The Eleventh Story of the Holidays...
This year, I bring you something a little bit different...12 Holiday Excerpts and Flash Fiction!
And here is another flash fiction holiday tale by RJ Downes...
by RJ Downes
Baylin, the elder Gnome, paused his speech atop the large red and white mushroom to look out at the crowd. The gathering in the dark woods was large that cold December night. Gnomes from all corners of the world had travelled for the summit. As he gazed out in the firelight at the countless round heads adorned with pointed hats of varying colour, he saw many he knew well. The red cheeked, smooth faces of the women and beard covered faces of the men stared back at him, all atop squat, rotund bodies.
He took a deep breath. The firepit that illuminated the gathering crackled in the silence. The crowd of gnomes waited for him to continue speaking.
“My brother and sisters,” he said at last. The blanket of fresh snow helped carry his voice out to the others, “the next item to discuss…is the state of the humans and their belief in Santa Claus.”
Low chatter spread through the crowd.
“We created Santa in order to keep the humans from knowing the truth.” Baylin continued. “We have managed to keep ourselves secret from them for hundreds of years. Santa Claus, has been integral to that. His similarities to us, in shape and attire have kept humans off our trail. But we now have a problem. Images of gnome kind have started showing up in Christmas imagery almost as much as Santa himself.”
This caused another murmur through the crowd.
“If this continues, our secret could be exposed. The humans cannot suspect that we are in fact the ones behind their Christmas presents.”
“Actually, Father,” a female voice to the left of his mushroom suddenly called out to him. “Like it or not, they know we exist. I think it’s time that humans knew the truth.”
Baylin looked down to see Balla, his youngest daughter, separate from the crowd, standing there looking back up at him. He continued to address the crowd.
“My daughter has been studying gnome history. She, of all gnomes, should know why we need to protect ourselves. If the humans knew about us, about magic, about the real reason why we put presents under their trees...it could be a disaster.”
“My father does not believe the humans can accept us,” Balla spoke back up at him. “I, and several others among us tonight, think they can. And we think we should give the humans a chance.”
Baylin eyed his daughter. Her own eyes were partially hidden beneath blonde bangs poking out from her red hat but she stared back. Her mouth held as tightly as her conviction.
“The younger generation believe things need to change,” he continued, still looking down at his daughter. “But I believe humans are not ready.”
Balla looked away from her father to the rest of the crowd.
“The human writer from long ago, Mr. Baum knew the truth. He even did as my father asked and wrote The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus to help us perpetuate the Santa myth.”
“Yes, he was a friend to gnome kind,” said Baylin. “He was one of the few humans who understood why we do what we do. He kept our secret well.”
Several gnomes murmured back and forth.
“The humans have grown, Father,” Balla said. “Each generation has become more empathetic, more understanding. It’s time they know the truth.”
“The humans should be told about us!” someone shouted from the back of the crowd.
“They cannot be told!” Santos yelled back. The crowd of gnomes went silent.
“Why not?” Balla asked up at him.
Without thinking, Baylin replied. “Because that’s the way it has always been!”
“That’s not an answer, Father.” Balla called back.
Baylin took a moment to calm himself before he spoke again.
“Why is it so important to you that they know now?”
“Because we’ve been unfairly deceiving them, just like they have unfairly deceived their children about Santa Claus,” said Balla. “Even if the humans are children compared to us, children should not be lied to. If we want them to believe in us and what we do, we must believe in them.”
Several members of the crowd cheered out at her words.
Baylin looked down at his daughter. Her young spirit frustrated him just as much as it made him proud.
“Alright,” he said finally. “Let it not be said that I am an unbending gnome. As much as I think this is a bad idea…we will put it to a vote.”
Balla smiled up at him.
“Thank you, Father.”
Turning back to the gathering, Baylin could see hope beam back at him from many of their faces.
“All in favour of telling the humans the truth about Santa regardless of the outcome?”
He watched as the gathered gnomes in front of him began to raise their hands.
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