The holiday season is upon us and I thought I would try to be festive. So I wrote a short story! It’s not based in any of my existing worlds (Tybraes, Vector H+ or Snow.) This is just a random little idea that came to me, not a terribly unique one but mine has glitter! And for that it is fabulous.
I hope whatever holiday you may be celebrating you are having a lovely time, and if you are not celebrating anything I hope life finds you healthy and happy.
Please enjoy my silly little story, “On Account of the Glitter” and take care! Happy holidays!
– – – –
On Account of the Glitter
Why was the work order covered in glitter? S had taken great pains to dress in a proper overcoat and crisp suit for her first day of field work, and now… glitter. The raised eyebrow of her partner, M was not really altogether surprising.
“Betty,” was the only explanation she could offer.
M merely grunted with an accepting nod. The woman’s name seemed summary enough. As he reviewed the work order, however, his brows knit in a scowl and his gravely voice rumbled with displeasure that seemed decidedly aimed at S. “Why does it say ‘Christmas miracle’ with three exclamation points?”
“I don’t know, sir.”
M indicated the woman just past the observation window of the hospital room. She wore a hijab. “Muslims do not celebrate Christmas, S.”
“I know that, sir.”
“Then why does this say–”
“Perhaps Betty made a mistake on the work order. Perhaps she conflated two pink slips, sir. After all, there is the glitter.” S tapped one toe on the floor in a nervous tick. This was her first assignment, and while M was a highly respected officer of the field, she felt he was being obtuse. That or he was ‘breaking in the new kid.’ The others had warned this might happen. Maybe this was some kind of test or an ill-conceived joke to haze her. After all, there was the glitter.
After a long thunderous grumble, M scowled through the window and held the work order out to her again as if holding out a dead thing. As S took it, the doctor walked past them into the room to speak with the woman. She checked the vitals of the seven-year-old in the bed, scribbled something on the chart, then stood conversing with the mother. M checked his notepad then grunted at S, “Doctor is Jewish, S. Still no Christmas miracle here.”
“I see that, sir.” The agent bit her bottom lip and lowered her eyes to the floor as she stuffed the work order back in her pocket– DAMNIT. She’d probably never get the glitter out of it, not completely. “Perhaps there is another relative… or one of the nursing staff?”
“We’re here to wake the kid from the coma, isn’t that right, agent?”
S lifted her chin a little, “as per the work order, sir.”
“How exactly would that be a Christmas miracle for one of the nursing staff, S? Not their kid.”
“Then perhaps Betty did make a mistake. We didn’t see the original pink slip, sir. Perhaps we should call in a verification order?”
The eyebrow arched up again and when he turned it wasn’t just his head, but his shoulders too as if he were too stiff with agitation to twist. “You’d call out a veteran like Betty on your very first day, kid? Think that’s a wise professional step?”
“No less professional than glitter… sir.”
Then the unexpected occurred. M smirked and hacked a gravelly chuckle. He pulled a tin from his pocket and from that a mint, which he popped into his mouth. The tin snapped shut with a clack then disappeared into his pocket, his smile seeming to follow it. “Fair enough, kid.”
“Agent or S, if you please.”
M regarded her askance then gave a curt nod of acknowledgment. They returned to watching the doctor and mother speak. After a moment, S broke the silence. “The boy’s been in a coma for three years. Ran into the street after his ball, got hit by a car. In truth, was probably a miracle he survived that at all.” She lowered her eyes to the floor with a tightened jaw and exhaled her frustration before finishing, “there is some complication with the mother’s insurance…”
“Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas, S.”
“I understand that, sir.” S grit her teeth. “This clearly is a boon for her so I don’t understand why Betty wrote what she did.”
The doctor exited the room and spoke to a nurse passing by. S watched them then noticed Agent K. She stood a few paces back, shadowing the nurse, just watchful of the man. Having been seen, K gave a nod then walked over. The nurse too walked over to the window and stood, staring in, unaware of the three agents’ presence.
“Agent K, what brings you here?” S extended a hand to her superior.
The handshake was firm, respectful. “S, M. Good to see you. I was assigned a white slip.”
“Oh.” S paled and looked over at the nurse, while M’s grim features drew into an even more dour expression.
