Flash Fiction (mystery): Christmas Cookies

Flash Fiction (mystery): Christmas Cookies

By Mary Elizabeth Summer

Polly scrunched her nose in concentration as she lined one last sugar cookie with a strip of purple frosting. Purple wasn’t technically a Christmas color, but it was Polly’s favorite, so she thought it was appropriate.

She washed her hands, some of the purple sticking to her fingers. Normally, she would have licked it off, but these were special cookies. Science experiment cookies. She opened her composition notebook, drew a swirl and some bulbs to represent twinkle lights, then started recording her question, hypothesis, and method in large, bubbly letters, switching colors from red to green and back again.

That night before bed, she poured six ounces (measured) of two-percent milk into a glass with a reindeer design printed on it, plated the cookies, and set them all on the curl of the banister leading from the living room, where the Christmas tree stood sturdy and bright, up to the bedrooms, where Polly and her family would be sleeping. She made notations in her journal, measurements mostly, and retreated to her room to wait.

A few hours later, she awoke to a loud thud and clatter coming from the bottom of the stairs. She threw on her robe, grabbed her notebook, and darted to the top of the staircase. From this angle, she could just make out the tip of a black-soled boot. As she inched down, she saw furry, red pants, a black belt, a coat lined with white fur, and, finally, a man with a white beard lying unmoving on the floor.

She approached with caution, nudging him with her foot, afraid at any moment that he would pop up, irate, and put her on the naughty list, repossessing all her presents in the process. But he never did, even after several long minutes of waiting.

Finally, Polly was forced to admit the obvious—her hypothesis had failed.

Disappointed, she scribbled her findings in her journal. It appeared that Santa’s immortality did not extend to poison.

Mary Elizabeth Summer is the author of the young-adult Trust Me mystery series. She lives in Beaverton with her wife, their daughter, their dog, and their evil overlor—er, cats.