This is a Christmas story I wrote a while ago….
“Happy holidays.” Miley beamed at the old lady who stood before her in line at Santa’s workshop at Skyline Department store.
“The same to you, dear. I would like these books gift wrapped, please.”
Miley took the bag from the department store’s bookstore and took out the books. After stamping the lady’s receipt, she browsed through them and said.
“Oh, Doctor Seuss is my favorite.”
“Mine, too. My grandkids seem to like the books as well. My youngest grandson’s favorite is Green Eggs and Ham.”
“Mine is Cat in the Hat, though I think they ruined it with the movie they tried to pull off.” Miley winked at the old lady and she nodded in agreement.
“So, how many grandkids do you have?”
“Four, hoping on number five but it’s not up to me, I guess. At least is one more than Esther down the street.”
“Oh……” Miley didn’t know what else to say.
As if understanding her confusion, the old woman chuckled and told Miley.
“Darling, when you get to be my age, trust me, competing on how many grandkids you have becomes the highlight of your life. At least I ain’t collecting cats.” She did laugh now and Miley with her.
Miley finished wrapping each book, as the lady said she would give one to each of her grandkids. They continued to chat some more, before she took away her wrapped gifts and wished Miley a merry Christmas.
Yes, that was what Miley Stuart did. She was one of the sales clerks in charge of the gift wrapping module at Skyline Department store. Not that she minded. For Miley, Christmas was the best time of the year. She didn’t mind the fact that their corner of the store was right next to one of the speakers that played Christmas tunes all day long since the first day of December.
Nor did she mind that the entire store had been taken over by the holidays by storm; fake snow made out of cotton piled into corners in the store’s hallways. Nor did she mind the shiny paper snowflakes hanging from every lamp in the entire store, nor the ribbons and holly that even decorated the restrooms.
To Miley, there was no better time than the holidays. It was when magical things happened, and it was when she was at her happiest, even if it meant wrapping gifts for the entire day until after nine in the evening.
Or at least, Miley thought so, as she greeted another customer and started chatting up with a mom who had bought her daughter a new doll, and her son an action figure. And despite her current personal situation, which was the opposite of jolly, she was going to make it work no matter what.
“Have a nice day.” Miley bid goodbye to the mother of two and glanced sideways at her booth partner, Stacey. Stacey was one of her friends, the only one here at work. And probably not as keen on listening to Christmas music all day long for an entire month nor as okay with having all those freaking decorations as she called them, staring down at her even when she had to pee.
Yet, they always chose to have the wrapping booth together because it gave them a chance to chat without having someone tell them they had to get back to work. Part of their job was to be all happy and smiles, and what better way than when gossip was involved?
Though, as Stacey always told Miley, this was the best way to meet men. Granted, many came here to wrap gifts for their girlfriends, but once or twice, they came to buy presents for family and well….according to Stacey, you could tell a lot by what a guy’s mother likes.
Only that as Miley returned her attention to her own line of people waiting with bags in one hand and their tickets in the other, the demographic that lined up to get to her was very different from the one Stacey had.
For one thing, those who came up to Miley were usually customers who were either grandmothers, mothers, and grandfathers. Not the cute, hot, sometimes single, sometimes not single men who took their holiday purchases to Stacey for wrapping. And whereas Miley talked about Dr. Seuss or girls’ dolls, Stacey usually got a phone number or two out of wrapping a gift.
Not that Miley felt jealous. Yet it was funny to see guys who had gone to the store to buy presents for their girlfriends, flirting with her friend. Which was also, according to Stacey, an indication that the guy was probably already cheating on his current girl and she usually tossed those phone numbers away.
Miley had her head bent down, arranging the patterned paper so that customers could choose which one they wanted, when a shadow fell over her and she lifted her head.
She literally had to grab on to the edge of the desk to stop her from fainting. Before her was the most handsome man she had ever met in her entire life, and that was counting all the hot guys that were in the other line.
It felt like an eternity before Miley could say anything that would sound normal.
“Hello sir, happy holidays.”
Though he nodded curtly, he didn’t return the greeting. But who cared when the man had a pair of green eyes that made her think of a Christmas tree, with the starlights that hung above her head reflecting on those green eyes and making her think of that same Christmas tree with its many lights cheering up the room? Not that he looked particularly thrilled to be here. In fact, by the way he stared at her, he looked like would rather be far away from all of this.
“I need to pay for this but everywhere else is full, and I have a meeting to get to.”
Miley glanced down at the e-reader gadget he put on the table. Miley had heard people talk about it, saying how those who really enjoyed reading couldn’t tell the difference by the excellent resolution, color and many other features. And she had also heard its price and wondered what it would be like to just be able to spend money on something like that without it being a basic life necessity you couldn’t live without, but a mere luxury to buy for oneself or to give as a gift.
She knew she would have to direct him to the nearest cash register, but by the way he stared at her as if she were taking too long in saying yes or no to a nuclear launch, – yes, that’s how impatient he looked -, Miley hoped she could break some rules and help out this really attractive customer. Because, what were the chances of this happening again?
And if her hands felt sweaty when she grabbed the box the e-reader came in, she convinced herself it was because she’d been wrapping gifts non-stop since nine in the morning.
“Sure, sir, please, come with me.”
She didn’t even bother to tell Stacey she was leaving. She only glanced over the man’s shoulder, though she had to crane her neck for he was a really tall, and oh, now that she noticed, a very lean, well-toned man. Fortunately, her side of the wrapping booth was empty save for her very impatient customer.
Miley skirted around the table and went to the cosmetics register which was right in front of her and Stacey. She only hoped she wouldn’t end up looking like a fool and taking any more of this man’s time. Though, staring at him some more couldn’t hurt.
“Carol, hey.” She said to the woman manning the L’Oreal cosmetics section.
“Miley, aren’t you supposed to be on elf duty?” Carol said it, not in a friendly manner but with a derisive one.
Miley ignored her.
“Yes, but I have this customer who is in a hurry and I was kind of hoping I could use your register.”
By the way Carol’s eyes widened as she looked over at the man behind them, Miley knew this was goodbye for her and handsome man. However, fate had other plans. Because just when Carol was about to say no way he’s mine, a customer called her for help and since that was Carol’s current job, she only heard her whisper out of the corner of her mouth “must be your lucky day,” before sauntering away to the customer already asking her to show her the newest SPF liquid foundation.
“How will you pay for……”
“Credit card.” He took out his wallet and all but threw the card at her across the counter. Miley took it, swiped it and waited for the receipt to come out. She gave it to him noticing his big and slightly tanned hands, and the very expensive pen with which he was signing. Then, she bent down to look for one of those special bags so his purchase wouldn’t look so dull, because she doubted he would want to wait for her to turn it into a nice, carefully wrapped, Christmas present.
Miley had barely put the box inside the bag when she decided she might give him one of those cologne samples, though by the scent he exuded, his own personal one couldn’t be imitated by any perfume company anywhere. It was a very strong, clean scent, much like his look: expensive suit, crisp white shirt, and those eyes that were disturbingly following her every move.
Miley put the nicely arranged bag on the counter and when she turned around to find some samples in the cabinets below, the man picked up his bag and left without so much as a thank you and a Merry Christmas.
It was when she was shaking her head from side to side that she caught a glimpse of the platinum colored plastic on top of the register. Miley gasped and grabbed it but when she scanned the sea of bouncing heads and mingling bodies, he was nowhere to be seen.
“Darn it. Now what am I supposed to do?”
Only she didn’t have time to figure it out. Stacey was waving at her from their station, urging her to come back since the line had thickened again. Miley took the card and put it in her vest’s front pocket and went back to work.