Christmas in Eden

bystubborn_dreamer©

"Ah, if it isn't Thing One and Things Two," she said smiling at them pleasantly.

The girl was named Diana and the boy was named Martin. Diana was a cheerleader so cheer was second nature to her. At 16 she was on top of the world. Eden was lucky she had bodily insecurities to lobby at her quick wit. Martin was her gay side kick who wasn't accepting of his sexuality. Lucky for him he was graduating this year. With any luck they would lose contact and he would finally become a successful and proud gay individual. Diana's overly religious self didn't help.

"Aw how cute of you to come up with nicknames for us," Diana preened. "We really should return the favor. How about...Grumpy?"

"Or Frumpy?" Martin quipped.

How about your Murderer?

"Oh those aren't nicknames. If you want nicknames I can give you some," she sneered.

"Oh don't be prickly Eden," Diana said, suddenly lobbying for peace.

"For someone with such a blessed name, you don't appreciate the small things in life."

"A blessed name?"

"Haven't you ever heard of the Garden of Eden?" Diana said, her eyes glistening with the prospect of a convert.

Eden switched her gaze to Martin.

"Hey Martin, tell me which items appeal to you more."

"Hey I asked you a question—"

"Two gumdrops pressed together or two candy canes?"

Martin swallowed, unable to hold her gaze.

"Why are you asking such a stupid question?"

"I'm just making conversation."

"Oh, well I like both," Diana said smiling.

"Me too," Martin grunted.

Erica began to giggle.

The Asian girl was working this job on top of another job, and going part time to graduate school. Out of all of them, she liked her the best, but she still sort of annoyed her. Her life was just so...together. It almost made her want to go back to school.

"Hey, you kids play nice," Nick said as he strolled in.

It was required by the mall that he not walk around as Santa. So, behind his throne there was actually a kind of room that he went in to change in. Then he waited until the kids dispersed before coming out. Palisades was very serious about the dreams of children.

Gosh, sometimes she wishes she was still a kid.

Standing up she decided that elf costume or not she was going to grab a bite to eat.

"I'm going for a burger and fries," she said to Erica. "You want anything?"

Erica shook her head, content with the free coffee and donuts.

"Hey can I have frie..."

"I didn't ask you Diana. Besides, isn't basketball season coming up? You're getting a little..."

Eden made a fat motion and watched in delight as Diana's face scrunched up.

"I forgive you," she spat quite bitterly.

Eden laughed.

"Why thank you Diana. I'll bring you back a Women's Health Magazine."

Eden walked briskly trying to ignore the stares and pointing. If only she had her coat. Unfortunately by the time she rescued her coat from the locker room her break would be over.

She passed by the coffee shop and accidently caught eyes with Sean who reached out a hand like he wanted her to wait. Her heart clenched as she bowed her head and walked on. When she got her food she took the long way back and clutched the bag tight to keep her fries warm.

She was almost there when she bumped into something. Eden stumbled and looked down to see a small child glaring at her. She had knocked him down on his butt.

"Hey are you okay kid?" she asked, genuinely concerned.

The last thing she needed was to be called out by his mother in front of Nick.

He was wearing an all black jacket and he stared down rubbing his shaggy black hair. His hand refused to budge from his head.

"My hat," he mumbled deeply.

"Hat?"

She looked around and saw a gray cap lying on the floor a few feet away from them.

She had actually knocked off his hat? She needed to slow down her pace.

Eden picked it up and offered it to him. He snatched it from her and slipped it on in a fluid move. Okay, this kid had no manners.

Sighing she prepared to walk off when she heard a deep voice say, "Wait."

Had Sean caught up to her?

She turned, but all she saw was the kid. She was startled when she got a good look at him. He was a little bigger than she thought. He appeared to be a few inches above her waist in fact. He also stood up very straight, which was odd for a child. His face was pale and resembled porcelain, and his eyes were a very shocking electrified blue. He seemed to be studying her in a way that she found increasingly unnerving.

"Um...are you lost?" she inquired, squirming under the intense gaze.

As though sensing her discomfort his eyes looked to the right of her.

"Santa worshipper, I require your assistance."

Eden's brow furrowed.

"Um, okay. But I don't worship Santa..."

"I have heard that this location plays host to Santa."

Eden looked just beyond him to see if there was a camera crew. Was she being pranked or something?

