BBC's The One Show are holding a Christmas story competition. Entries must be 200 words or less, and reach them by noon on Monday. You can enter online. The winning story will be read out live on air by the great Bernard Cribbins.
I had a go myself, but my story is too long at 300 words. So I thought I'd post it here. I'm not convinced it really captures the spirit of Christmas anyway.
-- Jason and Cressilda --
Once upon a time a little boy and a little girl were wandering through a forest at night. The air was crisp and clear and the snow lay in soft white hummocks beneath the pines. The two children were named Jason and Cressilda, and they each carried a present they had wrapped carefully in bright paper.
"We can't give him two scarves," said Jason.
Little Cressilda ran to catch up with her big brother, who was so much taller than she. "I made mine specially. You just bought yours in a shop."
"At least mine is red," Jason said. "He only wears red, you know."
"I didn't have any red wool," Cressilda replied glumly.
Jason just laughed and marched ahead.
At last they came to glittering clearing among the trees. All was dark and silent. Jason strode on out into the centre and gazed up at the stars. "We'll be able to spot him from here."
But then he heard a sudden cracking sound under his feet. The snow had been hiding a frozen pool. The ice broke and he fell through into freezing water. He tried to climb out, but his hands kept slipping.
Cressilda tore open her parcel and threw the end of her scarf to her brother, who held on tightly and managed to pull himself out. He sat on the ice for a long moment, shivering and gasping for breath. Finally he hung his head and moaned. "I lost my present."
"We can still give him mine," Cressilda said, "it can be from both of us."
Jason picked up the wet, miserable clod of wool that had been Cressilda's scarf. "You can't give him this thing now," he said. "Look at the state of it." He tossed it into the water.
Cressilda began to sob quietly.
Three years later she died of leukaemia.