chairs. What happened after that I don’t remember. It didn’t matter. I was basking in my clarinet stardom, imaging the compliments I would be getting, and looking forward to the cookies and Hawaiian Punch in my future. I was indeed having myself a merry little Christmas.
Immediately afterward, I joined my parents to humbly accept their compliments and congratulations. Smiles all around. But then, all of a sudden Mr. Sherry was joining our little trio. What was he doing here? I guessed he was going to tell my parents how extraordinary I was on the clarinet. Of course. That was it. But no, he was shaking their hands enthusiastically and telling them I had told him we were all going to Amsterdam for Christmas and how wonderful a trip that would be! How marvelous! How lucky we were! I turned to stone. My parents looked completely baffled. No, they told him, we would not be going to Amsterdam for Christmas. No one, including me, knew why I would say such a thing. Embarrassment all around. Mr. Sherry made a graceful exit. My mother probably expressed again some shade of wonder about what possessed me to say such a thing. The cookies and the punch lost their luster.
I don’t think I really dwelled on the issue much after that night although obviously I still remember the lie and the painful details surrounding it. And I think that may have been about the time the clarinet and I parted company. I didn’t want to face Mr. Sherry again. I continued to read and enjoy books but I had learned a lesson about keeping one foot on the ground while I read. I didn’t want another pair of silver skates to whisk me down a frozen canal and into the icy lap of shame.
Laurie Brown is the author of[_ Stand-Up Guy_] , a true crime story of a nice Jewish boy who grew up to be a gangster. These days she focuses on personal essays, mostly of a humorous nature, that are wildly popular with the neighborhood squirrels. They love the ones about nuts. You can find Laurie on Twitter at @lbrown1213.
The Little Christmas Tree
By D. L. Jenkinson
Reprinted with permission.
One day a snowdrop fell, and then another. At the end of the late November day the valley of trees was covered in a lush blanket of freshly fallen snow; at nightfall, a full moon appeared, gently illuminating the landscape below.
It was coming on Christmas and the pine trees at Happy Ridge Tree Farm sensed it; at daybreak, they shivered ever so slightly to shake snow from their boughs, to appear more presentable to the people who would be arriving to choose trees for their homes. They had been anxiously awaiting the season and now, it was here; everyone, that is, except for the one who stood silently in the middle of the forest and sighed.
It was the littlest tree in the valley and this time of year always added a sad note to its life. While his neighbors were handpicked and placed on sleds provided by the farm to carry the trees back to their cars, he was overlooked year after year. He was scrawny, sickly looking, and had very little to show for all the years he had been growing. To make matters worse, the big pine tree which stood beside him was a hearty specimen, but a braggart; he often gazed down at the little tree and mocked him, saying he’d never, ever be chosen by anyone who had a lick of sense.
“You think?” it replied, quietly.
“Why just look at you!” the tree stated with finality.
“That’s okay,” said the little tree. “I like it right where I am. Who cares? I certainly don’t.”
It hurt his feelings to hear the tree talk to him like that but he didn’t want to let on that it did. Actually, he did care; he cared so much that it made him feel sick inside each time a person passed him by, scoffing at him. He could die of shame.
“Anyway,” said the big tree, “this will be my year. I’m sure of it! Look at how nicely I grew out this year. Look at my boughs!” He flexed himself, to show off.
“T-That’s nice,” returned the little tree. He had to admit that what the tree said was true. He tried to look away, without success; the larger tree’s limbs surrounded him on all fronts. He stood in its shadow.
One day, a tree called out that people had been spotted.
“I think I see them!” squealed the big tree with delight.
The little tree gazed forlornly off into the distance where the road was barely visible through rows of trees. He saw a large, blue truck drive by, close to where trees had been cut down the previous year. Each winter season the forest thinned more and more; in a few years, he and those around him might be visible from the road.
“They’ll never come this way,” he sighed. “They hardly ever do.”
He was correct, for the road was not close by; few people ever strayed this far into the woods.
The big tree swayed his boughs to draw attention to himself; but, the tree gatherers didn’t notice. They found a perfect tree near the road, collected it, and drove away. One day the sun came out and all of the snow melted away; before long Spring came along to start another year.
