This is a short scene with my character Chance and his little sister Annie.
“Do I get one? Do I get one?” Annie asked as she bounced in the pew between Chance and their mother. She clapped her hands as the basket of candles got closer. The velvet barrette bows were already slipping down through her red hair.
“Not this time,” their mom said even as Bob answered “You have to be five.”
“I’m a good three,” Annie said, crossing her arms. “I want a candle.” Her nose scrunched up. Tears were soon to come.
“No candle,” their mom said firmly.
“Chancy gets one.” Annie’s whisper got louder. Screams through Silent Night would be distracting and get more than a few elderly glares.
“You can get a candle,” Chance said.
“Chance,” Bob started. He had the baskets of white tapers and their plastic cups now.
“I got it covered. She can have mine.”
Bob and his mom looked less than pleased with this plan, but they didn’t stop it. Annie snatched the biggest candle she could find in the basket. “But then you don’t get one,” she said.
“I get you,” Chance said, setting his bulletin and sheet music on the ground. “C’mon up on my lap.”
Annie made a face. Thankfully, a moment later she climbed on up, her green skirt sliding across his slightly too short dress pants. Chance rearranged her limbs so she wasn’t sticking out at all angles. Annie rested her head back against him as a cello began playing O Little Town of Bethlehem. Annie sang along, too high, humming on the words she didn’t know. There was a lot of humming.
Ushers walked along the aisles bearing lit candles. As candle tipped into candle, the flames travelled down through the crowd of people. Annie waved her candle about until Chance folded his hands around hers and held the candle steadily in the flame of his mom’s candle. The little girl gasped when the wick caught flame. Slowly, very slowly, Chance righted the candle.
“Now hold still,” Chance said in Annie’s ear. “Lit candles stay tip. They don’t tip. Otherwise, they burn clothes and mom hates that.” He remembered being forced to wear the sweater with the candle hole in it for years after the time he tried to light her candle by tipping the candle and got his sleeve instead.
Annie giggled, making the candle bounce a bit. Maybe that hadn’t been the greatest warning to give his kid sister, but it was pretty easy to steady her. Then Silent Night started. Chance hugged Annie and closed his eyes. He’d tried to convince them this was a good song for trombone, but until he succeeded on that front, this was his favorite song to sing on Christmas Eve.
Silent night, Holy night. All is calm, all is bright.
The little girl on his lap tugged on his sleeve. Chance bent down so she could whisper in his ear, still singing. “Merry Christmas, brother,” she said.
“Merry Christmas, Annie.”