“The act of charity is so often overlooked especially by those endowed with lots of money and wealth. Helping those around us, in many ways helps us have a fulfilled life too. Sometimes our charity has special rewards for us as well.”
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge – picture above
Your Daily Word prompt – Immolate
Fandango’s One Word Challenge – Haughty
Word of the Day — Sure
Pensitivity’s three things Challenge — Serious – Flippant – Cast
Francis the Frenchie’s Daily Phrase Challenge — His Paw print
Even with the harsh, dry, and cold air biting at her reddened cheeks, Mitzi smiled at the falling snow.
The cruel wind whipped about her ginger hair as she looked about the spruce and pine trees carpeting the snow-covered hills. She was standing in a festive wilderness perfect for cards and puzzles, she decided.
Mitzi gazed back the way she came and let out a sigh of relief at seeing no lanterns following on behind her. She knew being caught doing something this flippant would land her in serious trouble. There was no doubt punishment for this would immolate her Christmas present pile, maybe for several years.
Still – a girl had to follow her heart – didn’t she?
Mitzi hauled her brown leather boot out of the two feet of snow and adjusted her red satchel. With a deep, steamy breath, she trudged onward with her lantern turning the layer of fluffy ice golden before her. She thought her boots were haughty especially when considering the extortionate price, but her daddy had insisted. At least they were warm and looked nice with her heavy, red dress today.
Soon she came upon a little log cabin. The sight of a thin column of smoke and a glow at the window drew a fresh smile to her near-frozen face. Mitzi knew this was her daddy’s summer hunting cabin. This winter it was still in use for a special reason.
Through snowdrifts and a curtain of sparkling flakes, Mitzi arrived at the door and knocked with her gloved hand.
A chair scraped across the floor and something thumped as if thrown into a bin. Then the door opened revealing a teenage boy. With ragged trousers and a holed jumper, it was clear he was suffering hard times. “Mitzi! Why did you come out here on such a treacherous night? Why you could wind up with your arm in a sling and your leg in a cast in this snow!”
“Good evening to you too, Jonah,” Mitzi reached out and hugged him. “Are you okay?”
Jonah nodded, took her hand and led her inside so he could shut the door on the cold. “Thanks to you and this cabin I’m doing just fine.”
“That’s great,” Mitzi gazed around the cabin. It had a simple wooden kitchen with a log burner for warmth and cooking. A single bed and a couple of old chairs and a beaten up table made up the rest of the furniture. She shuddered as her eyes met those of the stuffed moose head with its enormous antlers, mounted above the bed; she hated that thing. “I brought you more food,” she said handing him her satchel.
“You shouldn’t have taken such a risk,” Jonah helped her sit in a chair and knelt before her.
“I got you here to save your life. I’m not going to let you freeze and starve, now.” Mitzi remembered one night a month ago. Jonah lived in the same wealthy street as she did. He’d been working at a posh restaurant and was fired for giving food to the homeless without permission. Within hours his father had also cast him out, saying he couldn’t live at home without paying rent. In the cold of winter, Jonah became a penniless vagabond all for the sake of being charitable. Mitzi’s daddy forbade her from getting involved. She couldn’t and wouldn’t leave her neighbour to die when she could help. Sneaking out that night, she’d brought to the cabin. Every night she could since, she supplied him with food, blankets, and other essentials.
“I’m more grateful than you know,” Jonah smiled as he unbuckled her boots and began to remove them. “Your feet must be frozen.”
“Just a bit,” Mitzi blushed at the sensation of him kissing her toes.
The boy massaged her cold feet for a few moments before rising to add logs to the burner. Returning to her, he wrapped a blanket about her shoulders.
“Thank you, I see you put the axe to good use.” Mitzi indicated the log splitting tool she snuggled to him on the second night.
“Being able to chop fuel for this fire is saving my life,” Jonah took the satchel to the kitchen work surface. He took out a couple of tins of beans and soup, a loaf of bread, margarine, and jam, and a fruit cake. There was something else that brought tears to his eyes. “What’s this?” he asked revealing a little box wrapped in rich red and gold paper.
“I probably won’t be able to escape for a few days over Christmas. I wanted to bring your gift today instead,” Mitzi beckoned with a cute smile, “Go on, open it early.”
