Christmas at Walmart
By Marilyn Kelly
Trees whizzed past as she stared out of the fingerprint-smudged glass. This was a new low. Her brother, Chase, passed out in the back, asleep, laid his body across the seats while his unconscious mind was flooded with popular rap lyrics.
“Dad…will we be back in time to open all of the presents?” she asked. “Grandma is going to get mad.”
His loose grip on the wheel became stiff. “Enter Sandman” echoed through the burgundy car from the cassette player. He turned his head towards her briefly before returning his eyes back to the bleak road.
“Of course. It’s an in-and-out trip. You guys pick out one thing that you want, within reason of our previously discussed limit, and when we get home you can wrap it, Grace.”
The car took a sharp right across three lanes of traffic to enter the parking lot. Not to her surprise, the lot was practically empty. The only cars in there belonged to the employees, or so she assumed. Poor things…
The family of three, once four, passed under the enormous “WALMART” and entered through the obnoxiously large and automatic doors. Immediately, Grace felt her anxiety creeping up through her throat. Tears welled in her eyes but she knew he would just make fun. Great… just great. You choose now when he’s right next to you? Perfect timing, genius. Dad is going to see you as weak…again. There was nothing but empty, ransacked shelves. What was she supposed to get here? What did she want that she could afford and find?
Tension could be stringed tightly enough to be considered an instrument throughout the store. Each glare from a worker was another note on a cello to be played. Who comes in on Christmas Day? We are the reason families are missing a member around the christmas tree.
Grace knew exactly what she wanted. She was the obvious favorite, but her brother didn’t see it. He was too blind in his attempts to impress their father that his numerous rejections were what he considered to be fatherly affection.
Maybe she would be able to get away with going over the budget. I know what I want. Hastily, she walked in a beeline to the ‘OUTDOORS/CAMPING’ sign that hung from the dull white ceiling. The two boys followed closely behind her. Just like the others, the metal shelves had been emptied clean except for those that had been damaged in the process of ransacking by the savages the day before.
Chase still had sleep in his eye, but once he saw where she had taken them, his eyes lit up. Surrounding them was a whole aisle dedicated to bebe guns. This would be his first year to get one… a tradition started by their father.
Grace wasn’t up for the traditional “thank you’s and jumping up and down. She knew what she wanted: (1) Semi-Automatic hand bebe gun.
Since she was little, she had been taught marksmanship and gained the nickname ‘Bulls-Eye’ around her family. She was quite proud of that one… more so than ‘Fat-Ass,” a name that had started to catch, brought on by her father.
Say yes…Say yes.
“You want that one?” was her father’s first response to seeing the packaging in her hands.
“Yeah, it’s just like the one you have. I just want my own now. You know, for protection,” she replied. From him.
“How much is it?
“Enough…over the limit, by a lot.”
“Alright, but don’t tell your brother. I don’t want him thinking that he can do the same thing.”
All that was running through Grace’s mind was how much she wanted to escape the aisles and go back to their grandmother’s house. It wasn’t as if she felt any more safe in her arms, it was just that there were more people. He was forced to behave differently.
“Go pick out something for Megan. I want her to get presents from you guys.”
“Dad, you just spent half of your month on a necklace for her. We can’t afford anything else.”
“I said go get something. It has to be meaningful.”
“But Dad,” she protested.
“Go. Now. And take your brother with you.”
I hate her. I hate him. I hate her. I hate him.
The two walked along the main aisles until they reached the beauty section. One look at the disaster left behind from the desperate savages of the day before and the two simply grabbed an item that was left: Eye Repair Cream.
Anything to make her look younger. Anything to make him happy and not lash out.
Somehow, a moment passed in which she felt that she would be safe. Grace was out of sight and her brother had wandered off into his own world.
Tears began to stream down the rosy hills of her otherwise pale complexion. The salt began its trail slowly but surely, causing her eyes to puff and her nose to run. She was alone so it didn’t matter anymore. Or at least she couldn’t care anymore. The anxiety had built up. Grace sniffed and checked her phone: 10:38. They were late.
I want out.
I want to go home.