The Christmas Elves: A Flash Fiction Story
It started in the late 1940s with the neighbor across the street. She always liked us when we were little.
At Christmas, about the start of Advent, each night she put candy bars on our outside windowsill. They came from the Christmas elves. The elves left each of us a Snicker bar.
Good or bad, we got a Snicker bar. Except once as she was putting candy on the windowsill, our neighbor looked through our font window. She saw my sister spit on me. My sister got a note. “I saw you spit on your brother,” the note said. “You don’t get a Snicker bar tonight.”
So the elves knew everything.
Then our neighbor had a stroke. In the middle of the second Christmas season, she couldn’t be an elf. She was disabled. Our parents had to take over being elves. And the candy changed. Sometimes we got other kinds of candy bars.
“I don’t like 3 Musketeers,” I whined one time. “I want a Snicker bar.” The next night there was no candy bar for me. I was too ungrateful.
The years passed. When we had our children, there weren’t any neighbor elves. You couldn’t trust the neighbors. You never knew who might be a pervert. Only parents could be elves.
It was a different time. A favorite teacher in our local school turned out to be someone who seduced a teenage girl. The police caught a local priest from a town nearby in the men’s restroom up in Kansas City. He was soliciting sex. Television anchor people spouted stories of mothers who killed their little babies, sometimes because of postpartum depression, though most people never understood. The non-parental elves went out of Christmas
“Then the teenager who accused him—she was a woman now—contracted breast cancer. Suffering greatly, on her deathbed, she confessed that she had lied. The man accused--indeed, the man convicted because he didn’t put up much of a defense--didn’t do the crime. He was the same kind of victim we had thought she was. His life was ruined.
“We are still careful,” my daughter said. “But now we know that not all our perceptions are the way the world is.”
“And what about the elves?” I asked her. “You said you put the elves back into Christmas.”
“The children are the elves now,” my daughter said. “Starting on the first Sunday of Advent, they take the Snicker bar and sneak over and put it on our neighbor’s windowsill.
In memory of Mrs. Claire Stevens who was our Christmas elf more than sixty years ago.
Copyright by Joe Barone, 2009. All Rights Reserved.