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Jonty's Christmas dilemma - a story dice challenge

December 5th, 2018 (09:27 am)

I was having lunch with a group of authors and we had a secret Santa in which Clare London got story dice. Of course, we had to throw them and get six things to go into a ficlet. They were: a flower, a car, a bus, a pile of something smelly, an angry face and a hot air balloon. Here's my offering:


On the whole, Jonty loved it, from the first glorious rendition of “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel” through the familiar lessons and carols—whether single instances or nine together—to the point one could officially sing the “Born this happy morning” verse of “Oh Come, All ye Faithful”. The whole month consisted of a growing sense of anticipation culminating in the twelve days of Christmas itself with their abundance of mulled wine, good cheer, and plum pudding type delights.

The only dark cloud came in the form of knowing what to buy Orlando for a Christmas present.

Asking him was no use, because the response would either be the romantic but useless, “I need nothing, thank you, as I have all I want smiling at me across the breakfast table,” or the practical but depressing answer, “I could do with a new set of mathematical tables as my current ones are rather dog-eared.”

Jonty was happy to purchase said weighty, number-ridden tome, although he wanted to accompany it with something extravagant, an expansive gesture expressive of his affection. He’d been trying to come up with the ideal gift since All Hallows Eve, and all the ideas he’d generated so far had been—quite frankly—rubbish. A ride in a hot air balloon appealed, although that would risk Orlando complaining about air sickness for three months in advance of, during and for five weeks after the event itself.

Some new rose bushes for the garden would be welcome, but it was the wrong time of year to purchase and plant them, surely. And the offer of a delivery of well-rotted horse manure, while suitable for encouraging the growth of the existing bushes, would hardly have been romantic.

He’d had one splendid notion, but that was likely to be inflammatory. Orlando would look wonderful in a new sheepskin coat, with matching gloves and hat, all of which would keep him warm while they were out in the automobile. Against that was the fact that anything to do with Jonty’s motoring pride and joy proved a red rag to Orlando’s bull. Nobody could produce such an angry face as Orlando could when scowling at what he referred to as the metal monster.

Jonty sighed, then picked up the newspaper, hoping that if he focussed his conscious attention on something else, his sub-conscious might solve the problem. It didn’t have the chance to even get into its crouch let alone sprint out again, Jonty’s eye being caught by an article describing an entanglement in London between a General motor omnibus, a brewer’s dray and a small black dog, which had resulted in much bad language and free beer for anybody who was alert enough to fetch a jug. An unfortunately placed advert just below the article heralded the map and guide for the bus company’s services. Open air to everywhere. Open air to landing in a heap in the aisle, Jonty thought with a chuckle. He turned the page, then turned it back again.

An omnibus.

He could hire one in the spring. A reliable one, not the sort to go ploughing into beer carts. Then he could take Orlando—plus picnic, rugs and a plentiful supply of the widow Cliquot’s best—on a jaunt around the countryside. Orlando’s usual objections would be overcome in advance because a) Jonty wouldn’t be at the wheel so would be able to give him his full attention and b) an omnibus was halfway to a train and Orlando liked those.

The sound of the front door opening made Jonty quickly flip to the page that gave accounts of the latest rugger matches.

“What are you up to?” Orlando said, as he entered the room, coming over to kiss the top of Jonty’s head.

“Thinking of the Open air to everywhere.”

Orlando wrinkled his brow, then shook his head. “One day I might understand what you ramble on about but I won’t attempt it today. I’m off to find a pot of tea.”

“If you could find one for me, too, I’d be most appreciative.”

Jonty cast an equally appreciative glance at Orlando’s trim backside as his lover left the room, then got back to his planning.

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