Authors: Amanda Bennett
The Secret About Christmas
“I know. I know.” I shouted over my shoulder as I ran past Nora as fast as humanly possible. It was only my second day on the job, and I was already making a horrible impression. I quickly made my way into the backroom to dress into my ridiculous elf costume, all the while trying to remember why I took this craptastic job in the first place. As I pulled the green crushed velvet hat down onto my pasted on elf ears, I heard a loud tear, and I instantly kicked myself in the ass. If it wasn’t for that pompous cop pulling me over, I never would’ve been late in the first place.
“Noel, we need you out here like yesterday.” Mr. Rowe’s voice echoed off the walls in the small backroom, and I couldn’t help but jump. Though he and I were great friends now, he was still my boss and he never shied away from punishing me just like the others.
I came running out from the backroom, practically tripping over my own two feet as I tugged and pulled on my ridiculously small green velvet elf bootie. “I’m here. I’m here.” I stopped just short of barreling through Mr. Rowe, and the ten other people standing next to him.
“Well now that Ms. Christmas has finally decided to grace us all with her presence, we can start our meeting. All right everyone; we are twenty-five days away from the most important day here at Darrington’s. That means that each and every one of you have twenty-four hours to prove to me that I didn’t make the biggest mistake of my life by hiring you. Everybody should know their roles as of now, and I just want to reiterate to you all that there will be no sick days, no calling in, and absolutely no tardiness. We have a rough month ahead of us, but lets make it fun. Now get to work.”
I rolled my eyes in complete and utter annoyance as Mr. Rowe turned and started walking away from all of us. I know he was our boss, and that’s how he was expected to talk to us, but it just sounded so damn condescending. I tugged at my hat, trying to make myself look as presentable as possible without being able to look in a mirror, when I ran right into the back of a tall rocklike statue. I heard the cracking sound before I even saw an ounce of blood, and when the rock statue turned around, he had the balls to blame this all on me.
“Watch where you’re going, small fry.” He laughed under his breath as he turned to walk in the other direction without a second thought to the blood pooling in my hands.
“You have got to be kidding me. I didn’t do this.” I spat as blood continued to pour from my nose. “You can’t even apologize?”
He let out a throaty laugh. “Apologize for what?”
“First off, for calling me small fry. Secondly, for stopping in the middle of the road like you own the joint.” I was about to keep laying into him, but I suddenly heard Nora’s voice shouting my name as she came running in my direction.
“Oh my god, Noel. Are you okay?” She reached for the closest thing she could find to catch the blood that was overflowing out of my hands, as to not get any on my work uniform. “What the heck happened?”
happened!” I shouted as I pointed at the poor excuse for a man standing in front of me. “This pompous Yeti stopped in the middle of the floor with no thought to whose way he would get in.”
“Yeti? I’m sorry, do you even know who I am?” His voice was gruff and full of disdain, but I waved him off.
“I don’t care. All I care about is that I’m practically bleeding to death from my face, and you don’t seem to give a damn. So, if you’ll excuse me.” I turned, trying to make my way to the backroom as quickly as possible, but I was almost instantly tugged back by a strong hand on my arm. “What the-“
“You are one impossibly annoying woman, you know that?”
I clutched the small blanket that was keeping the blood at bay closer to my face as I squared my shoulders, and prepared myself for the fight that was about to ensue. “You have some nerve putting your hands on me.”
“What, are we in the middle ages?
Some nerve putting my hands on you
” He repeated my words in a mocking tone that sent my anger instantly over the edge.
“WOW!” I squealed. “Who in this world do you think you are?”
“Well if you must know, I’m-“
“THAT’S ENOUGH!” Mr. Rowe’s voice was an octave too high for a man’s voice, but he was clearly beyond pissed off. “I will not deal with this childish behavior any longer. You,” He pointed at the arrogant asshat in front of me. “Apologize to the woman, and then go to my office.”
I stood there with my free hand on my hip, glaring into the mesmerizing sea of blue that was staring intently back at me. “Well.” I growled.
