Christmas in Edenbystubborn_dreamer©
Christmas in Eden
Eden Sawyer's life officially ended on Black Friday.
She had woken up with low expectations, dragged herself groggily along the cold tile floor and scalded herself awake in the shower. Minutes later she was choking down freshly opened cereal with a crispness that scratched her throat as she hurried it down. Driving a lovely 45 minutes down a crowded crazed highway she finally arrived to her destination.
Dynasty, the only retail store in the little city of Iben that could rival the mall.
Eden had the unfortunate lot in life to work as a visual merchandiser for that store. Her job was in essence to "decorate." At this current time it was for Christmas.
She didn't have a name tag and she was dressed head to toe in black. She spent her days scaling ladders like she was Spiderman's wife and hanging precariously from ledges that demanded tinsel, even so, there was always someone who had to say...
"Hi, excuse me?"
She took a deep breath. Maybe it's not me. Maybe it's not me.
Sighing she forced herself to look down. Gosh she hated heights.
It was a mother of five, always, always a fucking mother, with three plus offspring trailing behind her.
"Yes?" Eden said politely.
"Would you happen to have this in a size 6?"
Currently Eden was decorating a very high ledge in Mens. Women's was downstairs. She looked at the women's children.
She could tell from the look in their eyes that they were ill behaved. Their gazes were feral like tigers, looking for a smidge of weakness so they could get permission to fuck up all her displays and try to put the plastic popcorn kernels she had so painstakingly glued upon the Tupperware towers into their fat, greedy, puckered up....
Eden hadn't realized she had just been staring at her in silence. The moment shook her out of her violent train of thought. Looking down she saw one of the younger boys stared at the edge of her ladder. His big brown eyes were wide like an owls. She watched him warily.
"Um, I'm sorry...
Please get your brat away from my ladder.
"I'm not sales, so I can't help you with sale related information."
The woman took this with relative grace and proceeded to look for someone who was "not" on a ladder, to help her. She watched as her and her four boys headed off into the distance. Wait four? She thought there were...
Her heart jumped into her throat when she felt the ladder bend. She grabbed it, too shocked to scream as the ladder tipped beneath her. She froze, waiting to see which way it would fall only for it to stabilize. Panicked, she slid down the ladder as quickly as possible. When her feet touched the ground she looked around to see the boy, possibly 7, staring at her with amusement.
Maybe it had been the lack of concern the little boy had shown for her wellbeing, combined with her fear of falling and the fact that she hadn't gotten much sleep the previous night.
Maybe it was because her boss was a prematurely balding pervert who enjoyed watching her climb up those ladders too much for her liking. Maybe it was just because she hated kids. Whatever the cause, the effect was Eden Sawyer losing her mind.
"WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU KID?"
The store seemed to halt, and all eyes snapped to the 5 foot 7 woman who was screaming down on the tiny 7 year old child.
The kid looked at her blankly, clearly not expecting repercussions for his actions.
"Are you crazy?" she shrieked.
"You could have killed me! I could have landed on my head and died! Do you know what died, means? Huh? Do ya? Do ya?"
It was then that his mother showed up. She wasn't there to witness the accident of course. All she saw was her child with tears collecting in his eyes.
And parental instinct dictated that no matter how bad the kid was, no mother would ever see that child at fault.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing with my child?" she said in a grave deadly tone.
"Your spawn from Satan knocked over my ladder. With me still on it."
Eden crossed her arms. "Aren't you his mother or something? Didn't you teach him better?"
"Don't you talk to me about my parenting skills..." the mother hissed in a low threatening voice.
She stepped forward, an inch or so taller than Eden. She was bigger too, thanks to a telltale mixture of childbirth and hohos, and was probably menopausal, meaning that she could probably kill Eden, if not just injure her.
Still Eden didn't care. She had at least 2 years of on and off tae-chi and a case load of unresolved authority issues.
"I am going to fucking talk about your awful parenting skills when your kid is knocking down people on ladders," Eden hissed, imitating her voice. "If that was my parents I would have been beat up and down that ladder for even thinking about touching it."
"Corporal punishment is against..."
