Tag Archives: present

Gas Station Santa

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“Hello there,” Santa said to Cara as the elf lifted her onto his lap. Cara stared into Santa’s dark appraising eyes.

“Hi.” She looked around the store. Paper chains and flickering lights dangled from the ceiling, illuminating Santa in an eerie glow. A table along one wall was laden with toys. Her eyes lingered on a doll, her heart full of yearning.

“Do you know the meaning of Christmas?” Santa asked.

Cara turned to him her nose touching his. “It’s Jesus’ birthday.” Her gaze flickered to the doll.

“Are you an honest girl?” he asked. “Hell is filled with naughty liars.”

Cara nodded, transfixed by the shadowy fire of his eyes. Santa kissed her cheek.

“Smile!” The elf said.

Cara started at the camera flash and blinked her eyes to clear her vision. She felt herself pulled from Santa’s lap and set on her feet. The elf shoved a box into her hands.

“Had fun?” Cara’s mother asked, leading her out of the gas station. A bell rang overhead as they departed.

“Uh-huh,” Cara said. Santa’s words rang in her mind, making stomach lurch.

They climbed into the car, and Cara’s mother started the vehicle. Cold air blasted from the vents, slowly warming on the drive home. Cara studied the box in her lap. Inside was the doll she had admired, its empty blue eyes shining in the dashboard lights. Cara tucked it under the seat, away from her and out of sight.

 

*Author’s Note: This story is slightly autobiographical, but of course I exaggerated and condensed the experience. Also, when I met the Santa this tale is based on, it was in a butcher shop next to a convenience store. It wasn’t until I was an adult that it dawned on me how creepy that was.

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The Gift

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Molly thundered down the stairs, her heart soaring with anticipation. Christmas morning had arrived. As she reached the bottom step, she jumped it and rushed into the living room. The glory of gifts awaited her, cascading out from the adorned tree. Molly squealed and dove into the treasure.

 
“You are supposed to wait for us,” her mother said with mock sternness, her eyes dancing.

 
“She’s our little monster.” Molly’s father entered the room with two mugs of steaming coffee. Mom laughed at the joke and took the cup Dad offered her.

 
“Let her open the big one first,” Molly’s mother said. Her father set his coffee aside and walked to the mountain of presents. Molly squirmed, barely able to contain her excitement. There was a rustle as her dad searched for the gift.

 
“I had forgotten how heavy this was.” Her father pushed aside the presents to unearth a long, large box wrapped in red and gold striped paper.

 
Molly didn’t wait for her father to move out of the way before attacking the present. She tore at the paper, revealing a black lacquered box. She grinned, opening the lid, and cried out, delighted.

 
Lying upon a bed of silk was girl near her own age, her face peaceful in death framed by dark doll-like ringlets. Molly had admired the girl several weeks ago when they went into the city to shop. She gazed up at her parents beaming with joy.

 
“She’s perfect,” Molly said. “I can’t wait to introduce her to the others.”