Scene: Sophie's Christmas Tree

This scene is not currently intended for inclusion in a manuscript. It’s meant to help me know the characters better, so I have not concentrated on making it a true short story.

[approx. 725 words]
“And here’s my favorite tree,” Sophie said.

Sweeping ahead of Sandy, she glided into a long room dominated by a white piano draped with a length of red velvet and, at one end of the room, a proverbial roaring fireplace. At the opposite end stood a Christmas tree whose star-tipped magnificence nearly brushed the ceiling far above her head.

Sandy approached it slowly, whistling low. “Where did you get all these ornaments?”

Decorations the like of which he’d never seen glittered and even twirled everywhere. Some reminded him of his own family’s ornaments, handed down through four generations. With a fingertip, he touched a silvered globe painted with deer and snow-covered pines. His aunt had the same one, but with a blue background.

Sophie’s hushed voice couldn’t conceal her pride. “My people scour antique shops. I’ve only been seriously collecting for about five years. I started on one of Xenith’s U.S. tours, when an electrical problem delayed the show. We were one block from an antique shop and I couldn’t resist browsing. Some of the best U.S. ornaments came from tiny towns, hours away from the venue sites. And when I started collecting in Europe, well, I found ornaments decades old. I was hooked.”

Metal bells with intricate etching and soft, pure tones . . . teardrop shapes with fluted, glittery sides . . . round cages that enclosed spinning bits of metal. Sandy studied a yellow cage as the metal bit whirred around. “I’ve never seen anything like that. How does that tiny piece move?”

“Heat from the bulb. Those have to be hung above a hot bulb in just the right spot for the spinner to move. Isn’t it ingenious?”

Her eyes sparkled as she watched the spinner. A smile warmed her face, like a greeting between old friends.

“You know,” Sandy said, “you’d get even more ornaments if you told your fans you collect.”

She shook her head. “I know. Nothing against my fans, but they’d send a bunch of plastic, gaudy stuff along with the elegant ones. I’ve talked to a lot of people about Christmas ornaments, and you’d be surprised how many think that cheap, mass-produced ones are nostalgic. I get plenty of stuff from fans anyway.”

Sandy grinned as he pointed to the star at the top. “How do you explain that bit of plastic?”

Sophie ducked her head. “That’s my only exception. My parents bought that for their first Christmas together. When I spend the holidays away from home, that comes with me without fail.”

“That’s sweet. Your family moved around a lot when you were little, didn’t they?”

“My brothers and me are military brats. It’s why I’ve been parked in this house for the last eight years.” She turned away and her voice become even lower. Sandy moved closer to her. “My family is my lifeline. I couldn’t wait to grow up and stop moving, but I’m still doing it. I had serious second thoughts about a solo career while staying in Xenith. I’m like a migrating bird, always going somewhere, except that I seldom arrive. I try to stay home over the Christmas season because people should be with their families then.” She rubbed her arms. “But you know what I mean. It’s why you go back to your hometown whenever you can.”

“Yeah. One year a bunch of us wrapped tinsel around a huge driftwood log. Somebody put a string of lights on it too, though we couldn’t figure how to get electricity out to the beach.” He smiled. “Thank God that Crescent hasn’t changed much.”

Sophie eased into a velvet, wing-backed chair. “I’m jealous of that. I don’t have roots anywhere except this house. Some families in Great Britain have lived in their hometowns for generations, Sandy. They’re connected to their landscape and each other in ways I can’t begin to understand. This house will have to fall down around me before I move again.”

“Well, I’ll arrange to bring you up to Crescent some time. If they can deal with me and Lennie being there together, they can manage you being there.”

“Ah, if it’s as quiet and relaxed as you say, I might not leave.” Her eyes half closed. “You came here to work on lyrics, not listen to me rattle on. Where do you want to set up?”