Creative Writing · Short Stories · writing

Christmas Dinner: A Short Story

Authors note: Hey everyone hope you are well. Here is a little story that has been floating around my head for a few weeks. I finally wrote it tonight and wanted to get it up before Christmas. Hope you enjoy and if you do, please let me know in the comments! Merry Christmas.

Dennis sat at the top of an empty table, paper crown in hand and a tear forming in his eye. He glanced at the cooling turkey he’d spent so many hours preparing, while black butterflies threatened to invade his chest. He watched the door, still hoping for someone to burst through, apologising for being late and showering him in appreciation for the Christmas dinner and fine hospitality. Something tried to convince him that nobody would show up. Yet he sat in his chair amongst the cold roast potatoes and vegetables, until a moonless night replaced the day. His stomach grumbled but he refused to make himself up a plate, it’s rude to eat before your guests arrive. Dennis considered tidying up as the food was more than likely ruined, though he couldn’t bring himself to do it; to tidy up is to give up and that was out of the question.

The aches that erupted from his arthritic limbs dragged him from the comfortable nothing of a dreamless sleep. He rubbed his knees and grunted when he caught sight of the clock on the dining room wall, it was just past midnight. He pulled himself up from the rickety wooden chair and found himself doubled over, unable to stand up straight. He cursed himself for falling asleep in such an awkward position and headed towards the door, he would deal with the mess later. To Dennis, it felt as though the door had been locked, for he couldn’t get it to open. He almost laughed at the thought, how could it possibly be locked? His bones continued to scream at him, as he tried again and again to get the door open, but it was well and truly locked. Dennis felt a wave of adrenalin course through him, questions tinged with mania began to infiltrate his mind: How could it be locked? Who would lock me in? Why? What if it’s just stuck?

Dennis began to scream.

“Help! Who are you?! Let me OUT!” Dennis continued to holler and yell until he could no more. If he were a decade or so younger, perhaps he could have kicked the door down. But instead of strong muscles he had bones that betrayed him. Resting at the base of the large door, Dennis allowed thoughts of his wife, Liesel, to consume him. She was the light of his life, the separation was difficult to say the least, but he took comfort in the knowledge they had not ended on bad terms. He took his jumper off and placed it underneath his balding head, grateful for the solace it brought him, he closed his eyes and let sleep take him once again. Liesel, as she usually did, met him in his dreams. Her blonde hair hung elegantly by her shoulders, her eyes piercing and glowing. Liesel reached for Dennis, but when he tried to grab her, he drove a knife into her heart instead. Her hair dropped limply and the glow in her eyes dimmed, as Dennis stabbed her again and again and again. At this point, he would usually wake up, but this time exhaustion clung to him and left him suspended in a sea of otherworldly pain and suffering.

Some hours later, a jangle of keys and metal clanking finally freed him from the confines of his personal inner hell. The metal door swung open and, in the threshold, stood a stern-faced woman.

“Mr. Harrold, why are you not in your bed?” She said, without a flicker of expression.

“My dining room door must have gotten stuck, I tried to open it but…” He paused as he noticed strangers walking up and down his hallway. “Uh excuse me, what are those…What are you doing in my house?” The woman shot a glance at another younger woman who immediately took her leave.

“And the rest of you too, go on, leave.” Dennis added as he struggled to get to his feet.

“Dennis, where do you think you are?” She said while offering a steady hand “Do you know who I am?”

Dennis pushed her arm away and instead used the wobbly chair to regain his balance.

“Of course, this is my home and you are trespassing. If you and your little friends don’t leave at once I shall be calling the police.” Dennis tried to locate the house phone that sat on the dresser, but it was no where to be seen. His heart rate quickened, and panic washed over him. The woman stood before him, motionless and cold. The younger woman returned with four men, each of them sporting matching white outfits and grim expressions. The sight of them made a bubble of familiar nausea rise in Dennis’s throat, but he stood as strong as could, determined not to waiver.

“Mr Harrold, you need to sit down on the chair please. We need to restrain you now; you pose a threat to yourself and potentially others.” The men in white uniforms grabbed Dennis by the wrists and legs, securing him to a chair with leather straps and metal buckles that pinched at his wrinkled skin. He fought as hard as he could, but it was no use. He was not a wolf anymore; he was the deer.

“What year is it? Do you know where you are?” The woman asked as she paced from one end of the small room to the other.

“I’m in my home, who cares what year it is, this is illegal!” A niggle of doubt poked at Dennis, as the sound of her heels clicking on the stone floor flooded his ears. Liesel’s heels never sounded like that.

“Okay. But we are obliged to tell you, you are not in your home. You haven’t been for the better part of 2 decades.”