Not far from the little tree was a sapling which stood as quiet as quiet could be; that is, until she grew older and found her voice.
The little tree watched her grow and realized at one point that she would outdistance him in height and girth; she was years younger, but already a foot taller than him. It was no surprise to him; he had already figured out that he was a runt and wouldn’t get very far in life – skyward.
She was as quiet as the small field mouse who occasionally popped his head out of a bank of snow to look around, wary of a snow owl that had been trying to catch it.
The little tree had learned long ago to simply ignore the big tree, who was growing at a startling rate. Maybe the sapling would be his friend.
But, one night, shortly after the moon reached its zenith, the sapling became very vocal when she discovered that she was not in a wild forest – but in a tree farm! After that, she resigned herself to driving every tree in the vicinity crazy with complaints.
“Why, I never,” she said, after finding out from her neighbors that she would be chopped down, carted off to a stranger’s house, then discarded and recycled; turned into fertilizer.
“Is that legal?” she complained, wild-eyed.
Well, nobody had an answer to that question.
“Why don’t people use artificial trees, if they’re just going to throw us away? What’s with that? We still have a lot of good years in us, and we’re good for the planet!”
Some of the trees wondered how she knew all that stuff.
“Um – artificial trees don’t smell as nice,” one tree suggested.
“It’s a tradition!” barked another, older tree. He didn’t like his dreams of colored lights and tinsel disturbed.
“Get over it!” cried yet another tree, thinking her too politically and socially conscious. “Besides, you won’t last forever!”
She didn’t care for their remarks. What was going to stop her from talking, an ax?
When they told her about the forest fairies that accompanied each tree and brought its spirit back to the forest after Christmas, her jaw dropped to the floor. Delusions!
One by one the other trees began to ignore her; they didn’t want their aspirations of becoming a Christmas tree ridiculed. Why, people enjoyed real trees, not fake ones! Where was the spirit behind an artificial tree in the house? It couldn’t bring joy to anyone. They all knew that a forest fairy would never, ever alight on top of a fake tree; the very notion was outlandish!
As days and weeks passed, more snow fell in the valley, and sometimes the trees could see sleighs glide along on the snow-encrusted roads filled with rosy-cheeked people. The horses that drew the sleighs were adorned with large jingle bells that rang out beneath an overcast sky, adding a touch of cheer and merriment.
Late at night, when the people were long gone, the little tree could still hear the bells resound in his memory. He smiled. It added to his growing anticipation that perhaps, one day, someone would find him and hopefully fall in love with him. He didn’t dare voice it, knowing that the big tree would pounce on him, scoff, and laugh his head off. He had given up trying to befriend the other, disgruntled tree, who now regarded him as a spineless wimp. More trees vanished, that Christmas season, and the road was more visible. Perhaps, in a year or two, their group would be found, and then it would be their time to be chosen.
Over the years, it was rumored that forest fairies hid in the nooks, crannies, and shadows of the valley, only to come forth when Christmas was in progress. It was said that when a tree was chosen for a home a fairy followed and stayed with it until the season was over. Then, the fairy took the tree’s spirit back to the forest. No one had actually ever seen it happen, but they believed it to be the solid truth.
On moonlit nights the little tree gazed up into the treetops hoping to spot a fairy; at times, he thought he saw a twinkle of light, and sometimes he overheard the other trees whispering when someone thought that they had seen something that might be a fairy.
The big tree seemed to know all there was to know about fairies. On several occasions, he boasted, he had seen them dancing in the air. According to him, one had actually landed on one of his boughs and talked to him.
“That’s pure malarkey,” said the disgruntled tree. “I’ve been here the entire time and I’ve never seen a fairy anywhere near you – you would say anything to draw attention to yourself.”
The little tree listened quietly as the two trees exchanged heated words; he supposed that everyone was entitled to an opinion even though he had come to dislike both of them. He didn’t want to get involved. He didn’t know much about such things, but he really wanted the fairies to be real, for it would be the best moment of all should he ever be chosen to be a Christmas tree. He never gave up looking for them.
Again winter approached; again, it snowed.
