Editor’s Note: The Write Club was a new club to Monroe High School last year, started by staff members Brian Sahlstrom, Sam Adams and Chris Vaughn. The group this year grew from about eight students to closer to 30. The kids work on writing fiction in a variety of genres. This year they held a short story contest based on a writing prompt of the image of a digital Christmas tree. The winner was Stephenie Jensen. The story is reprinted here.
Taking a deep breath, I stepped quietly onto the porch. I could faintly hear the sound of music amidst cheerful conversations coming from inside. The cold winter night air slipped through my thin gloves, and my hands shook as I gingerly held my gift. Facing that old door, I paused. Closing my eyes, I could hear the voices I used to recognize, and took another deep breath. It’s getting dark, I can come back and give it to her another day. I opened my eyes and looked down at the weathered brown paper sack I held. Running my hand across the paper, my finger found and smoothed one of the prominent creases. No, that wouldn’t solve anything, I need to do this. I need to try, maybe things have changed. Silently I adjusted the frail thin rope that held the bag shut. A thought crept back up from the dark of my mind. I’ll just leave it at the door, they are all probably having a good time without me.
Exhaling a cloud of mist, I looked up at the door. A fresh wreath was set around the knocker. I took a few steps forward, around the creaky spot on the porch, and stood at the foot of the welcome mat. It’s been four years since I last stood in this spot, deciding my fate… Are you really going to make the same mistake twice? I asked myself. I couldn’t hold it in any longer, and tears started flowing. Taking one last deep breath I stepped onto the mat, raised my fist, and knocked gently.
All activities inside went silent. The faded yellow porch light flickered on not a moment later, dispelling the remaining darkness. Heart racing, I looked down and squeezed my eyes shut. The doorknob clicked, the door creaked open, and I looked up. Mouth open, she stood there speechless, with eyes full of tears. I held out the bag; she carefully took it, and untied the string. Reaching in, she pulled it out. A salvaged circuit board, cut into the shape of a tree. Her face lit up as the first tear escaped down her cheek. She loved trees. Throwing her arms around me, we embraced. “You didn’t need to get me anything, just having you here is a joy. Never forget that ever again.” “I won’t,” I whispered, and through my tears I could see an extra empty place set at the table, and I closed my eyes. “Merry Christmas, Mom.”