“Ugly business, those,” M remarked. “But a pro like you can handle it.”
Agent K bobbed her head, accepting the compliment, then muttered, “he lost two patients this morning. He’s in a really dark place since his partner left him. I keep getting little spikes of hope but it just hasn’t been enough. I need something I can remind him of to keep him going.”
The nurse pulled the chart from the bin by the door, then set it back. His eyes shifted through the window again as one hand grazed over a cross hanging around his neck.
“M… Christmas miracle…” S smacked M on the upper arm. “It’s him. Betty did conflate the work orders. We’re here for the mother but we’re also gonna help K.”
As the nurse entered the room, S followed, M and K in tow. With an arched brow, M asked, “you got this, ki– uh, Agent S?”
“Yes sir, I do.”
The nurse opened the cabinet and pulled out a fresh pillow and sheets. Smiling at the mother, he softly said, “this won’t take me very long, but I’ll make sure your boy has a nice fresh bed.”
“Thank you,” she replied with a bob of her head. She moved to sit by the window to give him room to work. “You always take good care of him. I’m sure he knows.”
“That’s a lovely thought, ma’am.” The nurse’s features saddened a moment then forced a fresh smile, “it’s nice to hear you say thank you, though. Someday I’ll get to say hello to this little guy.”
“Yes… yes you will.” The mother lifted her chin and pursed her lips after her assertion, a battle not to cry.
As the nurse stood on one side of the bed, S stood on the other and watched for the perfect moment. The man gently cradled the boy’s head to lift it and slide the pillow out. As he did so, S reached over and touched the boy’s forehead. His eyes fluttered open and he blinked up at the man.
“Say hello,” S whispered in his ear.
“Hello? Where’s my mommy?” The boy mumbled through a haze.
The nurse stared down at the eyes staring up at him. S waited for him to realize what was happening. He seemed to be in shock, so she asserted, “that’s right, the boy you’ve helped take care of for three years just woke up in your arms.” She smiled and watched as realization cleared his vision. “Look in his eyes, remember this moment.”
“H-hello to you. She’s right here, kiddo,” the nurse gasped as he gentle propped the fresh pillow under the boy. With a beaming smile he turned, “he’s… he’s awake!”
As the mother leapt up, the three agents stepped back and watched the scene unfold as the nurse called for the doctor and mother embraced son. Agent S looked at Agent K with hopeful eyes, “will that work, do you think? Will that help you with your white slip?”
Agent K regarded the nurse and gestured to him. The nurse was clutching his cross necklace and standing back with tears in his eyes watching the mother and son. “It’s the best I have to work with, the happiest I’ve seen him look in days. So long as I nudge him at the right times, yeah, I think I can keep him away from that dark valley. Excellent work Agent S.”
“Not bad for your first time out, S.” M gave her a curt little nod. “I’ll talk to Betty about the glitter.”
S looked down at her overcoat, the edges of her pocket smattered in the stuff. “I appreciate that, sir.”
“Still, motivated you.” He smirked and added, “on account of the glitter.”
“The mission motivated me, sir. The glitter just ruined a perfectly good wool coat.”
Agent K chuckled and winked, “well, I can see why you two were assigned to one another.”
“How did Betty know to write the work order like she did?” S asked the two superior agents. “We might have awakened the boy long before you and your ward even arrived, K.”
K and M exchanged glances then M arched a brow. “The Bettys of the agency get a lot more information than we do. They pass on what we need to get the job done. If this is what Betty determined was the necessary intel for you to complete the assignment then you don’t question it, kid. She’s not a secretary, she’s a case worker and we’re just field agents.”
“So you’re saying she knew-”
“I’m saying, she knows a lot more than we do and the job worked out, so stop asking questions.” M pulled his tin from his pocket. “Here, have a mint and review the next work order. We should get out of K’s hair.”
K chuckled at him and extended a hand to S. As they shook hands again, she asserted, “you’ll come to see a lot of these sort of cases, S. The intel is always need to know. Whatever she gave you, it was enough.”
“She gave me glitter and exclamation points.”
With a sly smile, K just shrugged then nodded in the direction of their charges. Clearly it had been enough.
Leaving Agent K with her ward, S and M moved onto their next work order, one with significantly less glitter.