“This year for sure,” the big tree stated, puffing himself up. “I can feel it.” Each day he spread his boughs magnificently, to attract the tree gatherers.
Now that rows of trees had been cleared and he could see the road better, the little tree eagerly looked for the fairies in case someone came along and claimed him. He became so immersed in it he didn’t realize that Christmas was over until someone told him. He noticed that two more rows of trees had been removed; now, he and his group were almost out in the open. His heart leaped with joy. But this new development made the disgruntled tree very unhappy; she could often be heard late into the night, moaning. The others politely asked her to hush, but, she paid them no mind.
Winter passed into spring, then spring into summer. Happy Ridge was now sponsoring hayrides; wagons filled with people rolled by while the smell of campfires filled the air. The little tree worried that winter would never arrive; he also worried that he might be left standing here after Christmas came and went again. Talk of colored lights and tinsel filled the forest as the air turned balmy, then bitter cold. It began to snow.
A cable mysteriously appeared in the air above the trees. As they looked on, the trees below saw people ride by in cable cars to admire the views. They wore heavy garments and their faces were bright red from the cold, but they seemed happy.
That summer, men had come and cleared stumps from the land but they didn’t plant new trees. None of the pine trees were aware that the owner of Happy Ridge was planning to turn the valley into a ski lodge; one day, the tree farm would no longer exist.
Then, people starting coming down the road, pulling sleds. Someone spotted the disgruntled tree, ran up to her, and before long she was gone. The little tree sighed. More people came and took his neighbors; he bowed his head in shame as some looked at him and laughed.
“That is one scrawny tree,” a man said.
“It might do for the basement,” his wife explained. She looked intently at the little tree.
“No,” her husband laughed. “Our artificial tree will be fine down there. It looks a lot better than this thing.”
“That’s true,” she said, and, without another thought, turned and walked back to the road while her husband selected a tree. She felt terribly sorry for the little tree, though; it looked malnourished.
The big tree was flabbergasted as the days passed and no-one selected him.
“They’re taking everyone but me!” he exclaimed with disbelief.
“That’s not exactly true,” said the little tree. “I’m still here.”
The big tree looked at him with disgust. Christmas passed. They were now on the frontline with nothing between them and the road but a field of snow.
The little tree didn’t exactly like standing out in the open; it made him feel too conspicuous. He missed being in the middle of the forest where no-one, except his neighbors, could see him. He would feel awful if he was left standing here alone after all of the other trees were long gone.
Again, it snowed; soon, the cable cars slowly floated by in the air. Again, people came with their sleds, but this time they walked straight up to the little tree and his group. Some laughed at him, of course, stepping past him to look for a nice, suitable tree. It went on for weeks. He thought if he could find a hole in the air he’d crawl into it and pull it in after him; that’s how embarrassed he was.
But, one day, something unexpected happened.
Two men stepped out of a big, red pickup truck and strolled across the field. They stood there silently contemplating the big tree, then returned to their truck and took a sled out of the flatbed; soon, they were hauling the big tree away. It was so big they had to struggle to get it loaded onto the truck. Watching, the little tree sighed.
This is it, he thought. His worst nightmare had come true and now he would stand here alone, forever, out in the open where people would snicker at him as they passed by. He was mortified. The truck’s engine started up, but then a funny thing happened. The engine was turned off and one of the men stepped out of the cab. He retrieved a shovel from the flatbed, came right up to the little tree, and began digging; it wasn’t hard work, the little tree’s roots did not grow deep.
With one hearty heave, the man yanked him out of the ground, carried him to the truck, and placed him on the flatbed beside the big tree.
What was happening?
“You didn’t need a shovel,” the other man called from inside the truck’s cab. “You could have pulled it out with one hand!” He laughed.
“I’m just glad I remembered,” the man with the shovel answered. He tossed the shovel into the truck and then he and his companion were off.
The two-lane highway twisted this way and that, once they left the tree farm. The road carried them higher, up into a vast expanse of woods and forests. They crossed over a bridge; the water far below was frozen. The moon shone down like a silver spotlight.
Eventually, the highway straightened and the truck turned into an entrance where two massive iron gates stood wide open. They drove another mile, the road curved, and there before them stood a magnificent house. It was three stories high, with large columns on the front; all of its windows were lit with beckoning warm light.
