Friday, December 9, 2011

Fiction Friday: Auld Lang Syne

The doorbell rang. Karen lifted herself off of the threadbare sofa. She hated moving. Her joints reminded her she wasn’t young any more.
Colleen carried a glittery green and white box decorated with a gold bow. No wonder she couldn’t open the door, Karen thought to herself. Usually they exchanged presents from the dollar store. It was probably a prank gift.
“Merry Christmas!”  Colleen shouted.
“Come in,” Karen muttered. “Take off your coat. The food just got here.”
Karen had set the kitchen table with her grandmother’s good china. There was no silver anymore. It had been sold long ago.
The women ate their Christmas Eve feast in silence. Neither had any family nearby. They had become friends out of convenience, living across the hall from each other.
“Time for presents!” Colleen announced.
“Let’s just scrape the plates first,” said Karen. “I don’t want to have to chisel egg foo young off these plates in the morning.”
“I’ll wash them when we’re done. It’s Christmas. We should enjoy ourselves a little. You sit. I’ll make us a drink.” 
“That may be the only way I can put up with your relentless cheerfulness.”
Colleen poured grocery store eggnog and a substantial dash of rum into mugs.
“This ought to take the edge off your grumpiness,” she said.
“Well, it’s a start,” Karen said. “You open your present first.”
Colleen reached into the candy striped gift bag and pulled out three paperback romance novels.
“Oh Karen! They’re wonderful. You spent too much!”
“My turn now. You looked like the cat that swallowed the canary when you brought that box in.”
She lifted the lid from the box. Below a pile of crumpled tissue paper, was an envelope taped to the bottom.
“It’s silly, but I couldn’t resist using that pretty box,” said Colleen.
Karen withdrew two large lottery scratch tickets from the envelope.
“Wow. These are the ten dollar tickets,” she said.
“I know you’d never spend that much on tickets yourself. But they say the payoff is bigger so I thought it would be fun for Christmas.”
Karen pulled out her lucky quarter. She savored scratching off each square.  Karen finished the first worthless ticket and moved on to the next. When she was done, there was no pay off.
“Oh Karen,” Colleen said. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Karen said counting the years of disappointing Christmases she had lived through. She looked out the window at the stars. But she couldn’t see them. The snow began to fall.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
Today I’m linking up with Write on Edge. This week’s prompt was to write a story that begins with the phrase, “The doorbell rang” and ends with the phrase, “The snow began to fall”. We had a limit of 300 words. I didn’t manage to stick to the word limit, but I did succeed in cutting it down from over 600 words to 419. Karen is another character who has been floating around in my brain for some time. She was inspired by a strange experience I had with a customer. Karen has a lot to say. You’ll be hearing more from her in upcoming stories.