The Chestnut (Story by Risa Peris)

Christmas never arrived for Chelsea. On Christmas Eve she woke up with a sense of excitement. Christmas was only a day away. How marvelous! She danced with her dolls to Good King Wensclas and fed them all berries. Make believe berries. The most delicious kind. She ended breakfast with ‘Hark, the Herald Angels Sing’ on her recorder. 

When she came downstairs mother was dressed in old clothes. The ones she wore for painting portraits. She was busy with preparations for the Christmas Eve party. Father was somewhere. Probably in the garage tinkering with something. Perhaps he was making Chelsea a doll. Or a boat for her dolls. How exciting would that be. 

Evening came. It was cold and the sky was shedding snowflakes. She watched, in her red dress, the people come to the door. They stomped their feet before entering. The last guest to arrive was her uncle, Mr. Fritz Meyer. He wore a giant tweed cape and a funny hat. Chelsea rushed to greet him. He always brought interesting gifts for her. Chelsea hugged him. He was carrying a bag. He set it down and embraced her with what seemed love. 

The music had started. Her father at the piano. Two pitchers of egg nog with heavy brandy were brought out with with glass punch cups. Chelsea was given hot chocolate. Mr. Meyer waved her to the kitchen. 

“I have a gift,” he said with significant glee. 

“Yes, yes.” She clapped her hands. 

Out of his bag was another bag. She peered inside. They were nuts. 

“Nuts?”

“Chestnuts. We roast them in a pan, crack them with a nutcracker, and then eat them. “ And so Mr. Meyer got the pan, placed it on the stove, and they both watched the chestnuts sizzling. 

“Now?” She asked. “Did you bring me any gifts?”

Mr. Meyer shook his head. “You’re mother said you were a naughty child. Ah, the nuts are done. They need to cool lightly.” He poured them onto a platter. He cracked one and handed it to her. “Put the whole nut in your mouth.”

Chelsea did as told. The nut was warm. She chewed and swallowed but the pieces got stuck. She choked. She grabbed hold of Mr. Meyer. 

“Naughty children get their punishment. You haven’t done your homework, you haven’t cleaned your room. You just play and play.”

Chelsea was still choking and turning blue. She thought, “Aren’t you supposed to play as a child?”

Chelsea collapsed and died from the chestnut. Mr. Meyer told the parents to donate her gifts. It’s said when little children die. But sadder still when the Santa gifts are given away to other children. Unless the other children are not sloths like Chelsea. Someone is always watching you. Santa, Mr. Meyer…

THE END

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