"Lady, beat your kids. Especially that one. Beat his ass before he's taking pock shots at you in a teenage rage."
Flabbergasted by her frank remarks the woman lost her physical prowess and instead to be irrational.
"I'm going to talk to your manager."
Great, the pervert was going to get in on this.
"Go ahead," Eden dared. "You'll still be a crappy mother with a rotten kid."
"Go to hell!"
"I can tell you've been there. Is that where you picked up your little Genius?"
It was then that her boss showed up. The woman was true to her word, detailing the heinous way in which Eden had addressed her, how she had "Never been so disrespected in her life," and how she "wanted her promptly fired."
See, Eden wouldn't have worried about that last bit too much. They couldn't fire her. She was the only visual merchandiser that store had.
Without her Christmas was a bust...but that had been about 2 months prior. Eden was pretty much done with the store. That being said, unless a horde of bandits made away with everything in the next 10 minutes, it made her very disposable. Her boss Edward then took her away like a criminal on death row. His hand was precariously low on her back as he took her into the stockrooms and explained quite slowly that what she had done was ground for termination. The only way to keep her job?
"...can work something out."
"Work something out?" Eden asked curiously.
"Yeah..." Edward curled his hand on her shoulder, reminding her suddenly of the witch in Snow White.
Do you want an apple my pretty?
She frowned. "How?"
Edward smiled, as though pleased that she was still doubtful of his power in the retail world.
"I can say that it was just an irate customer acting out."
Eden's eyes narrowed. "But there were witnesses."
Edward smirked and grew bolder, allowing his arm to wrap about her shoulder.
"I'm the only witness you need."
"Edward, don't you have a girlfriend or something?"
He stiffened. "No, we broke up."
It could have been a lie, but she had no proof.
"So what is this? You want sex?" she asked blatantly.
He looked at her face and his arm pulled away.
"No, no, nothing like that. To start you know. I'd just like a little...appreciation, if you know what I mean."
She smiled sweetly.
"I appreciate you very much Edward."
His eyebrows furrowed and he grumbled, "No, no, I mean...um, well..."
Yes, she was going to make him say it. While he tried to find the words to say "Suck my cock" without saying "Suck my cock" she thought about whether she would slap him, or...suck his cock. Her rent was due soon. She couldn't afford to be without a job, and with the Christmas season coming she needed to get her folks really good presents so she could fake how well her life was going. She didn't want to let on to how much of a screw up she was. She already had a giant sticker that said "Hi, I'm 28 with no boyfriend and no kids," stuck on her chest. She didn't need to add homelessness to the mix.
Would she suck cock for rent? How much was a parent's love worth? In a sick way it made sense. To impress her parents, she decided she would. Oh that reminded her, Edward was still sputtering over how to get the words out.
"...and if you um...scratch my back, well not my back but my...then um, you know I wouldn't mind helping..."
Edward was so surprised his eyes practically popped out of his head. The only thing that could have made him lamer would have been a high-pitched "Really?" as though he were a child who was being told that dinner would be ice cream. Edward was too much of a man's man to allow himself such weakness. With glowering bestial pride he puffed out his chest and gave a quick cough.
"Well okay. Yes, that's good. Now, all we need to do now is have you go out and apologize..."
She looked at Edward with unchecked rage. "What do you mean apologize?"
"W-well you have to apologize," he said uncertainly. "It's a given. We have to remedy..."
Eden was not going to apologize to that woman. She was broke as fuck but she still had her pride. Edward was at a loss of words so she decided to clarify for him.
"I like you Edward, I really do," she lied. "But, I can't suck a dick, and apologize with that dick in my mouth. Do you get it? My mouth is full with the dick, it's one or the other, not both. Okay?"
Edward's brow furrowed.
"Well it's not like I'm asking you to do it now..."
"It's a metaphor..."
"...I just don't feel comfortable apologizing to her. Can't you apologize on my behalf?"
Edward looked longingly down at her breasts and she resisted an eye roll. Really, what could a frail man like him do with all of her? She wasn't exactly a 5'7 daisy. And he had girl wrists.
"Listen baby," he lulled.