The truck stopped and the two men got out. Grabbing the big tree on both ends they struggled to get it to the front door, where a servant admitted them.
Oh, my goodness, the little tree thought incredulously. Is this my home?
He waited patiently for the men to return. He was so surprised that he didn’t notice that were weren’t any forest fairies around.
After a long time, the men exited the house and approached the truck. They got inside the cab, the motor started, and the truck pulled away from the grand house with all of its wonderful lights.
The little tree lay there and watched the tops of trees pass by as once again they headed out into the wilderness; his heart now stripped of joy and sitting in the pit of his stomach. All of a sudden, he felt very alone. His dreams were shattered. He fell into a quiet state of sadness and silent despair.
Of course, the big tree was ecstatic. He lay there on the marble floor of a wide hallway where the men had left him. A large, staircase with iron railing led upstairs. The servants retired when the men departed; he was left laying there throughout the night. He didn’t mind, however; he was bustling with happiness and anticipation. He fell into a charm-filled dream with visions of colored lights and tinsel.
The following morning, he was carried into a large, adjoining room. A big marble fireplace had been freshly kindled and lit. He was placed into a tree stand near the fire; standing tall and mighty and proud, he surveyed the room with all of its fine Victorian furnishings. An old woman came into the room with a broom and swept pine needles that had fallen. She dusted objects and tidied up the room without even glancing at him, then she left.
Nightfall came, but the fireplace blazed on until it finally died out, leaving the room covered in silent shadows. Moonbeams came in through a large, arched window and danced across everything; again, he fell into a long and happy dream filled with colorful lights, tinsel, and many other grand things that his thoughts conjured.
In the morning, he heard voices; people came into the great room carting boxes of ornaments and set them near the tree. He saw tinsel dangling from some of them and his heart soared.
As the day wore on a very old woman in a long, purple gown and a silver necklace strolled into the room. She walked with a cane and was accompanied by two children who held each of her elbows as she stepped up to the fireplace. Giving the tree a cursory glance, she sighed and sat down in a wingback chair nearby.
Soon, more children entered. Servants came in with stepladders and set them near the tree. The fire was relit as everyone went to work decorating. The tree stood there contentedly as his boughs were handled and adorned. Observing the progress, he felt very proud and honored.
He was so tall, the work took a long time; the whole afternoon, in fact. Servants stood on chairs and stepladders to reach the higher limbs. Ornaments of every size and description were carefully placed on him after strings of colored lights were wound around him. A red felt cloth was placed at his base, around the stand. He stared out through the decorations, wishing he was bigger to accommodate more and more ornaments.
Then, supper was called and the old lady and her cane, accompanied by the children and the servants, left him alone in the room. There were still boxes filled with tinsel; he patiently waited.
That’s all right, he thought. They’ll be back. No one could forget the tinsel! But he wished that they would hurry because he couldn’t wait for his tree fairy to appear and land on his head – giving him its blessing!
They drove through the night, those two strange men who had forgotten to take him into that wonderful house. That’s what the little tree thought; they had simply made a mistake. Wasn’t the one forgetful?
At dawn, they came to a small town where motels and diners lined the road on both sides. They were high up on a mountain pass. The men parked the truck, went into a restaurant for breakfast, leaving him out there alone where anyone could come along, grab him, and make off with him. He sighed as he worried. At one point he hoped that they would haul him off to be turned into fertilizer, that’s how despondent he felt.
It began to snow; thick snowflakes fell and blanketed him where he lay on the flatbed. Soon, he was buried in snow. It was a very cold, December day; fine trails of smoke rose from buildings in the town. He could hear cars drive past.
The men returned, but they didn’t drive far before pulling into a motel to spend the night. Later, the little tree stared up at the cold sky, wondering what was to become of him; no fairy had come to his rescue, and now he wondered if they existed at all. He felt morbid. It was a very long night, that night; his dreams were empty and cold, like the sky above.
