Merry in Manhattan - Part 1
I saw this on Twitter a few days ago and I might have gotten inspired…
I’m waiting for a reverse Hallmark Christmas Movie about a small town girl who realizes her community’s politics are terrible, moves to Manhattan, gets a high pressure office job, meets a businessman, and they host a non-denominational holiday party at their penthouse.— Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright) December 1, 2018
Which is great because Flash Fiction Friday has been MIA for a majority of 2018. The story I came up with with a 3-parter (maybe 4, we’ll see how it goes), the word count for each definitely go over the 1,000 word mark, but are still nice and short for you, and not quite the same as described in the tweet. However, I definitely think that city-based Christmas stories are highly underrated. Who says that small towns are the only ones who have the “real” spirit of Christmas?
“What do you mean you’re going on a cruise?” My stainless steel travel mug clattered to the ground and I stooped to retrieve it while processing Mom’s announcement.
“You know how I’ve always wanted to go on one, and the weather here is so miserable this time of year. Besides, Carla found such a great deal!” Mom’s voice was bubbly and cheerful while I crawled around my desk in search of where my mug had rolled underneath it. “Besides, just the other day you were telling me how pretty New York is at Christmas. It’s your first one in the big city and you should enjoy it!”
There it was. Of course it had rolled directly in the middle of the executive size desk where it was most difficult to reach. I put mom on speaker phone and lay on my stomach to nab the bandit coffee mug. “I know but…”
“Aw, Lane, Honey, if I knew you’d take it so hard I would have told Carol I wouldn’t go. Maybe she can get a refund…”
The disappointment in her voice was almost too much to handle. “No, Mom. It’s fine. You’ve always wanted to go on a cruise and you hate the winter so this will be perfect for you. I’ll mail you your gift before you leave and just be sure to send me a picture of you opening it Christmas morning.”
Her tone changed immediately. “Of course! And I’ll do the same. Okay sweetie, I’ll talk to you later. Lots to do! Bye!”
She disconnected the conversation and I slumped against the floor. The damn coffee mug was still out of reach. This was not a day to go without caffeine.
“Having trouble?” a male voice asked.
Damn. I should not have worn a skirt.
“I’m fine.” I bumped my head on the desk and rubbed it gingerly as I attempted to sit as elegantly as possible. While on the floor. While searching for my morning coffee.
My co-worker Chris raised a mocking eyebrow and leaned against the door frame, hands in his Armani dress pant pockets. His blonde hair was perfectly combed with a sweep that didn’t even need any gel to make it stay there.
“You enjoy lying on the floor?” he asked.
“When my coffee has rolled under my desk, yes, I do.” I climbed to my feet and tried have some sense of dignity.
“Want some help?”
“No.” Then I pictured my coffee mug rotting underneath my desk for the next several hours and the coffee going cold because there was no way I was getting back down there to get it. “Yes.”
Chris pushed off the door frame and got to his knees. At least the man had a great ass. Yes, I was checking it out. No, I did not feel guilty because he totally did the same to me when I was on the floor as well.
“You know I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation,” he said.
I was already typing away on my phone with a message to my boss to let her know I was available to work over the holidays. “Hm?”
Chris emerged from under the desk and lifted the mug triumphantly. “Your phone was on speaker. Looks like you’re spending Christmas here.”
The phone binged with an incoming message. THANKS LANE! FEEL FREE TO TAKE THE HOLIDAYS OFF THOUGH. YOU’VE EARNED IT!
I groaned. What happened to the big time city bosses who were absolute Scrooge’s and made everyone work on the holidays? Now I wouldn’t even have that to distract me from how I’d be spending Christmas alone this year. I swiped the mug out of Chris’ hand and slumped in my desk chair. “Yeah… I’ll be here.”
I went back to my phone. NO PROBLEM. LET ME KNOW IF YOU NEED ME!
He perched on the edge of the desk. “Don’t sound so excited about it.”
“Sorry, I was looking forward to going home.”
“You hate going home.”
“No I don’t.”
Chris picked up the tiny snow globe I used as a paperweight and shook it. “Yes you do. Leading up to Thanksgiving all you did was complain, then when you got back you kept on complaining.”
I opened my email for the day and started to click through it. “That is not true.”
Chris tossed the snow globe and caught it again. “Yes it is. It’s boring.”
“They have awful politics.”
“They’re closed minded.”
“And you felt suffocated there.”
I looked away from the computer. “Do I really talk about my hometown that much?”
He placed the snow globe back on the desk. “You really do.”
I took a sip of coffee to hide my embarrassment. My family had lived in a small town for generations, and I never felt like I fit in there. After finishing up grad school, I took a job at a startup advertising business to save up money and make a name for myself, then stayed far longer than anticipated. Finally, I’d had enough of it all and a few months ago applied for a position in New York and was hired.
