The Last Christmas
We talked often about what to give someone who was dying: Nothing. Everything. A little something. Someone who was going to die: My sister and I went to Walmart on a Sunday in December. It was crowded: Spit-polished people wearing church clothes, frat guys in pajama pants swigging Red Bulls. Everyone wandering aimless through the aisles, faces bathed sick in yellow fluorescence. Speakers bleated out Christmas music interrupted by announcements for lost kids. When we got lost in electronics, in the middle of a football game, a dozen running backs came for us. We found a set of dishes, white and light and dishwashable, something Dad could handle. A mom smacked her kid for yanking down a stack of blankets. The air smelled of something sweet and on fire. Outside a man shook a bell over a red kettle. The snow had picked up, filling in footprints. We had to blaze our own trail.
Sarah Freligh is the author of Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis. Her fiction and poetry work have appeared in Sun Magazine, Hotel Amerika, BOAAT Journal, diode, SmokeLong Quarterly, and in the forthcoming anthology New Microfiction: Exceptionally Short Stories (W.W. Norton, 2018). Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation in 2006.
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Image (modified): Tim Mossholder CC0