Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Flash Fiction: Please, Christmas!

One of my Twitter friends once told me that he's never sure whether I'll be tweeting about wine or writing. To me, the two aren't mutually exclusive, although I wrote this one today during breaks between appointments so I could get it done by the wine tasting. I consider it to be a different take on a childhood favorite Christmas special. To find other great examples of flash fiction, search the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter.

Please, Christmas!

December 17, 2009

Dear Mrs. Thompson,

Thank you for notifying us about a potential case of child abuse and violation of child labor laws. We received your letter and recording on December 1, 2009 and are unable to complete our investigation due to the following circumstances:

1. The recording you sent is of poor quality and therefore cannot be considered the “hard evidence” you claimed it to be. All the technicians could isolate was music, some high-pitched chattering, and a male voice yelling something like, “Melvin!” at irregular intervals. We could not detect any frequencies consistent with children’s voices.

2. Examination of tax and birth records revealed that there are no children at the Seville residence.

3. While keeping wild animals (e.g., chipmunks) as pets is against state law, that is a matter best taken up with Animal Control or the Department of Wildlife Services. The C in our acronym stands for Child, not Chipmunk.

We have forwarded your concerns on to the proper authorities, who will be in touch with more information. Thank you for contacting us, and we hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Sincerely,

Corinne Matthews
Department of Family and Child Services

“Can you believe this?” Corinne handed the draft of the letter to her supervisor. She rubbed her eyes. “We’re overwhelmed already. Why do we have to deal with these nuts?”

Mark read it over. “Oh yeah, this woman has been writing in every few years since 1958. If there’s any truth to it, those rodents are long dead, or the kids are grown up.”

“Then why did I get stuck with it? We have enough real work to do as it is.” She gestured to the pile of cases on her desk.

He handed the letter back to her and raised his eyebrows. “Consider this my Christmas present to you, Corinne: a friendly reminder to find your sense of humor. If you don’t, you’re gonna burn out in six months. And it’s time for you to leave. Remember, we’re not allowed overtime right now.”

She narrowed her eyes and hoped he felt the heat of her anger on the back of his neck while he walked away. Fine, she’d been fooled. Who knew that government workers would consider themselves jokers? With a sigh, she put on her jacket, clocked out, and walked through the chilly dusk to her car.

Something swirled in the orange glow of the street lamp and drifted to the cars underneath. One stung her nose with wet cold, and she couldn’t help but smile. Snow! Her kids would be so excited! She paused, made sure no one watched her, and turned her face to the sky.

“What the hell?” She took a deep breath and stuck her tongue out, her nose wrinkled against the cold. Her irritability and embarrassment melted with each snowflake that landed on her tongue and face

Mark was right, she decided. She needed to find her sense of humor and let go of her cynicism, at least once out of the office. She’d have plenty of time since, as the newest hire, she would be furloughed between Christmas and New Year. She had been stressed about it, but now she saw it as an opportunity to spend time with her kids while they were out of school. They’d have so much fun if the snow stuck, she thought. She needed to stop playing around and get home to them. They could make hot chocolate and light a fire in the fireplace. Perhaps there would even be holiday specials on t.v.

She didn’t even look back at the office building as she got in the car. The work and worry could wait until tomorrow. Meanwhile, she would look forward to her government-sponsored vacation.

“Please Christmas,” she whispered, “don’t be late!”

8 comments:

Deirdre said...

Snowflakes as a mood-altering drug! Now if only they didn't turn into slippery ice underfoot...

Marisa Birns said...

Oh what a good laugh!

I'm waiting for the snow to hit here soon. We're getting 6 to 12 inches!

I will go out and let snowflakes hit my tongue and let go of all the worries that come with the holiday seasons.

Then indoors for wine!

Laura Eno said...

Nice reminder to enjoy the season. :) Now I have those chipmonks stuck in my head!

~Tim said...

I promise that if I see snow this year I will stand and let some of it land on my tongue!

Eric J. Krause said...

You could have stopped with the letter and this story would have been a success. As it was, though, you kept going and improved upon it immensely. I really enjoyed this one!

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

I'm not sure if we'll see any more snow here, but if any comes I will be sticking my tongue out to catch some flakes!

And I'll second Marisa on the wine afterwards :)

Deanna Schrayer said...

What a fun story Cecilia! I agree with Eric - the letter alone would've made a great story, but your extension just made it that much better.

Cecilia Dominic said...

Thanks, y'all!

Yeah, obviously this was not set in Atlanta. They keep teasing us.

Eric and Deanna, I did think about ending it with just the letter, but Corinne wanted some more "air time."

Will read and comment on y'all's when I get a chance. Friday Flash catch-up has gotten to be a favorite lunch break activity for me. :)

CD