Stella paced the small apartment. She didn’t have a Christmas present for her daughter, and she was flat broke. Recently she had a job doing homecare duties for an elderly lady who had a stroke, but that had come to an abrupt end when her client fell down and broke her hip. Now she found herself without work, trying to cough up enough money to pay the dentist bill. Well at least she didn’t have a tooth ache any more. Even the dentist said it was a tooth from hell. So the problem was Christmas and what to get her five year old daughter.
But what? It wouldn’t take a lot to please her, but she didn’t want her daughter to start her early life [how old is the daughter? If a baby, she won’t feel deprived. If older, we need to have an indication of that] feeling deprived.
Stella took the bus downtown to order a hamper from the Salvation Army, so at least food would not be a problem on Christmas Day. Still, she couldn’t think of a nice but cheap gift for Willow. The days passed quickly as she handed out her resume [need the accent mark], hoping to pick up some extra cash, but it was one of those times when nothing seemed to happen. A fallow time, she thought, knowing that at other times in her life she would be overwhelmed with work commitments.
One morning after she got Willow safely off to school, she fell to her knees and told the whole sad story to Heavenly Father. “Help me,” she begged. “All I want is a good present for my sweet little girl. She deserves it. She’s always so helpful and she still believes in Santa Claus. I don’t want to let her down.”
As she [Stella] stumbled into the living room, she noticed a delivery truck outside the apartment building. Mr. Sneider’s fridge had given up the ghost and the landlord was springing for a new one. “I know!” Stella shouted, as she clicked her heels together in mid air. [really? Kind of corny.] She ran down to Mr. Sneider and asked for the refrigerator box. “I want to turn the box into a playhouse for my daughter,” she explained.
Mr. Sneider grinned as if she had just given him a million bucks. “Can I help?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“I used to be a set designer for CBC [what’s this? Better to say for a tv station or a theater]. I’d love to help. I have all the supplies that we need.” He then offered to keep the box in his apartment until Christmas Eve so it would be a big surprise on Christmas morning.
The word got around. Everyone wanted to help little Willow have a great Christmas.
On Christmas morning Willow discovered a colorful playhouse in the living room. It was painted pink and blue and yellow, and had shutters and window boxes. Santa had also given her clothes and books and dolls, and games and movies, more than she had ever expected. [in a list, use and or commas, but not both]
That night as Stella thanked Heavenly Father for this Christmas miracle, she realized that the people in the apartment, the ones who had parties late at night, the who left junk in the hallways, the ones with addictions, the ones with bad breath in the elevator, the ones who sneezed in your face, the ones who used the washing machine and dryer on the wrong day, she realized that they were all angels in disguise. And perhaps that was the greatest gift of all.
What I liked best: I liked the basic story idea–that Heavenly Father inspires us with ideas and that other people can become angels in our lives.
Magazine ready? Not quite. It needs to be expanded a bit. I’d like to see more sense of place, more descriptions of what’s happening in the moment, get to know some of the people who help her and see how Stella’s perceptions of them change through this experience. Good start.