Dedicated to Calvin. Merry Christmas to you, hun. And all of my furry friends.
God damn. It's finally over with. As the last customer leaves, I smile and wish him a good evening as I practically follow on his heels in my effort to close up the shop. As the customer passes through the door, I immediately lock it and flip the "Open" sign around. The customer gives me a look, but nods and gives me a smile that says "hey, I get it." I nod back and wave as I rush over to count out the register and lock up all the displays. I hurriedly vacuum and attempt to straighten the shelves of the store, though in my haste I actually knock over more items than I put away.
I have to hurry! I look at the clock and mutter about late shopping idiots. I should have been closed and on the road twenty minutes ago. I told him to be there at eight o' clock sharp. Now I'm probably going to be late for a date that I set myself. Great.
I grab my coat and rush out the back entrance, pausing long enough to switch off all the lights in the store. The cluttered aisles of toys fade into blackness one by one as each of the overhead lights shuts off after a long and arduous day of helping last minute Christmas shoppers hurriedly pick out gifts for their loved ones.
I breath a sigh of relief as I rush out of the mall doors and into the parking lot. At least this part of the holiday is over. I love spending special time with those I love, but sometimes my job really makes me wish I could just skip this time of year. I glance at my watch and my sigh becomes an irritated growl. Might have to break a few traffic laws on the way home.
I move at a fast pace through the parking lot, griping mentally about employees being required to park so far away from the entrance. What an unfair world we live in. The chill wind blows through my fur, causing me to shiver. A perfect light snowfall is slowly covering the ground in a pristine layer of white crystals. I smile and look up at the dark night sky. It's like something out of a perfect holiday storybook. But my happily ever after is currently waiting for me to show up! I shake my head and give up on my dignity. Running, I nearly slip a dozen times in my haste to reach my car.
I reach my vehicle and begin fumbling my keys in my cold paws, anxious to be on my way. I should have been there five minutes ago, fucking damn it! I open the door and slam it closed as I take my seat and start the engine.
It's bitterly cold inside the car and the back window is frozen over. Another glance at my watch confirms that there's no time to get out and scrape that damn ice. I switch the heater to max and open the window to lean my head out as I back up. I mutter a desperate prayer to the universe that nothing will go wrong and can I please, please get home safely and quickly to my waiting love.
A few minutes later sees me finally driving down the road, the ice finally melting from the heater so my speed is a little less suicidal. Yellow lights at intersections are bright signals informing me to hurry up. Patience was for those not in love is what I think to myself as I fly up the street leading to home.
I smile as I glance at my dashboard clock. At this rate, I'll only be about fifteen minutes late. Not too horrible. The blue and red flashing lights in my rear view mirror washes my grin away as a shocked look of disbelief replaces it. No, no, no, no, no, fucking NO!! This is not happening, this is not for me. I slow and pull over to the side of the road.
The patrol car follows. And my slim hopes crumble to ashes in my mouth. The officer doesn't immediately get out, he seems to be saying something into his radio. I resist the urge to roll down my window and bark that I had places to be, and could you please FUCKING hurry your GOD DAMN FUCKING TAIL over here now and get this over with?!!
I sigh and close my eyes. Refusing to look at the clock. That might get me tossed in jail this evening. At long last the police officer approaches my window to speak with me. He's a thickly built horse and needs to lean over quite a bit in order to look into my vehicle and speak with me.
He informs me I was exceeding the speed limit by a considerable margin and asks why I am in such a hurry. Despite years of flawless masculinity..I break down into sobs and tell him that I'm nearly thirty minutes late for my planned evening with my mate, that this is our first Christmas Eve together and I'm fucking it all up.
After my impeccable display of emotional strength and control, the officer tells me that he'll let me off with a warning if I promise to drive a bit slower and that I'll really fuck things up if I'm dead. I promise and watch as the patrol car drives out of sight. I look down at the clock. Thirty-two minutes late. Fuck. I speed off, glancing in my rear view occasionally and trying to keep my speed below eighty.
