Hey, this is my first story for fiction press, but I have 5 more on Fan Fiction so…yeah.
"Why do you think you would make a good Santa's Little Helper?" The question rang in her head. The easy part of the interview was over. She was all done telling the truth about herself. She thought she did a pretty good job. She thought her background was ok. She thought she impressed him. But what did he think? Now she had to lie, and she had to make up a damn good lie. She was way over the normal age for Santa's Little Helpers. She was seventeen and hated kids, and Christmas. She wasn't Jewish she just hated getting together with her relatives. But she needed the money so she thought of a lie.
It's Ali, you ass. "Oh yeah. I think I would make a great Santa's helper because I have three younger siblings," well that much was true, "and I adore children," that wasn't.
The mall manager leaned back in his roller chair and pretended to fix with the hair he didn't have. "You do realize the average Santa's little helper is around nine or ten, don't you?
"Yes sir, but I think the mall needs and older person for the job in case one of the kids…" damn didn't think of that "falls, and can't get up." Thank you sweet TV commercials.
This time he stroked the invisible hair on his chin. "You make a point…what the heck, you got the job!"
Ali sat up with a jolt of surprise. "Uh…thank you so much Mr. Merchant!" She was also lying about her excitement, but he bought it.
"Please, call me Marvin. I'll see you tomorrow at 8 'o clock." He was more excided then her.
"AM?" she asked. She did not want to wake up at 7 'o clock to take some little brats to see some old nasty fake Santa. She didn't want to have to take their picture either.
"Of course! I'll see you then," he said standing up. He wouldn't walk her to the door, but that was her cue to leave. She picked up her backpack and left the room. She was glad to be out of there. It smelled like old cologne.
Well tomorrow she was going to meet Santa, some 50-year-old guy that's lives in a one-bedroom apartment with his cat named Rex. Oh joy. She decided she would get some food before she walked home because she was right by the food court anyway. Hmmm, Chinese food or Japanese food? Raw fish just doesn't seem appealing for some reason. So that leaves me with Chinese food for the third time this week. Yippie! Ali grabbed her food and started walking home. Stupid parents, why can't I take the driving test a normal age? The mall was about 7 miles away from her house, and after 5 she was glad she bought food. Not because she was hungry, but because she was cold. She held the warm bag against her and made it home without freezing to death. Although, about 1/4 of a mile away from her house she dropped her plastic bad, spilling the rice and sweet n' sour chicken all over the cold ground. So much for food.
She walked into her big house, and kicked her shoes off. "I'm home!" she yelled to no one in particular, "If you care," she said more quietly, but directed towards her parents, even though they probably weren't home. Her little brother Julian came running for her, and he wrapped his arms around her waist. Julian was her favorite of her three younger siblings. He was the middle child, and he was the sweetest. Vera was the youngest and she was a pain in the ass. Four-years old, you think she could learn to use a toilet. Well, she could use the toilet, but she thought it would be easier to go right there in her Pull-Ups. Leigh was the oldest of the three, ten, and he was a brat. He would push around Vera and Julian, and act like he was so much better then everyone. He was also the favorite child, so that fact alone makes him unappealing. Julian is the only child Ali has ever met that she hasn't wanted to strangle.
"I missed you, Ali."
"I missed you too, Julian. But, what are you doing up past your bedtime?"
"I couldn't sleep. I was scared of the monster in my closet."
"Oh, sweetie, it's a nice monster in your closet. He keeps you safe while I'm away. He's big and strong and works just for you. But, I'll talk to him one more time for you." Eh, I guess I'm okay with kids.
She made her way up the long flight of stairs up to her brother's bedroom, Julian hanging on to her side the whole time. She walked in noticing all of his toys neatly stacked on his shelf, and his hamper almost full. Ali sat her brother down on the bed and told him to wait there. She walked in the closet and shut the door. Sitting down for a few minutes, she made the illusion that she was talking to someone, and she was sure her brother would believe her. After a few minutes of doing nothing she stood up. She shut the door to the closet and sat on her brother's bed.
"He told me that he was sorry if he scared you, and that he didn't mean to. Oh, and he asked you not to call him monster. His name is Frank. He wants you to call him that."
"OK." Julian looked down, and Ali could tell he felt bad for being mean to "the monster." "Can you tell me a story?"
