One type of story that I really love are holiday stories. There’s just something about stories of love at the holidays that really get to me. So for the past three years, I’ve written a holiday story and this year is no exception. My mother’s sister lived in Anchorage, Alaska, for more than forty years and every winter a female moose would visit the bird feeder in her back yard once the snow got deep enough that she could walk over the fence. When I was a young child, I used to ask my aunt for moose pictures and each Christmas she’d send me some sort of moose Christmas ornament in her Christmas box. So in memory of my aunt, I wrote Mariah the Christmas Moose.
In this story, I have a school teacher who’s moved to Alaska from, of all places, Florida just in time for winter when he wakes up on a December morning and discovers a large creature in his back yard. Having no idea what else to do Kyle calls emergency services, and guess who comes to the rescue: a big, tall policeman. Now unlike the real life moose that visited my aunt’s back yard, Mariah is particularly talented. Mariah is a matchmaking moose and seems determined to unite Kyle with his ‘rescuer’.
His family all thought he was completely crazy to leave the family home of Bradenton, Florida for the wild and cold of Anchorage, Alaska, and there had been days when he’d begun to question his sanity, too, but the people he worked with seemed really nice and almost all of them were from someplace else as well, so they had made him feel welcome. Besides, he’d spent the last three years substitute teaching, trying to get a permanent elementary school teaching position, and every time one came up, it went to someone else for one reason or another. When he’d seen the ad in the NEA newsletter that Alaska needed teachers and that they’d pay to relocate qualified candidates, he’d applied, figuring nothing would come of it. Well, surprise, surprise, they’d called, and after a telephone interview as well as calls to his references, they’d hired him, provided he agreed to study and become certified in Alaska. Unfortunately, they’d forgotten to tell him that they wanted him to start right away, which meant early December, and that the temperatures were already in the single digits—for the highs. Kyle shivered at the very thought.
The furnace kicked in, and Kyle listened to it run, imagining the room getting warmer. Giving up on getting back to sleep, he felt around on the floor until he found his slippers, and then, in one quick move, practiced each morning he’d been here, he slipped his feet into them and pulled on his big, fluffy robe in less than two seconds flat.
He padded down the hall to the kitchen, where he started the coffeepot and huddled next to it for additional warmth until the nectar of the gods was ready. Pouring himself a huge cup, he settled in one of the huge, plush living room chairs. He loved these chairs, even though they dwarfed his five-foot, four-inch frame. But they were comfortable and surprisingly warm. The teacher he’d replaced had been called back “down below,” as he’d heard the locals refer to the rest of the country, because of a death in the family, and Kyle had been able to take over her lease on the house. He’d just been looking for an apartment, but this was an opportunity too good to pass up. The place wasn’t large, but it had two bedrooms, a nice living room, and a huge eat-in kitchen with huge windows overlooking the backyard. There was also a wood stove, and he’d found a massive stack of firewood under a snowdrift in the backyard.
After drinking his coffee, he must have dozed off, because he jerked awake with a cramp in his leg and a crick in his neck. Stretching and gliding his head in a circle, he blinked awake and saw the faint glow of daybreak just lightening the sky. Standing up, he picked up the empty mug from where it had fallen on the floor and walked into the kitchen, placing it in the sink.
Thinking he saw movement in the backyard, Kyle walked to the windows and peered outside, jumping back and falling flat onto his butt as a huge pair of eyes stared back at him. As he watched, a massive head backed away from the window and a huge body lumbered further into the yard to where some vines grew on the fence. It started eating the vines, but Kyle swore it never took its eyes off him.
Panic rising through him, Kyle reached for the phone, dialing 911.
Mariah the Christmas Moose is part of Dreamspinner Press’s Advent Calendar which is currently available and will deliver a story a day through the month of December. The individual story will be available at www.dreamspinnerpress.com starting December first. Other Andrew Grey holiday stories are also available including A Cruise for Christmas, Simple Gifts, and Winter Love.