My new short story, “The Christmas Present,” is now available as an individual eBook for just $0.99. All proceeds from the sale of this story go to benefit The Trevor Project.
“The Christmas Present” is part of a holiday anthology which brings together 24 authors from the UK, the USA, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. When my publisher and friend, Debbie McGowan, first approached me about joining the project, I knew I wanted mine to be a story of hope, because so many of our youth, so many of the youth The Trevor Project works to support, feel they are without hope. And I knew it would be set at Christmas, the season of hope.
When I was a kid, hope was what got me through. But for me the season of hope was always in September. At the start of each new school year, I would be filled with hope: the hope that the bullying would stop, the hope that this year I would make a friend, the hope that this year the boy I liked would like me back.
I remember during the last presidential campaign, one of Mitt Romney’s taglines was, “Hope is Not a Strategy;” it isn’t but it is sometimes all we have.
When Aidan, the main character in “The Christmas Present,” arrives at his family’s compound in the Caribbean islands, he doesn’t even have hope.
BLURB: At Christmastime, a mother, unhappy her teenage son is gay, turns to an Obeah practitioner to change him with surprising results.
They passed a great many whitewashed houses built in the style of the plantation houses of the American South; low slung and broad, they seemed to clutch the ground tightly. The houses were genteel yet incongruous in their gentility, planted as they were in the savage landscape of beaches, fields of sugarcane and rain forest as alien as spacecraft. Each house they passed, Aidan noticed, had a name, and each name, he later learned, told its own story: Whim, Work & Rest, Peter’s Rest, Princess, Jacob’s Fancy.
At the foot of a road that began a sharp descent to the beach, stood a sign: Anna’s Hope. Dale made a sharp right and followed the road in its downward spiral.
Dale swerved to avoid a magnificent mahogany tree that had been struck by lightning and now lay across the road, spilling its magnificent red blood onto the cracked earth. Jarred out of his thoughts, Aidan could just make out the house up ahead. Covered by a fine webbing of bougainvillea vines, it was a two-storied whitewashed structure with weathered shutters that lay crooked and flat beside the open jalousie windows. The brilliant blooms of the bougainvillea looked like blood stains, its whitewashed walls like bleached bone, its red tiled roof like blood caked upon its monstrous back. The house lay in the burning sun like carrion. A short distance away, the Caribbean Sea boiled.
In the middle of a broad open lawn was a flamboyant tree in full bloom, wearing a crown of blood-orange flowers. Long, feathery leaves pointed like accusing fingers.
The jeep skittered to a halt. This was it then. This was to be Aidan’s home for the Christmas holiday.
Clive, seated beside Dale, turned to look at Aidan, who tried not to shudder at the lifelessness of the house, at its hopelessness. Anna’s Hope? What had Anna found to hope for here?
“The Christmas Present” is available from Amazon here.
“The Christmas Present” is just one of 23 stories in Boughs of Evergreen, a two-volume collection of short stories celebrating the holiday season in all its diversity, from Beaten Track Publishing.
The proceeds from the sale of Boughs of Evergreen also goes to The Trevor Project, the leading U.S. organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
So take a chance, read some great stories—many from new authors—and benefit a great cause which works to support the most vulnerable among us.
Boughs of Evergreen is available from Amazon here.
And directly from Beaten Track here.