Jamie's Gift: Castle at the End of Snow Road

For Christmas, one of Santa's helpers, an Elf named Jazz, has gone uncover as a homeless teen to give stubborn sixteen year old Jamie Rain, her father and an entire shelter of homeless lives the greatest gift they could ask for on the holiday: A Home. My entry into #2 of the Christmas writing competition: "Your Second Advent Treat"

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1. Castle at the End of the Road

Despite being appropriately dressed for the winter, the frigid winds of the afternoon whipped at Jamie, passing through her fur-winter outfit as if she were wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shorts, chilling her bones and producing a violet shiver from her. Stupid knock off coat… That’s what happens when she had to construct her clothes from the hand-me-downs given to the shelter by generous citizens. At least she was able to get something nice for a change. Beggars can't be choosers. Besides the coat and its accessories made the freckle faced sixteen year old look rich. She'd bet money she could walk into a fancy hotel and get a free room. That's how rich she looked. Okay, perhaps she was full of crap... With that in mind she trudged on, the thick frost crunching softly under her boots. Her face stung, going numb from the icy breezes. Strands of her auburn hair underneath her hat clogged her nose. She could barely see anything in front of her, let alone tell the sky from the ground… The white-washed forest ahead of her was beginning to hurt her eyes. Maybe that was because of the cold too; bare snow covered trees surrounded her, swaying in the harsh storm. Another powerful thrash of ice and wind crashed into her, causing her to clutch herself, stop walking and double over.

She didn’t want to be out here. She wanted to be back at the shelter, spending Christmas with her dad and the other homeless families. No, no, instead she was freezing her boobs off, following Jazz, another friend she met on the road a few months ago. He had all the strikes against him. No family, friends or a home. A bitter soul watching the world pass him by. Jamie felt bad for him. He always wore a little black aviator hat, even when when it was melting back in the summer. Present from someone close. So he said. Never took it off though.  

Dressed in a dark coat, jeans and boots, the nineteen year old marched on a few feet ahead of her as though the slippery snow was soft sand and the cruel winds were nothing but spring kisses. How on Earth could he walk in this mess? Come on! They had been walking for what felt like hours now. Back at the building, he said he wanted to show her something, but if she'd known the walk to whatever it is he desperately wanted to show her would be this long... She chose to skip reading hour for this? Jamie frowned. If she didn't have a crush on him, she'd have socked him in the back months ago. He was always getting her to do stupid things... Jamie recalled one time earlier this summer in the city, he got her to swipe a Rolex from a mall... She huffed and puffed her cheeks, raising her head, staring lasers into his back. What a jerk. He hurried on still unaffected, wisps of his breath fading in the air. She despised him! Wait, not true, she liked and hated him right now. She admired his strength in this cold, but it made her seem... Wimpy. Weak. Those words left a bad taste in her mouth. She and her father survived an entire year on the streets after their home went into foreclosure; wimpy or weak shouldn't even be in her mental dictionary.  

Although Jamie, alongside the other teens she currently shared a home with didn't have luxurious presents like most kids her age, they had warm rooms and meals; that was leagues better than her and her father sharing a box in an alley with the rats... She had family in other states--aunts and uncles, however her dad wasn't on good terms with any of his siblings, not to mention, since he was the youngest of eight; (he called himself the "runt of the litter,") when they lost the house no one came to help... No love at all. Not even for the holiday or when it came to Jamie's birthday last August... Some family she had.  

Her thoughts came to a screeching halt as she felt one of her feet slide on a patch of ice. Before she knew it she yelped and flailed helplessly midair for a second or two right before her back slammed against the ground in a dull thud. Down the road, Jazz had heard her scream and spun around.  

"I hate this!!" She bellowed, swearing to herself.  

Her efforts to pick herself up were met halfway; Jazz's tall frame loomed over her while he extended a hand down toward her.  

"Can't be making snow-angels now," He chuckled, his pale face red from the cold.  

"Ha-ha... Punk." She scowled, pushing his hand away from her, rising to her feet on her own, wiping the wet slush off her legs.  

She circled around, facing the opposite way of the road. "I'm going back to the shelter."  

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," He leapt in front of her, blocking her path. "Why? We're almost there!"  

"You said that ten minutes ago!" She shot back hotly, pushing him. "It's cold, it's Christmas, and..." She trailed off, looking at her boots.  

"My dad needs me."  

"The end of the road isn't far from here," His emerald eyes pleaded with her. "What I have to show you will change your life!"  

"Doubt it," She poked the inside of her cheek with her tongue.  

He grabbed her hands. "Jamie Eleanor Rain... Trust me."  