Dennis swallowed hard and averted his gaze from her hateful face. He could see he was in his home, there are photographs of his children, Hollie and Jasper in his grandmothers’ frame. On the table still sat his Christmas dinner and in the corner by the fireplace was the tree he picked from the Christmas tree farm. Yet, something else inside of him tried to convince him he was wrong, but he pushed those ugly thoughts to the darkest corner of his mind. It was Christmas, the time of joy and cheer, not sadness and despair. Though he wasn’t sure he had felt the former in a lifetime.

“I know you haven’t been taking your medication. Since you’ve been here a long time, we thought we could trust you. We thought you understood and wanted to manage your illness. We had hopes for you to improve and carry on improving, perhaps then you might have been transferred to a lower security ward.”

“I have no idea what you’re on about lady. You come into my house, tie me up and talk this nonsense to me? This is an abomination. I demand for you to contact my wife, Liesel Harrold.” Dennis yelled, he struggled to remain composed while being physically restrained. The straps continued to leave angry red marks in their wake as he battled against their strength.

“Mr Harrold, Liesel is dead. You murdered her and your two children before attempting to take your own life too.” The icy tone of her voice took Dennis aback, how could she make such disgusting accusations with such little emotion?

“Don’t be ridiculous, I spoke to her not long ago. I refuse to listen to you any further.” He let the twinkle of his tree take him away from the nightmare he found himself in. He considered the fact this could all be the result of a wonderful Christmas with his family. Perhaps they had come last night, and a cocktail of cheese and alcohol had brought on a horrible dream. He hoped to soon be awoken by soft kisses and the smell of mulled wine heating up on the stove.

The woman sighed and motioned for everyone to leave. Before she closed the door behind her, she turned to Dennis. Though her face didn’t show it, her heart was breaking for the shell of a man who sat before her.

“Merry Christmas Dennis, I hope one day you find your peace.”

I hope you enjoyed this story, lets have a chat in the comments.

What do you think this story is about?


Jen X

26 thoughts on “Christmas Dinner: A Short Story

  1. Hmm. Your final question had me look at it a number of ways. It feels like any one of those scenarios is possible and the character is either a sympathetic one or possibly not a good man at all. Interesting story, well written as always!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sympathetic in the sense that he is so out of it. If he committed the awful crime they said he did, then it kind of seems that his mind is either trying to set things right again or was never right to begin with.

        I’m curious what the author’s take on the message is. Or are we, the readers, left to our own interpretations?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s so interesting!
        In my view, he is suffering with powerful delusions to deal with what he has done. He refuses to accept he was capable of committing such a crime and has chosen to live within his own constructed reality.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s very true, I’ve read quite a few James Patterson books, some gave been great while others, not so much. I guess for me I’m not certain of my genre, or style. So I would be worried to try something so different to what I usually write, but that’s a fatal error of many authors. We need to grow with our work and not allow ourselves to be stunted by fear.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Maybe you should! I’ve always steered away from romance as my idea of romance is not compatible with wider society haha but we will never know if we don’t try

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well I’m sure there are people out there who agree with your view… maybe you’d be the first author to hit that niche! Lol. I’m not emotional enough; mine would be very dry and robotic. Hmm… robot love story…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I really loved this thread between you, @ceponatia and our dear Jen. I think I am losing my writing a bit. A weary working day at a time. Reading the story, on my way to work, almost soon as it was posted and now, going through this thread made me smile. Which work? Work with people with dementia and trust me, this story is closing to something I was playing with writing… So, to see it – albeit from a different angle – was really really awesome. I totally loved the government clandestine angle too. Am I rambling?

      Jen, at some point, I will suggest you take this off this space perhaps or at least, keep it hidden and enter it for some competitions. It is a very very deep story. I like it…
      Or, if you wish, can I include in an anthology (free to download, not for profit) that I am working on?

      I am really proud of this effort, almost as if it is mine. Woohoo! Sis, you should totally write those other romance stories you have. And Ceponatia should give us that robot romance. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much for your amazing comment. Thank you for the amazing work you do with people living with dementia, it is a testament to the kind of person you are.
        I didn’t think this story would be good enough for competitions or publication, simply because I wrote it in one sitting with little to no editing (shamefully admitting it). Perhaps I will take your advice, I have other stories planned for this character, so perhaps I could contact you in the future to see if they might be a good fit for your anthology?
        Your kind words have brightened a rather hard Christmas period so thank you so much for sharing your feelings!
        Perhaps I might pursue an alternative romance one day and Ceponatia should definetly give us the robot love story!
        Have a wondeful day!!


  2. Oh wow Jen, I did so enjoy your story until he turned out to be a murderer, I guess I’ll get back in space craft “Itmims,” and continue on with my dream….. Merry Christmas Jen 🎄🌏🚀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Guan, I like to think its still possible to breathe new life into tired tropes, so to see you enjoyed that aspect is lovely


      1. Thank you so much. Of course! If I’m being honest, I’m not sure where they come from. They mostly come to me before I fall asleep. I start with a first sentence or a feeling I want to write about and then tell myself the story in my head. If you have any questions I will be happy to answer them too 🙂


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