After dinner, the old woman and the children returned; they sat in chairs, on stools, or on the floor, drinking hot apple cider. They sang Christmas carols and the woman regaled them with stories from out of the past. Later, seeing that the children were groggy, some of them about to fall asleep, she stood, banged her cane on the floor, and ordered them to bed.
"But, what about the tinsel?" asked one little girl, the woman's great- granddaughter; she was still wide awake because she hadn't eaten much for dinner, being too excited about the tinsel.
“I’m afraid it will have to wait until morning,” the old woman sighed, and with the help of her cane and one of her great-grandkids, she walked out of the room followed by everyone.
The fire in the fireplace went out around midnight and again the room was cast in shadows and moonlight. It was eerily silent. The tree felt disappointed. There would be no fairy tonight, he supposed. It was said that they only showed themselves after the tree was fully dressed. Still, he had nice dreams. He never gave one thought to the little tree, wondering what had happened to him; nothing concerned him other than his own wants and needs.
When daylight came, the room sat quiet and empty for all of the morning and afternoon. Some older people had arrived – parents and grandparents of the children. A large gathering took place in another part of the house; the tree could hear the clash of silverware and plates, and the tinkle of glass. He heard loud talking, singing, and laughter sailing down the corridor outside the great room.
One of the servants came into the room and put new logs in the fireplace and lit them. He went around opening the boxes of tinsel; the tree gasped as he looked at each and every color that was revealed. That evening, everyone came into the room. The children fidgeted as the adults sat around and drank. The old woman’s eyes twinkled mischievously, seeing the children anxious about tinseling the tree. Finally, she spoke up.
“Go on, then,” she smiled. “Put the tinsel on. But, don’t put too much on!”
They ran to the boxes and pulled fistfuls of tinsel out, running around the tree, throwing it lavishly on boughs then returning to get more. The elders laughed, watching the spectacle.
“No, dears,” the old woman cautioned. “That’s too much!” They ignored her, though, and continued tossing gold, silver, red, green, and blue tinsel wherever they saw an empty space.
Before long, the tree was unable to see anyone because he was totally buried. Some of the older people came over and joined in, throwing even more tinsel onto the tree until he felt like he was suffocating from it.
“Okay then, have it your way,” the old woman cackled, amused by the display. She sat there, cane in hand, watching as the boxes of tinsel were swiftly emptied and they all stood back to take a look at their handiwork.
“It’s pretty,” one of the girls said.
“It looks funny,” said a boy, who really didn’t care. He was anxiously awaiting Christmas day, hoping for a new computer.
“Don’t you have more tinsel?” asked another girl who wasn’t quite satisfied.
“I don’t think we do,” replied the old woman. “But, enough is enough. We can hardly see the tree. I hope it doesn’t catch on fire.”
The tree cringed as he listened; he was blinded by the decorations and tinsel, and was now unable to see their expressions. He hoped his forest fairy would arrive soon and rescue him, for he was very, very unhappy.
Later, the people walked out of the room. He wasn’t aware of it until the room fell silent and stayed that way. The logs in the fireplace continued to burn, however, and all of that light reflecting off the tinsel blinded him. It was very, very hot. But, after the fire died down and the moon cast shadows, not one forest fairy came to his aid. They never did. One day, the servants removed the decorations, leaving most of the tinsel intact, and men came and carted him away.
The little tree didn’t feel the motion of the truck when it started up again and pulled out of town. He was somewhere deep inside himself, not wanting to care about anything, ever again. There would be no colored lights, no tinsel, and no forest fairy. He had resigned himself to his fate.
Cold air whistled past as the two men sped away from the small town and reentered the vast wilderness. Strong winds almost lifted the little tree from his resting place, threatening to toss him off the truck and onto the road, but the heavy snow that covered him anchored him down.
Time stood still as the day wore on. He didn’t notice when the truck finally came to a halt. The engine was turned off. A pair of hands dug him out from underneath the snow, then carried him away.
The two men walked across an empty parking lot, past a small courtyard, and entered an old, brick building. The air inside was a bit cold, and the hall was drafty. From somewhere far away he thought he heard people talking. Soon, a door opened; they entered a large rectangular room with beige walls and a worn-out linoleum floor. Simple chairs and tables stood about.
A woman came in and greeted the men.
