by Anthony J Fuchs
Copyright 2011 Anthony J Fuchs
Cover photo by Jasper Golangco
All rights reserved
"Thank you for shopping with us tonight and have a merry Christmas."
The girl behind the register recited the phrase with a kind of mechanical merriment. I didn't doubt her sincerity, but it sounded fragile. A carved eggshell of holiday cheer: intricate and beautiful on the outside, hollow underneath. Probably more to do with repeating the same phrase at work at quarter-after-ten on a Saturday night.
But she offered me a bright smile, waiting for me to return the sentiment. I glanced down to her nametag – PHOEBE – and wondered if she had a twin sister named Ursula. It was a perfectly arbitrary thought, and I grinned at it. Phoebe played along, looking down at the piece of plastic as she adjusted it. "My big tricked-out nametag."