Jonah’s eyes sparkled as he tore into the paper. He revealed a velvet jewellery box. Inside that was a brown leather and bead bracelet. It had a silver tree pendant glittering on one side. “I love it, thank you, sweet Mitzi.”
“The tree is the symbol of the Ent – the guardians of the forest. They say if you wear this, the Ent will always protect you.” Mitzi explained.
Jonah put the bracelet on and admired it, “I feel safer already. I don’t deserve it.”
“Sure, you do. Remember all this bad stuff happened because you are a nice charitable person. Something the wealthy snobs we call parents can never understand.
Jonah wiped his eyes and turned away from her, ‘I don’t have parents anymore. From now on, I must find my own way to live on this greed-ridden planet.”
“Yes, and you will do yourself proud – I know it,” Mitzi rose to her feet. She unbuttoned her white fur coat and dropped it on the chair. “Do you remember what you asked to do with me last night?”
“I do. I wanted to take you to the Christmas ball and the dance the night away with you.”
“While we can’t do that …” Mitzi wove her fingers in his. “Will you dance with me now?”
Jonah turned and gasped as he took in her beautiful, festive, evening dress, “You should be dancing with a prince – not this sorry old pauper.”
“I don’t want to spend my life with a stuck-up old nutcracker.” Mitzi began to turn with him. “Having money means nothing if you can’t enjoy sharing with those in need.”
“Well, you’re making me feel rich this evening,” Jonah felt his nose brush hers as their lips met in a kiss warmer than the chilly cabin. As they continued to turn in each other’s arms he left his forehead against hers. “I have something to tell you.”
“Go ahead,” Mitzi gulped, she just knew she wouldn’t like what he said next.
“I won’t be here tomorrow night. I …”
“Why?” Mitzi froze against him and gave him a fearful look, “Where will you go? You can’t survive out there.”
“I don’t think I’ll be alive here much longer either. Your parents must be growing suspicious by now. I have to leave and go somewhere else before they catch us together.”
“No, please don’t, I’m not being followed.” Mitzi felt herself shaking
“You will be. Mitzi, I have to go.”
“No, you don’t. We …” Warm water splashed onto her cheeks.
“I won’t allow them to punish you for helping me,” Jonah wiped her tears with gentle fingers. Smoothing her pretty hair he added, “I love you and that’s the reason I have to go.”
“I love —”
The cabin door flew open with a mighty bang. A man wearing a thick leather and fur coat turned white with snow, stalked in.
“Mitzi! I forbade you from helping this sorry excuse for a man. I …”
“Don’t blame her, Mr Dorrance. I —”
“Shut your mouth, thief!”
“No, daddy. He’s a good person. His only crime was helping people who’d fallen on tough times. He wasn’t committing theft – He was committing charity. He —”
“Enough! While I don’t blame you for falling for this criminal’s charm’s – you will be punished severely.” Dorrance seized Jonah by the jumper and cracked his jaw with a savage punch.
The boy staggered and fell over a chair. Landing by the stove, he climbed drunkenly to his feet.
Dorrance made to strike him again but Mitzi blocked him.
“Stop it, daddy! He’s suffered enough already without you hurting — Argh!” Mitzi snapped back from the withering slap.
Dorrance seized her shoulders and threw her onto the bed. “Stupid girl! Get your coat and boots on now!”
By then Jonah was seething. “How dare you hit her!” he yelled while balling his fists. “You have a beautiful, kind-hearted and charitable daughter. Instead of being proud of her, you abuse—”
Dorrance swung for him.
Jonah weaved away and drove a fist into his stomach.
Dorrance’s heavy coat spared him pain. “She’s my daughter, I’ll treat her how I like!” he screamed as he drove the boy into the cabin wall.
Pinned again by his jumper, Jonas thrust his head forward catching the rich man’s chin with a sickening head-butt. Breaking free, he spun away toward the bed. “You should learn to act with your heart, instead of your wallet. Maybe then, you could see the pain and suffering you inflict just like my father did!”
“I kill you, for that!” Dorrance drew a revolver from inside his coat.
“No daddy!” Mitzi screamed having tied her boots on again.
“Mitzi run!” Jonah demanded.
“Try to steal my daughter from me!” Dorrance pulled back the hammer and aimed.
