The Year They Lost Santa (Part 1 of 3)

The bread felt soft in Nick’s hands, as if the dough had been filled with air— an edible cumulus cloud. He imagined a bakery at the back of the grocery store, where they sliced and packaged loaves of bread fresh from the oven and stacked them on the shelves.

In the checkout line, the cashier winked at him. “Shouldn’t you be in your toy shop?” he said with a smirk. “Only three more weeks.”

Nick grunted, walked through the sliding doors without taking his change. The paper sign taped to one of the doors flapped in the wind as they moved. He turned to read it: “Protect yourselves and your loved ones.” Below was an image of a pistol circled in green. He’d seen a similar sign on the front doors of Mercy Street Mall, where he worked. Stores across the country had been changing their policies against weapons on store grounds since the latest mass shooting. The number rising to more than one a day; the death toll even higher.

“Too little, too late,” he muddled.

—Nortina

Day 4 of 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans

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