A Limited Edition Christmas

Submitted into Contest #122 in response to: Write a story about a limited edition item going on sale.... view prompt

3 comments

Christmas


           A warm tropical breeze caresses my skin while I lounge on the beach, sipping a pineapple-mango slushy. And I must say, the view in front of me has my temperature rising. A dozen guys glisten in the summer sun, showing off their muscle bound physiques playing beach volleyball. I peer over my sunglasses and am delighted to find all of them bear a striking resemblance to Chris Hemsworth.

           How can that be? I wonder as the volleyball lands beside me with a resounding thud. One of the Chris’s swaggers over in slow motion. He rests a hand on my lounge chair and leans down, bringing his face super close to mine. His ocean blue eyes settle on my brown ones and then my, oh my, his mouth opens. It’s all but impossible to breathe as his lips part. “Have a holly, jolly Christmas, it’s the best time of the year…” My eyes grow wide, and lust turns into confusion as the jingle blares out of his open mouth.

           “Stupid cell phone,” I grumble and fumble for the infernal gadget. Three AM lights up the screen. With the dream wrecking device silenced, I slide my feet into my Rudolph slippers and pad toward the bathroom. Bloodshot eyes and a flaxen-haired birds nest peer back at me from the mirror. “Maybe I should call and quit,’ I say to my disheveled reflection. As tempting as the idea is, I replace my flannel nightgown with a pair of jeans and a Christmas sweatshirt.

           Car keys in hand, I open the front door to find it had snowed while I was ‘off in the tropics’. While the truck warms up, I scrape the ice off of the windows, and then slide behind the wheel, ready to fight the elements to get to work. Making the turn onto King Street, I can’t help but compare today to the same time last year. On that Black Friday morning, I was up an hour earlier than necessary, too excited to sleep. I belted out Dashing Through the Snow as I barreled toward what would become the most stressful day of my life to date.

           Donning a Santa hat, I had jumped out of my truck and gleefully made my way through the crowd standing in front of the building. I held up my nametag so that the security guard on the other side would let me in. In hindsight, I realize I’d been played.

           The first clue had been Mr. Banks telling me during my interview that he didn’t normally hire sixteen-year-olds so close to the holiday season, but he felt I was mature enough to handle the job. The second one came in the form of disgruntled rumblings from the other employees as the manager gave what I thought was a very motivational speech on letting our holiday spirit shine as we assisted each and every customer. Too bad I had been too naïve to heed those warning signs.

           Flash forward to now. I park my truck in the same spot and take one step toward the store, only to have my feet fly out from under me. At least the three inches of snow on the ground buffers my butt from the cold, hard pavement. Not bothering with the excuse me’s, pardon me’s or any other form of civility, I elbow my way through the already cranky shoppers. This time, my eyes plead with Mel, the security guard to refuse my admittance. He ignores my silent plea and holds the door open just far enough for me to slip inside.

           “No Santa hat this year, Chelsea?” he chuckles.

           With the free-for-all beginning in fifteen minutes, Mr. Banks invites all of us to the front of the store to go over what he’s calling our Black Friday action plan. “Listen up, we’re about to be bombarded by them.” He eyes the crowd pressed against the glass and then refocuses his attention on us. “Remember to be courteous. But under no circumstances are you to offer rain checks or substitutions for any sale items. Especially the limited edition Ragamuffin dolls. When things are gone, they’re gone. Do you got that, Chelsea?” The group shakes their heads in unison.

           “Yes, Mr. Banks,” I reply with an audible sigh.

           Last year we had run out of five dollar coffee pots in less than twenty minutes, and I let Mrs. Griffin, my eighty-seven-year-old neighbor buy a Plax coffee maker for the discounted price. That landed me a trip to the bosses office, where he proceeded to give me a lecture on how to convince the customer that it’s to their advantage to buy the better quality item at a considerably higher price. He finished by reminding me that we’re in the business of making money, after all.

           “Alrighty, then. Let the madness begin,” our fearless leader announces and then sends us to our battle stations. I had hoped to cover the jewelry counter, but for whatever reason, I’m stuck with the toy department—aka ground zero.

           The Christmas music wafts through the overhead speakers and an air horn sounds, alerting us that Black Friday has officially begun. I tilt my head from side to side and the words “I can do this,” slip out of my mouth, hoping to psych myself up for the onslaught of needy shoppers. 

           Several minutes pass and it’s a whirlwind of joyous activity as shopping carts careen past, arms shoot out to grab anything within reach and victorious shouts arise from those who are lucky enough to get their desired treasure of choice in their clutches. Things are going so well here at ground zero, I give myself a virtual pat on the back. All I’ve had to do is help an elderly woman locate the Laser Ninja Swords in the Nerf isle.

           So, when a tall, dark-haired guy stops in front of me, I offer up a confident, “May I help you?”

           “I need this doll.” He holds up our flyer and points to the words LIMITED EDITION RAGAMUFFIN DOLLS.

           “Right this way.” I stroll to aisle four and hand him one of the four sought-after dolls from the shelf. His expression isn’t one of joyful glee. Rather than a thank you, he sidesteps me and peruses the other three dolls we have left.

           “None of these are this one,” he says and holds the ad so close to my face it’s nothing but a pixilated blur.

           My eyes drift from the crumpled piece of paper to the toy still clutched in my hand. “It is, see?” I point to the script on top of the box, then proceed to read it one letter at a time. I sound a tad condescending, but he deserves it for being super annoying.

           “None of these have a green holiday dress.” His voice is flat. I clear my throat, force down my irritation, and with a tight smile let him know all we have is what’s here on the shelf. Why should it matter what dress she’s wearing? At least he’ll have the stupid doll. He will not be deterred. “Could you at least check in the back?”

           Deep breaths, Chels. Deep breaths. “Sure thing.”

