The Christmas Birthday

“Dinner’s ready,” Liza called, turning the stove off. She heard her little brother, Bruce, running from the living room as she started ladling servings of beef stew and mashed potatoes onto plates.

Bruce, ten years old and three years Liza’s junior, careened into a seat at the kitchen table, looking at her expectantly. His face fell when she sat a plate in front of him.

“I hate mashed potatoes,” he said, “why did you have to make them?”

“Because it’s what I know how to make,” Liza said, sitting down in her own seat and grabbing the pepper.

Bruce sighed. “It’s Christmas Eve. We’re supposed to have something good for dinner.”

“Santa’s hearing you complain, you know,” Liza muttered. She was sick to death of hearing him complain about everything!

Bruce picked up a bit of his stew with his spoon. “Why’d Dad have to work tonight? He said he wasn’t going to have to.”

“I know, but someone got sick,” Liza said, “He’ll be here in the morning.”

Bruce scoffed, as though he didn’t believe her. As though their father keeping a promise was unbelievable.

Recently, it had been, though. Ever since their mom took off. Even her thirteenth birthday, two days earlier, had been lackluster at best.

But now wasn’t the time for her to be depressed. When Mom took off, Dad had to pick up the pieces and do what had to be done. She was old enough to do the same.

“Come on,” she said, “Let’s eat dinner in the living room. We can watch tv.”

“We’re not supposed to,” Bruce grumbled.

“I think we’ll probably be okay,” Liza said, “It’s Christmas Eve.”

This perked him up. He grabbed his plate and went into the living room. Liza followed him and grabbed the remote to find a Christmas movie.

When dinner was over, and the plates left on the coffee table, Liza turned the light off and settled down into the couch. Bruce was nodding off, he probably wouldn’t be awake when Dad got home. Yawning, Liza realized she might not be, either.

She was nearly dozing when she heard something at the back door. Someone was rattling the doorknob.

Liza sat up, trying to be quiet. A quick glance at the clock told her it couldn’t be her dad, it was too early.

The rattling continued. Liza stayed quiet, hoping that whoever it was would go away.

Then, she heard the lock snap, and break in the door.

Liza slid down further on the couch. There were no lights on but the twinkling Christmas tree lights. She hoped that whoever it was wouldn’t come into the living room.

She heard things rattling and moving around in the kitchen. The freezer door opened and closed.

Then, heavy footsteps headed down the hall. They came into the living room.

A thin, tall man came into the living room, his tangle of dark hair pulled back in a dirty ponytail. He looked at Liza and Bruce on the couch, startled. It was clear that he hadn’t expected anyone to be there.

Frightened, Liza got to her feet. “Get out of my house!” she cried. Her shout woke Bruce, who sat up with a start. “Who are you?” he asked.

The thief fumbled at his belt, trying to pull what looked like a gun. Liza felt her hands grow warm. A book flew from the shelf next to the tv, hitting the man in the back of the head.

“What the hell?” he cried, turning around to see who had thrown it. Another book hit him in the face.

Liza grabbed Bruce and pulled him into the corner of the room. Books and knickknacks were flying, hitting the thief over and over.

“What in the hell is going on?” he screamed.

Suddenly, the couch began lifting off the ground. The thief, apparently thinking that it was going to launch itself at him as well, took off. Liza could hear him running through the kitchen and out of the door, which slammed itself shut behind him.

Liza crumpled against the wall, her whole body shaking. “I’ve never moved so much before,” she said.

“Wow,” Bruce said, “I can’t wait until I can do that.”

“You’ll turn 13 soon enough,” Liza said, thinking how thrilled her dad was going to be to have two witches in the house. It had been bad enough when her mom was moving things around.

“Come on,” she said, struggling to her feet. “Let’s get all this cleaned up. It’s bad enough Dad had to work Christmas Eve. I don’t want him to come home to the house being a wreck.”

Copyright © 2017 by Nicole C. Luttrell

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

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