She hesitated, sniffed then rolled her eyes. "You got ten more minutes. Then I'm kicking you in the balls and I'm leaving."  

His face brightened. "Let's go then!"  

**Holding hands, the two of them hurried down the icy path under a gray sky, snow dancing all around them, the frozen trees on either side of the two rattling in the howling wind.**  

That moment Jamie realized they were holding hands.  

"Hold on a minute..." Jazz raised his eyebrows. "Did you say you were going to kick me in the balls?"  

******

In five minutes they reached the end of the road, coming to an enormous clearing in the forest, Jamie couldn't even seen the other side of the woods, partly due the blizzard. She faced him, narrowing her eyes.  

"More walking? My foot's starting to feel twitchy." She threatened.  

He laughed nervously and stepped back some odd inches. "This is it! This is it!"  

With those words, he pulled a small bell, lifted it over his head and rang it three times, cutting off her snappy retort. The chime was crisp and clear and the storm carried it off into the distance causing it to echo across the clearing.  

Jamie didn't have to wait long. The ice-covered ground beneath her began to tremor, abruptly breaking out into a full-on earthquake that caused her to fall on her back once more. Birds shrieked and took off into the air. Deer joined other four legged creatures in fleeing the area. Jazz remained on his feet, laughing, tilting and shifting his body amidst the quake as if he were surfing on the cool waves of California or something. This was not fun! How was he not on his own butt right now?! Or for that matter, terrified out of his mind, like she was?  

Several feet in front of them, within the middle of the clearing, mountains of snow began to slowly rise from the arctic grass. Hard soil crumbled and broke, becoming chunks of rubble while beige brick towers, wide as skyscrapers, emerged from the shower of flakes. Jamie's eyes widened in disbelief, but she continued to watch them rise into the sky. What... What was happening?!

The base of sturdy constructs started to expand, morphing into an indigo tinted roof, huge stone walls, balconies and long passageways that connected smaller tower-posts to one another; equipped with a variety colossal mural-windows. It was... some type of castle?  

When the ground stopping shaking, Jazz helped the young teen to her feet, laughing hysterically.

"Wasn't that awesome? Merry Christmas Jamie, merry Christmas!!" He danced around her, throwing off his hat for the first time since she met him, revealing his dark, messy hair and his tall, pointy ears. She blinked and looked again, her heart rate increasing. POINTY EARS?!!  

"WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU?!!!!" She yelled, pointing.  

"An elf," He replied simply. "And allow me to introduce your new home... Everyone in the shelter can live here! I've been working on it for months!"  

"You? This?" Her voice screeched in astonishment.  

"No, no, no..." She said feeling short of breath. Her chest was tight.   Jazz wasn't an elf! Otherwise, that meant she... Jamie shook her head. Elves did not exist! He couldn't be one. She had to be dreaming. Yes, that would explain everything. She was still back in the library at the shelter reading. All she did was fall asleep! She closed her eyes then pinched her face. Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake uppppp!!  

Her attempts to return to the norm were interrupted; she heard soft thumping approaching from beside her. Cracking open an eye and glancing to one side of the woodlands, she spotted an ivory horse galloping toward her, a thin, twisted horn protruding from its head.  

"Is that..." She began, her legs turning to jelly.  

"Lightning!" Jazz called out, breaking out into a run to meet his companion. The Unicorn snorted and nuzzled his chest using its muzzle as he hugged its head.  

Jamie didn't know what to think, let alone what to do anymore. She flopped onto the ground, dumbfounded. She just witnessed a castle rise from the earth. Her best friend was an elf. And apparently buddies with a Unicorn. Why didn't he tell her about any of this? No wonder he never took off that stupid hat! She felt like punching him. What would her father say, sitting here now? No doubt he jump out of his funk. At least he would be happy in his dreams.  

"So Jamie," Jazz, smirked, picking up his hat, stuffing it into one of his pockets. Lightning at his side, he walked over to her. "What do you think? Want to go check it out?"  

"This is not real." She mumbled. "I'm dreaming."  

"Of course it's real!" He folded his arms, offended. "Are you really that negative? Where's your Christmas spirit?"  

"Please," She growled. "You think my aunts and uncles care about ' Christmas spirit?' If that were true, I'd still have a home."  

"But you do!" Jazz threw his arms up, motioning to the giant castle. More snow fell on her coat. "Santa personally asked me--"  

"Oh God not Santa, Jazz..."  

He frowned. "Come with me."  

The girl gazed up at him, a gust of wind blowing her hair into her face. Those exact words were what got her out here in the first place.

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