“Another Small Gift”

A SHORT STORY by ALAN LASTUFKA
PUBLISHED May 12, 2020
Another Small Gift - A Short Story - Cover Art (1st Edition)

SYNOPSIS

Emma Brooks loves the Christmas cards she receives every year from her Mom, her younger sister Charlotte, and of course, her very much alive, as far as she knows, Uncle Mike. But when Emma stumbles onto one of her family’s biggest secrets, her holidays will be changed forever.

AVAILABLE FORMATS

eBook, Limited Foiled Edition, Audiovisual

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...stays with you...

– Ash Miller
Goodreads

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...entirely unexpected...

– Vivian Hernandez
Goodreads

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Another Small Gift - A Short Story - Cover Art (1st Edition)
Another Small Gift - A Short Story - Cover Back (1st Edition)
Another Small Gift - A Short Story - Limited Foiled Edition (1st Edition)
Another Small Gift - A Short Story - Limited Foiled Edition Back (1st Edition)

An Excerpt from “Another Small Gift”

Preparation for this year’s big present took me back down to Granville in the middle of summer. Christmas in July, as the department stores say.

I was there to visit the bakery we used to live above. Mom owned it for fifteen years before we moved up to Cellar. I wanted to interview some of her old customers, the folks who lived in town and bought from her every week. I planned on framing a retrospective photo collage surrounded by kind quotes from all her regulars.

I knew Mom was proud of the years she invested in the bakery. She still brought it up from time to time, but didn’t have any mementos around to remind her of it. I thought that was sad. I’ve covered my walls in my own mementos: framed ticket stubs from concerts, my diploma from Ohio State University, and, of course, so many of Charlotte’s Polaroids. A photo collage for Mom would be perfect—the right amount of sappy, nostalgic, and thoughtful. Like I said, I don’t do small gifts. I’d definitely cry; she’d maybe cry. What more could you want from Christmas morning?

And since I had already made the long drive down, I thought it’d be fun to surprise Uncle Mike, who, as far as I knew, still lived in our old apartment above the bakery. The new bakery owners had painted over Mom’s sign and taken down the floral awning I’d helped her hang when I was just ten years old. I wished I could have gotten a scrap of that to frame. But for all that had changed, the air outside still smelled of warm, baked bread, the best smell in the whole world.

I was so excited to see Uncle Mike again and maybe even drag him out to a showing of Lady Bird, or really anything that didn’t costar an orc. Only, when I rang the bell for the upstairs apartment, Uncle Mike didn’t answer the door. A “Mr. Chen” did.

Mr. Chen informed me he had lived there for years. Mr. Chen, who was at least a foot shorter than my uncle and who had a lot more hair than him, said he had a bag full of Michael Brooks’s mail if I wanted it. Mr. Chen was pretty sure the apartment freed up after Michael Brooks died.

And before I could process anything Mr. Chen had said, he disappeared back into the hallway.

Wait. Uncle Mike died? Years ago? No. No, no, no. That was wrong. Uncle Mike had won an archery competition just last year. And the year before that, he’d scored a mint Pete Rose rookie card. He wrote in his Christmas letter that he’d been chasing that card for more years than he could count. As far as I knew, dead men didn’t bid up rookie baseball cards.

But Mr. Chen returned and handed me a plastic grocery bag full of mail. There were a few issues of Bowhunter magazine and a few Christmas cards, still sealed in cheap red and green Hallmark envelopes, fat with unread letters.

“Another Small Gift” Audiovisual Book

Watch, Read, and Listen to the Unabridged Audiovisual Book
Directed by Alan Lastufka. Read by Beka Gurney.

Another Small Gift - A Short Story - Limited Foiled Edition (1st Edition)

Limited Foiled Edition

On November 7, 2020, I published the first physical print edition of “Another Small Gift”.

The Limited Foiled Edition features a hand-foiled and vellum cover. It’s 5.5″ x 7.5″, 20 pages, and saddle stitched. Each snowflake is foiled with a reflective coating. There are five colors in total (blue, teal, gold, bronze, and red).

The first print edition was limited to 25 copies.

★★★★★

ANOTHER SMALL GIFT is a story that stays with you after reading it. What seems to start as a murder mystery quickly turns to something much more psychological.

Would I make the same choices in this situation? This story grounds its grandiose premise with family dynamics and relationships that feel so real.

This is a quick read that leaves you thinking – I definitely recommend taking the time to pick it up and give it a read.

Ash Miller

Amazon Review

★★★★

This story tackles family values, secrecy, and relationships in an entirely unexpected way. It begins with the small tease of of a murder mystery that is quickly resolved and leads to a much bigger internal conflict.

Watching Emma struggle with her choices was extremely strange for me. The central conflict lives much deeper than where I set my expectations, and seeing such a huge difference to how I would have responded left a lot lingering thoughts.

Even a day after reading, I’m still pondering Emma’s choices and my own in the same, should the situation ever present itself. It definitely leaves a lot of questions about happiness and kindnesses we give to others.

Vivian Hernandez

Goodreads Review

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Technical Details

GENRE Psychological, Holiday
PUBLISHER Shortwave Media
ISBN 978-1-7336919-1-8 (eBook)