Blessed green lights guide my way as I hurry the rest of the way home without further trouble. I want to howl in triumph as I reach the final intersection. Only five minutes away from the house! I turn right onto my street and the sputtering sound from my engine is like the mocking laughter of some mischievous imp. My speed slows and I manage to pull to the side of the road before my engine dies completely. Five more minutes just became about twelve. I want to kick the worthless heap and yell, but there's no time. Grabbing the small package wrapped in gold colored paper from the passenger seat, I dash out of my car and sprint as fast as I can towards home.
My vision is blurred by my frustrated tears as I try to will my body to go faster. Calvin had probably given up on my showing up. Probably went to see his family or something. I imagine a sad note on the door. Asking what he'd done wrong. I whine and try to put more strength into my legs.
Finally, at long last, I see the house in my vision. Tired and panting, I nevertheless continue racing my way towards the front door. I attempt the slightest of shortcuts by leaping over the small front garden in the yard....and yelp as my foot catches on the wire fence and sends me sprawling into the snow dampened dirt.
I shake my head and slowly get to my knees, breathing heavily. My whole front is covered in snow and mud. Next to me lies the previously pristine, gold wrapped box. Now also liberally smeared in dirt and one corner smashed in. Though I'm so close, utter despair washes over me. It's all ruined now. I grouchily snatch up the box, and trudge my way to the door, unlocking it and stepping inside the warm house.
I try to prepare myself as I guiltily walk into the living room. Dreading what I'm most like to see. Emptiness.
As I raise my eyes, I'm greeted with. Perfection. A low, cozily lit flame in the fireplace. The lights on the tree sparkling. Some soft Christmas music playing nearby. But my gaze is centered on the small couch in the center of the room. Where Calvin sits asleep, a precious little green wrapped box in his lap.
He's so beautiful. His eyes closed, his breathing deep and steady. Unlike most ferrets, he's tall and muscular. His uniqueness makes me appreciate how lucky I am all the more. I look down at my wet, mud spattered appearance and sigh in disappointment. At least he hadn't just left somewhere. I put my ruined present on the coffee table and sit on the couch next to my sleeping love, and cover my face with my paws as I sit and feel sorry for myself.
After a few moments, I feel strong arms wrap around me. I look up, surprised. Calvin is smiling, albeit a little sleepily, despite my screwing up of the evening. "Hey hun." He says, the simple sound of his voice making me both happy and more depressed. "You made it." He pulls me closer against him, rocking back and forth just slightly.
He pulls back after a moment and I gesture to the smashed box on the table. "I..I'm sorry babe, I was so late...and...I..I fell. I.."
"Sshh.." He says and places a paw tip over my mouth. He places his present on the table next to mine, then turns and kisses me, his paws stroking my ears gently back. "You're right on time, sweetheart. Merry Christmas. I love you."
A tear slides down my cheek as I break into a wide grin. "M..Merry Christmas. I love you too."
I remove my cold, muddy shirt and wrap my arms around my love, holding him tight as we get comfortable on the couch and watch the remains of the fire slowly burn down. The snow falls heavier, erasing the world outside this room. Outside this perfect moment. As the hours slip away into the night, I briefly thank whatever twist of fate brought me to this apex of perfect happiness before taking Calvin in a slow, passionate kiss and pulling him down on the couch toward me. Christmas morning would be full of unwrapping presents and exclaiming at the thoughtfulness and thanking the givers. Tonight however, I felt I had already received my ultimate gift.
The End. Merry Christmas X3
Writers note: I'm going to take some time and give my adopted little brother Pascal Grey a shout out. You're awesome little bro. Furry friends, please, if you have a moment go and check out some of his writing. It's very stirring, powerful stuff. Thank you. Again, a Merry Christmas and holiday season to you all.