Note: this short takes place 1 year after the Elixir Fixer Christmas short but can be read as a standalone
The automatic doors whooshed open and Sky walked in to her worst nightmare.
There were people everywhere.
At the cash register impatiently waiting to have their items rung up, hurriedly wheeling carts about as they tried their best to get in and out of the grocery. Oh God, even the one to ten items line looked disgusting, with a long line of sour faced people stretching almost into aisle one.
Turn around and leave, her common sense urged her. No, it practically screamed for her to get in her car and go!
The grocery on the eve before Christmas Eve was a crowded mess and Sky gripped the basket tighter as she moved further into the chaos.
Her last minute desire to bake a ham was the most ridiculous thing, but apparently spending your first Christmas living on your own made you want to do ill-advised things.
She still planned to attend her father’s Christmas Eve party, where his special ham would be a hit. She’d see her family on Christmas Day too, so it made no real sense why she was about to put herself through this.
She’d never baked a ham before. But really, how hard could it be? It would’ve been nice if her impulse to suddenly do so had come at a better time but here she was.
The annoying Christmas music piping through the speakers almost had her ditching the basket and saying “fuck this” but she pressed on towards the meat section.
A man nearly ran over her foot with the cart he was hastily wheeling towards the cashier and Sky deployed her most epic scowl. The man paid her no mind.
“Hey asshole, watch it!” she shouted.
He tossed a middle finger back at her and oh hell no. She stared hard at his cart until one of the wheels began to wobble and broke right off.
“What the fuck?” he hollered as the entire cart nearly toppled over.
Sky smirked as she continued to the meat. Served him right for being a jackass. They all wanted in an out quickly, no one wanted to stay in this last minute shopper hell, but he didn’t have to be a jerk about it.
She didn’t look too closely at the jolt of pleasure she got from using her magic. She could picture her mother shaking her head and clucking her tongue, while secretly giving her an on the DL high five.
The pang of nostalgia hit her hard. God, why was she here? She should be home, watching The Nightmare Before Christmas or something and annoying Gale with grumpy texts or pictures of her sad Christmas tree.
Well, Gale thought her tree was sad; Sky was perfectly fine with it. She’d gone the easy route and gotten one of those white ones with lights that dimmed and then grew brighter. Not a single decoration on it, Just the automatic blue lights. It was as close to decorating as she was going to get and that suited her just fine.
Gale had looked at the tree, nose wrinkled in disgust.
“That’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen. At least if you’re gonna ditch us to be on your own, try to be less sad about it.”
Sky had ignored the dig. She hadn’t ditched them. Not really. She just couldn’t live there anymore. The house was too filled with memories of her mother and they were choking her. She had to get out. It wasn’t like she’d abandoned them. No matter the reproachful glances her father kept giving her when he came over, or how his sad eyes had slowly surveyed her house when he’d visited.
Her new place wasn’t even that far away. She was still in Hibiscus Bay.
Whatever, she was an adult and didn’t owe anyone any explanations for her actions. Especially not her current one.
She spied the meat freezer up ahead which…shit…only bore a single ham.
She quickened her pace. She had to get to it before anyone else did. So close so close.
She reached into the freezer to liberate the ham when another hand collided with hers to grasp the frozen hunk of meat.
Sky blinked down at the hand. Long brown fingers grasped the ham right next to where hers did. She followed the hand all the way up the expanse of forearm this guy was sporting, until she got to the smirking mouth, then kept going up to the slightly quirked eye brow.
“That’s mine.” There was no time to waste here. She was letting him know right now.
“Oh yeah?” Voice deep and tinged with amusement he cocked his head, not moving his hand a single inch from her ham.
“I touched it first.” She sounded petulant to her ears but damn him it was hers!
He chuckled. “Really? Should we have the grocery replay the tapes to see?”
Who the hell was this joker with his ridiculously bright yellow shirt that he didn’t seem to know how to button properly? She scowled at the slice of brown chest revealed by his inability to do up his buttons all the way.
She brought her eyes back up to his face. “Listen. Just be a gentleman or whatever and give me the ham.”
He laughed again. Seriously, who was this jolly doing last minute shopping? “Normally I would be a gentleman but desperate times. I really need that ham.”
“So do I.” Did she really, though? But she’d come all this way and she wasn’t leaving without the damn thing.
She should’ve used her magic to whisk it into her basket when she’d had the chance. But she hadn’t wanted to risk being seen. The Royers didn’t advertise their witch status, especially not for frivolous things like this.
“Look.” He removed his hands from the ham. “I’m appealing to your holiday spirit. My family came over here to spend Christmas with my grandma. The whole family is here and we did have a ham, but there was an over eager dog accident. So I decided to brave this mess to get a new one.” He smiled. “So I’d forever be in your debt if you let me have this one.”
Oh, this poor man. He chose the wrong person to try to appeal to some sort of holiday spirit. She had none. And did he really think that smile would work on her?
“You took your hand off it, it’s mine now,” she said, grabbing up the frozen meat to shove it into the basket hooked on her arm.
The ham didn’t make it anywhere near her basket because now he had his hands back on it. What the hell?
“Let. Go.” She tugged but he had a strong grip.
“Please. What do I need to do? Beg. I’ll do it.”
