Lingering Leftovers

6 Jan

The bitter wind whipped around Adam as he walked the curving length of his driveway to his mailbox, freezing his ears and stirring up the dusting of snow that had fallen overnight. With the holidays over, winter felt more like a cruel joke than the magical Wonderland it had seemed just a week prior. Christmas lights still adorned the houses along the cul-de-sac, but only Marge and Frank Stokes bothered to plug theirs in at night.

Typical of January, the mailbox was stuffed with bad news. Adam wrestled the awkward bundle out of the box and trudged back up the drive, flipping through the day’s delivery as he did.

Long gone were the festive envelopes containing warm, holiday greetings from family and friends. Now, credit card statements bulged with painful reminders of impulsive extravagances purchased for loved ones, and last-minute guilt-buys for those they loved less. The first shipment of their Year of Cheese had arrived—eight-ounces of Munster, courtesy of Uncle Monty. The gas bill felt heavier this month, as though the ink used to print that extra digit next to ‘Total Now Due’ weighed as much as the cash Adam would have to fork over to pay it.

“Kim?” Adam called out as he entered the house. The bitter wind swept in with him.

“In the kitchen!” his wife answered, her reply accentuated by the clinking slam of the dishwasher door.

Adam stepped around the cast-aside and broken RC helicopter their son, Aiden, had begged Santa for. His interest in it had lasted three days. Better than most gifts, but still disheartening, especially considering Adam was holding the bill for it in his hand.

“Hey.” Kim glanced up from the breakfast mess she was wiping off the kitchen counter. Her nose was still red and chapped from the last remnants of the flu bug Adam’s four-year-old nephew had gifted the entire family with on Christmas Eve. “I just remembered Colleen has that ACT prep thing this afternoon. It starts the same time as Katie’s ballet class, and I can’t be in both places at once. Can you drop her off, and I’ll pick her up after Aiden’s basketball camp.”

“Sure.”

“And then you’ll have to pick up Katie from ballet, because I promised Emily I’d take her around to sell Girl Scout cookies this afternoon.”

“That’s fine.” Damn. There went his plans to watch the game. Not that he would have been able to watch it on his new HDTV anyway.

His eyes drifted over to the den where Kim’s cranky Great-Aunt Tillie sat in his recliner, his remote in her hand, her chin to her heavily-perfumed chest as she napped. She hadn’t moved from that spot since she’d arrived on their doorstep a week before Christmas, uninvited, two suitcases and a diabetic cat in hand.

“When’s Tillie say she’s going home again?”

“I don’t know,” Kim grumbled as she scrubbed at a glop of dried jelly. “Every time I ask her, she says. ‘Oh…soon, dear.’ Well, soon can’t come soon enough for me. I swear the only time she lifts a finger around here is to point out everything I’m doing wrong. I’m half-tempted to stuff the old bag in a box and ship her and that damn cat back to Tucson myself.”

Adam grunted and held out a thick stack of mail wrapped in a rubber band.

“What’s this?” Kim glanced at the bundle. When her eyes landed on the yellow, postal-forward stickers with Tillie’s name and their address gracing the envelopes, she gasped in horror. “Oh— Shit!

“We got the credit card bill, too.” Adam tried to smile, but failed. He tossed her the box of cheese. “Merry Christmas.”

 

***

This short story was written for the Story Dam prompt Holiday Leftovers. Write a piece, non-fiction or fiction, in which your character is figuring out what to do with their “leftovers.”

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8 Responses to “Lingering Leftovers”

  1. Renee January 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Oh my goodness.
    Maybe Auntie will be worth a fortune? Or cost one.

    Good story!

    • Donna January 6, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

      I’m betting cost one would be more Adam’s luck. Poor guy. LOL

  2. SAM January 8, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    I love love love the surprise at the end. AUnt Tillie and her diabetic cat. You had me all the way through. Such excellent writing.

    • Donna January 8, 2012 at 8:53 am #

      Thanks, SAM!

  3. Brandon January 8, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    This is funny. You did great with the realism – the helicopter (been there), the sickness “gift” (been there), the cold no longer bringing in the season (almost hate that). Love it.

    AND I actually have some constructive criticism for you this week! You usually make it too difficult to find something. 🙂

    Where you say “trudged back up the drive, flipping through the day’s delivery as he did.” The ‘as he did’ part – when you add two actions back to back like that, you have to be sure to make it clear what the ‘did’ is referring to. I’m not an English major, so I can’t find exactly what this is called – it reminds me of a dangling participle, but I don’t think that’s right… maybe…

    Anyway, the story is awesome, as usual. Good job!

    • Donna January 8, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      Dang those dangling participles! LOL Thanks for pointing it out. Ok, now here’s where I reveal just how poor my grammar skills truly are…. does it undangle the dangle if I change the word “did” to something like “walked” or is the entire phrase used incorrectly? I should just take the participle phrase out, but I am a participle junkie! I need that -ing hit. Aaaahhh!! LOL Fine, I’ll go to rehab: “Adam wrestled the awkward bundle out of the box, and flipped through the day’s delivery as he trudged back up the drive.” (I am also a run-on junkie. 😀 )

      • Brandon January 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

        LOL! You’re funny. You could do it either way you pointed out, I think. The did before just looked like it referred to the flipping. 🙂

        • Donna January 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

          Well, he ‘did’ some flipping while he ‘did’ some trudging. Adam’s quite the multi-tasker. hehehe And I did fix it on my original. TY, TY for your help!! 🙂

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