Oh God he's trying to put the Mac Daddy on me.
"I'm sorry you feel that way, but it's not sincere if I say it. Besides, you did curse at a mother and yell at her child. I'll make it up to you I promise."
"No, um but I can make it up in another way."
"All other ways don't pay my rent."
Edward's eyes squinted and he looked at her startled.
"Is...is that all this is about? Money?"
Eden wasn't sure what to say. Wasn't that obvious?
"Um, yes Edward it is. What, you think I'm going to suck your dick because I like it? Are you blackmailing me because you want to cum inside my personality?"
The word blackmail set Edward's self preservation chip into hyper drive. Pervert or not he did not want to go to jail.
"I think we have a misunderstanding," he said firmly.
Eden could see the faltered resolve in his eyes. He was diving from the deal.
"I didn't mean it like that," Eden protested. "I didn't mean for it to sound like that."
"You're fired Eden."
"I said, you're fired."
He said nothing, simply staring behind her. Following his line of vision she saw his boss Noreen had mysteriously appeared around the bend.
So the jig was up? She looked at the woman's harsh unforgiving mouth and considered how lucrative a sexual harassment case against Edward would be.
Looking at Noreen she saw she might get a nickel and a pack of cigarettes out of the deal, and Eden didn't smoke.
"Fine," she said lifting her chin up. "And by the way, your toupee's been on backwards since the day you bought it you cheap bastard."
She turned promptly on her heel as he worked to fix it. Another lie, it was on right, it just looked odd on his peanut shaped head.
With the promise of her last check being mailed to her she began walking to her car, her staple gun, tacking hammer, and a box of ribbon, all paid by her in her arms.
She placed it on the lonely passenger seat of her second hand car and thought about her next move.
These were tough times for a visual merchandiser. The peak time had died down because most of the major stuff would be up already. Black Friday would announce that it was okay for Jingle Bells to play on an hourly loop. She was supposed to ride out the wave of fixes here or there until December ended, and she'd get transferred somewhere else.
She was supposed to smile at little kids.
Gosh what was wrong with her?
Bitter she started her engine. There was only one place in Iben that would hire a female college dropout who just got fired.
The Palisades Mall.
Palisades was too damn big. There was so much to choose from that you couldn't find anything. The whole barrage of shoes, handbags, pants, shirts , even stupid things like key chains was insane. One store was devoted to items that claimed to only be available by phone. Another had only sunglasses year round. Eden wanted to cringe.
What hellish realm of nightmarish terror had she entered?
She could hear children and grown women screaming as they fought over Black Friday buys, a man was crawling on the floor trying to inch towards a lawnmower, security personnel were overwhelmed.
And so was she.
Thirty minutes into trying to talk to someone, anyone about finding a store that was hiring and she felt like she would faint. She turned to the first door she could and fell right into someone.
"Hey kid are you alright?"
Her hands clutched at red velvet and she looked up to see an old man with a phony beard dangling at his neck. His eyes were green and he was wearing blush on his cheeks.
"Hey kid? You listening to me?"
"Give me a job."
Eden straightened herself up and bowed her head towards the older gentlemen.
"My name is Eden Sawyer. I'm 28 years old, I've worked in retail for 7 years and in visual merchandising for 4. I can decorate your toy shop or your throne or whatever. Please."
The man shook his head. "No kid, you gotta go over to the employment kiosk over by..."
Her pleading tone gave him pause. Her big brown eyes looked watery and helpless, something that reminded him of his own daughter.
The man gave a sigh.
"You want a job that badly? You trying to go off the books?"
"By the time they find my application, get my background check, and give me training in this mess, I'll have lost my apartment and failed to make my parents proud. Please."
The Santa rubbed his balding head. His red cap was stuffed in his right hand.
"Alright, I got one job for ya. Easy money, 10 an hour, but I'm telling you I can't accept anyone with trouble as a middle name."
It's my maiden name.
"Alright then. Then I got one question for you."
"What's your shoe size?" __________________________________________________
Eden forced a grin as she fought the urge to die right on the spot.
