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Friday, December 16, 2011

Free Short Story: The Last Christmas before the End of the World

The Last Christmas before the End of the World

by Georgevine Moss

There was only one week left for Christmas. Benny swooped up his six year old daughter Grace from the playroom and tricked his teenage son Mark into coming to the basement with promises of letting him have the car for the weekend. Yes, he was that desperate.

Everything was going from bad to worse. Everything he tried to fix at home collapsed in his hands, his work…he didn’t even want to think what was happening at work. Even his wife Annie seemed to be in a rut of bad luck. She had been dieting and exercising for weeks now and the results were non-existent. What the hell was going on? Maybe there was nothing he could do about everything else that was going on, but the moment you diet and don’t lose any weight is probably the moment the world is going to end.

He took the kids to the farthest corner of the basement and sat them down on the floor as if the ending was near.

“Come on, dad. What do you want? I’ve got stuff to do,” Mark said.

Mark was already annoyed. Benny couldn’t tell if this was yet another bad sign. Mark had been permanently annoyed for almost three years now. Other parents had told him this was normal. Some other people had told him that medication might be good for him. The internet didn’t make things any better either. According to his research his son was either a psychopath or an angry teen in need of…love, was it? He didn’t know. His research was inconclusive of what such a teen might need. Looking on the internet for answers wasn’t a total waste of time though. After reading a medicated teenager’s story on the Huffington Post he was certain that going down the pill road was a definite no, no. And it had nothing to do with cost. Imagine that…

“Kids, what I’m about to tell you is really important.”

Grace gasped. “Are we going to die, daddy?”

Where did that come from? Should he start worrying about Grace too now? “What? No. No, we aren’t going to die. Why did you think that?”

“Mark told me that bad stuff is going to happen in the world and we are all going to die.”

He should have known. Of all the things he could be doing Mark seemed to take particular joy in reading weird stuff online and later recount them to Grace. Was THAT a bad sign? “Well,” he said. Before going on he threw a glance at Mark. He didn’t do it as a way to disapprove of Mark’s actions he just wanted to see if he was smiling. He was. “Bad stuff has been happening all over the world in 2011 too Grace so…”

Grace interrupted him with another dramatic gasp. “We are going to die?”

“No. No.” Shit. What was he thinking? “Grace,” he said. “I don’t know what is going to happen in 2012 but no one is going to die.”

Grace looked at him like a puppy. Not a confused, can’t-tell-I’m-looking-at-my-own-reflection-in-the- mirror puppy, but a really smart puppy that just wants to play with you. “No one?”

Trick question, trick question. “No one.”

“Not even that really old lady with the cane and the fake teeth and the tubes we saw at the hospital when we went to visit grandma?”

Mark burst out laughing.

“Grace, don’t interrupt me again.”

“OK, daddy.”

“According to the Mayans though…” Mark said.

“Mark. Stop it. If you want to read about the 2012 apocalypse check out Wikipedia, but keep your mouth shut.”

No one spoke. Not a bad sign, but weird. Benny finally tackled the serious issue at hand. Christmas. “As you both know in a few days we will be celebrating Christmas.”

Grace grinned. Benny preempted her with a serious stare. “So,” he said. “All of your grandparents will be visiting us this year and I really need you to act your best.”

“What do you mean, daddy?”

“Your mommy is feeling very stressed with her work and…other stuff, and I—we all need to help her with everything, just this one week. OK?”

“OK, daddy. Will you help her cook?”

“Um, no.”

“Don’t worry, daddy. I will.”

This was a bad idea. He shouldn’t have said anything. “OK…Mark?”


What? No argument? What was going on? Should he be afraid? Benny wasn’t afraid, just worried. Maybe the world wasn’t going to end, but with the way things were going he wasn’t all that excited to wish anyone “Happy New Year” come 2012. What was worse was that he was the one he had to take the kids shopping today. Kids, toy store, Christmas and small budget didn’t bode well. In fact, it sounded more like one of those IQ test questions. Which one of these words doesn’t fit in?

Benny, Mark, Grace and Annie wish you all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!