.” He groaned out.
His contemptuous apology only fueled my anger towards him, but I knew if I lashed out again, I would be the one ending up in his office, and possibly losing my job all together. As much as I wanted to rip this man to shreds, I also needed this job, and he wasn’t worth my livelihood.
“And you.” Mr. Rowe was now turned towards me. “Please go to the medical assistant upstairs and make sure there is no permanent damage to your nose.”
I nodded in recognition of what he had just asked me to do, and then made my way out of Santa’s workshop. This may not be the most glamorous job in the world, but I was determined to make the best out of an already impossibly embarrassing situation.
At twenty-one years old, I never expected to be working as one of Santa’s elves in his workshop in Darrington’s department store, but unfortunately, it was out of my hands. Despite all of my hard work and determination towards school, college just wasn’t for me. Even though I knew now that I wanted to be a writer, I also knew that success in that field didn’t come easy, and I needed
to pay the bills. Because there was absolutely no way in hell I was moving back in with my mom.
I flung myself into the small leather chair that sat behind Mr. Rowe’s desk, and patiently waited for him to grace me with his presence. I fumbled through a few drawers in his desk, haphazardly leafed through the stacks of insignificant papers that lay on top of his desk, and even tinkered around on his computer. I was just about to throw in the towel on this ridiculously meaningless job when Mr. Rowe came walking through the door, and he looked anything but happy.
“Mr. Darrington, would you please remove your ass from my chair, and sit it in the chair across from mine.”
I took my sweet time forcing myself up and out of Harrison’s chair to only further provoke him. I’m sure he didn’t appreciate my attitude, but he was taking the entire situation just a bit too serious. “Why am I here, Harrison?” I grumbled.
“Don’t you dare cop an attitude with me. You know your father would have your ass for what you just pulled out there. For the life of me, I just can’t understand what goes through your mind on a minute-to-minute basis. I know this isn’t the most glamorous job, but if you ever want to get back to where you were, you have to prove to your father that you’re not a complete screw up.
…is not the best way to go about it.”
“It was an accident. Do you honestly think I wouldn’t have apologized had I thought it was my fault?”
“Honestly, no. You’re my nephew, and knowing you your entire life, I know damn good and well that you would’ve reacted the exact same way you did just now. I’m not sure where in the past twenty-five years of your life you learned how to treat women, but boy, you have a lot to learn.”
I rolled my eyes in pure annoyance. I don’t know who he thought he was, but he sure as hell wasn’t my mother or my father, and therefore, had no right to try and act like either one of them. “I’ll be on my best behavior.” I gave him an undermining smirk, and stood up to make my way out of his office.
“Just try to be somewhat pleasant, please. Oh, and your father has instructed me to relay to you, that you are not, under any circumstances or for any reason, to tell anyone who you are. Understand?”
“I promise I won’t let anybody know that I am his biggest disappointment and regret of his life. Cross my heart.” I mockingly crossed my heart with my finger, then turned and flipped off my father as if he were standing right in front of me.
As I made my way back towards Santa’s workshop, I found my mind wandering back to the girl that ran into me. I shook my head in irritation at how the whole situation transpired. She had definitely blown things
out of proportion. I was completely willing to apologize and make things right with her, but then she had to go and cop a snotty, higher than mighty attitude, and that just made me want to be a complete douche. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but lets just say…my anger takes on a mind of its own.
When I got back to the break room, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror above the sink, and couldn’t help the overbearingly loud laugh that escaped my throat. I looked absolutely ridiculous in the oversized crushed red velvet getup I was being forced to wear. It’s a good thing it is easy for me to get girls’ attention, because it most definitely won’t be happening as long as I was wearing this thing.
I buttoned up the red jacket over my fake belly that felt as though it was filled with marbles, and cinched the belt nice and tight. Just as I was about to pull my luscious white beard into place, I heard a small voice whispering under her breath. I wasn’t exactly sure who it was, and part of me didn’t really care as I started to walk away, but then I heard what sounded like a sob. I peeked my head around the corner of the lockers, and caught sight of her hunched over on one of the benches. Part of me turned and wanted more than anything to walk away, but the better part of me let out a long sigh as I slowly began walking in her direction.
