Out of Reach

This was based on the Six-Sentence Story prompt “reserve” by girlontheedge. I am going to apologize now, because this is incredibly depressing, and unfortunately real world even though it is fiction. It is focused on Christmas and the growing realization that people are having that this isn’t going to be the joyous, pandemic free holiday that people have been expecting.


I held my own opinions in reserve as I listened the boisterous holiday talk around me, not wanting to be the one who soured the mood with a dose of reality. I did not have to wait long, as with each day and each new case announced the feeling of unease grew, and the murmurs changed from joy to discontent at what kind of Christmas we would be having.

The holiday masks of the prior year, once thought to be a decadence due to their short term use, were being pulled back out with an air of sadness. Friends and family asking the question if they should forgo this Christmas to try and avoid being in the same boat next year, while others who didn’t have many seasons ahead of them worried this might be the last chance they got to see their families.

For the second year in a row, lines were drawn, and people were split in their decisions, though some had changed sides since the year prior, with whether or not they were willing to take the risk, to potentially get sick, or end up trapped far from their own homes.

I looked out at the scene that was set with snow, decorations, presents galore, and all that was missing was the holiday spirit of those who were being reminded that Dr. Seuss’s was right, that it wasn’t the same if we didn’t have we.

Christmas Spirit

Going to be honest here, I have no idea where this one came from. It’s the story of a single Mother trying to talk her six-year-old out of volunteering at every single event in the volunteering guide, while not completely destroying his enthusiasm with reality. Not sure if I really hit the note I was going for here, but I think it turned out well enough..


“But it’s Christmas” Eddie argued for the 36th time, and Justine wanted to kill whatever well meaning teacher that had explained the “Christmas spirit” concept to her six-year-old.

While the theory was nice and all, be kind to everyone, there were limits. “Sweetie, I know it’s Christmas, and I would love to go out and help at all those events, and do all that volunteering. I really would, but sweetie.” God this part was hard. “Mommy has to work.” She started.

“But you aren’t working now.” He whinged.

“I know, but adults have different kinds of work baby. I mean ya, I gotta go to work. I also have to buy groceries, and pay bills, and drive you and Nana around, and sweetie. Sometimes when I am done, I am tired. And I want to do all those things, and I promise that we can do some of the things, but we have to pick, okay?” Pheww this wasn’t the fun part of being a Mom.

He was looking at her like she had told him Santa Claus wasn’t real, and she hoped that wasn’t what was coming next. It was reality though, and while she didn’t want him to have to learn it this young, it would do neither of them any good if she worked herself into a nervous breakdown trying to make this happen for him.

Maybe, just maybe this would help teach him the lesson that she had learned the hard way. That you can do what you want, whatever you wanted, be whatever you wanted, but you couldn’t be all the things.

She hated that look on his face though, so she did the Mom fall-back, and she lied. Okay, not lied, but bent the truth in a way that it would make an adult call her a liar, and yet make complete sense to a kid.

“Besides, I don’t think it would be fair to keep all the Christmas spirit for for us, now would it?” She heaved a sigh, trying to sell it.

He furrowed his whole face into a frown trying to work through it. “Whaddya mean?” He asked finally.

“Well, if everyone tried to do ALLLL the Christmas spirit things, all the volunteering, and help with all the events, then there would be too many people, and some people might not get a chance to do any at ALL. I just thought, maybe we might be a little more fair, and do a few of the things…” She trailed off, and hoped he would go for it.

“And then everybody can do a few of the things and then there will be enough people for everything, and NOBODY MISSES OUT!” He finished at a yell, and she was so relieved that she could cry.

“Exactly. So why don’t we go through this list, and we pick one thing for each Saturday, and then leave the rest for all the other people?” He nodded wildly at her suggestion, and she pulled him into her lap as they leafed through the “Christmas giving guide” her town council had put out.

In the end they had chosen to go carolling at a seniors facility, help out at a snowman building competition, and of course also compete in it, and then kick it all off next weekend at the local grocery store, collecting food for the food bank. She was lucky he was little enough that he didn’t notice her steering him away from things that would take a week of preparation to help out with, and towards the single day events.

In the end, it was a pretty good slate, and once he was bored to death with the food bank collection, as he would be about an hour into their three hour shift, she could always suggest coming back again next week.

Ah, the joys of single motherhood.

Oxygen

Okay, so this one was written in fit of pique about someone a little overwhelmed. It’s a composite of several different events that I put together, and gave the narrator a very frantic, very overwhelming schedule. Maybe written a little out of guilt for ignoring someone when I maybe shouldn’t have. And the idea that sometimes signs have far deeper implications than the obvious. This one being about my favorite airplane sign.


I don’t know how my life came to this point, but as I stared down at my overly tight schedule I realized that there was almost nothing on there for me. There were events to support my friends, events to support my community, work (which paid my bills, but really…), and a thousand little errands to help other people out.

I wasn’t a candle that was being burnt at both ends, I was a sparkler, lit at 6 points, and just expending my fuel 6 times faster. It all came to a head during a twenty minute break as I sat chilling for the first time all day, and I looked down and say 12 unread messages from the most needy person on my list.

None of it was actionable, it never was with him, and I had been expecting it really. I had agreed to help him with something when I wasn’t supposed to be available, wanting to be a good friend. I half suspectedthat he only asked me cause he expected me to say no, and then wanted to whine about it. It was who he was after all.

We were supposed to meet in 20 minutes, and this was the “unexpected” crisis that wouldn’t allow for him to show up. It involved stories of panic attacks spurned by last minute changes, and I wanted to feel sympathy, but all I felt was apathy.

It was my break, and now I felt guilty for ignoring what I suspect was a fake crisis to cancel plans, and I took a few breaths and remind myself of a simple sign become affirmation. You must first put your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs!

One Day More

So this was written for the six-sentence-story prompt by girlontheedge. The prompt was LOST, and my inspiration was the lost boys. That said, this got more than a little sad, and is written from the perspective of the detective on the case. It still feels a little clunky, but I am posting it anyways.

Another day, another missing child, another parent looking me in the eye and lying about what happened. They weren’t all bad parents, some were trying their best, working two, three, even four jobs to put food on the table, but at the end of the day it meant they didn’t know where their child was most of the time.

They all sat at the table, asking me to find their children, and became defensive, and then hostile as I asked question after question they couldn’t answer. I would explain, as gently as I could, that no, it was not an interrogation, but what do they like, where do they play, and who are their friends, were the things I need to know to find them.

Then I promised to do everything I could to find their baby, even knowing that the chances were that the child was lost for good. I worked 20 hour hour days, desperate to follow the trail, until it went cold, when I would explain that we were still looking, but I had been assigned a new case, and it was a new day, another missing child.