The Holden Stone

Reflections of a Fantasy Writer

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Bubble Lights1



Alice pinched against the stiffness in her thumb as she twisted in a blue bubble light. "The blues are Eric's favorite. He claps and points each time he finds a new one starting to boil. Do you remember that, George?"

Each decoration was a story. Alice trimmed her Christmas tree with stories these years. She was never so aware of that when she was younger. "That's the way it always is though, isn't it, George? We're so busy living our stories, we don't notice them at the time."

Alice twisted in a red bubble light. Its glass ribbed base was yellow and green. "His daughter's just like Eric, did you know that? They came over last week, and she sang Jingle Bells to me, and something called ‘Grandma got run over by a reindeer.’ Carol thought that was oh so funny."

Alice bobbed her head faintly to the song and to little Carol's laughter. "She'll like these lights, too, George. You'll see."

The balls come next, the red ones, green ones, shiny gold ones. "Now you be sure to tell me if two blues or two reds are too close together."

Alice rubbed her knuckles, hot, stiff, knobby. She used to could play the piano and thread a needle. Gingerly, so very gingerly, she unwrapped the tissue covering the little crystal bells, horns and flutes, from their trip to Germany, right after the war. "Oooh, George, Angie loves these. Here's the horn she blows three notes from each year.

"The whistle in it is gone now I think."

And so is Angie. Six years, no, seven, since her accident.

Alice recovered their memories with the tissue. She couldn't trust her fingers to hold them steady without dropping them this year. Nor last.

And as precious–- "Look, George. The children's Santas they make in school each year. And a Christmas tree, and a bell, I think. Eric's spelled his name all across it in blue crayon, two r's, no i. We used to hang them in the back of the tree. I think they'd look good in the front this year, don't you?"

One last box to open. The golden angel from Nuremberg. Her curly doll's hair, the sweet porcelain face of the toymaker's dying daughter whom the first angel was patterned after. Every delicate golden angel from Germany has been patterned in that little girl’s memory every decade since. "You always say, George, Nuremberg's been famous for two memories, the Nazi war trials, and the golden angels. That's why she can be so understanding of us, watching over us at Christmas. She knows both sides of us, she’s just the more beautiful side. --Now you be careful, George. You know you can't climb that ladder anymore. She can't go on top this year. But she can still stay out. I'll put her right next to you, here on the table."

The tea kettle whistled. Alice limped into the kitchen to pour her tea, leaving the parlor room empty except for a tree and the golden angel standing next to George's picture on the table.


1This prose poem was originally published at, an early on-line magazine.