“Are you okay?” I half-whispered.
“Don’t act like you care. Please…just leave me alone.”
When she looked up at me, my mouth fell open in awe. I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was, and that I hadn’t even noticed it before now. Even with the black streaks of mascara running down her cheeks, she took my breath away. A strand of her honey blonde hair was concealing the smallest part of her face, and my pants began to tighten to an uncomfortable degree as my eyes followed the length of glowing strands that sat just at the top of her tight backside. Although her eyes were completely bloodshot, it only intensified the shimmer of the sinfully blue hue.
“I’m really sorry. I was a total asshole back there, and you didn’t deserve how I treated you. Is there anything I can do for you?” I was hoping she wouldn’t rip my head off again. I wasn’t quite sure how much more I could handle from her. I slowly started to back away as she looked up at me with pure hatred in her expression. After a minute or more had passed, and she still hadn’t responded, I held up my hands in surrender and turned to go to work.
Her tiny voice came out barely above a whisper, but it was loud enough to stop me in my tracks. I gave her a smile and a nod, and then headed out to the floor. Today was definitely going to be one of the longest days of my life.
I wasn’t sure if his apology was genuine, but there was an inflection in his tone that made me want to believe it. I know he didn’t stop in front of me on purpose, but I have never encountered anybody who wasn’t willing to apologize, even if it was an accident. I wasn’t going to respond to him, and let him grovel for a bit, but there was something there when he looked into my eyes. Something that touched a part of me that had been turned off for quite some time now…my heart.
I stood up from the bench and made my way over to the small mirror on the far wall. I stood there staring at the hideousness that was now my face. I could see the faint brown circles making their appearance around my eyes, and down the bridge of my nose. It was killing me knowing that as much as I wanted to just walk right out of this god-forsaken store, I couldn’t. I reached back on the bench and grabbed my makeup so I could quickly touch up my face before heading out and greeting thousands of kids.
I walked out of the backroom with a renewed sense of self. As much as I loathed this job already, I was about to make this job my bitch. I caught sight of Nora, and half ran over to her. I wasn’t sure where everyone was working, but if anybody would know, it would be her. Nora had been working in Santa’s Workshop since the Christmas after graduation. I didn’t know how she did it for this long, but apparently the money was amazing, hence the reason I was willing to give it a try.
“Hey girly. You can barely even see it.” She smiled.
“Seriously?” I jumped with joy for about a half a second before she laid the truth on me.
“No, you can see it, but it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Okay, so you’re going to be running the velvet rope.” She said it as though it was the most glamorous job here. “You basically let the kids and their parents come through, and make sure everyone else stays in line. Sound easy enough?” She laughed.
“Fantastic. I’ll be on my way now.” I winked and turned with a click of my heels. I waved to all the waiting kids, and smiled at the impatient looking parents, hoping to ease their annoyance.
Although my day started out on a not-so-good note, it was slowly starting to turn around as it inched closer to lunchtime. With all the horror stories that Nora had told me about working the line, I still hadn’t witnessed first hand any of the negatives about it yet. Despite almost every single child’s parent being on some sort of electronic device, the kids were all being very sweet, and behaving far better than I ever thought possible. Sure there were a few tears and tantrums here and there, but for the most part, these kids were fairly well behaved.
I had just clasped the metal hook onto the other pole when I felt a small tug on the hem of my dress. When I glanced down, the most beautiful little girl stood there, staring up at me with the biggest blue eyes I had ever seen. She was doll like, and I couldn’t help but want to talk to her. I kneeled down so I was now at eye level with her, and she smiled a wide toothy grin.
“Hi.” Her voice was tiny, just like her.
“Well hey there, cutie. Are you excited to see Santa today?” Curly blonde tendrils brushed across her face as she nodded furiously. “Have you been good this year?” She gave another nod, but still didn’t speak. “So what are you asking Santa for this year?”
