Hello all. I’m once again participating in the “literary lion” flash fiction prompt. The original post is here; the prompt was “merry.” I really wasn’t sure how to approach this one until I thought about my time working retail, especially the people I worked with. So, without further ado, here is my flash fiction:
My manager struts towards me.
“Hey, Bob, how are your sales today?” he asks.
I hate the holidays. Before me lay two papers. This late, I have the luxury of worrying about my goals and playing Santa. The only people in the store are two teenagers killing time and a young couple, probably shopping in the time they have together between shifts and sleeps.
“Try giving out flyers,” he taps my register three times, “Have a productive night.”
“Good Idea,” I say.
I know they’re looking for a reason to get rid of me. Old goods, slipping production. I just can’t bring myself to push people anymore. I can’t afford the shit I sell, either. I consider for a second finding those four customers and cajoling them to look at iPads. The second passes, and I slump back to my counter, staring at the two papers.
I’ve hidden girls’ toys around the store, hoping they’ll be put on sale thanks to not selling well enough. The markup on those dolls she loves is nuts. She’s just as particular as her dad was with his damn Power Ranger toys, had to be official. Little shits.
When people see her, and don’t see a wife, they assume I’m a single father. They tell me that I’m brave or that they wish their own husbands or boyfriends or partners were good with kids. I’m not good with kids, I was happy to be done with the first one. Round two seems more a revision than a victory lap. 50 year olds aren’t meant to raise toddlers.
During the day, from October to December 24th, a frenzy of doctor’s wives, middle managers recently graduated from business school, and aging lawyers pour though the doors, swimming upstream to huddle around the newest toys and gadgets, asking the same stupid questions and haggling the firmly set prices. In the evening, I sit here staring at these two papers, because evenings are when I can get a sitter. On one, my sales projections for the year, on the other a list of bills and toys. The nights without sleep are making it hard to focus.
Gotta keep coming back, keep staring at the few late night browsers; she deserves to have a Christmas, all kids do. Gotta play santa.
I hate the holidays.