A Change of Heart

The horrendous perfume concoction permeated every pore of his body. It was as though a half-dozen perfume trucks all collided into each other at his feet. Worse yet was that the mall manager added his own odor into the mix. Cinnamon. Pine. Nutmeg. Apples. His head throbbed, he was grumpy, and he wanted to vomit. He was at the end of his rope. Soon he’d be home with his TV dinner and beer watching NCIS reruns until he fell asleep.

Not what you’d expect from a mall Santa. But this was Frank.

Someone once had told him he looked like Santa, so he thought it would be fun to bring a smile to young children’s faces. And there was a time when this happened. Things changed. They always did, Frank understood, but they changed in ways he didn’t like. Somewhere along the line two words altered society around him. Me became an adjective and mine became a verb.

“I want it now!”

“Have you been good?” A queer look.

Crude, narcissistic gold-collar kids raised by praise team, blue-collar parents.

“Look at them,” Frank said, pointing to a family they both knew very well.

“Could it be that they are drunker than normal?” the security manager asked.

Inside the fake Santa’s Workshop they watched a young couple who lived in the food court each day. Where they went each evening was pure speculation, but wherever it was it served drinks to people who had no right enjoying one. Their little daughter would wander the mall alone. The candy store manager made sure she got a treat each day.

The drunkards shoved their little girl toward Frank.

“Hurry up and get this over with.”

Her faded green dress lay rumpled against his red suit. She whispered: “I want my mommy to have a new dress.”

“He’s not Santa,” her mother said.

“Do you think so?”

A nod.

Her mother pulled Frank’s beard. When it didn’t move, he winked at the little girl.


Trifecta’s weekly challenge: CRUDE (33-333 words…. checks in at 331)



11 thoughts on “A Change of Heart

  1. It is a complicated world when you are poor and poverty colours every aspect of your life. Maybe the little girl was due a bit of magic in her life. Well written story. Thanks for creating such good work. 🙂

    • I am glad you enjoyed it. I have always wondered what life as a store Santa would be like, and, as a teacher, I am watching Gen-Y now trying to raise their own children. A mess to say the least. I thought I would try to combine the two worlds.

  2. Wow, way to promote the Christmas spirit – “get this over with?” As a parent, I get that the realities of everyday life can suck the magic out of just about anything…but I’d like to think parents can at least make a little effort. I always like the Santas with real beards…when my kids see fake-bearded ones, I tell them that they are Santa’s helpers because Santa can’t be everywhere at once 🙂

    • There is something special about Christmas and the idea that the spirit should never die. I’ve seen the self-centered young parent who just rushes their child through life as though they are just an inconvenience in the daily running of their life. It makes me so sad

  3. I agree with another comment on the crude line. Very good. The saddest part about this piece is that the little girl asks for a new dress for her mother. Heartbreaking because it’s so real.

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