The Aching Lap

My entry in the latest Flash! Friday contest. Same drill as always: your story needed to be inspired by the photo below and the word count max was 160.

wanted-santa-claus artwork by Kevin Dooley

The rearranged man practised being jolly in the mall bathroom. “Ho! Ho! Huh?” Close enough, he thought.

Tormented Kris Kringle was dressed in a red suit sewn from the thread of second chances. A girl who wasn’t his daughter vibrated on his thigh, her scroll of requests unfurled like Rapunzel’s hair. Karl smiled, patted her blonde head, and watched as she floated away and leapt into the cultured arms of a glowing man. His eyes stayed on them. The father wore a wool peacoat. Cream scarf. Bliss.

Karl adjusted his beard and let the children believe he was a summoner of gifts. The boys were spastic lion cubs. The girls were clones, replicas of long-forgotten giggles and bobbing ponytails. His lap was a time machine, a cushioned portal into the lost years.

At lunch, he bludgeoned a peppermint mocha then punched in seven digits on his phone. “Blue Christmas” caromed of the walls, distorting his mind.

“I’m sorry, that number…”




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