“Thank goodness,” she said. “I thought you’d never arrive.”
“We would have been here sooner if it hadn’t been for that big tree we dropped off at Ms. Ambicort’s mansion. It was out of the way. The tree weighed a ton.”
“We still have time,” the woman replied.
The little tree looked around at the big, drafty room. The furniture looked second-hand. There were child-like drawings hanging here and there on the walls; other than that, the space seemed lifeless. He quietly wondered what it was all about.
He was placed inside a low wooden container that one of the men brought from outside; he was lowered into it. They left and returned with bags of soil and placed it around his roots. Then, he was left alone to ponder the situation; he didn’t know quite what to think.
All of a sudden there was a great clamor of voices and activity racing down the hall outside; to his surprise, dozens of children burst into the room and ran up to him. They were carrying things in their hands. At first, he didn’t realize what they held – then, it slowly dawned on him.
One carried a chain with interconnecting circles made from green and red construction paper. Another held a flat, paper silver bell with a pale, blue bow tied at the top and a string attached to it. Her name was written on the bell in white chalk; Susan. A small boy had a little picture he had drawn on simple paper; a manger with cloaked people standing about. It also had a string attached to it, for hanging. There was a tiny pinecone that one of the children had carried with him from foster home to foster home; it was his pride and joy. It was connected to a string with a small hook on it. Some of the children carried stringed popcorn and had bright smiles on their young faces.
Each child had something to place on the tree. They swarmed around him, carefully taking turns to place their ornaments on the little Christmas tree. When they were done, they stepped back and gazed at him; their eyes lit with happiness.
The woman stood at the door, talking to the men.
“Thank you,” she spoke softly. “It wouldn’t have been Christmas without a Christmas tree.”
“I’m just glad I remembered,” said the man who had dug the little tree out of the ground. “And, it comes with a bonus. After the holidays we’ll plant him in the courtyard. He’ll grow big and strong, there. That large tree beside of him was eating up all of the nutrients in the soil. The kids will have it always.”
The woman smiled and the men left, and soon the children began to sing Christmas carols. The little tree blushed as he gazed fondly at them; his heart filled with a sweet, almost painful bliss, with the warmth that brimmed over from inside of him. He realized that he had fallen in love with the whole lot of them; and, by the looks of it, they had done the same.
Later that day, late in the night, the little Christmas tree stood peacefully waiting for the next morning; Christmas day. He was lost in thought and didn’t notice something small and light land on one of his tiny, upper boughs. A pale, silvery light appeared there.
“Well, I can see that you won’t be needing me,” the forest fairy said to him with a voice that sounded like tiny, shivering bells. “No, I think you can handle the situation on your own.” And then, with a soft and swift motion of its wings, it flew away.
D. L. Jenkinson was born in Germany to an American military family. He studied art at Florissant Valley Community Center, later switching to journalism studies at Webster University. He has a BA in media and Communications from Webster University in Saint Louis, MO. He is the author of the novel Faraway, an epic American fairytale, and is currently writing young teen and adult fantasy. When he is not writing he is dreaming about faraway places.
For the latest information on poetry events in the St. Louis, MO area, visit the .
Second Friday Notes, second Friday of each month, 7 p.m., at Whole Foods Town & Country, Clayton Road just west of Highway 141
RIVER STYX. Third Mondays, 7:30 p.m., Tavern of Fire Arts, 313 Belt Ave. riverstyx.org/events.
POETRY AT THE POINT, 4th Tuesday of the month, at Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Ave. Read their ezine at
Sheila Nolan Whalen Reading Series at SLU, 221 N. Grand Ave., Dubourg 409.
Tuesdays at 4 p.m.
CHANCE OPERATIONS on the last Monday of each month at Tavern of the Arts, 313 Belt Ave., just off Pershing, between Union and DeBaliviere. 7:30 p.m. Open mic follows featured poets.
EVERY WEDNESDAY open mic for poetry and music at Stone Spiral Coffee & Curios, 2500 Sutton in Maplewood (2 blocks N. of Manchester). Great food and beverages. Open mic, 8 until around 11 p.m.
GOODY HOUSE, 7 p.m., fourth Thursdays at Art Marketplace, 2028 S. 12th Street. Featured poets.
