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Short Story: Ascent

24 Dec

ADVENT DAY TWENTY-FOUR: To celebrate advent, I’ll be adding new content to this blog every day in the countdown to Christmas; reviews, opinion pieces, short stories… that sort of thing! So make sure you pop back in between shopping, packing presents and nursing a headache.

To mark Christmas Eve – and the final day of the Blog Advent! – here’s a short Christmas story I wrote on the bus up to Bristol to finish festive shopping! Even though advent’s at an end, I’ll still be updating as much as possible. Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone, and thanks, as ever, for looking at my blog.

His moment is coming.

He can hear the crowd screaming for him, adrenaline and excitement coursing through their veins. He can feel it too, but knows it’s not his time.

In fact, he shouldn’t even be here. In this position of power. With so many watching his every move.

As a child, Peter didn’t like being looked at. Sure, he had a lot of friends and they always wanted to be around him, but he never felt the centre of attention. If he were honest, and really tried to remember those days, he was the focal point of numerous groups of friends on numerous occasions. But there were also times that they all splintered away and he was just a satellite to their activities. And he never craved for them to all come back to him; he didn’t have that thirst.

He was an ‘only child,’ as the saying goes, so he never had to compete for the affections of his parents. His Dad wasn’t an alcoholic, and his Mum never left them. They didn’t follow him around all the time – neither physically nor metaphorically – or leave him to find his own dinner at night. They were just normal.

Peter wished for that normality now as someone looked at him and said, “they’re expecting you in five, four…”

Peter had moved into a bigger school, and withdrew from the world further. Everyone was big and loud and accusing. He’d never felt so out-of-place. He could count the amount of mates he had on one hand.

“Three…”

Peter’s hand was shaking.

Even the teachers were intimidating, used to the boisterousness of the class. He used to get home as fast as he could; back to a world where he was the centre of it. But slowly, he adapted. Changed.

He hated those years.

“Two…”

Peter drew in a gulp of piercing air, his chest rising, like he was so proud of himself; defying his feelings.

He still hated those years.

He had to step up. Be somebody. And suddenly, he hungered for attention, almost blind to what he got from home.

His mates lapped it up. He hasn’t seen them since he left education.

Peter would show off. He knew more than the teachers and spent much of his time outside the class; by his own design, whether he knew it or not. But standing, while the rest were sat down… he was superior.

“One…”

He didn’t think he could stand much longer. He stepped forward, regardless.

Then his ascension came, and he found it wasn’t all it was meant to be. Everyone thought he was in charge – that he held the power – but the strings belonged to someone else.

He didn’t want that attention any more. Cut at it. Take it away.

He stepped out. The crowd went on forever. All eyes on him.

He had practised his speech in front of his wife. Twice, then once for luck. Then the mirror and finally to the crowd.

Pitch perfect. They lapped it up. And the moment of truth: he pressed down and the lights on the Christmas tree to his left made the town glow.

The crowd gasped and rose up with them and the arcs of LEDs sparked into life above them.

“Merry Christmas!” Peter yelled into the microphone and reminded them all that he had a new DVD out.

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