Christmas Day

This is a work of fiction, a short story of 760 words.

Roger was much more than angry. Maybe furious would do, he wasn’t sure if that was enough though.
“Where the hell do you expect me to get cranberry sauce at this time, on Christmas Day?” Perhaps he had shouted too loudly at Samantha. After all, she had got him the new ten-inch tablet he had been hinting about. And she had been very gracious about the earrings, even though he had suspected she didn’t really like them. “Will anybody even want it on their turkey?” Sam shrugged. He knew it was no good, he would have to go out.

As he walked to the door, car keys in hand, he heard her call from the kitchen. “Try that small shop in Marlowes Lane. You know, the one past the garden centre. They are Indians or Pakistanis or something. They’re bound to be open, they don’t do Christmas.” He waved a hand in acknowledgement, not trusting himself to say more. Roger’s head was pounding when he sat in the car. A headache that was sure to ruin his afternoon was building behind his eyes, and the last thing he needed was a twenty-minute drive just to buy bloody sauce that nobody would want. Trust her to forget to buy it yesterday.

He was almost certainly driving too fast as he approached the roundabout, his anger transferring to his right foot on the accelerator. But he managed to control the car despite the speed, and took the last exit onto the far end of Marlowes Lane. Something seemed to snap inside his head. It was as if an elastic band in there, stretched far too tight, had just given up. Time slowed down as he straightened the car, and it seemed to get very dark all of of a sudden. He couldn’t focus that well, and stared at the dials behind the steering wheel.

Roger was not aware that he was dead. The car slowed, and drifted across into the oncoming traffic, hitting a family saloon coming in the opposite direction. He didn’t feel the impact, or hear the scrape of metal on metal and the sound of glass breaking. He was unaware of the airbag inflating, smothering his face momentarily, or the startled screams of the family occupying the other car.

There were lots of people around him. More people than he had ever seen in one place. Crushed together, like the crowd at a sports event. Nobody was speaking, yet everyone was undeniably talking. The countless conversations filled his head, but he was unable to isolate more than odd words. He was moving slowly carried along by the crowd, and unable to turn back, or move to the side. Everything was grey, opaque light barely illuminating the scene. He cast around, trying to find someone to ask a question of. Why was he there? What was happening? Where was the car? Was Samantha here too?

But everyone stared ahead, glassy eyes fixed on the crowd ahead of them. The man beside him had only half a face; the woman in front was very short, perhaps a child. He wasn’t sure. When he tried to speak again, no words came out, but the man turned and looked at him. Roger sensed the words, “I don’t know, none of us do. Keep walking”. The man had answered his question without moving what was left of his mouth. The pressure of the crowd kept him moving. More like a shuffle, than a walk. He realised he couldn’t hear anything; not the sound of movement, nor any ambient sounds whatsoever. He didn’t smell anything either, no odour from those tens of thousands of moving people.

They walked on, their destination unknown to all.

The paramedics and fire crews had taken their time dealing with the family. Luckily, it was mainly cuts and bruises. One of them had looked at Roger and shaken his head, moving across to the other car to help his colleague. The shaken driver was talking to a policeman. “He just drove across the road, straight at us. I didn’t realise, until the last second.” The policeman nodded his head. “Not your fault sir. You were all lucky, and cars can be replaced.”

Samantha was pleased. Everything was ready. When her parents arrived, she showed them into the living room and asked what they wanted to drink. Her Dad looked around. “Where’s Roger?”. She smiled at him. “Oh, he won’t be long. He just popped out for some extra cranberry sauce. I only got one yesterday, and it might not be enough.”

57 thoughts on “Christmas Day

  1. That’s a very good story, Pete… I think Roger would have died anyway, if not in his car than at home… Little circumstances can change life forever… That is definitely one of the wonders and curses of human life…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very vivid story. It just takes the blink of an eye, doesn’t it? I can’t say I’m very fond of cranberry sauce but I know what I’ll think about when I see it from now on. Another great story. Thanks, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Olga. Our national obsession with unwanted food items has always fascinated me. Julie spent ages making bread sauce last year, “in case anyone wants it”. Of course, it was later discarded, untried by anyone.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  3. Agh! On a similar note, my granddaughter always full of facts says on the way to church, “Do you know you remain conscious for a few seconds after your head is cut off?” Followed by, “Would you want to be conscious after your head was cut off?” Light conversation around here!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like how the narration shifts from in and out of his head. Very good writing Pete. Why do I get the feeling that the man who was trying to control his temper in the beginning of the story, fighting back the frustration, not trying to get angry about buying cranberry sauce was you ?? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely not me, Cindy. I would never have left the house on Christmas Day to buy cranberry sauce, I assure you… 🙂 🙂 Then again, I have controlled a rage or two in my past. (Write what you know?)
      Best wishes, Pete. xx

      Like

  5. Well I LOVE cranberry sauce and not just on turkey either – but I usually make my own with orange juice and zest added so it’s very fruity. Not that we have turkey that often now unless family are coming and even then a large chicken is sufficient. Great story Pete, though I’m not so happy about all those people marching to wherever… but a wicked twist at the end. It reminded me of a bloke who crashed through a central reservation around Christmas time and crashed into a petrol station (fortunately no fire) some years ago in Doncaster. He was thought to have suffered a heart attack and died at the wheel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christmas is a very stressful time for some, and many people die suddenly during that season. When I was in the ambulance service, the 25th was one of the busiest days of the year.
      The long line of people marching to who knows where was my version of some sort of after-death limbo. It was just added to break up the two sections of the story.
      But who knows? It might be just like that…
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Zombies came to mind!! And yes, I can imagine the Christmas period is busy for the hospitals – it can be depressing too if you are on your own being bombarded by all these excessive adverts full of ‘happy’ families.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Me again – with a question. How did you resolve the problem of your comments not showing up on other blogs? It’s been happening to me over the last couple of days, including on Dani’s which I only signed up to yesterday and several others I’ve been following and commenting on for ages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I sent a question to WordPress support, Mary. They answered it eventually, saying nothing was amiss. However, the problem stopped that day…

      On your site admin page, scroll down to the very end. Find Help and Support, and click that.
      On The next screen, ignore the first box, and scroll down to a blue box, with Get Help in it.
      Click that, and the next screen shows you a form that you can submit to the forums.
      Fill that in, and send it.
      Eventually, you will be contacted by a Happiness Engineer (in my case, 24 hours later)

      The other thing to do at the same time is to try to contact all the blogs where your comments are not appearing, and ask them to release you from their Spam folders, or Awaiting Moderation. As soon as they start to do this, it restores your credibility with WP.

      Obviously, your comments are appearing here, but bloggers new to you may have to accept your comments in moderation, before they appear.

      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Pete. I’ll reach out to the happiness engineers (though the title makes me want to spit). It’s happening on blogs I’ve followed for years with no problems, as well as Dani’s, but I suppose something might have made their spam filter take against me for some reason.

        Liked by 1 person

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