           Risking life and limb, I wrangle my way through the crowded aisle and into the back room. Once there, I get a Diet Dew out of the vending machine and take a swig, enjoying the solitude. Once a reasonable amount of time has passed, I return to the sales floor, apologize and let him know there are no dolls in the stockroom. His jaw tenses, his body stiffens, his gray eyes narrow and his full lips are now a thin slit. All this equates to one mighty disgruntled customer.

           “I understand you would like the doll pictured in our ad, but here’s the next best thing.” I hold out the proverbial olive branch. A Ragamuffin holiday accessory set containing red tights, a pair of gold glittery shoes and the best part, the coveted green dress. You’d think this would make him happy, right? Nope, not in the least.

           “That doesn’t do me any good without the doll, now does it?” he retorts, his arms folded across his chest. It takes me a second to absorb the fact that there’s no box in his hands and the Ragamuffin shelf is now empty.

           “Where’s the one I gave you?” I cross my arms, mimicking his stance while the theme song from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly plays in my head.

“I put it back.”

           “You what?” I’m seeing red. “Of all the stupid things—” I remind myself I need to regain control of the situation, or I’ll be in Mr. Banks office again this year. I shove my hand in my back pocket and pull out ten dollars. “Here, buy the dress now and get the doll somewhere else.” Problem solved—at least for me anyway.

           He remains motionless while his eyes move from my outstretched hand up to my face. “I’m not going anywhere until you sell me that doll.”

           It’s all but impossible not to walk away. “I gave you one. It’s not my fault you were dumb enough to put it back on the shelf, sir.”

           The guy doesn’t respond, he just continues to stare at me.

           My eyes scan the empty shelves in the hopes one might have been discarded by someone who had changed their mind. That’s when I spot it. One of the limited addition Ragamuffin dolls nestled atop a purple sweater in an unmanned shopping cart less than five-feet away from me. Shoving unsuspecting customers out of my way, I lunge for the basket as angels sing a round of Hallelujah’s and my hands make contact with their intended target.

           “What in the Sam Hill do you think you’re doing?” A woman shouts, her ear piercing shriek reverberating through the aisle. She lunges forward and tries to get the Ragamuffin away from me and a tug of war ensues..

“Let—go,” I growl through clenched teeth. My plea just makes her yank that much harder.

“Stop!” A deep voice booms from behind me. Mr. Banks joins us, his pudgy face beet red. Like children caught with our hands in the proverbial cookie jar, she lets go and I hand him the doll. “What’s going on here, Chelsea?” he asks, his beady brown eyes boring down on me.

The furthest I get is, “Things were going great until—” and then the woman starts her tirade, shouting and waving a finger, saying I stole the doll right out of her shopping cart. Which I must admit is true. Now the guy that put me in this predicament adds his two cents, letting my boss know what an incompetent employee I am. After my manic behavior, I would have to agree.

The woman flashes me a smug smirk when Mr. Banks hands her the doll and a fifty dollar gift card, followed by an apology for my inappropriate behavior. Next, he appeases the young man by checking with Adam in receiving. As luck would have it, within the last five minutes a shipment of Ragamuffin dolls came in and he brings one out to the sales floor. As for me, I spend the rest of my shift in my bosses office, listening to a lecture on how to provide excellent guest service and a multitude of ways to diffuse confrontational situations. Oh, how I detest Black Friday.

Quitting time finally arrives and I head for the exit, ready to stop at McDonald’s for a McRib and large fries. Nothing better than gorging myself to make me feel better. I’m halfway to my truck and I stop dead in my tracks. The bane of my existence, Mr. I need this doll is walking toward me with a hand behind his back. Panicked, I’m not sure if I should scream for help or make a run for it and go back inside the store.

“Chelsea is it?” he says and flashes me the dreamiest smile I’ve ever seen.

“Yeah…” I take a tentative step backward just to be on the safe side as every murder show I’ve ever watched runs through my head. What if he’s planning on taking me out because of my poor customer service? “What do you want?”

He lets out a soft chuckle and shakes his head. “I’m Charlie, by the way. I owe you an apology. I sort of got a little carried away in there…”

Ya think?” slips out of my mouth as I notice how incredibly blue his eyes are.

“It’s just—that doll is all my little sister wants for Christmas and I’ve been trying to get one for weeks…I shouldn’t have taken my frustration out on you.”

Great. He’s playing the little sister card. Smart move, Charlie, I think as I realize how good looking he is when he isn’t being a demanding jerk.

“I brought a peace offering.” His left hand makes an appearance from behind his back and offers me a cup. “It’s a peppermint milkshake.”

It’s my turn to smile. “That’s my favorite.” I take the shake and let him know I accept his apology. We say our goodbyes and it isn’t until I’m in my truck that I notice a message scrawled on the side of the cup—Maybe we could go out sometime, Charlie. Call me if you’d like. 555-578-8642.

“Maybe Black Friday isn’t so bad after all,” I say and take a sip of my shake, then proceed to dial that number.

Merry Christmas!


November 30, 2021 23:34

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

3 comments

Heather Z
21:49 Dec 08, 2021

This story really made me smile. I did not expect that happy little twist at the end because the beginning and middle were so tense with the stress of Black Friday and the craziness it brought out in your characters. You really have a way with words! I especially liked “dream wrecking device” for the cell phone alarm! I thought you did a great job of sprinkling in humor amongst the many disgruntled and chaotic moments! The story was paced well and the dialogue worked seamlessly as you mixed it in with plenty of descriptive phrases and Chelse...

Reply

Diana Stiffler
19:01 Dec 09, 2021

Thanks! I appreciate the feedback. This was a lot of fun to write.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Boutat Driss
10:43 Dec 05, 2021

well done!

Reply

Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.