Last year I accepted a challenge from a writer friend who wanted to feature 500 word stories on her blog for the month of December. There were two rules: Under 500 words and use of the word holly. (And I know the picture isn’t holly but I took it at my friend’s house and I love it). I did the story and liked it so well that I shared it on my own blog a week or so ago. Lavada asked me if I would share it here as a gift for the season for our followers/readers and after I preened for a while that she would ask, I said I would, so here it is. I hope you get some joy of the season out of it.
“Yeouch. That hurt.” Alana put her bloody index finger in her mouth and sucked on it.
“Grabbing a holly plant by the leaf is asking for it, isn’t it?” Her friend Norah asked with a giggle.
“I love how sympathetic you are. Come on. We’ve gotta go. I wanted some holly to decorate my mantel but I didn’t want to lose a limb in the process.”
Norah glanced about then looked at Alana and whispered, “Don’t turn around but here comes that guy you had a crush on in tenth grade.”
Before Alana could process whom Norah meant, a handsome dark-haired man in a polo shirt and khakis was at her elbow.
“How are you?” He smiled.
His dimples reminded Alana immediately of the days she mooned over him in biology class before he’d moved away. “I’m fine, but having an issue with the holly,”
He reached up and easily took down a massive amount. “You just have to know how to handle it. Kind of like handling a woman.” He winked.
Norah raised her brows and walked off.
Alana, hands on hips, said, “You’ve got to explain that one.”
“Holly is like a woman. She can be beautiful but sometimes put up barriers to intimacy. Those are the spiny parts of the leaves. She can also say things that may make a man not want to be around. That’s the poison in the berries. A man with a gentle touch can tame the wildness and bitterness and hold her in his arms with no problem.”
“Well, you’re some salesman. I’ll take the holly.” Alana held out her arms for the branches.
“You might hurt yourself. Maybe I should deliver it?”
“Wow, I didn’t know this Christmas tree lot made deliveries. That would be great. Do you offer decorating services as well?”
“No, but I offer to take you to dinner.” His smile made her knees weak.
“Sure but I have to take Norah home. What time do you get off?”
“I can meet you in an hour. How about the Italian place across the street? After, I can take the holly to your house.”
“Okay. Let me pay for it. I’ll see you in an hour.”
“I’ll get it. You can pay me later.”
She smiled, caught up to her friend and dashed home to change clothes.
She made it to the restaurant a few minutes late. She walked in and gasped. James, the guy from biology class was dressed in an expensive suit. There was no one in the place but him and two waiters. Holly was draped on every surface and a hundred candles glowed.
“What’s this?” Alana smiled.
“A nice dinner for two.”
“How can you afford to close a restaurant as a Christmas tree salesman?”
“I own this place. It was your mistake to think I worked at the lot.”
“So now what?”
“We dine and then I show you how I hold a woman as if she were holly.”
Alana shivered in anticipation.