TITLE: THE TREE PEOPLE
GENRE: YA URBAN FANTASY
The soft tinkle of Christmas music threaded its way through the house and up the steps. Ellie paused on the landing and gripped the banister until her knuckles turned white. She swayed and her eyes lost focus as memories of Christmas mornings played like a movie in her mind:
Early, even before the first birdsong, before sunrise, when the world was still a soft gray, she would hear bells dinging downstairs. A deep, hearty voice would rumble,"Ho, ho, ho, Mer-r-r-r-y Christmas."
Frozen in dread of seeing and not seeing, of hoping and being afraid, giddy with anticipation she would shake her two brothers and her little sister and hold her finger to her lips. Like a row of stalking Indian braves, they would creep down the stairs where she now stood.
The creep would become an all-out run halfway down and the four would burst with bright eyes into a living room that had been turned into a fairyland. Paper streamers hung draped across the room. Balloons in bright colors floated across the floor and came to rest on chairs, tables and lamps. Confetti in gold and silver was strewn across the floor, the tree and presents and formed a pathway through the house. An empty glass of milk and cookie crumbles on a small plate stood evidentially by the fireplace. Dangling, bulging with toys and sweets, their stockings stood legless sentry. Strings of rainbow pixie lights on the fragrant, fat tree twinkled on piles of gaily wrapped packages.
Now, without warning, never again.