"Oh…I'm not good at stories. How about this: Once there was a little…giraffe named…Ted. Ted wasn't your regular giraffe, he had special powers. He could Stretch his neck out for miles. Then one day he stretched his neck out so much is came back and his head got shoved up—I mean…it stretched all the way back to him. But he didn't know it, so he thought someone was following him. He got mad, and kind of scared, so he punched his head! And it hurt him so he got confused…" She looked down and Julian was asleep. She tucked him in his blankets and kissed his head. "Goodnight," Ali said to the small boy. She walked out of his room and turned off his light. She went into her room and collapsed on the bed. When she shut her she was asleep.
When Ali finally got to the mall it was almost eight. The creepy mall manager ran up to her. "Oh I'm so glad you made it. Quickly, get changed. It's almost show time! The mall opens at 10:00!"
Ali was so tired her eyes felt like they were going to fall out, and she could have shown up an hour and a half from now. "Wait, why do I have to be here now?"
"Oh, well you need to practice, get acquainted with Santa, and get used to the feeling of being Santa's Little Helper."
"And that takes two hours?" Ali still thought it was stupid.
"Of course!" The manager looked over to the entrance of the mall, "Oh, Santa, I'm so glad you're here!" "Santa" walked in looking as tired as Ali, and Ali was surprised at how young he was. He looked about twenty-six, not fifty. He didn't look half bad, nor did he look like he had a cat named Rex.
"Hi," he said groggily. "Are you the elf?" he asked Ali.
Ali finally realized he was talking to her. "Yeah. I'm Ali. And I'm guessing you're Santa?"
"Yeah, Max. Nice to meet you." He reached out to shake her hand.
"You too." She didn't shake his hand but instead rubbed her eye's. She turned to the manager, "Is there any way I could take a quick nap?"
"Oh, I don't think so," said the manager, "We've got a lot to do until the kids get here. For one thing you both have to change into your outfits."
"Oh, joy," Ali said under her breath.
The manger handed Ali and Max their clothes and showed them to the bathrooms. The elf outfit was too small for Ali, even with the adjustments that were made on it. Still, she was able to squeeze it on, looking both childish and lewd at the same time. She walked out to see Max in his over-stuffed Santa costume. She was glad he looked as stupid as her.
"Oh good you're dressed! Lets get ready to rehearse!"
As they all walked onto the North Pole set Ali whispered, "Is it just me or is that guy way too enthusiastic about his job?" to Max.
"He can't naturally be that happy about his job. Maybe he's on crack," he whispered back, instantly regretting it, not knowing how old, or "educated" the girl was.
"God I hope so," she said. Max let out a sigh of relief knowing his crack remark was OK.
"OK, Santa, you'll be sitting here and there will be many kids sitting on your lap."
"Thanks for the tip," Max said.
"You're welcome," said the manager not getting the joke. "SLT, that's what I'm calling you for short, you'll be standing over by the camera." Ali couldn't help but to giggle at how close he was to calling her a slut. "You will take the next kid in line's hand and bring them over to Santa. Then when they tell Santa what they want you will tell them to say 'snow.' Then you will take their hand again and show them to the exit, and get the next kid."
"Wait, you had ten-year olds doing this before?" Ali was curious, because her ten-year old brother couldn't do anything like that, though he would probably say he could.
"Oh no, we usually hire a separate person to do the pictures, but since you're seventeen, we don't need to hire anyone else." Ali nodded, holding back the urge to suggest she get paid double. "Oh, to take the picture, press this button." Ali looked at Max like, is this guy serious? Max shrugged. "Now we're going to need to practice. I'm going to play a needy little kid. Ready?" Ali laughed in Max's direction. He smiled and glared and Ali just kept laughing.
By 10:00 there was already a line of kids outside of the Santa Center waiting to see Santa. By then the manager was gone. He actually trusted Max and Ali enough to be alone. "You ready?" Max asked Ali.
"I guess. But I still want to go home. Poor Julian must be dying without me."
"Yeah, he's my little brother. He's my only younger sibling that I like. He's actually the only kid I like."
"So why did you want this job?"
She laughed, "Because it's easy and it pays."
The manager came down, "Get ready, I'm going to open the doors!" Ali got up out of Santa's chair and stood by the camera, and Max sat in the chair. "Good, you're ready! Now, remember your break time, every even numbered hour, at the top of the hour, for twenty minutes." He pointed to a metal door that said "no exit," "That door leads to a back alley, so if you want to get some air back there you can. Oh, and at 2:00 and 6:00 you get an hour long break where you can change out of your Santa clothes and into your regular clothes, and get something to eat." He then opened the door and said hello to all of the parents acting super cheesy. Max glanced at Ali and rolled his eyes. Ali smiled, and took the cap off of the camera. She walked over to the first little girl and took her hand. Ali walked over to Santa and put her on his lap.