The truth of it was, moving was harder than I anticipated. New York was wonderful and all I imagined - or was sure it was if I ever had the chance to see it. Work took up most of my time and the little space in my schedule I had free, was spent in my tiny apartment with take out and Netflix. Not having any friends in the city killed one’s social life. The prospect of spending a week back home with all of the lights, carols, and snow and being with my family for a bit was something I was looking forward to.
Although, the delivery guys and I were becoming quite familiar.
I tapped on the keyboard without actually typing anything. “It’s just that Christmas is the one thing my town does right.”
“I spend Christmas in New York every year and they absolutely do it right. Way better than this little town you always moan about.”
I raised my brows. “Obviously, you’ve never watched Hallmark movies.”
Chris crossed his arms. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
I pushed the laptop aside and leaned forward. “What I mean is that Christmas is kind of a small town thing. It’s what all the movies are about. Big city girl goes back to a little village and experiences the true meaning of the holidays.”
Chris threw his head back and laughed. “That’s the biggest piece of bullshit I’ve ever heard in my life.”
My jaw dropped. “It is not bullshit!”
“New York does the holidays better than anywhere else. You just have been trapped in this office too much to bother seeing it.” He gestured toward the window which, if you turned your head enough and stood in the corner you might have been able to have a glimpse of the skyline beyond the brick wall. “Look, I might have a solution.”
I sipped my coffee. “Oh really?”
“Yes, really. The thing is, I have a favor to ask of you.”
I leaned back in my chair and it was my turn to laugh. “You have a favor to ask of me? Is that why you’re being so nice today?”
“I’m always nice.”
Chris removed himself from my desk and went to the window. “The thing is, I have a few events I need to attend over the holidays and those who are hosting them are… traditional… let’s say.”
I turned my chair so I could face him. “Traditional?”
“Yes. They require my having a plus one.”
I laughed again. “You want me to be your date?”
He stuffed his hands back into his pockets. “Plus one. If those in attendance assume you are my date, I may or may not correct them.”
“And you couldn’t find any of your other bimbos to accompany you?” He was always bragging about all of the dates he’d been on each weekend, making me want to stuff my ears with cotton.
He raised a finger as to make a point. “First of all, there is no room for girl on girl hate. That’s very closed minded of you to call them bimbos.”
“I didn’t know you were so woke,” I said over my mug and crossed one leg over the other.
He raised another finger. “Second of all, you don’t do anything or meet anyone, so you aren’t in a position to be turning down invitations unless you want to become a hermit.”
“I can meet people if I -”
He raised a third finger. “And third of all, I’ll make it worth your while.”
I strummed my fingers against the coffee mug. “You’ll make it worth my while?”
Chris leaned against the window. “If you come with me to these events, you not only will learn the true spirit of Christmas in a way only New York can teach it, but I’ll also give you my office. You’ve been lusting after it ever since you came on board.”
I almost dropped my mug again. His office was one of the best in the building. Placed in a corner, windows that overlooked the whole city, and a mini bar. It was like walking into Mad Men.
“What?” I stood and joined him at the window. “Your office is huge! Why… what? Why would you do that?”
He shrugged. “Think of it as a Christmas gift.”
“And all I have to do is go to your events?”
“That’s all you have to do. Well… it wouldn’t hurt if assumptions were made about our relationship so, you might have to act a bit.”
“So I need to pretend to be your girlfriend.” It made the offer significantly less appealing.
He rocked his head back and forth. “It would be helpful.”
“And no one else can help you?”
Chris shrugged again. “Everyone else in the office is married or not interested in men.”
Another fact which was completely accurate. I sipped on my coffee and looked Chris up and down. He may have been a self centered lawyer, but he was charming enough, and attractive. More than attractive - he was downright hot. Even I couldn’t deny that. Yet, would this be something he’d lord over me for the rest of time? I didn’t want to get pulled into his shenanigans. Yet, the prospect of spending every night in December alone in my apartment while my parents and their friends were away on a cruise enjoying themselves was not something I looked forward to.
“We’ll need to have a break up plan,” I said.
“A break up plan?”
I nodded. “Once the holidays are over I have zero intentions of being your plus one to other events. When’s the last one?”
“New Years Eve.”
Of course it was.
“Fine. Once New Years is here the plan is over and you’ll have to tell all of these… acquaintances… that we’ve broken up.”
“Sure, why not? I wouldn’t want to go out with you any more anyway. This is strictly professional.”
He walked back to the door of my office and out to the hallway. “I’ll send you the details for tonight.” He called over his shoulder. “And be sure you wear something decent so you can at least pretend to be a local.”
Before I could give a reply he was already gone and down the hallway. Well… that took care of my being bored over Christmas at least. I went back to my desk and worked on catching up on everything so I’d have the weekend free. A few minutes later an email from Chris popped onto the screen.
I pinched my brows together as I read. “What the hell am I supposed to wear to a glow in the dark Hanukkah cocktail party?”
To be continued next week!
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