I’m really happy with the way it turned out. It’s hot, it’s sexy, it’s cute, it’s retro, it’s awesome.
In the upcoming holiday anthology from Ylva Publishing, Unwrap These Presents, I have a short story called “Elfin Magic” about a woman who does seasonal work as an elf in a department store (think: Macy’s). She is disillusioned with Christmas and wonders how she got to this place in her life, dressing up in a stupid elf costume, upselling photograph packages to sentimental parents whose kids just sat with Santa.
I know whereof I speak—I was a Macy’s elf in Santaland for a few days. I quickly realized that this was something I simply didn’t and couldn’t do, so I quit. (I would have volunteered to work the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade if they didn’t expect people to be there at 6 a.m. I would have had to be on the train at 5 a.m. on a cold November morning for absolutely no compensation, and that simply wasn’t going to happen.)
But working there, I keenly felt the grip of commercialism. It was my job to try and get people to order bigger (i.e., more expensive) photo packages, as well as other photo mementos: tree ornaments, cubes, figurines, etc. I just didn’t have it in me.
But the question the character asks herself is one that’s been foremost on my mind lately: how did I get here? You hear about people who lay out their plans and they follow that road to the destination they planned. Of course, everyone has bumps along the way, unexpected occurrences in their lives, but some people seem to end up where they wanted or expected to be.
My whole life has been one surprise after another. The turns I had no intention to make were the ones I made, and now I’m at the middle point of my wondering: How did I get here? It’s not really a lamentation. It’s more about bewilderment. Like, really—how did all of this happen? I know that life has many twists and turns, but you never see the hairpin turns coming, and you never expect the cliff drops. But many people (perhaps most?) don’t expect the windfalls either—the wins, the pot of gold, the Emerald City at the end of the road.
It would be nice if some issues had answers, but for the most part, we go through life never really knowing why things happen the way they do, both the good and the bad. I try to believe that the turns I’ve taken along the road led me to where I needed to be for whatever reason. Some people “see” the purpose of those turns. I can’t say that I ever do. Except that maybe if I had not taken a particular job in 1992, I would not have met my writer’s group, and I probably would not have gotten as far in my fiction writing as I have. They’ve been priceless to me in that regard, and I don’t know what I would have done without them all these years. In fact, my group, The Penheads, are about to release our first collaborative project. Hunger: Stories of Desire, Discovery, and Dissatisfaction will be available on Kindle very soon.
Maybe there are reasons for everything.