"What's your name, little girl?"
"Zoe," she said in a quiet voice.
"And what would you like for Christmas, Zoe?" Ali couldn't help but laugh at her new colleague's voice. He had managed to make it jolly and old sounding, with no apparent practice. The child said what she wanted and Ali snapped the photo. Ali went to get the next child, and the next two hours went pretty much like that. At their first break time they got to talking.
"So Max, you been doing your Santa voice for long?" Ali had a sly grin on her face.
"I'm just a natural I guess."
Ali laughed, "Well, that's something to be proud of. I know I wish I had that talent."
"Ah, but then more kids would want to be around you."
"Yes, but they would listen to me. I tell them to get me a Mountain Dew or they'll get coal, and they will. It's that simple."
"Oh, so you plan to have child slaves that think that they'll be rewarded with gifts from Santa?"
Ali was silent for a few seconds. "Yeah, pretty much. I figure they'll never find out, and if they do, I just go back to being Ali and burn the Santa costume. It's a genius plan, I'm surprised you're not leaping at the chance to use it."
"I would but I don't leap."
Ali laughed but Max kept a surprisingly serious look on his face, making her laugh harder. Ali sat down on the gravel and leaned against a garbage can to catch her breath. Max sat down next to her. "God, you're the only person I know that laughs at my jokes. My friends don't think I'm funny, even when they've had way too many drinks."
Ali stopped laughing, "Oh, I don't think you're funny, I'm just in a laughing mood." Max shoved her lightly on the shoulder, sending her into yet another laughing fit. By the time she was actually done laughing it was time to do an hour and forty more minutes of work. When that passed they went and got their real clothes and to changed out of the too-big and too-small outfits. They met out side the men's and women's bathrooms at the same time.
"Auntie Anne's?" Max suggested. "Best pretzels ever?" Ali let out a short giggle and nodded in agreement. They made their way up to the second floor to Auntie Anne's, got their food, then went back down to the food court for a place to sit. Max looked at his watch, "We have forty minutes to eat."
"Uh-oh," Ali said sarcastically, "I don't think I'll be done in time." Ali dropped the sarcasm. "This sucks, what am I supposed to do for, like, a half an hour?"
"You could go shopping, did you bring money?"
"Because I didn't think they'd give us breaks twice as long as needed."
"OK, well even if you do have a long time, it will still probably take you a pretty long time to get back into that elf suit."
Ali groaned, "That thing is so annoying, it's way to tight, and did you see the way the parents looked at me? They think I'm a whore or something."
Max laughed, "Santa's Little Whore." Ali gave him the evil eye. Max looked away, hiding the scared look on his face. "Sorry." Max and Ali took their pretzels out of their bags and started eating. "So," Max said changing the subject, "Tell me about your family—if you don't mind."
"Um, I have a mom and dad, they're both at work all day. Just to tell you they're not divorced, just so you won't have to awkwardly try and avoid that subject. I have two little brothers, Leigh, and Julian, he's the middle, and best of my siblings, and Vera, my little sister, is the youngest. We live in a pretty big house, have too many cars—none of which I can use because my parents are making me wait till I'm eighteen to take a drivers test. We don't talk much, and until today, I took care of my siblings while my parents are at work. Now we have a babysitter. Both my parents are lawyers, by the way, so you can imagine trying to disagree with them. Well, got that out of the way, what about you?"
Max was speechless at how easily she had shared, what anybody else would probably try to hide. Ali, almost hearing what he was thinking, answered.
"My parents made me take therapy for a couple years so I'm used to repeating things over and over."
"Um, if you don't mind me asking, why were you in therapy?"
"Well, our family used to be kind of close, back when my uncle lived with us. He was cool, and he was always someone I could talk to. Then, one day he got in a car crash and died, and our family didn't talk much after that. Except for me and Julian, of course. So, what about you?"
Max was silent for a moment, "Oh, um, my family lives in Minnesota, and after I moved to Portland we didn't talk or visit that much, like maybe once every few months. Then I moved to Augusta six months ago and I stopped speaking to them, and they stopped speaking to me. Now I'm here in Eliot and I still don't talk to them. So, that pretty much sums things up." They ate the rest of their pretzels in silence. And, when they had twenty minutes left of break they changed back into their costumes and continued work as usual.
OK, that was chapter one, I hope everyone who read it enjoyed it, and will review. If you didn't like it, review anyway.