There haven’t been many Christmases for the Dansers. In general, they seem to prefer holidays in their minds. There is one that I like from the 1988 novel Cream of the Wheat.
Jared A Danser’s death off the shore of la Diana:
The orange burning fuel lay on the surface of the water, delivering up solid black columns of smoke. Pierce surfaced and swam through the hot flotsam over to Jared, just beyond where the skiff was going under. He rolled Jared onto his back and got his head above the surface, raising his younger brother’s jerking chin and chomping teeth.
Later, there was nothing more than a moonlit sea sparkling around the two bloodied men; one unconscious and the other holding him in a fireman’s grip, treading water with his one free arm and one functional leg. Pierce struggled to keep both of their heads above the surface. When his body began to shake, he did all he could do, deciding that he’d do it until he couldn’t any longer. The shore, a stretch of white sand below the black sky, was too far away.
He didn’t know how much time had passed when he saw the Christmas tree lying onto its side. It was much prettier and more moving that any he and his brother had ever seen. The tree was bumping across the metallic blue carpet toward them. The star atop the tree was waving at them; at him and his younger brother.
Pierce shook Jared, wanting him to see too. Wanting him to wave for them. He deserved the honor. “C’mon!” Pierce pleaded, “Wave!”
He watched the tree slide closer.
It was absolutely beautiful.
Pierce realized from somewhere way distant that he was crying with both happiness and surprise.
“Jared, look!” he laughed, no longer embarrassed by his tears. He couldn’t focus on the alchemy of tears and happiness mixed with salt water and blood.
Excerpt from Cream of the Wheat (1988):
© Greg Jolley, 1988.