Trees with Angel Hair

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Trees with Angel Hair is a collection of five short stories set in a fictional version of my home town set in the '50s '60s and the '90s. The stories focus on different aspects of Christmas in a small southern town.

Submitted: January 24, 2009

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Submitted: January 24, 2009

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Bud stands silently at the Christmas tree, still unraveling light strings, but his eyes lock on Grace Ann like a hungry puppy's. He is waiting, waiting, I can tell, for her to acknowledge he is here.
"Oh, hey there, Sugar," Grace Ann says, casually, coming over to take one end of the light string and begins to help him."We sure had us one good time in the snow Saturday, didn't we?Daddy's had me towing the line since then, practicing my routine every spare minute out in the garage.Just you wait though, when this ol' contest is over me and you . . ." she whispers something to him, enough to make him smile.
Ellott and I begin the long process of securing the lights in the tall tree while Grace Ann continues, in her fashion, to soothe Bud, to dispel any ideas that she is slip, slipping away.Rumor, via Ellott and Rosie, has it that Fred is more than displeased with the all continued presence of Bud Reese in Grace Ann's social life. I expect he saw Bud in the crowd of snow ball hurlers and gave Grace Ann her marching orders regarding the proximity of the upcoming competition.
Bud twines the last string of lights around the upper branches of the spruce. I bring in boxes of ornaments--many from years past and some newly purchased from Elmores and open them. We choose some and take turns hanging them on all the branches. Bells, balls, candy canes, Santas, and elves intermingle with angels, wisemen and the Madonna and Child as our tree takes shape. The four of them take handsful of icicles and delicately spread them one by one around the tree. They discuss the garland strand and decide it would "gild the lily" or whatever the current cool term for that is.
And finally, Ell produces two boxes of angel hair. "Daddy gave us these for the tree, Miss Vancene. He was sorry he couldn't do more, but you know how sales have been this year."
"I know that, honey," I tell her. "Tell Lloyd thank you. Don't any of you touch it yet though.I've got some old gloves in the store room. Whichever one of ya'll's going to put it on has to wear them."
"What is that stuff, anyway?" Bud wants to know.
"Angel hair, honey," Grace Ann explains. "It cuts your hands, but it's really beautiful. You spread it out real thin and sort of drape it over the tree sort of like a spider web and then when the lights shine through it, well it's just the coolest thing you've ever seen."

"Oh," Bud says. "We make most of our decorations at home. One time we strung berries off the holly bush along with the popcorn.But this year, since Mary Joyce started workin' down at the dime store, she got us some real ornaments, blue and red and silver."

Bud stretches the angel hair, thinner and thinner, not looking up. He takes a piece of it to the tree and spreads it delicately across the front, and it looks like wisps of clouds. The rest he does in silence, perfectly covering every limb, every last needle, of the very large tree with an iridescence of white. No one says a word until he is finished.

"I want to turn the lights on," Rosie almost whispers. It is near dark and I nod my okay.

The colored bulbs elicit a near celestial glow through the spiral swirls of angel hair. The ornaments glitter and reflect a grandeur that does not seem to be there in daylight. Our tree is magnificent and somehow, this draws Bud from his muteness.

"Man, that's the best thing I seen since . . . I don't know when," he says. "Don't ya' think so."


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