Her tiny hand came up, and brushed back a loose strand of my hair that had fallen from my side bun. “Come closer, it’s a secret.” I moved my ear closer to her as she cupped her hand around it. “I’m asking him for a new daddy.”
I was taken aback as her words began to sink in, and then my heart broke a little bit for this tiny little angel standing in front of me. I looked up, glancing around us to see who was with her, when I caught a woman about my age staring back at me. I gave her a half-hearted smile, and then I refocused my attention on the little girl in front of me.
“Well where is
daddy?” I wasn’t sure if I was overstepping my bounds, so I kept a close eye on who I could only assume was her mom.
The little girl waved me closer so she could whisper in my ear again. “Mommy says that Daddy had to leave to do something
important for our country.”
Recognition turned the light bulb on in my head, and now I understood…but why would she want a
daddy? “Oh, is he a soldier?” I glanced over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t holding up the line by talking to this sweet child, but Santa aka Mr. Rude-as-shit-asshat, was still talking to the little boy who had gone up before this little girl.
“No. I think Mommy lied so I wouldn’t feel like it was my fault that Daddy didn’t want to come be with us, but I know.”
I sat back on my heels in awe of how honest this small child was. She had to be only about five years old, but her maturity level was greater than even some of my friends. It amazed and baffled me that a five year old could comprehend all the bad things along with the good, and she didn’t even seem fazed by it. “I’m sure your Daddy loves you very much. Sometimes people just have to grow up before they can be responsible for anyone else.” As much as I wish I could talk to her all day, I knew her turn was coming up next, and sooner or later, her mom was going to start getting mad.
I glanced over my shoulder to see the little boy walking out towards the exit rope, and Santa was waving for me to let the next child go. I looked up at the little girl’s mom, and smiled as I stood to speak to her, but I was literally at a loss for words. I had no idea what to do in a situation such as this one, and I really didn’t want to offend anyone by saying anything. I must’ve been standing there a bit too long, because suddenly “Santa” was calling my name.
“Elf Christmas, could you please send the next child?” I swear if there weren’t so many kids around, I would walk right up to him and punch him in his chestnuts, and then possibly roast them on an open fire.
Before I could do anything I would regret, I quickly turned back around and unlatched the hook. “Looks like you’re next, cutie.” I pulled the velvet rope to the side to let her and her mom go through.
“Is your last name really Christmas?” Her whole head of curls were now bouncing as her excitement from hearing my last name grew to exponential amounts.
“It sure is.” I smiled.
“My name is Lexie-May, but you can call me Lex.”
I couldn’t help the wide genuine smile that formed across my face as she spoke. “Well it is a pleasure to meet you Lex. I hope you get everything you wish for this Christmas.”
“Thanks.” And before I could respond, she was running full speed into Santa’s arms, leaving her mother behind.
“Thank you for that.” I looked to the side as her mother spoke softly to me. “It’s been a rough year, and I know that what you just did, meant the world to her.”
“She is an amazing little girl, and no thanks needed. She made my day brighter just in the five minutes I got to spend with her. I hope you both have a very Merry Christmas.”
“Thank you, you too…” She paused, waiting for me to say my name, I assume.
“Noel.” I stuck my hand out to shake hers.
“Wait, you’re name-“
“Yes, my name
Noel Christmas. You don’t even want to know my middle name. I am proof positive that parents should not be allowed to name their children without someone’s permission.” I let out a loud laugh, and so did she.
“I’m Vanessa, it was really nice to meet you. Happy Holidays, Noel.”
I smiled as Vanessa made her way past me and over towards Santa. I couldn’t help but stare at her
her daughter. I’m sure I looked like some sort of stalker, but I just couldn’t fathom how someone my age was raising such an amazing child. It wasn’t just that she was only twenty-one and raising a five year old, it was that she had been raising said five year old since she was only sixteen, I’m assuming. It was amazing.