"Human!"

Her eyes snapped back to the child. He was glaring at her, no longer interested in sparing her discomfort.

"Please focus. I require an answer."

"Kid, wait...did you just call me human?" Eden asked curiously.

"You are a human aren't you?" he more or less stated, his thin accented eye brows moving with his frown.

"Sure..."

Okay, this was one kid that had fallen one too many times on the playground.

"Well to answer your question yes we do "host" Santa between 10am-2pm and 3pm-7pm. All children must be accompanied by an adult and..."

"I don't have an adult."

That made Eden pause.

"How old are you?"

The kid smirked, his face looking more mature as he did.

"Old enough. How old are you?"

"Old enough to know when it's time to go," she said sighing.

She turned on her heel to leave him but froze when she saw he was right in front of her.

"How the hell did you..."

"Where does he appear?"

Eden shook her head in confusion.

"Um...in the center of the mall, where the four corridors connect. There's this big shop and throne, you can't really miss it."

"And you are sure he is here?" the boy said, stressing every syllable.

Eden rolled her eyes.

"Kid I'm not dressed as an elf for fun. Besides, you seem pretty smart, aren't you um...a little old for..."

The boy smirked a bit more. "A little old for what?" he asked innocently.

Eden frowned and then side stepped past the kid. He had just eaten up 10 minutes of her time.

"You know, you're kind of cute."

She looked back at the fresh boy who had addressed her.

"You're really weird," she said, noting the mischievous smile on his face.

What strange qualities in a little boy. Even so, she noted he was very handsome in a weird sort of way. He'd grow up to be quite the heartbreaker.

When she went back to the break room she tried not to gag when Diana hugged her. Despite her better judgment she had gotten Diana fries. She shared them with Martin and they spoke in hushed tones about how best to fix her.

"You realize we have very little time before Christmas?" Erica said tiredly.

"Don't remind me," Eden said taking a big bite out of her burger.

She still had to buy her dad a present.

Her sister's present would be mailed to her. She was spending the holiday with her boyfriend's family who had decided to vacation in Maui.

She needed to look up the train fare to get there by at least the 23rd, pay her rent before she left in order to avoid going back to an empty apartment, and send out as many job applications as possible.

"Are you going home for Christmas?" she asked Erica.

Erica was originally from Japan.

She shook her head.

"Can't. Too expensive. I might be able to afford it during January."

Eden nodded. The holidays did a great job of reminding you of what you didn't have.

When it was time to get off Eden was exhausted. No one knew how much work lifting kids from Santa's knees could be. Eriko had been helping kids draft letters to the fat man just to give them something to do so they didn't get angsty on line. Diana and Martin had been trying to keep the order.

"Goodnight," Nick said to all of them.

They waved their goodbyes in accordance. The Mall closed at 8 pm and most of the patrons were gone. Diana and Martin were picked up by Diana's mom and Eriko took a shuttle back to her college campus.

"Are you sure you don't need me to walk you to your car?" Nick said, his face stern.

"Nick you have arthritis in both knees and you've just been sat on 100 times. Don't worry, worst comes to worst I have a can of mace."

Nick nodded and headed to his car.

Senior employees got preferred parking, ordinary joes like her had to park around the back.

"Just do my old heart some good and call me when you're home."

"I'll text you."

"What?"

"I'll text you!"

"...What?"

"...I'll call you."

"Okay."

Bringing her bright red jacket close to her body she walked quickly, dodging the whipping wind. Strands of her hair struck at her face like a whips and she walked faster. The parking lot lights were on full beam, and she could see others with their heads down trying to make it to their cars. With a click her car was open.

Sighing in relief she slipped in only to yelp when the passenger door opened and a figure slid in. She was about to scream when the doors were suddenly locked and the scream was suddenly trapped in her throat. Reaching around for her mace the lights on her car sparked on.

"You lied to me!"

She turned and saw the deep voiced little kid sitting in her passenger seat. The mace was in her hand and she stared at him in shock.

"I nearly maced a 7 year old..."

"I'm not seven!"

"What the hell are you doing in my car?" she shouted, logic coming back to her in a flood.

"Are you crazy? Are you trying to send my ass to jail? I don't need my plates on Amber Alert you little cretin!"

"I wouldn't be here if you knew what the fuck you were talking about," he snarled.

