Letter Labor

“For the love of Christmas, don’t make this a production.”
“Jingle, I take my job seriously.”
“You’re going to make this a big deal again, aren’t you?”
Jingle snaps on a pair of black leather gloves. “Let’s get to work, Bells.”
Bells gazes at the mountain of envelopes beside him. The evening mail shift. And tomorrow morning, another truckload will come.
“Why don’t you and I take half…?”
Jingle holds out his hand, expectantly. His tight leather pants crinkling as he strikes an impatient pose.
Bells groans as he reaches for the first letter, passing it over to Jingle. “I hate this job. You act like every letter to Santa is a potential threat that only you can identify. What are we up to? A couple billion by now?”
“Can’t take chances with the big guy,” Jingle says, pulling out a pocketknife and carefully slitting the letter open. “Never rip it open,” he illustrates. “These present fiends actually lick their letters as a sealant. Click and send people! That’s why Santa has email now.”
A puff of white powder spills out.
“Is that…”
“Anthrax!” interrupts Jingle, hands on his hips. “I knew it would happen! Those brats don’t get want they want for Christmas and BAM! Santa’s got to pay!”
“No,” Bells snaps, rolling his eyes. “I was going to ask, is that glitter?”
Jingles examines the remaining white residue before unceremoniously snorting it. “Oh, definitely glitter. The good kind too.”
Bells snatches the letter.
Dear Santa, I am apologizing to you and to others that I’ve not believed in. This Christmas, I need to make amends. I have been a successful businessman, but a failed human being. If I’m allowed one wish… it’s that my family can find it in their hearts to forgive. P.S. I am sending a bit of fairy dust as proof of my changed heart.
A tearful mist forms in Bells’ eyes. “That’s beautiful… modern Scrooge seeking redemption.”
Jingle takes the letter back, promptly tossing into the nearby furnace chute. The sound of sizzling flames devouring dreams slips through.
“Santa has enough to deal with. Twelve and under rule.”
“If we are going to burn them, why do you make it such a process? Everyone else leaves early! What is your issue?”
“Next,” Jingle demands, his foot bumping and thumping anxiously.
Letter after letter is numbly handed over to Jingles for commentary. Too demanding. Furnace Chute. Definitely naughty. Furnace chute. Too needy. Kids need reality checks. Furnace chute. Terrible spelling. Go back to school. Furnace chute.
Jingle gasps at the final letter. He pulls out a rubber stamp of approval.
“Wait, you’re actually approving one?”
Jingle nods. “Will personally delivery it to Santa myself.”
“You’d better tell me or I swear by Rudolph’s nose I’ll….”
“The kid wants an Elf on the Shelf.”
Bells blinks. “You would approve that over Scrooge?”
Jingle cocks his head. “Of course. The kid is wishing for a lifetime of misery for his parents. Love that tradition.”

Riley Cross is a teacher and mom who has so far, escaped the elf on the shelf tradition and is ignoring the siren calls of such an alluring descent into madness. She adores SciFi and Dystopian literature. Riley’s work has been featured by the Australian Writer’s Centre, top ten list for most New York City Midnight contest rounds, and VampCat Magazine. She can be found on the Twitterverse (@WritingByRiley).

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