“Please, daddy. I love you. He is not taking me away; I’m just looking after —”
“He is a filthy thieving vagabond. A homeless vagrant. The Duchy’s son, William will want nothing to do with you if he sees you with him!”
“Good! I don’t want nothing to do with him anyway,” Mitzi glared at her daddy while pulling on her coat.
“Foolish, girl.” Dorrance saw Jonah move and tracked him with the gun. “William’s going to make you very rich. Whether you like it or not, you will marry —”
“Like hell, I will. You blame Jonah for trying to steal me away. The only reason I’m going right now is because of you!” Mitzi yelled through furious sobs.
“Mitzi, please – just go — now!” Jonah demanded.
“He’s right, daughter. Go, you don’t want to see what happens when I shoot him!” Dorrance almost smiled at the murderous thought.
“Daddy, you’re insane.” Mitzi took Jonah’s hand. “Come on, let’s go together.”
“I …” Jonah leapt at Dorrance but he was too late.
The solid blam of a gunshot erupted through the tension in the room.
Mitzi screamed, convulsed and dropped like a stone.
Jonah slammed into Dorrance and drove him to the floor
A second gunshot rang out.
Dorrance climbed his feet and cried out in horror.
Both Mitzi and Jonah lay dead.
For the longest time, Dorrance cradled his lifeless daughter’s body in his arms. Through floods of tears, he realised charity and love were more important than money. Only now it was all too late.
Sometime after midnight, he dragged the bodies outside and covered them with snow. He would return in spring and bury them properly then.
Hours later a grey and white husky dog came to a stop behind the cabin. He looked back and sniffed his paw prints in the snow. Lifting his majestic head to the sky, he howled.
“What is it, Blizzard?” Asked a man striding over wearing thick black boots. His voice was gravelly with an age matching his long white beard and curly hair. Noticing the bump in the snow he nodded. “Oh, I see we were too late.”
“Well, we can’t have that now, can we?” said the old man having a nip of whisky from his old flask. “Yo!”
Blizzard gave an excited bark and began to dig. Within minutes Mitzi and Jonah’s bodies lay uncovered. They were frozen stiff and blue. Yet they seemed to be looking at each other with love even in death.
“Well done, Blizzard. Now it’s my turn.” The old man took a simple brown pouch from his pocket. Taking some red and gold shimmering dust from within, he sprinkled it liberally over the two bodies.
Blizzard barked his approval.
The bodies were soon surrounded by a pool of steaming warm water. They turned pink with warmth and life.
Mitzi coughed as she opened her eyes, then sat up.
Beside her, Jonah did the same.
Seeing each other, they hugged as if seeing each other for the first time in years.
The old man stood back with Blizzard and smiled as Mitzi set eyes on him.
“My father killed us both. I don’t know how you did it, but I know we must thank you for our lives,” she managed.
“Dear, Mitzi. Master Jonah, when people give the gift of kindness, there are always those who take note. Especially those searching for employees.”
“Pardon me,” Jonah said rising with Mitzi cuddled in his arms.
“Jonah, it began with you. Molly Starlight, my snow-globe gazer witnessed you helping the homeless. She was distraught when you were fired and then made homeless for your charity.”
“I still don’t regret helping those poor homeless people. Especially the children.” Jonah said.
“Oh, I know. Mitzi. Molly continued to watch Jonas’ plight. She was delighted when you put your kind and caring heart on show. She loved how you risked everything to help Jonah survive the winter.”
“I couldn’t let him freeze and starve to death when all he did was help people,” Mitzi wiped her eyes. “Then my dad killed me.”
“Indeed. He’ll be getting no presents for the rest of his life, I assure you.” The old man winked, “Anyway, would you like some charitable jobs?”
“What sort of jobs?” Mitzi said feeling suspicious of the old magical man.
“Only the most kind-hearted people get to work for me. Mitzi, you will become my manager of merriment. Spreading happiness around the world. Jonah, you will become my manager of festive jokes. The last joke elf ran out of laughter last summer you see.”
Mitzi looked to Jonah and the two nodded. Their old lives were gone. Time to start a new one. “We accept,” she said.
“Yo!” cheered the old man glowing with happiness. As fresh snow began falling, he tapped his foot, filling the air with gold sparkles. At that moment, he, Blizzard, Mitzi and Jonah disappeared. After all, there was just a few days left to get everything ready for the big day in Lapland
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!