The curse curtailed her rant and he was allowed to continue.

"You told me the fat man was here! It was between this place and another and I stayed because of what you said. I missed him! Do you know what that means?"

"What the hell are you talking about you sociopath waiting to happen," Eden said exasperatedly.

"Santa was here. I've been working with him all day."

"Not that old guy you were messing with, the real Santa," the kid said, his eyes glaring holes into her skull.

He let out a sigh and held his head.

"Shit...this is what I get for trusting a human."

Eden's jaw dropped. She had no idea what to say except,

"Get out of my car."

The kid ignored her so she shouted it.

"Get out of my car!"

"Where am I going to stay?" the kid shouted gruffly.

"How the fuck should I know? Go back to where you came from!"

His glare intensified.

"That's what I was trying to do, but a stupid little bitch gave me crappy advice!"

Eden stared at him and started to look for her cellphone.

The boy gave a long sigh as he watched her dig.

"What are you doing?"

"Get out. Right now or I'm calling the cops."

"On me?"

"I'll call the cops on a kid. Someone will come to pick your little ass up."

She heard him sigh again and suddenly her cellphone floated out of her hand and into his. Her eyes went wide and she reached to snatch it back but he held it out of her reach.

"Fricken Houdini brat! Kid if you don't stop this...!"

"First of all I'm not a brat, my name is Adrian," he interrupted calmly. "Secondly I am not a child. I'm older than you, your parents, and your future kids all put together. Now that that's out of the way..."

She watched as he took off his hat. Eden watched him comb his messy hair out of his face and watched two thin point ears slip into view.

Pointy ears...his ears were pointy.

"I've heard of this," she said, sounding more at peace than she was. "It's a disease, I think they call it prevalence..."

"Woman I just took your phone with my mind!" he shouted.

"But how?" she shouted back, feeling oddly hysterical.

"Magic! It's obvious. I'm an elf Eden, an elf."

Eden scrambled for the door. She needed to get out.

"How do you know my name? Is this some kind of sick joke? I swear to God..."

"Eden..."

"Why won't this fucking door open?"

"Eden."

"What?"

When she looked back at him his gaze seemed like its own living entity. It wrapped around her and forced her to focus.

"I want you to listen very carefully," he said in a soothing low voice.

"You're going to drive home now. Take your time. For the next week or so until Christmas Eve I will be your new roommate. When Santa makes his run I'll be sure to be out of your hair by then and you will never have to see me again. Crystal?"

Eden was about to nod but forced herself not to.

"No...No! Why should I take you with me?"

"Because it's your fault that I'm stuck her," he said snappily. "Be lucky I don't just force you to do it. I could you know. I don't eat much and I can fend for myself alright? So make up your mind because I'm not letting you out of this car until we reach an agreement."

Eden scoffed and started to reach in her backseat. She had a tire iron somewhere.

"You think I won't break my windows?" she said laughing mockingly.

"Well that's one way to lose your job," Adrian quipped. "Because for the past 15 minutes all people have been seeing is you talking to yourself."

"So what you're saying is that you're a figment of my imagination."

"I'm saying that I have magic growing out of my ass and I could make this car invisible if I wanted. You catch my drift."

Eden was tired. She was now obviously crazy, but she was more so tired and hungry.

"Fuck it. Hand me my keys," she said sighing.

He placed them in her hand and she started the car. Adrian placed his seatbelt on and she turned on the radio before backing out of the parking lot. She drove with her head faced forward. Her eyes were glued on the road. The closer she got to home the more she felt hope that when she arrived there, her passenger seat would be empty. It would just be her having a moment, and she could learn from it in the future.

When she parked in her designated space she reluctantly turned her eyes to her right. Empty and beautiful just like Diana's head. She was about to smile when a knock on her window made her scream.

"Satisfied?" Adrian asked, a smirk on his face.

He stepped back from the car and watched as she glared venomously at him as she stomped towards her apartment complex. She opened the door and closed it behind her, not bothering to see if he got in. Tossing her shoes and coat on the floor she headed straight to the kitchen and grabbed a microwavable dinner and stabbed holes into the top with a fork. Tossing it in, she sprawled on her couch, groaning as the night's events caught up to her. She felt the weight on her couch shift and Eden looked to the side of her. Adrian hadn't taken off anything.