If she wasn't desperate, if she wasn't in danger of choosing between eating or paying back rent...but she was. She was so desperate. That's why she was dressed in a forest green dress with white fur fringe, white stockings with red stripes, pointy green shoes, and a green hat with white fringe as well.
She had been given the elf name "Gingersnap" and it was written with a swirly G on the white nametag that completed her costume. No, what completed her costume were the white elf ears that she wore around her head. To say she looked odd was in understatement. Her skin was at least 10 shades darker than those damn ears.
She did feel a bit better though knowing she wasn't the only one. There was an Asian elf that suffered the same fate.
"Little girl, are you ready to meet Santa?" she said in her least irritated voice.
Nick, the name of the Santa, was in full incognito, sitting on a gingerbread throne, his thick thighs ready to adorn children.
"I'm a boy!" the kid peeped in a high pitched voice.
Eden raised an eyebrow and stared down at the kid's long chestnut flowing hair and heart shaped face.
"With that hair?"
The mother behind him didn't look amused.
She heard Santa cough and saw Nick giving her a death glare.
"...of course you are!" Eden said grinning. "We elves get so confused about humans."
The "boy" laughed and forgave her, while his mother did not.
What was it about her that rubbed mothers the wrong way? Was that why her boyfriends always broke up with her before they brought her home to the family?
She led the kid past the red and gold rope as other elves tried to make the kids into a line. It was almost impossible, kids kept gushing out of the cracks. So many kids, it was amazing that just a week ago this whole display hadn't existed. Now she not only was in charge of repairing it should it break, but she was Santa's personal elf slave.
"Santa will see you now," she said smiling at the kid.
Or Santa's secretary, but luckily Nick was happily married with kids her age. He hadn't tried to play any secretary games with her. He hadn't even made jokes about putting her on his lap. She was sure she had at least one of those coming. Now she knew where all the good men were, stuck in the 1960's.
The old taken bastard.
"You're kind of grumpy for an elf."
She looked to see the source of the voice. It was that guy from the coffee shop, Sean or something. He had come over several times to chastise her. He was over 6 feet of trouble with a pearly white smile and dirty blonde hair. The only good thing about his arrival meant that there would be coffee in the break room.
"Well you know me," she said through a tense smile. "I'm full of sunshine."
He laughed and shook his head.
"So, when do elves get off of work?"
She looked at the mother who was only looking at her with more disapproval.
How dare you fraternize and destroy the children's idea of what an elf is like? The idea of making the woman unhappy gave Sean an added 5 minutes from her.
"Elves never get off," she said seriously. "We are enslaved to Santa. Santa will never let us go. Ever."
"Sounds kind of harsh," he said smirking.
"You're telling me," she said grinning. "Listen hun, you're a really nice guy and you're also very attractive."
His eyes widened.
"Oh wow. Thank you."
"That's why we're never going to work out."
She could see he hadn't expected that.
"I'm not the nicest elf in the shop," she said with a grin. "Trust me, you deserve someone a lot nicer."
And not a crazy ho ho ho.
She turned her back on him then and blatantly ignored him.
"Okay, who's next?"
Screams drowned out his reply, just like she had intended.
The feminine soft part of her desperately wanted to gather up Sean and take him on a romantic holiday jaunt. It'd be nice to have a nice warm body to hold onto.
Then she reminded herself that she had had several nice warm bodies just like Sean's to hold onto. They were all like Sean in one way or another. Black, white, in between, they were all very nice until they got her.
No guy wanted a girl with her issues. Until she fixed herself she would be stuck in the same vicious cycle. Too bad she liked herself just the way she was.
When Santa and his troupe went off to break she took a seat and sighed as relief flooded all the way through her spine. She had been on her feet all day. It was different in retail where you would whizz about and keep active. Stationary standing was made for statuary, not living breathing humans.
"Some kid pulled the gumdrops off the steps again," Erica said in a tired voice.
"Mother..." Eden grumbled before resting her head on the cool surface of the break table.
Thank God for linoleum.
"Ah, you're in high spirits."
She heard giggling and repressed a moan.
It was those two high school kids that were working part time. They thought that just because they had a future they were better than her.