Gritty Details

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Saturday's Storyteller: "Here's how I got nicknamed Plague Nog."

by Belinda Roddie

Here's how I got nicknamed Plague Nog.

It happened on Christmas Eve, when I was babysitting Mister and Missus Norris's nine-year-old and six-year-old daughters. They were little rascals, those two - bouncy, hyper, always plotting, always mischievous. In a good way, of course. Together, we planned escape routes from the house in case of invading zombies or pirates. Sometimes they would dress up as royalty and expect me to do their bidding, until I of course told them I outranked them.

"We're queens!" they'd protest. "You can't be above a queen!"

"I can if I'm a supreme overlord," I'd reply, and that would be the end of the debate.

Jenna and Tiffany, the oldest and youngest respectively, adored Christmas. And their parents allowed the holiday to be as much of a free-for-all as possible. The girls chose the tree, decorated it as they saw fit, and always came up with new ideas for ornaments and stringing lights. They dressed the cat as Santa, much to its hissing chagrin, and picked the Christmas carols we would sing every time I came over. They would wrap not just presents, but every day items in paper - even the landline telephone wasn't safe from ribbons and bows. "Everything must be a Christmas surprise!" they would argue, and I would smile and let them have their fun, provided that they didn't get into the medicine cabinet or run into the front yard out into oncoming traffic.

Christmas Eve could not have come sooner for the girls, and the Norrises were off to their annual holiday party, where plenty of champagne would flow alongside platefuls of cookies and candies and other sugary treats. I was left with Jenna and Tiffany, who sat by the fire drinking egg nog and asking me to tell them stories. I was quite good at reading stories aloud, and we had gone through everything, even the morbid. In fact, I had just finished reading "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe because Tiffany, of all people, had recommended it. For being a first grader, she had a strong stomach for the grotesque and horrid, and Jenna and she absorbed that tragic, disturbing, and not very Christmas-y tale like intrigued sponges. I was impressed.

"Do you think there'll ever be a plague?" Jenna asked quizzically, as I went back to the kitchen to fetch the now half-empty nog carton.

I raised an eyebrow. "There have been plagues, in the past."

"I know that," Jenna sighed, ever the precocious one. "But will we ever have a plague now?"

"Doubtful," I said.

"Are you sure?"

I blinked, then sneered. "Well..." I shook the carton of egg nog at them. "Maybe something is in this nog..."

And that's how I came to be known as Plague Nog and scared two girls out of drinking the stuff.

This week's prompt was provided by Daniel Bulone. Merry Christmas Eve!

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