"Take your shoes off. This is my house you know," she snapped.

He looked at her passively before going to the door and taking of his shoes. With a wave of his hand as he passed by her coat was hung up on the hook that he couldn't reach, and his coat joined it as well. As he walked back towards her she frowned.

"Hey...did you get taller?"

"Probably," he said yawning. "My guise might have worn off a bit. Kids have such little bodies."

He was in fact longer now, it was odd though to see the heart shaped face on a longer body. The proportions looked off.

"Your face..."

He rolled his eyes and his face lengthened to the right proportion.

"It's as if you care Eden," he said snippily. "Is that meal in your microwave for me? Or are you being selfish?"

"You saw where I got them from. Go get yourself one. You have longer legs now it's a shorter distance."

"Cheh."

He walked towards the fridge and she noted that minus the elf ears he could now pass for a short adult. He was about 5'3, 5'4. She noted that for an elf he had a pretty toned ass. She heard him chuckled and her eyes widened.

"Can you read my mind?" she shrieked angrily.

"Not your mind," he said, shuffling through her food. He didn't seem to like her pasta products.

"Just your face," he said, turning briefly to raise an eyebrow at her.

"You weren't even facing me," Eden protested.

"Elves have eyes in the back of their head. By the way, I hope you expect to cook tomorrow." He poked holes into the dish he had chosen with a clear look of contempt.

"I wasn't exactly expecting company," she snarled. "Besides part of me still thinks you're not real."

"Oh really?" he mused.

The microwave beeped and the door opened of its own accord. The fork she had used and the dish floated gracefully to the coffee table in front of her. As he walked towards her his food went in and the microwave started. His eyes dared her to comment.

"Yes," she said, grabbing his bait.

"I could have walked and put that stuff in the microwave. I could be about to eat two meals and my subconscious is justifying that by having a fricken elf eat half of my abnormally large portion."

"Right."

"Right! There's nothing that proves..."

Her voice was halted when a pair of warm lips covered hers.

They were full and inviting and she was too shocked to refuse them. She felt fingers curl around the back of her head and the kiss was secured. Adrian tasted of freshly baked sugar cookies and smelled of ginger. She could feel herself melting against him when she felt his hand on her thigh. The sudden move broke the spell and she tore away from him.

"Was that real?" he asked huskily.

She answered by slapping him. His head snapped to the side and he touched the cheek that was beginning to redden gingerly.

"Ow."

"Fresh bastard," Eden grumbled.

She pulled the wrapper off of her lasagna and began to shovel its molten contents into her mouth.

"Am I supposed to deserve that?" he asked as the microwave beeped.

As he stood she got a whiff of vanilla. What was with this guy?

"Didn't Santa teach you it was rude to stick your tongue down a girl's throat?"

"I didn't get there yet."

"You're an elf! You'll never get there!"

He picked up his dish and closed the microwave relatively hard.

"What's wrong with elves?"

"Don't start that "what's wrong" bull on me okay?" Eden exclaimed irritated.

"No, why don't you tell me?" he said sitting beside her.

The clipped tone he used suggested she had hurt his feelings.

"I don't date short guys," she said firmly. "Elf or not. It's just weirder than you're an elf. You were a kid an hour ago remember?"

"You didn't seem to mind short guys a minute ago," he totted, his intense gaze fixed upon her. "In fact I don't think you minded me much at all."

"You tried to put your hand up my dress."

"I moved too quickly, it was my fault," he said, his face serious. "I'm out of practice. I'll get better."

"...you can't be serious," Eden gaped. "You're an elf. You're supposed to be making presents and schlepping milk and cookies. Not..."

"I'm older than you Eden," he said grumpily. "What you think elves don't have sex? Polar bears have sex, reindeers have sex, and Santa? That big old bastard..."

"Ew! No! Stop!"

"...pounds the daylights..."

"HEY! I said STOP!"

"...out of Mrs. Claus like she stole money from him."

Eden set down her plate, her appetite now ruined.

"Thanks. You've not only ruined my meal but you've ruined Christmas. Good night Adrian."

Eden stood up and proceeded to walk to her room where he door would be locked. Before she did she grabbed a sheet and a pillow and tossed them on the couch.

"When was the last time you had sex Eden?"

"Go to hell you little worm."

"That long huh?"

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