All Amazon profits are going towards the HWC strike fund because it is better to give than receive. Ho ho ho!
Besides, my friend Todd Heldt wants me to finish his awesome book Jukebox Loser, which I hope to do today.
May you have a magical time with family, friends, or characters from books!
Keep giving your gift of writing. #barrioblues
The Christmas Gift
ISELLA JONES READ his last text message with disgust: See ya tomorrow tonight, hottie. She glared at the flame emoji. She replied: No too busy preparing for X-mas dinner. Gottga go. -xo cRymson. Isella and Richard Portia had been going steady since junior high, over six years ago. He had always been a sappy romantic, but ever since he went to college last year, to MIT no less, he was changing, and although she expected some change, she wondered if it was time for her to end things.
Isella was the level-headed one. He had asked her out twenty times, once in front of his nerdy debate friends, and she had turned him down gently. She only started going out with him, when he brought her bouquet of hand-picked flowers for Valentine’s Day with a detailed hand-crafted card, in seventh grade. By that point, Rich was starting grow taller and muscular, but he was always thoughtful. So she thought.
She put the phone down sticking her nose back into her physics book. The formulas and examples were a haze as she mulled over why they were still dating each other. She sat at her sparse wooden desk and looked over to the expansive Christmas gift she had for him. It was in a large box, embraced by shiny red paper and crowned with a large golden bow. Isella had put the most thoughtful gift ever in that box along with some expensive hard cover books by the author they both liked, Inia Beginnings, the top-ranking mystery writer of her time. She had spent hours crafting his gift, and knew he would love it, at least pre-hottie boyfriend would.
“What are you doing studying on a holiday?” she asked herself swiping at her annoying long curls. The clock on her phone read 8:30p.m. on the dot. Against better judgement, she got on her gaming system and played Escape the Horde, a combination zombie shooter game with puzzles and locks. She preferred the puzzles and locks to the undead killing sprees.
She was on level 4 when her friend Viddie, chatted, “Hey, The Boy come over yet?”
Isella took her sniper rifle and took out a few more zombies before she put her headset on. She made sure first that he, ZombieAnnihilator69, Rich, was not logged in, just in case he could do so from the plan, “He’s flying in tonight. His mother is going to pick him up. I don’t think I’ll see him until after Christmas. Mom has me making all the dinner preparations because she has a double.”
“That blows, but girl, you ready to give him the best gift of all? I mean, he’s been waiting a long, long time on unwrap that gift.”
She paused thinking over her response in light of her doubts. “Hey, don’t stop talking about that present. I’m all ears,” said a strange, older boy.
“Screw you,” said Isella, muting him out with two clicks. She ignored the fool, “Let’s go to a private room.” She created a room just for her and Viddie. She called the room “Piss Off Pervy Weirdos” and started a new match.
“I’m not ready,” she said resolutely.
Viddie’s exasperated sigh could be heard throughout the digital zombie realm, “You want to stay a virgin forever?”
“I’m 17, stupid-pendeja,” she missed her shot as she aimed for a speedy ghoul, “Damn.” On the screen, Viddie was wearing the head of the lion and silver armor and successfully guiding the horde of 20 plus undead towards some traps. She was better at running and killing masses.
A fast zombie emerged out of nowhere from behind a dumpster, and Isella dispatched it with a quick heads hot, “I got you girlfriend.”
“Dude, don’t use my alternate name!” she hated when Viddie used her real name but called it her alternate name whenever Viddie slipped up, which happened too often. CrYmsonSavage was the name she preferred.
“CrYmson,” she said apologetically, “Nobody cares if you’re a virgin anymore. Come on, even your mom put you on the pill.”
“I beg to differ,” said the same strange voice. Standing right next to her muscular form, on the secluded rooftop, was a regular looking player in an army outfit.
“What?” she said, “This is a private server! How did you get in here?”
He did a stupid dance, “I got my ways. Gorgeous.” His voice was think, and she couldn’t tell if he was 16 or 30. Isella instantly deleted the room and called her friend.
“What was that? How did he get in?”
“He’s a piece of trash hacker. I reported him as you were rage killing our awesome server.” Viddie knew her friend Isella was crazy paranoid of meeting pedophiles and other questionable people online. She only played to talk to Rich every day, but these days, she and Viddie had spent more time talking online, Viddie being Rich’s secret cheerleader to sleep with her best friend, a girlfriend of six years, which was practically marriage in Viddie’s estimation.
“It was too weird, Vid. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that before. It was creepie and gross,” she shuddered as she imagined an obese nasty man with a dirty beard playing online. Food plastered on his gamer t-shirt to tight for his paunch and acid jeans too retro for today’s fashion. Viddie laughed her high-pitched squeaky laugh.
“Well, good night. Wish me luck for tomorrow,” she sighed.
“What’s going on tomorrow?”
“I have go to food shopping. Weren’t you listening? The meat’s on sale at Don Julio’s, and mom will be too busy at the hospital to go shopping. Might as well let me do everything, but she’s doing all the fun Christmas shopping.”
Viddie snorted, “Girl, on your Mom’s budget, she’ll be hitting the Thrift store.” They both laughed because it was true. Ever since her father left them when she was just ten, they had been on a tight budget with her mother always working double shifts at the hospital, so Isella would focus on school. Still, Isella managed to contribute by selling unique collectibles and hand-crafted goods on E-bay. Her top seller that week was a dime from the 1800’s worth $100. She had bought it at a yard sale for $10 from a kind old lady.
Isella went through her nighttime routine, careful to floss every tooth and brush each quadrant, 26 times. Then she went through four skin care bottles ranging from cleansers to scrubs her dermatologist recommended. As an RN, she had cut a deal with the hospital’s dermatologist, and she got free samples. Isella suspected she was sweat on that doctor, but she never pried.
She inspected herself in the mirror. She had one zit, one lousy zit on her right cheek bone, but otherwise, her creamy light skin was the envy of most girls. Her soft brown hair, however, was not the envy of anyone, as her curls had a mind of their own. The only saving grace was that waist long hair was in. She had perfectly arched eyebrows, which her mother had taught her to pluck meticulously to save money, large round hazel eyes, a angled nose too small for her face, and avatar worthy full lips. The one thing that bothered her is that she was small all-around except for her breasts. She was a damned living Barbie doll, and it vexed her. She wanted normal A cup boobs, proportional to her frame. The lack proportion made it almost impossible for her to find clothes that fit and would often have garments altered, which was not cheap.
She went to bed and stared at her game console which she forgot to turn off. The green light beckoned her to go one more match. Out of curiosity, she turned on the TV and saw she had a new friend request, “Friendster17”. It was him, the piece of scum hacker. In her message in box was a pathetic video he sent with a face of teddy bear, not his real face. Coward, she thought to herself. “Sorry, if I scared you. I just really want us to be online friends. I’m not a pervert or anything, and you can’t blame me for thinking you are gorgeous.”
Isella froze. She had no real picture of herself anywhere, online, but her avatar was pretty attractive, crafted with long black hair and perfectly proportioned body parts, including her breasts. Still, she turned off the console and TV and vowed not to play until after Christmas.