The Year They Lost Santa (Part 1 of 3)

The bread felt soft in Nick’s hands, as if the dough had been filled with air—an edible cumulus cloud. He imagined a bakery at the back of the grocery store, where they would slice and package loaves of bread fresh from the oven and stack them on the shelves.

In the checkout line, the cashier winked at him. “Shouldn’t you be in your toy shop? Only three more weeks until Christmas.”

Nick grunted and left the store without taking his change. The paper sign taped to one of the sliding doors flapped in the wind as it closed behind him. He turned to read it: Protect yourselves and your loved ones. Below the message was an image of a pistol circled in green. He’d seen a similar sign on the front doors of Mercy Street Mall, where he worked as a department store Santa. Stores across the country had been changing their policies against weapons since the latest mass shooting.

“Too little, too late,” Nick mumbled.

© 2015 Nortina Simmons

Next: The Year They Lost Santa (Part 2 of 3)

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