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The Lost Reindeer
By Judy A Blair
Friday, November 09, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
Excerpt from the short story "The Lost Reindeer".
The Lost Reindeer
By Judy A. Blair
Christmastime came to Forest Lake just like any other little village or town. The only difference was that Forest Lake was exactly what it said it was - a forest and a lake. It was a little sleepy village nestled between a large green forest and a soft slivery lake. At Christmas the trees were always snow-covered and the lake so frozen you could walk on it. Forest Lake was the North Pole come to life.
By December 20, fluffy, cotton-ball snow covered Forest Lake. The reflection of the lights from each building made the snow glitter as if millions of tiny fairies were dancing in the air.
Clear Springs was only six miles west of Forest Lake, but it was not nestled between forest and lake but rather in between two steep hills in a deep valley.
Both towns were quiet and peaceful. The people were friendly, but each town kept to themselves, not venturing out to each other’s Fall Frolics or Spring Carnivals. The only ones who actually had contact with each other were the high schoolers.
If you were a freshman at Green Hills High School, you knew about half of your classmates. The other half was from Clear Springs and unless you had an older brother or sister, you really didn’t know them. By the time you were a senior, many of the kids from Clear Springs were good friends with the kids from Forest Lake, but not everyone.
Nadja Klaus was a senior at Green Hills High School this Christmas. There was only one semester left of high school before she graduated and went off to college. She sighed with relief when she walked down the snow-covered sidewalk past the glowing lights of the different shops on her way home. She had worked late at the corner café on Madison Street. She didn’t have a car. Her grandfather, who she lived with, had an old, green ‘57 Chevy, which everyone in town said was a “classic” except her grandfather only drove it to Mass on Sunday. He didn’t allow Nadja to drive his car. Not because he was afraid she would have a wreck or drive irresponsibly, but because of all the “other hoodlums” that drove cars. Nadja would just smile at her grandfather and hug him when he carried on so about the young people of today. She was lucky to have him as her family and cherished every day with him, knowing it wouldn’t be long before she would be alone.
Berthold (Ol’ Bert to his family and friends) Klaus came over with his parents from Germany when he was a young boy. He married Nadja’s grandmother when he was twenty-two. Her name was Alena. They had one son, Nadja’s father, Gunter. Gunter grew up and married Nadja’s mother, Katrina. Gunter and Katrina were married only a short year when Nadja was born. They were a happy family and lived close to Gunter’s parents in Forest Lake, but one wintry December day right before Christmas, Katrina and Gunter left Nadja with her grandparents and went Christmas shopping in Clear Springs. On their way home that night winding through the valley between Clear Springs and Forest Lake on an icy road, Gunter lost control of his car when two vehicles full of young people came directly at him head-on playing a game of “chicken”. Gunter, seeing the row of four headlights coming straight at him, turned the wheel sharply. The car veered left directly into a large oak tree. Gunter was killed instantly on impact. Katrina died at the hospital from her wounds suffered in the crash.
Nadja was two years old. Berthold and Alena, though never getting over the death of their only son and his wife, raised Nadja as their own. Alena had passed away only two years ago, and Nadja and Berthold were now alone in their small cottage by the edge of town.
The cottage was small but cozy. Nadja smiled as she walked up the steps to the front door envisioning her grandfather waiting for her by the fire, watching a late-night TV show. He was a dear old man, and she loved him with all her heart.
Suddenly, she heard a noise, a rustling of branches. Her heart skipped a beat even though she wasn’t afraid to walk home at night. She turned towards the bushes, which bordered the steps to the house. Nothing. She heard rustling again. It was like something brushing up against the bushes. She stepped back down the steps and peered into the darkness hoping to find something.
“It must be a squirrel,” she said backing up the steps. Before she could take a step, something poked her in the back. She jumped with an “Oh!” Her heart leapt. Turning she came face to face with a large wooly, brown reindeer.
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