Before Dawn Micro Fiction Contest Winners

Sponsoring the 2018 Micro-Fiction Contest has been a privilege and a creative inspiration for us here at Dandelion Press this year. When we launched this project in the Spring of 2017, we had no idea what to expect. A year and a half later, we have a veritable stable of contributing wordsmiths, both adult and young writers. Our thanks to each and every one of you for your stories inspired by Lori’s art. We hope to continue this new tradition in the coming year!

Our fourth and final challenge to you in 2018 was presented with the painting, “Before Dawn.” Lori’s Old World presentation of this classic Christmas scene elicited a flurry of holiday stories. Some were poignant, some magical, others traditional and one futuristic! In the final judging, we had two clear choices, both penned by twelve-year old authors.

Our winner is Eliana Whing, who happens to live all over the U.S.A.! Eliana’s story, “Winter’s Dream,” features an enchanted dream of that White Pony. Her thoughtful, beautifully imagined and written tale truly captures the essence of “Before Dawn.”

We also have an Honorable Mention with Ruthie Lee Biette’s short (125 words!) sketch. Ruthie (Fork Union, VA), was our “Charmed” winner this fall with her 498 word vignette. Her literary perspicacity is enviable in one so young!

Congratulations to both our young writers—may all your Christmas Dreams come true!


The Winning Story

Winter’s Dream

by Eliana Whing, age 12 - All over USA

Maya’s eyes popped open. She sat up letting snow fall off her as she did. Oh dear, snow? She looked this way and that. There was no cozy fireplace, no candles glowing in the window, and no tree with presents gushing out from underneath. Instead, there before her lay a forest of thick evergreens.

Maya slowly got to her feet, shivering in her nightgown. “Mommy! Daddy!” she called helplessly. “Anyone?” Maya lay back down in the snow, wondering if the little match girl had been as cold as she.

A tear ran down her cheek. And another, and another. Soon she was sobbing, out in the middle of nowhere, cold, and alone.

Maya looked up. The sound of sleigh bells filled her ears. There before her she saw someone coming out of the trees on a…reindeer?

“Santa?” Maya asked in despair. But, no, it was a girl, wearing a red dress trimmed with white fleece. She had bright blue eyes, and long, blondish-white hair. There was no reindeer, but instead a white pony.

“Whoa, Dancer!” the girl said. The pony slowed to a stop. “Hello! You're not supposed to be out here, you realize?” the girl smiled at Maya.

“Are you Santa’s daughter?” Maya asked wondrously.

“Of course not!” the girl said laughing. “You look freezing! Come here.” Maya got up and walked slowly towards the girl.

In seconds, Maya had hot cocoa in her hands, a hat on her head, and a white sweater draped over her shoulders. “Where did you…”

“No time for that now. We have to get you home before Christmas morning! Come on!” The girl took Maya’s cocoa and Maya hopped up onto Dancer’s back.

Soon they were swiftly moving through the evergreens. Dancer’s bow jingled, while Maya hugged the sweater close. “Who are you? Maya asked.

“Somebody average, nobody special.”

“Have we met before?”

“In passing perhaps.”

“Do you know where I live?”


“So how do you know where to go?”

“I don’t. But Dancer does.”

“Do you have a name?”


“What is it?”

“Nothing important, something unimportant.”

Maya threw her hands in the air. “I give up.” The girl laughed. “How long till we get back?”

“However long it takes.”

Maya sighed and lay her head on the girl’s back. The snow sparkled in the sunshine. “Isn’t it already Christmas morning?” she asked sleepily.

She never knew the reply though, for before she knew it, she was sleeping. And then awakened again to a cough.

“I don’t remember it being this hard.”

Maya opened her eyes. She was laying on her own couch, in her own house. The bottom of the Christmas tree was flooded with presents, and the stockings were lumpy with goodies.

But the main thing she saw was the girl trying to climb the fireplace’s brick walls. Dancer stood nearby, tied to Maya’s stocking.

Maya leaped up. “Where are you going?”

The girl looked over, surprised. “Home.”

“Wait!” Maya rushed towards her. “Thank you.”

The girl gave her another darling smile. “You’re welcome, Maya.” And with a great jump, she was up out of the chimney.

“How do you know my name?” Maya called after her.

“Didn’t you mention it?” And with that, she disappeared from view.

“You forgot Danc…” Maya stopped her sentence as she realized that Dancer was no longer beside her. All that was left was her big red jingle bell bow. Maya bent down and picked it up, then jumped back onto the couch. She glanced over and noticed that the cookies she’d left for Santa were gone.

Up on the roof, the girl popped the last bite of sugar cookie in her mouth. “Grandpa, I’m ready!” she called.

Almost instantly, her grandfathers’s sleigh came into view. On it was a sack of presents, and in front of it were all of his reindeer. “Hello, my dear.”

“How did I do, Grandpa?”

“You were perfect. Now hop on.” The girl swung her legs into the sleigh, and off they went.

“Who’s next on the list?”

“Danny Ground, about five minutes away.”

“Well then, what are waiting for, let’s go!” And off they went, small as a star in the sky.


Honorable Mention

Before Dawn

by Ruthie Lee Biette, age 12 - Fork Union, VA

The sky is dark.

The stars twinkle and bright snow glitters.

Christmas Eve night.

A small girl. Feet bare on the cold hardwood floor. Pencil in left hand. Paper in right.

Dear Santa, I would like a pretty pony.

She folds the paper and thrusts open the window.

The little airplane flies through the air and disappears.

A cold draft comes in the window. She shivers.

Quietly shut the window. Tiptoe back to bed. Cover up. And sleep.

Thump! Thumpity-thump!

“Santa?” She tiptoes out of her bedroom into the parlor.

Stockings full. Presents under the tree. And…a pony!

Gleaming white fur. Golden mane. Braided tail.

A tag. A note.

For Sadie, a good girl. Her name is Honey.

The girl looks up. “Thank you, Santa.”


All Images © 1983-2019 Lori Preusch