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(chapter 6 excerpt from PIOUS, a novel by Kenn Bivins)


Carpious had seen many Christmas Eves — forty-five in fact — but most of his adult life was absent of the naïveté and excitement that can come from a child whose unlimited imagination swells with Christmas Day anticipation. Carpious and Sydney had previously discussed sharing Christmas festivities at Carpious’ house to Solomon’s glee. Several brightly wrapped gifts of varying sizes and shapes are piled under a freshly cut Fraser fir trimmed with lights fading from dim to bright rather than blinking erratically. The smell of sap mingles with the scent of cinnamon, inducing a spirit of calm and relaxation for Carpious and Sydney while quickening the pulse of Solomon who is in bed but finding it difficult to slip into any form of unconsciousness or still thought.

Carpious and Sydney sit in a darkened living room in one corner of the couch, snuggled beside one another watching the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. The sound on the television is low enough so as to not disturb Solomon down the hallway but loud enough that its audience of two can make out the dialogue. Sydney is such a fan of the movie that she could probably follow along and quote the movie even if the sound were set to mute. It was her suggestion to spend the evening watching traditional Christmas movies like Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, and It’s a Wonderful Life while sipping on seasonal elixirs and munching on various holiday confections. Carpious had been content in the past to listen to music in the background while nodding off on the couch to football recaps on the sports channels.

“Mommy,” a voice sings in a whisper from behind them.

Sydney abruptly turns, while Carpious is a little slower to respond as evidence that he was continuing some part of his tradition of nodding to sleep on the couch.

“I can’t sleep,” Solomon whines as he rubs his eyes looking in the direction of the Christmas tree littered with gifts beneath. He’s wearing light blue one-piece footed pajamas with Spider-Man patterns on them.

“Honey, the sooner you sleep, the sooner Santa can come. He won’t come if you’re awake,” Sydney reasons.

“But I see presents already…”

Carpious smiles to himself as he gets up. “I got him,” he whispers to Sydney as he runs his hand along her shoulder. “Come on, Buddy. Those are pre-Santa presents. Santa Claus is bringing the big presents, but only after you go to sleep,” Carpious says to Solomon as he lifts him in the air and turns him upside down. Happy shrills of an already excited seven-year-old fade down the hallway into one of Carpious’ guestrooms.

Sydney smiles and nestles back into the couch once more with the confidence that if anyone can bargain Solomon to sleep, Carpious can and will.

The movie ends before Carpious returns. Sydney sits up to allow for him to resume his previous position.

“Down for the count,” Carpious reports.

“What did you do?” Sydney asks.

“I gave him a sip of eggnog with rum,” Carpious jokes.

“No, really.”

“I told him that I would wake him up as soon as Santa left.”

“And that did it?” Sydney asks surprised.

Carpious looks at her and hesitates before laughing and then subsiding to seriousness. “I told him I would be here when he wakes up.”

“Cool,” Sydney says as she nestles back into the arms of Carpious, smiling at the sensitivity and depth of his statement.

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Read the complete tale and conflict of Carpious in Kenn Bivins' debut novel, PIOUS. It's available for immediate download to all eReaders, including Kindle, nook, and iPad, for only $4.99. Also available in paperback online and where fine books are sold. Get your copy today.

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