“Poor As I Am” (A Modern Tale of Christmas Eves)

David Rodeback, Poor As I Am

“Poor As I Am”
(A Modern Tale of Christmas Eves)

by David Rodeback

Copyright 2016
All rights reserved.


Two grad students, wrestling with real life on limited budgets, spend Christmas Eves together. Each year (and sometimes in between), something momentous happens. Along the way, they learn about themselves and each other and Christmas.

One reader writes:

“A lot of writers invent a fake world, maybe because the real world isn’t worthy of them. This writer focuses on the real world and allows the reader to lose herself in the beauty and breathtaking quality of real life. Because real life is beautiful, even if it has rough edges.”

“A gentle, unassuming, powerful story.”

“In an endearing, utterly captivating way, I was brought into the lives of two people who felt too real to be fictional.”

Nine Roses and Three (a short story)

I was in Walmart the evening before Valentine’s Day, picking up an item or two. On my way out, I saw an old man holding a bouquet of roses he had just bought. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere. He was just standing and looking at the roses. Somehow, that put me in a writing mood. So I wrote this little thing that night, polished it the following morning, and e-mailed it to my mother-in-law for Valentine’s Day.

Rather than putting the story itself in this post, I’m linking to a PDF file of it, for the sake of preserving the font I used.

For the record, it’s not about anyone in particular. It’s just what my brain conjured up when I saw an old man holding a bouquet.

Nine Roses and Three (a Short Story)

Here’s a mobile-friendly PDF (with much larger print), in case you’re reading on a small screen.

Nine Roses and Three (a Short Story) — mobile version

It’s five pages long, or about 1700 words.

Thankful Reflections on an Interesting Year

Today is Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays – and perhaps you’ll forgive me if I parse that word as holy day. If we raise our aim above the purely horizontal, thanksgiving – or gratitude, if you please – is one of the highest acts of worship.

Usually on this holy day, I think of the big stuff, from infinite grace born of God to the spilled blood of patriots and the wrenching sacrifices of their loved ones. All of that is still there, still here, still the object of daily gratitude. But as this holy day has approached, I have reflected on smaller, more personal things. I hope this doesn’t sound too self-serving. In any case it has been an interesting year – and I know it’s not quite over yet.

A Failure of Imagination (a short story)

Though his body was still healthy, Walter’s mind faded quickly after that. Gravely concerned, his two children arranged for him to live in a care facility, where highly trained caregivers could help him grapple with what had become the central fact of his old age: his childhood nightmare had returned, and now it wasn’t just a dream.

(This story was written for the American Fork Library’s 2013 Scary Story Contest. You’ve been warned.)

Author's Note
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V

Eleven-B (a short story)

[toggle title=”Author’s Note”]

This is a short story I wrote 20 years ago, after a plane trip and a fortuitous find or two in a newspaper. It was formerly published at an old site of mine, BookishThoughts.com. I wonder how I would write it differently 20 years later, or if I would write it at all. It seems a trifle overdone.


“Good morning.” The inevitable red, white, and blue flight attendant smiled a practiced smile. Smith scowled in her general direction, mumbled something between “good morning” and “what’s it to you?” and moved on, looking for his aisle seat, 11C. More paint than a billboard, he thought. I’ll bet she buys her eye shadow wholesale.

He found his seat. 11A and 11B were unoccupied. His cheap new briefcase, which contained the few material possessions he troubled himself to care about, went into the overhead compartment among the pillows and blankets. He growled softly at nothing in particular, then strapped himself into his seat. Finding the appropriate button, he pushed it, tipping the seat back. He yawned discretely, almost timidly, and shut his eyes.