Friday, December 27, 2013

"Christmas Gifts" by Cora Buhlert (Short Story)

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Type of Short Story:  Short Story

Summary:  Waiting until closing time on Christmas Eve to get a present for his Mom certainly wasn’t one of Tim’s better ideas. Especially not since the store only has a self-service wrapping station and Tim is utterly hopeless at gift-wrapping. Lucky for him, the lively and unconventional Shannon is there to lend a hand.


Christmas Eve, shortly before closing time. Tim stood in line at the Fragrance Emporium, impatiently tapping his foot to the umpteenth rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” he’d heard today.

He glanced at his watch. Only ten minutes or so until the shops closed down for the holiday, the line was moving slow like molasses and Tim was not even near the check-out yet. He just hoped that the staff would continue to ring up purchases regardless. Because if he ended up without a gift for Mom just because some salesperson couldn’t be bothered to put in a bit of overtime on the busiest day of the year… well, that would truly suck. Mom would never forgive him.

In his hand he held a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Yeah, so perfume wasn’t the most original of presents, but Mom liked it. Plus, she had been using Chanel No. 5 ever since she was a young girl and bought a bottle with her very first paycheck. Not that the paycheck of a bakery counter girl would have bought Chanel No. 5 these days, cause the stuff was damned expensive for a small bottle of alcohol laced with artificial aldehydes.

Tim sneezed, his nostrils irritated by the scent of perfume, not just a single fragrance, but every perfume in the whole damned shop assaulting his nose all at once in an olfactory orgy. He needed air, fresh air, even if it was only the too warm air of a typically wet Christmas. However, the line was still moving forwards at a glacial pace, as half the city waited to pay for their last minute gifts.

Finally, he reached the head of the line. A saleswoman, who had apparently decided to slather the entire cosmetic offerings of the store into her face all at once, rang up his purchase and swiped his credit card.

“Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,” the saleswoman said, completely oblivious to the redundancy. The smile plastered onto her face threatened to cause cracks in the layers of her make-up.

“I’d liked that gift-wrapped, please,” Tim said, because the woman hadn’t asked, contrary to usual store policy.

“Of course, sir,” she said, that moronic fake smile still frozen on her face, “If you’d just proceed to our gift wrap station over there.” She pointed at someplace in the distance that might just as well have been the cell phone store across the corridor.

So Tim grabbed his perfume, credit card and receipt and proceeded to the gift-wrap station. He almost missed it among the crowds of shoppers thronging near the entrance to the store. In fact, he had to ask a security guard to point him to the station.

Dejected, Tim found himself standing in front of a table with several rolls of colourful wrapping paper, spools of ribbon, Scotch Tape and a pair of scissors, secured against theft by a long chain. Everything one could possibly need to wrap a present was there — except for a clerk to do the wrapping.

At first, Tim thought that the gift-wrap clerk had simply gone for a bathroom break. But then he noticed the sign above the table. “Self-service gift wrapping”.

An entirely unseasonal curse escaped his lips.

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