Today’s Friday Flash Fics photo is totally a cheat. Whenever I do little promo graphic images for Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks for things like one-line-Wednesday, I use a particular picture from Pixabay that I like as somewhat Cole-ish (or, in my head, what Cole will look like when he’s a bit older). I chose it as last week’s image because it’s December and things are keying up and as of right now Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks is available from the Bold Strokes Books Webstore, and next week it’ll go live everywhere else.
Also? I wanted to write a little Cole scene again, and it’s Christmas, so why not?
No Chimney Required
This was a terrible plan, and I was having the time of my life.
I didn’t have a red suit—that seemed like maybe going a bit too far—but I did have a black bag. It was a messenger bag, but whatever. I wasn’t trying to get to every child in the world or anything. It wasn’t like I needed a sack.
I’d started with Alec, tucking a copy of Love, Simon under his family Christmas tree. His cat hadn’t so much as meowed, though she did purr when I stopped to stroke her chin. That first stop had been the most nerve-wracking, and the moment I’d stepped through my bedroom door and teleported my way to Alec’s living room, my heart had started hammering in my chest like it was going to pop right out.
But everyone was in bed.
This was totally going to work.
From Alec’s, I went to Lindsey’s. The Settlers of Catan six-player expansion was easily slipped under the tree. They had a theme tree, I noticed, and it struck me how much I preferred the one Alec and his dad put up every year: a sort of mish-mash of bits and bobs I imagine they’d had for years. They still had stuff Alec had made in kindergarten.
Lindsey’s parents had a theme tree. This year it was all gold and white, and it just sort of looked sterile to me. Like, Christmas the way you see it in a magazine. Then again, Lindsey’s mom was a doctor. Maybe sterile was a way of life.
Rhonda’s family front room was lit only by the streetlights outside. I put the gelt down by the menorah just in time for her dog, Cookie, to come around the corner and stare at me. Cookie was roughly eleventy-million years old, and I loved her, and luckily the feeling was mutual, but she did give a single startled woof to see me. I froze, listening, but no one reacted, and by the time I was scratching Cookie’s head and she threw herself down on her back and rolled over, I was smiling again.
The plan hadn’t included noises from dogs, but look at me, I handled it like a spontaneous genius-type person.
The earring I’d found in Lexa’s gallery—it was a tiny screw—I left under the tree at Grayson’s. There weren’t many gifts there under the tree, and I couldn’t help but notice how many more of them were for his sister. She was younger, sure, but…
I blew out a breath. Maybe next year Grayson could be somewhere else for the holidays. Maybe that needed to be a plan. I hadn’t really reached out much to Grayson in the last few months or so. Between working at the Deaf Camp over summer, my art classes, helping my dad, and training time with Lexa, I was constantly supposed to be somewhere. It hadn’t led to kept promises about keeping in touch.
Definitely needed to find more time for Grayson.
“Sorry,” I said to the room.
The fun had maybe faded a bit. But I was sure Grayson would love the little screw, and it made me feel a bit better knowing it was under the tree for him to find.
Once Nat’s bow-tie was safely nudged under her family tree (I was especially proud of this gift, as the bow-tie glowed in the dark) I took a deep breath, bit my lip, and stepped through Nat’s kitchen entrance.
The King family tree was pretty darn impressive. For one, it was freaking huge and a live tree. For another, I was pretty sure every single ornament on there was handmade, or at the very least, wasn’t mass-produced. Quite a few of them had little picture-frames built in, and it’s possible I spent a few moments looking at pictures of Malik sitting on Santa’s lap.
I was so unsure about this gift, but I slid it under the tree, and then straightened.
Okay. That was it. Mission accomplished. I could go home, and wait for the surprised texts from everyone in the morning.
I stood there.
Yep. Done now. All the boxes were checked off.
I bit my lip.
I looked up.
I could totally poof directly from here to Malik’s room.
I shook my head. There was spontaneous, and there was “pretending to be spontaneous when really you’re just keen on your super-hot boyfriend who sleeps in boxers and you really enjoy the view and the kissing and the touching.”
Besides, we had a date tomorrow. Or today, what with it being after midnight.
I poofed my way back to my bedroom, changed into my pajama bottoms, and climbed into bed, inordinately proud of myself.
Over breakfast, which I swear my dad made take forever because he knew both me and my mom wanted to open the damn presents already, my phone began to buzz.
Grayson: Are you trying to tell me I’ve got a loose screw?
Lindsey: Thank you, “Santa”! When did you even drop this off?
We finished breakfast, and moved into the living room. I’d just opened up my first gift when my phone buzzed again.
Rhonda: Lindsey told me you got her a present. That was really sweet. Also, it seems I have extra chocolate. Thank you.
My dad nudged my shoulder. Waiting for something? He nodded at my phone, his eyebrows rising in that dad-way.
I tried to wave it off, but he just grinned. Presents first, then Malik.
I’m sure I turned beet red.
By the time we’d opened the last gifts, two more texts had come in.
Alec: Movie night this weekend? I have just the thing.
Nat: It’s lovely. Thank you. Where did you find it?
I modeled the clothes my mother got me—a Christmas Tozer tradition—and then helped clean up the shredded paper and bows. I also had a big box of fudge that was calling my name, but I wasn’t going to give in until after lunch. Or at least until after ten.
Okay, maybe after nine.
What? Teleporting burns a lot of calories.
Finally, my phone buzzed once more, and I didn’t even pretend not to be eager to check it.
Santa brought me a really nice journal and a pen. And he even filled in the first page for me.
Did he? I sent. That was nice of him.
Yeah. Apparently I need to make a list of the top five places I’d like to go on a date.
Huh. That Santa. He’s all about lists. I bit my lip. Do they all have to be nice, or can they be naughty? I hit send before I could stop myself.
The little grey dots seemed to take forever.
We can decide that when I see you later. When are you coming over?
“Hey mom,” I said, looking up, only to see both she and my father staring at me and grinning in that decidedly parent way.
“As long as you’re back for dinner,” she said.
Tell Malik Merry Christmas, my father signed.
I didn’t even blush. I put on my winter coat and my boots—not that I’d need them—and typed away on my phone.
See you in five, four, three, two…