Last Christmas

Over the next week, I’m going to be sharing original flash fiction (500 words or less) inspired by some of my favorite sad Christmas songs. Here’s the first based on Last Christmas by Wham!

There are two truths applicable at any snow filled chalet gathering. What goes up must come down—that’s the basic law of skiing—and the last two people left awake at a cocaine party are going to sleep together. 

Robert and Janet had experienced the former on the slopes that morning—he, a black diamond aficionado, and she, a sensible enough downhill skier to know which passes she could handle. But this same sensibility had been discarded when she found herself in the latter situation—the rest of the party passed out upstairs or retreated to their rooms for holiday trysts—her left alone with Robert on the bear skin rug in front of the dwindling fire. 

He poured her another glass of gummy red wine and swiped a small box from the stack of presents heaped on either side of the tree. The name Cindy or Lee or Frasier was on the tag, but Robert discarded it with deft fingers, blood pumping through his veins like the Polar Express. 

Merry Christmas, he said. 

You didn’t know me before yesterday, she said. 

I had a premonition my life would change this weekend, he said. I knew I’d meet someone special. 

The star patterned gold wrapping came off without tearing—the thick paper creased in perfect straight lines and tight angles—signs of the wrapper’s care, likely a professional stationed in one of those basement booths at the department store. 

She let the paper fall to the floor, no one recycled back then, and opened the velvet box revealing the glittering brooch, a simple bouquet of a sunflower and a daisy—flowers she associated with girlhood but made womanlike rendered in white sapphires. Her breath caught at the words on the note tucked inside. 

I love you. 

How long had she been waiting to hear those words and now they were being fumbled on to her by a stranger. A Robert. A man she’d met only yesterday, 

You knew you would love me, she asked. 

He answered with a kiss, arms encircled bodies, and they tugged back and forth until finally he eased her on to the bear skin rug, fur warm from the fire. And then she felt taken care of, and then he felt like the conductor on a wintry night train bound through long tunnels blasted from pure granite. 

Afterward, he grabbed a knit blanket from the leather sectional and covered them up so they could slumber there on the rug, resting until they were awakened by the lover of Cindy or Frasier or Lee who demanded to know why his present had been opened. 

I’m terribly sorry, Robert said to Janet. 

She looked at him stricken, you said I was someone special. 

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