by Brandon James Anderson
(Note: The following is a non-qualifying example entry for our Second Annual Dickens Christmas Contest by one of our Senior Editors. View the guidelines and enter by Monday, December 15, and you could win a handsome Christmas present from Michiganders Post.)
Once upon a time—of all the days in the year, on Christmas Eve—Pierre sat busy in his house. The sitting was not for lack of ambition; rather, it was the consequence—or side effect, at the very least—of an injury sustained in a skiing accident at Wisconsin’s Alpine Valley.
“Dammit,” Pierre shouted, dropping the can of lemon scented dust cleaner he had grabbed from underneath the kitchen sink. That task in and of itself was a challenge, for Pierre had to maneuver his wheelchair first towards the door under the sink then away from it so as to give the door space to become ajar. With the dropped can just out of reach on the ground, Pierre rolled his wheelchair backwards to better position himself.
In the nature of things, Pierre’s chair clashed against the coffee table, the second of the two pieces of furniture he had planned on dusting. Though he had been wheelchair-bound for the past three weeks, the last two living on his own without the aid of a relative, the topography of his living room still needed some getting used to.
If not for that rabbit, Pierre often thought in the time since his injury, he would have stayed on path while navigating the slope. He would not have veered so far left that his sense of balance betrayed him. If not for the bunny, Pierre would be standing upright, moving briskly through his living room, dusting tables and lighting candles.
Instead, he had acquiesced himself to the belief that the ideal setting, with these circumstances under which Pierre finds himself, could not be achieved. Less than perfect would, unfortunately, have to do. Still, perfection would have been preferred for this night—the first time Pierre and Marie would be together. Sure, they had been together countless times at work, at a bar on Rush Street with co-workers, and occasionally bumping into each other at Jewel Osco. But this night was to be different. It was to be the night the two were “together” together. On a date. Dinner at Pierre’s apartment then a movie down the block.
If not for that vehemently audacious varmint, Pierre would have had the time and energy necessary to cook something, anything—his mother’s basic au gratin potatoes recipe, perhaps—instead of shelling out a day’s pay for delivery from one of the finer Dutch-Thai fusion restaurants in all of Chicago.
The doorbell buzzed, it was the food Pierre had ordered. The college-aged deliveryman sat the bags on the kitchen table, Pierre gave a generous tip. Getting his apartment together in sufficient order had taken Pierre, ever stubborn and prideful, most of the day. Finally seated with restful poise, Pierre waited near the front door for Marie’s arrival.
After an intermediate period of time, Pierre checked his phone. It was well past 7:00 p.m. “Are we still on for tonight?” he texted Marie.
A moment later Marie responded that they were still on for the date, just not tonight. It was to be the night of the 27th, not this night, the 24th. If not for that rabbit on the slopes of Wisconsin, Pierre would not have been so asinine as to confuse date night with the Eve of Christmas.
Resigned to enjoying the dinner for two on his own, Pierre grabbed a bag off the table and slowly pulled out the top carton. In the nature of things, the order of Kai Pad Khing spilled onto Pierre’s lap and down to the floor.