They made it look so easy in A Christmas Story. He’d played the movie five times that day, fast-forwarded the tape to the specific scene, slowed it down, analyzed each step…
- Stick out your tongue.
- Press your tongue against the pole.
- Pull back head to confirm attachment.
He’d been standing at the corner of Market and Church street. His mother sat on a bench in Center City Park with her head behind the latest Alex Cross thriller, unaware that he had wandered off from the display of decorated Christmas trees lining the pathway an hour ago to walk a block down to the next crosswalk sign and triple dog dare himself to lick the pole. Pedestrians briskly walked by him, pretending not to stare as the green walkman flashed across the street.
“Is that kid retarded?” he heard someone whisper too loudly.
“Have you never seen A Christmas Story?” he yelled to his back.
As the bright lights of the snowflakes and bells attached to the street lamps began to flicker on, he knew he only had a few more minutes of sunlight before his mother closed her book and discovered he was missing. He pressed his tongue against the pole one last time and counted to five.
“You know it’s not cold enough for that, right?” a voice said from behind.
He swung around, disappointed that his tongue slid across the smooth metal and slipped back into his mouth as he spun. A short, gray-haired woman, no taller than him, rested her elbow on her cane decorated with red swirls like a candy cane. She grinned widely, showing off yellowed teeth and deep wrinkles in her cheeks that resembled gills.
“But it’s December,” he said.
“It’s also 70 degrees.”
He hung his head and kicked his foot at the patch of grass growing between the crack in the sidewalk.
“Tell you what. You help this old lady across the street, and I’ll buy you a popsicle. You’ll have better luck with that.”
He hurriedly stood next to her on the opposite side of the cane. They locked arms and waited at the curb for the signal to flash, giving them the OK to meet the man with the ice cream cart on the other side.
This piece of flash fiction makes Day 14 of 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans. It is also in response to this week’s photo prompt for Sunday Photo Fiction. Click the froggy icon to read other stories inspired by the photo and add your own.