Elf Pink Slip

The countdown clock for Christmas is ticking. Santa’s elves begin working their magic on the assembly lines, but the line comes to a screeching halt when rumors leak that one elf is going to get let go that day.

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One thought on “Elf Pink Slip

  1. kathleenmagner

    Theo placed the cranberry-colored box atop of the towering stack. Inching back, he held his stout hands wide, stubby fingers splayed. Once certain the boxes wouldn’t tumble, he turned around, the bell on his long-tailed stocking cap jingling.

    “Is that the last one?”

    “Haven’t you seen the order?” Pearl marked her clipboard, and then rubbed at her temple hidden beneath her skullcap’s fringe of white fur.

    The ruby ribbons on her sleeve billowed when Bethel entered, toting an evergreen box out of the cold.

    Scribbling on her clipboard, Pearl didn’t bother looking up. “How many more?”

    Bethel bent at the knees and tucked his burden beside the others. “Three pallets at least.”

    “What?” Theo shook his head, then stilled when his bell’s tinny jingle chipped his nerves. “That’s one for each of us.”

    “More so since Pearl here isn’t hauling.” Bethel straightened and rolled his ursine shoulders beneath his candy-cane striped tunic.

    “My wrist remember?” She lifted her clipboard, revealing the bleached sling and bandaged limb.

    Theo waggled an accusing finger. “You really shouldn’t be holding that either.”

    “And leave you doubly shorthanded?” Adjusting her board onto her hip, Pearl jotted another mark.

    Bethel grunted in what sounded like disgust at the possibility while Theo glanced around the warehouse. Stacks others had brought in during earlier shifts lined the walls, creating a cavern of green and red fading off into black.

    “Where is Merry anyway?”

    “Didn’t you hear—“


    Pearl frowned up at Bethel’s blocky face. He raised innocent brows as thick as licorice. With a sigh, she skittered forward, her icicle eyes darting to the shadows where, Theo suspected, she thought someone might lurk.

    “Pink slipped,” she mouthed.

    Theo stared at her, then at the pointed tips of his leather shoes. “Union?”

    Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Bethel and Pearl nod in tandem. Theo whistled long and low.

    “That’s not right,” he whispered to the worn patches covering his aching feet.

    “Careful.” Pearl cradled her clipboard against her sling and began feigning a count of the boxes.

    Lifting his head, Theo scowled.

    “Careful of what?” He crossed his arms, making the wool of his sweat-damp tunic cling to his spindly chest. “If they’re going to fire me they’ll fire me.”

    “And then I’ll be carrying boxes for three.” Bethel raised his hands in defeat and headed for the door.

    Theo grabbed his arm, the bulkier limb like stone. “Wait a second.”

    “Wait?” Jerking his arm free, Bethel thumbed at the entrance. “You heard Red. We’ve got to get this stuff stowed by dawn or the morning shift’s going to be way behind.”

    Theo set his hands on his narrow hips. “So you’re just going to keep toeing the line despite what they did to Merry?”

    Pearl huffed. “What else can we do?”

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