Lola sat in her living room, in her armchair next to the Christmas tree. Her tv was turned to a picture of a fire crackling, with carols playing over it. She had her cordless phone sitting on the table next to her. She was expecting a call from her son. In fact, he should have called by now.
The fire was a silly thing, more of a reminder of her childhood in Pennsylvania than anything. The temperature in Texas that evening was anything but chilly. In fact, she had her living room window cracked open to let in any cool air that might decide to come by. She sat, listening to the Christmas music and reading on the tablet her daughter in law had sent as a gift.
From out in the street came the sound of singing. Lola sat down her tablet, listening.
It came clearer, what sounded like teenagers, singing a Christmas carol.
“Sleigh bells ring, are you listenin’. In the lane, snow is glistenin’.”
Enchanted, Lola turned the volume off on her tv. She glanced out the window and saw a collection of teens coming down the street. They were dressed in hoodies, with scarves and hats. Apparently, they’d been raised in the south and this warm night was a little too chilly for them. Or, maybe they just wanted to make believe that it was cold.
The group made their way up to Mr. Willis’s house, across the road. They went up onto the porch and knocked.
Lola was highly amused. She didn’t think kids went caroling anymore. Hoping that they’d come to her house as well, she turned to watch. It was so quaint, they even had hymn books.
Mr. Willis answered the door. The teenagers began singing a song.
“God rest, ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay.”
Mr. Willis started smiling. He tucked his thumbs into his belt, as the kids finished the song.
The young man standing in front closed his hymn book at the end of the song, and hit Mr. Willis with it hard, on the side of his head.
The older man fell to the ground. Before he could get up, one of the girls kicked him hard in his stomach. He grunted and tried to get to his feet. But they kept kicking him. Some began hitting him with their books.
Lola gasped, stepping back from the window. She could hear Mr. Willis screaming out in the street for a few minutes more. He was calling for help. But Lola was sure she was the only one with her window open.
Then, the screaming stopped, with a sickening crunch.
Lola heard footsteps coming across the street. She rushed to lock the front door, then headed to the window to shut it.
Someone was knocking on her door. Lola reached for her phone, still sitting next to her chair.
She’d let it sit too long, the battery was dead.
From the door, Lola heard a carol. “Oh come, all ye faithful. Joyful and triumphant.” The knocking went on and on.
Copyright © 2017 by Nicole C. Luttrell
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