Flash Fiction: The Perfect Christmas Present

Welcome to The Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to focus on ending and new beginnings. The story must also feature a fruitcake! This week’s story comes from CaraMarie Christy, marketing intern for Alex Westmore and author of Fairies Fly. Check out her blog for writing samples and great short stories by the Spot Writers!

The Perfect Christmas Present

“Yes, I’d like to get everybody a little something for Christmas, but I don’t know if I can get them exactly what they’ve always wanted, mom,” says the petite, attractive, mid-forties blonde, sipping on her Starbucks latte, while I ring up her items. It’s a bit of a pet peeve for cashiers, when the person they’re ringing isn’t paying attention to them. It often leads to an un-bagged loaf of bread or a double scanned can of corn, but I don’t mind. Saves me the trouble of having to make conversation and I’m not some run of the mill seasonal associate. I’m not going to mess up. Her items are all what I would figure from a woman in early December, a handful of gift baskets featuring cocoa, a Barbie for some niece she barely knows, a makeup set for an ugly aunt… But at the end of the conveyor belt of boring items, Ms. Typical has something that, the more I look at it, is beginning to pique my interest. The woman on the other end of her call snaps at my customer and she barks back, “I can’t get everyone exactly what they want. Because some people want a bit more than others.”

Photo downloaded via subscription from Bigstock.com. Not available for re-use.

Photo downloaded via subscription from Bigstock.com. Not available for re-use.

One of her items is strange. As one of the best, most enthusiastic Super Shopper Hopper employees, I’ve taken care of the Christmas section of our Super Shopper Hopper Store for five seasons straight. There are all sorts of sweets and candies that, unbeknownst to most buyers, go up on the racks every year. Corporate fails to send us enough Christmas stock to make the store look full, so we just stick the archaic candies behind the newer ones and hope that we never get any moldy returns. I mean, sugar never goes bad right? It’s probably fine. Personally, I’m fond of one item that has seen this process numerous times.

A five-year old fruitcake that is so old, by Super Shopper Hopper standards, that we might get a fine if anyone from corporate ever found it. And now that fruitcake, my Christmas treasure, is sitting at the end of this woman’s shopping list.

“If Cousin Brittney really wanted a Roomba for Christmas… She’d quit travelling to Germany every other month and get a job.” Ms. Typical doesn’t see the horror she’s ignited in me.

My fruitcake is the best fruitcake of them all. It’s been through so many seasons, that the spirit of retail Christmas has seeped into its sagging cardboard, the stench of pine air fresheners has killed any chance it ever had of smelling like a baked good, and it’s built a thick layer of dusted glitter from all the ornaments that have dangled above it. I’m determined that this fruitcake will never sell, that it’s a yearly tradition to stuff it behind all the fresh fruitcakes.

But there it is. I look Ms. Typical up and down while I scan a tiny, overpriced footwarmer for her. Is she going to see the fruitcake reach the counter and decide she doesn’t want it? Is she going to ask me to go find her a new one from the back?

“I don’t know what she would do with a Roomba.” Her tone is sour and she wrings her scarf while she taps a manicured nail to the back of the phone with the other. “I don’t know if there’s even room in her apartment for one.”

“Yes, I’m going to get her something nice instead,” says the woman, as her eyes sparkle and she sets her coffee cup down to fish a wallet from her purse. I’ve reached the last item. The fruitcake. We look at each other, then down to the fruitcake that I’m about to scan, and when I look up at her again, her smile has grown ten sizes. Ms. Typical whispers into her phone, as I bag the fruitcake that I thought I’d never part with, cutting off the woman howling on the other end, “Oh, don’t worry, mom. It’s fine, you’re right. I’m going to give Cousin Britt exactly what she needs for Christmas.”

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

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