18-Dec-2020

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18-Dec-2020

Welcome to today’s installment of Holiday Flash Fiction Friday!

I swear, I can write warm and fuzzy things, but for some reason this combo made me go a bit dark. Again.

Christmas after the Apocalypse

Today’s Flash Fiction Friday is brought to you by:
Watching Favorite Holiday Films
Wooden Christmas Signs
and
Christmas Kibble

I jumped when I heard the scrape of boots on gravel. My heart raced as the footsteps grew closer. It took most of my strength to lift the shotgun and aim it at the doorway of our hovel. The barrel shook.

“Addie?” a familiar voice asked softly. “It’s me.”

Relief pulled the already meager strength from my arms, and the shotgun fell onto my leg.

“Addie?” This time fear laced my name.

“I’m here,” I said softly.

A plank of plywood moved aside with a hiss. Gray light from the sun filtered in, giving me just enough illumination to see Mark’s silhouette.

“Thanks for not shooting me,” he said. I could hear a smile in his words.

An actual smile.

“What did you find?” I made an attempt at pushing myself into a seated position, and mostly failed.

Mark moved to my side and helped. At one point in my life I would have told him not to bother. I weighed too much for anyone to manhandle me, but there wasn’t much left now. His strong hands slid under my shoulders and knees, and he lifted me and put me back down without so much as a grunt.

I knew I looked and smelled wretched, but Mark gave me a kiss anyway. His lips lingered on mine, as they had done so many times now, giving us a brief moment free of the end of the world.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“I can’t move my legs.”

He nodded as he lit a candle.

My latest infirmary wasn’t a surprise. It was the natural course of the Conclusion, as people had started calling it even as they had died.

The yellow light hit Mark’s face, giving me a clear view of his square jaw, now covered by a few inches of black beard, his dark eyes, and his lips.

“What are you smiling about?” I asked, unable to keep from smiling myself.

“I found a few things for tonight.”

“Tonight?”

He grinned. “It’s Christmas Eve.”

“Is it?” I’d stopped counting the days months before.

“It is.” His eyes glittered.

I fought back tears. Christmas had been our thing. A huge tree, lights on the house, Santa on the roof, and nativity out front…I swallowed hard and made sure my voice would be even before I said, “And?”

Mark pushed the plank back in place, and set his pack on the floor. “And we’re going to celebrate.”

I raised my eyebrows.

He pulled a small wooden sign from his pack. It said “Have Yourself A Merry little Christmas” in red and green letters with faded holly designs painted around it. Mark had attached a piece of twine through the holes on the top and hung it from a hook in the ceiling. The words glittered as it turned back and forth.

“Very nice,” I said.

“But wait, there’s more.” He wiggled his eyebrows and reached into his bag again.

I couldn’t help but sit forward. “I didn’t get you anything,” I said.

“This is for both of us.” He pulled a small, black box-ish thing out of his pack. His lips had pulled into an even bigger smile that practically went from ear to ear.

“What is it?” I asked.

Mark opened it to reveal a computer screen.

“You know that won’t work, right?” I asked.

“It’s a DVD player. Fully charged. Still operational.”

A bubble of excitement filled my stomach. “Really?”

“I figure there’s enough juice to watch a couple of movies.”

“We don’t have any movies.” I pointed out.

“We do now.” Mark retrieved a flat, plastic container from his pack and handed it to me.

I opened it to find several old Christmas movies. I let out a gasp. “You actually found The Year Without a Santa Clause?”

“Who’s a good husband?” he asked me.

I grabbed him by the coat, pulled his lips to mine and let him know just how good of a husband he was.

After a breathless minute he let out a contented sigh. “There’s a storm coming.” He gave me another kiss before he stocked our make-shift stove with wood and climbed onto our bed made of wood pallets and shredded blankets.

Right before he put his arm around me, he snapped his fingers. “Forgot, one more thing.”

The crackle of plastic filled the air as he got a package from his bag. He then grabbed a flat board, cuddled up next to me, put the board on our legs and placed the DVD player on top of it. Only then did he show me the package.

“Muddie Buddies?” They had to be well past expired.

“Christmas Kibble,” he said.

“Sort of,” I said.

“Beggars can’t be choosers. Now which movie do you want to watch first?”

“Duh.”

He handed me the Muddie Buddies while he started the show.

It felt strange to be ripping the plastic bag apart. To have food in there simply ready to eat.

The smell of the peanut butter and sugar filled the air, and we both breathed it in.

“Ladies first,” he said.

“You mean I’m the tester to see how bad it is.”

“It’s all in how you look at it.”

I laughed and took a single sugar coated Chex square out and put it in my mouth. Was it stale? Yes. Did I still moan in pleasure? Yes.

Mark gathered me in his arms and we sat and watched the movie and slowly ate the Christmas Kibble.

I couldn’t stop smiling. He must have scavenged for miles to find this stuff. Halfway through Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Mark began to snore. I gently reached into his pocket and pulled out the calendar.

I wouldn’t last until New Years. I felt bad about that.

Then my suspicion was confirmed. Christmas was still two weeks away.

I wouldn’t last until then.

A tear trickled down my cheek, and I lay my head on Mark’s shoulder. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” he muttered.

Holiday Flash Fiction Categories!

Tradition:

  1. Decorating cookies
  2. Picking out a Christmas Tree
  3. Driving around looking at lights
  4. Staying up until midnight to hear the church bells ring
  5. Going into the woods to cut down your own tree
  6. Watching favorite holiday films
  7. Taking one of the men playing around with the deep fryer (while trying to cook an additional “better” turkey) to the ER for 2nd and 3rd degree burn
  8. PJ pictures on or near the stairs of all the kids Christmas morning
  9. The family sleeping around the Christmas tree the Friday before Christmas
  10. Christmas stockings made by grandma

Object:

  1. A Rabid Snowman
  2. Reindeer
  3. An old nutcracker
  4. Grandma’s crotched snowflakes
  5. Advent Calendar
  6. Krampus’ switch
  7. The heirloom tatted ornament that has been dunked in sugar water, starched, , and modge podged so many times it’s hard to tell what it originally was…(resembles an oblong Easter egg that’s been scrambled) but it’s been out for every Christmas since the oldest family member remembers, it’s tradition
  8. Wooden Christmas signs bought at Ensign
  9. Christmas village on the fireplace
  10. Death Star tree-topper

Food:

  1. Gluten Free Gingerbread
  2. Fruitcake
  3. Cranberry Jell-o Salad
  4. Homemade divinity
  5. Christmas crack chocolate
  6. Christmas Kibble (a cookie that looks like kibble)
  7. Aspic Salad
  8. Wild Rice
  9. Raspberry cream cheese desert
  10. Christmas sugar cookies


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