Short Story First Place: Festive Detective

Sanjana Juvvadi

His slender fingers tightly grasped the bow of the glossed violin, years old yet maintained without a scratch, as he let go of his wandering mind and played as if it were the only prime part of his existence. The eerily noise vibrated through the cold wood floor of the snow-covered apartment 221B on Baker Street. 

The apartment was more festive than ever; there was red tinsel around the staircase, bright lights illuminating the halls, ridiculously colorful stockings over the fireplace, and an artificial green Christmas tree stuffed into the corner of the living room. The decorations only happened after Mrs. Hudson’s endless insisting that “a Christmas party must look like it is excited for Christmas.” 

Sherlock couldn’t care less for the occasion and eagerly waiting for a new case to arise, while Watson would much rather have spent his evening drinking tea and reading the daily newspaper. However, when Mrs. Hudson insists that the men need social interaction, she is stubborn about it. 

Suddenly the door burst open and a gust of cold air blew in, knocking Sherlock out of his own violin enhanced trance. 

“Happy Christmas!” Lestrade said while tripping over gifts in the cramped hallway.

Sherlock lifted an eyebrow and attempted not to frown at the inspector. “Happy Christmas.” He replied in a dull tone while placing the smooth violin back in the black case gently.

Minutes later, Mycroft Holmes, John Watson and his wife Mary, and Mrs. Hudson entered the apartment dressed nicely with tired smiles on their faces. The past year was filled with disturbingly shocking cases and more murders than the ideal, leaving everyone except Sherlock wanting a break from crime scenes.

As everyone settled in the living room, Watson placed five gifts on the table. 

Sherlock cocked his head sideways in question at the man who had recently grown a mustache. “I didn’t know we were giving presents.” He exclaimed.

“We thought it would be a fun game to have you guess which present is from each of us,” Watson said while gesturing at the others.

“To see how good your inductive reasoning actually is,” Mary smirked. 

Mrs. Hudson quickly went to the kitchen and grabbed some cookies and wine for everyone to enjoy while watching Sherlock think. 

Sherlock studied the five gifts closely, each was wrapped in thick brown paper but had a different bow on top. He smiled to himself. This was going to be simple. Picking up the first gift, he touched the glitter bow and looked at his hand. Some specs of glitter stuck to his finger. 

“Hmm.” He said while glancing at everyone’s hands to see if the giver had some residue as well. All of the hands were clear and clean. Sherlock narrowed his eyebrows in thought while his mind raced to see how people removed glitter from skin. 

“Oil!” He exclaimed. Referring back to his chemistry research, oil molecules have more friction with each other rather than with other objects, therefore the slipperiness of the oil would allow the glitter to slide right off. 

He pushed the present over to Mary whose hands were more moisturized in the dry winter temperature than the others.

“Never doubted you for a moment.” Winked Mary.

Mrs. Hudson looked baffled as she concluded that her old lady mind couldn’t keep up with the thought processes of the younger generations. 

“Well, which one is next?” Asked Sherlock while staring at the second gift. This one was wrapped much tighter and more creased than the previous one. Only people who had to deal with fragile items and were experienced in packing would have taken this much care to wrap a box. Flipping it over, he took note of the visible piece of tape holding the paper together. Forming a hypothesis of who must have brought it, he concluded that it would be a straightforward person, who values efficiency over aesthetics, and likely works with items, fitting the description of police inspector Lestrade. 

 “This one is for you, Inspector,” Sherlock said. Lestrade tipped his hat towards the detective.

“And that is why I consult you for the police department.” Said Lestrade with a hint of pride in his voice. 

Gesturing towards the third gift, Sherlock laughed and said, “Moving on, this present is obviously from Mrs. Hudson, as there is a single dog hair on it and loose packaging from her shaking hands.” 

“Oh darn, Fluffy, I knew I should have put her away.” Frowned Mrs. Hudson.

Everyone smiled. This was one of the few times that they were all together and enjoying themselves without bickering. The holidays just brought that welcoming spirit in which spending time with family and friends is the most significant. 

“Are you all going anywhere for New Years’?” Asked John. Everyone began talking at once except Sherlock who had just deducted whom the fourth gift belonged to. People always change the topic to avoid direct confrontation or distract others, so it was a dead giveaway. Sherlock slid the present to John, and the remaining one to his dear brother Mycroft. 

“I presume mine was the most difficult?” Asked Mycroft.

“Of course it was, you know the way I think.” Replied Sherlock.

“Well, that was interesting.” Said John as the group began to talk about their hopes for the future and laugh at past memories. 

Sherlock glanced out the window, the snowflakes danced gently and the fireplace kept everyone warm. For once, he felt belonging and close companionship. No detail went unnoticed by Sherlock and he was grateful for them all, even the minuscule ones. Thankful for his friends, his landlady, his violin, his interesting cases, and his job, he sighed. To a great mind, nothing is little.