Oh. He’d probably look quite delightful on his knees begging. That pretty face looking up at her with that mouth and the neatly trimmed beard he was sporting. She considered for the tiniest of seconds before dismissing it outright.
Nope. She wanted the ham. He’d have to search elsewhere.
While still unsure why she was being adamant about this, the idea had burrowed in and taken up residence. She was baking her own ham.
“Sorry. Better luck next time.” She tugged at the ham again. He tugged back. Okay, this was ridiculous and the longer they played this game of tug of war with the damn thing, the longer the lines would get.
Don’t do it.
She brushed off that warning voice. She was doing it.
“Sorry,” she muttered before she reached deep for the magic that always sizzled beneath her skin and zapped him.
She’d intended for the spell to manifest as a little tingle, just enough for him to release the ham and give her time to make off with it, but apparently she hadn’t prepared for his reaction. Mid both of them pulling on the ham he obviously felt the zap and released the frozen package so suddenly, just as she was tugging it, the entire thing jerked towards her and flew from her hand.
“Shit,” they said at the same time.
He wiggled his hand to relief the zap she’d given him, but Sky didn’t have time to care about that. The damn ham sailed away from her grasp and landed a few feet away. Just as a woman turned into the aisle.
The woman’s cart came to an abrupt halt, eyes darting down to the ham then back to them.
“Well, this took a turn,” the guy said behind her.
The ham was closer to the woman’s cart than to either of them and Sky very nearly said fuck it and cast a spell to drag it back to her basket, but she watched as the woman rushed forward, grabbed up the ham and tossed it into her cart, shooting them both a victorious grin before wheeling quickly away.
Sky spun on Yellow Shirt. “This is your fault,” she growled before dumping the basket and stalking out the grocery.
Damn man! Where had he even come from?
She grumbled all the way to her car. It was foolish to be this upset. She’d get a perfectly good ham at her father’s party tomorrow. But…she’d wanted to do this. Prove to herself that she could. Perhaps, also prove that she hadn’t made a mistake moving out. That she was just fine on her own when at times she wanted to say screw this and move back.
Ugh. She hated feelings. What good were they?
She disengaged the car alarm and reached for the door when someone cleared their throat behind her. Tensed for some weirdo to come at her with who knows what–the holidays brought out the worst of the worst–she turned around.
Grocery guy stood in his ridiculous yellow shirt, perfect white toothed grin a shiny beacon against his brown skin, a bag in his hand.
“Here. Merry Christmas.” He held out the bag to her. He tugged down one end and she gaped at the ham in the bag.
How the fuck?
Rage simmered in her chest and Sky clamped down on her fire. Of all the damn elements to be in her care. The universe loved a good joke didn’t it? She exhaled slowly through her nose. Good, at least she wasn’t breathing out steam.
“You came to show off that you got the ham?” she asked, lip curled up in disgust. “Well good for you.”
She turned to get into her car. Yeah, she’d been a jerk back there refusing to give up the ham but she hadn’t pegged him for one too. Why was she annoyed by that? Actually, wait. Even if he had charmed his way into that ham, how did he get to pay for it so quickly?
“Hey wait. No. It’s yours.”
She turned back. “What?”
“The lady was kind enough to give it to me and now it’s yours. You seemed to really want it. I’ll make up some excuse to my fam. So, Merry Christmas.” He thrust the ham in her direction.
“Are you telling me you charmed that ham off that lady? With what? Just a smile? And how the hell did you make it through the cashier so fast?”
It sounded ridiculous but Sky believed this guy capable of such a feat. It was a not unpleasant smile. The cashing part was the mystery.
“Well, I tried.” His smile turned sheepish. “But she wasn’t falling for it. I had to promise her a date, and give her my mother’s number so I wouldn’t supposedly ghost her.”
Sky wanted to fist bump that lady for not falling for this guy’s smile alone. She’d gotten what she’d wanted out of it. Nice.
She reached for the ham. The charitable thing to do would be to let him keep the ham but hell no. She got what she wanted and maybe he did to. The woman had been quite attractive. Everybody wins.
She slid the bag around her wrist. “Thanks,” she said. “How’d you get through the lines so fast?”
He dialled up the wattage of his already bright smile. “It pays to know people I guess. Got some dirty looks but so worth it.”
So he was the sort who knew people wherever he went. Of course he was. Well, good for him, and for her. Since it worked in her favour.
She slid into her car. He still stood there, hands in his pockets, grinning at her. What now?
He made a “wind down your glass motion” with his finger and Sky sighed.
“It was nice meeting you.”
“You enjoy fighting over hams with strange women?”
He shrugged. “Makes for an interesting story. I’m Micaiah, by the way.”
Sky started the car. She got what she wanted. There was no time for small talk now. She was already going through the steps she’d need to get done to get this ham in the oven. She was going simple. No pineapple.
“And I’m not interested,” she shot back, powering her glass back up she pulled from the car park.
She peeked in her rear view mirror. He was shaking his head but he looked like he was smiling.
Chipper people were weird.
She glanced over at the ham secured in the passenger seat and grinned. Score one for the Christmas Grinch.
Sky and Micaiah will return in 2018, hopefully 😀
Copyright © 2017 N.G. Peltier
Bonus trini soca parang, Bring Out D Ham for your listening pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyNcR-vfrs4