R_SPACE. Last Saturday of the month, Lenny Smith and friends at 2 p.m.
ST. LOUIS WRITERS GUILD open mic for prose and poetry, second Tuesday of each month, 7 p.m., Kirkwood Train Station, Argonne Drive, just west of Kirkwood Road. Allow time to find parking.
ADDITIONAL OPEN MICS at The Wolf, (every Tuesday), Legacy Books & Café (every Friday), The Historical Crossings (every other Tuesday), Shameless Grounds (Wednesdays at 7), Venice Café (Mondays at 9)
A Quick Guide to St. Louis Writers Guild Events
It’s as easy as
Workshops for Writers
First Saturday of every month (except holiday weekends)
10 a.m. to Noon at the Kirkwood Community Center
Station Open Mic
Second Tuesday of every month
7-9 p.m. at the Kirkwood Amtrak Station
SLWG Authors Series
Third Thursday of every month
Query for “SLWG Authors Series” on YouTube or check the Members’ Room on our website, .
Brad R. Cook, author of the young adult steampunk series, The Iron Chronicles (Treehouse Publishing Group). A former co-publisher and acquisitions editor for Blank Slate Press, he is a member of SCBWI, and currently serves as Historian of St. Louis Writers Guild after three and half years as President. A founding contributor to , a resource blog for writers, he can be heard weekly as a panelist on Write Pack Radio. A cover designer since 2013, he also creates posters, bookmarks, and other marketing materials. Find more @bradrcook on Twitter, Instagram, and tumblr.
T.W. Fendley is an award-winning author of historical fantasy and science fiction for adults and young adults, including Zero Time (2011) and The Labyrinth of Time (2014). She’s a founding contributor to , a resource blog for writers. Her short stories are available on Kindle and Audible. When she’s not writing, T.W. explores the boundaries of consciousness through and shamanism. twfendley.com
Steven W. Langhorst is a life-long resident of St. Louis with an insatiable hunger for the facts and trivia of St. Louis history. He is a retired elementary school principal who still serves education as a mentor and consultant focusing on leadership. Steven has dabbled in poetry and photography since his youth and still plans to publish a book of poems and photographs as well as a memoir of his years at principal. Besides holding membership in the St. Louis Writers Guild he also proudly holds a membership in the Professional Tour Guides Association of St. Louis. Steven also contributed to the design of the new St. Louis Writers Guild logo.
David Lucas is the President of St. Louis Writers Guild, a published fiction short story author and poet. He has a Master’s Degree in Management from Webster University. For two years, David has been the host and producer of Write Pack Radio (WPR), a podcast with a panel of authors exploring the changing writing industry. In 2016, David decided to take his experience in podcasting and his love for radio dramas and start Winding Trails Media, which will produce podcast audio dramas beginning in the fall of 2016 as well as continuing WPR podcast.
Lauren Miller is the Director of Communications for the St. Louis Writers Guild, and she reviews books quarterly for the Historical Novels Review. She has a fifteen-year background in library science and has over fifty nonfiction reviews and articles in print. Lauren likes to spend her free time discovering new reads, games, period films, and be surrounded by dogs. To read more about Lauren, visit her blog at
Jennifer Stolzer is an author and illustrator living and working in St. Louis, MO. She graduated from Webster University with a degree in digital media and animation and uses this skill set to create bright and engaging characters. In addition to illustrating books for clients, Jennifer writes and illustrates original work, serves as secretary for the St. Louis Writers Guild, and commentates on the weekly writing podcast Write Pack Radio. See more of Jennifer’s work at , as well as Twitter, tumblr, and Facebook.
For more than a decade, The Scribe has been the mainstay for communicating with members of the St. Louis Writers Guild. It began as a way to showcase the organization and share insights into the publishing world. Back issues give a wonderful record of the Guild. The Scribe is now available to everyone, not just members. It features stories, poems, and essays from our members, as well as information about our events, most of which are open to the public. The December 2016 edition features an editorial letter, an essay called "The Lie" by Laurie Brown, and a short story, "The Little Christmas Tree" by D. L. Jenkinson.