On the 26th Day of Christmas Jayne Martin gave to me…
Christmas Eve and the Target parking lot is packed. I screech to a halt in a handicapped space because screw it, a mental breakdown should count. His kids were supposed to be with his ex for Christmas until “Mom” high-tailed it to Panama at the last minute with her 24-year-old Latin boyfriend.
I sprint for the store. A woman dressed in Victorian chic with a bell and a kettle steps in front of me. Salvation Army, Goodwill, Jews for Jesus, who the hell knows. They’re everywhere. I weave and dodge, but can’t shake her. In my pocket, I find a crumpled dollar with an old LifeSaver stuck to it, shove it in her kettle and leap for the door.
Inside, the store is scorching hot from bodies packed tight shoving and grabbing, grabbing and shoving. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” warped from wear, garbles on a loop over the sound system. Shelves near bare, I grab for what I can. Pantyhose for the six year old. Sure, why not. A six pack of eau de toilette for the teenager because toilet water sounds so much better in French. Then I spot it. The last Barbie stove. I can still save myself! My hands are not the only ones to grab on. A barbarous woman with facial hair growls at me. I land a well-aimed kick to her crotch and it’s mine.
Outside the store, I run for the car. Bell-kettle lady is hot on my tail. The bitch must work on commission. She’s relentless with that fucking bell as I fumble for keys that have gone missing. But no! There they are, dangling from the ignition, the car safely secured by Auto-Lock. I think I see a smirk on the bell-kettle lady’s face.
I pull a two-inch pocket knife from my purse. Flip it open under her nose — the nail file — because I’m determined, not crazy. But it’s enough. She agrees to drive me to my house by way of the ATM, where I agree draw out my limit for the day.
Jayne Martin lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she rides horses and drinks copious amounts of fine wines, though not at the same time. She is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her debut collection of microfiction, “Tender Cuts,” from Vine Leaves Press, is available now. Visit her website at: www.jaynemartin-writer.com
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