In a men's room, a man in his mid-thirties wearing a gray cast black attire is roughly washing his face, making sure any dirt or grime is doused off. He gazed at the mirror in front of him, brushing some of the water onto his dark hair dragging it back to his nape revealing the cropped sides.
”Ghad, I look terrible,” he said it, as his fingers ran beneath the darkening bags under his eyes.
He wiped his face dry with some paper towels then applied a meager amount of hair gel before combing it neatly backward, checking on the mirror for any loose strands.
Satisfied with the way he looks, he turned towards the exit.
On the other side of the door, numerous machinery of different structures lay dormant inside a warehouse the size of two football fields. He slowly walked towards the railings then stared at the scenery, admiring the full view of the dark desolate place that is his Workshop. A remote facility where advanced military weaponry is produced for on-field deployment.
He often wondered how his company ended up like this, but as long as the contracts pay well, it doesn’t matter to him.
Continued towards his destination. It is just a single flight up the stairs then a corner. There he saw a bunch of gritty grease monkeys waiting impatiently for him, these rag-tag mechanics has worked for him from the very first day he started his company.
He came closer to them, then wave a hand to signal them to wait, they took off their hats and showed their greedy smiles as they nodded in agreement.
He turned to face another door wherein the government's representative is eagerly awaiting his arrival. Sighed deeply as he opened it, on the sofa a chubby middle age man is sitting luxuriously while stuffing his mouth with some sweets.
”Chief, you're here… didn’t notice you,”, the Representative wiped his face with a table napkin, then leisurely put it on the side before standing up to meet him.
He extended a hand in greeting, “Just got here. So, what brings the government to my humble abode?”
“We are here to thank you for your work of course! Your company finished the project in record time and the quality of your work is just outstanding.”
“Thank you, it is an honor to serve our country.”
The Representative took out a brown envelope from his coat and handed it to him. “Chief, of course, I didn’t come here empty-handed. Here, this is but a small token of our gratitude and a gift for the holidays.”
He opened the envelope and counted the paper inside, “This is more than the usual.”
”Think of it as a bonus.” The Representative clasped his hand as he smiled wryly.
”Thank you very much, I shall have to leave you and I am sorry for that, but feel free to indulge yourself. I have procured the finest sweets from the East upon hearing of your arrival.”
The Representative didn’t even blink as he turned towards the table and opened his suitcase, greedily stowing inside it the sweets. He sighed softly as he turned towards the door where the mechanics impatiently waits for him.
He threw the envelope towards the rowdy bunch, “Make sure everything is properly documented. Don’t party too hard, we will resume work the day after tomorrow.”, no one listened, they just left him there standing as the mechanics noisily strolled away bantering about what to buy for the celebration.
Already used to the grease monkeys, he turned the opposite direction and walked towards the fire escape leading outside the warehouse. As much a desolate place the Workshop is inside, the outside is even more so, nothing but trees, rocks, and some occasional birds happily chirping away.
He took out his phone in which time hasn’t been kind to, soft keypads and analog display with only one number registered. A deep breath left his lungs as he pressed the green button. The call was picked up almost instantaneously and a familiar soft voice came out of the speaker.
”Hello? Hello? Son are you there, it is me… Mom.”
”Yes, Ma I can hear you—”
”Good to hear you! I already cleaned your room and your brother and sister are waiting for you.”
”Sorry Ma, got work to do… I won’t be able to come home for the holidays.”
”But son, it has been years since you last came to visit… surely your work can be postponed for a few days.”
”Nah, I have wired some money to your account… enjoy the holidays.”
After ending the call he immediately stowed it in his pocket. He was deep in his thoughts when suddenly someone sneezed not so far away. He turned to see a young lady with short brunette hair in casual attire, holding a smartphone with a finger still pointing at the screen, frozen solid from where she stands.
‘This girl is my secretary, I don’t remember telling her to stay for the holidays.’,
He ignored her and went back inside.
Opened the door to his office then stood in front of his working table staring intently at the plans for a new overhead crane that is needed to be installed immediately, before the next project comes by the first quarter of next year.
A hand suddenly came across his face, that startled him.
”The hell—”, turning his head immediately at his side, there he saw his secretary standing awkwardly with two fingers raised in a ‘V’ shape, signifying peace.
”Sir, I was calling you for a while now and… I seriously thought you died standing up.”
He sighed deeply, “I was just deep in thought, is there a problem?”
“None sir, just brought us some coffee.”, she pointed towards the table with two cups and a plate of cookies on the side.
“I see, well…” he unintentionally stared at her face, after realizing that she has a lot of freckles over her cheeks. She felt uncomfortable under his stare and so she sidestepped while trying to usher him towards the table. Embarrassed he walk towards it, seeing a black coffee and a latte on the table, he instinctively took the black one. She smiled as she took the latte and leaned on the table.
”My secretary is what you often call me sir,”
“Secretary, I don’t remember telling you to stay for the holidays.”
”You didn’t tell me to leave either sir.”
”It’s a holiday you should spend it with your family and loved ones.”
”Got none, I am an orphan, sir.”
”Friends?”, uneasiness is prevalent in his voice.
”Well sir, I don’t want to impose myself on their families.”
”Nonetheless, you should spend it with someone special.”
Her face flushed a bit, as she sipped her coffee, “I am already spending it with someone… special.”
His mind came to a screeching halt as he tried to comprehend the meaning behind the statement, making him stare blankly at her until he blurted out, “I see, you are going out with one of the grease monkeys.”
She chuckled, “I am not!”
He just stood there frozen in time, trying to assess the situation.
”I kinda like you,”, trying to look away from him as she said that.
”Girl, I am too old for you,” He said coldly as he tried to suppress his emotions, looking at his coffee he decided to take a sip.
“I do like older guys,”, she said nonchalantly.
He choked on the coffee upon hearing her words making a mess on his shirt. She immediately took some table napkins to help him dry up but he refused vigorously.
”You know sir, a ten-year gap is not so much.”
”That is not my point,”, He put the cup on his lips again.
”Are you going to drink that again?”
”Yeah, why not!? It will still taste like coffee.”, He decided to drink it in one go.
”That is so manly,”
He choked on his coffee again upon hearing her words making a whole lot of mess. She immediately put up the table napkins she took earlier to help him, but he put an open palm in between them motioning her to stay away, then grabbed the napkin from her to dry himself.
”What did you ever like from me?” showing her a frown.
Flustered she put down her cup, stood up then raised her hand acting out everything she says as if she is trying to explain everything to a child,
”At first sir, you look really really scary and strict as you always wear black… and the way you walk, talk and look at others makes it even more so, but as time passed you were very kind to me, even when I am fumbling at my job and breaking a lot of stuff.. and… and making the other employees' life miserable, you admonish everything and say that it is fine...”
‘That is a lot of ‘and’… …wait, what!? I did what now?’, the thought suddenly crossed his mind.
”...From then on I have been improving myself, my work, I even started to learn how to cook and a lot of other things… just being with you lights me up!”
He slowly sent her a karate chop on her head, “I got no idea what you are talking about.”
She grabbed his hand that is on her head with both of hers, then held it near her chest, ”Working by your side or even under you makes me a better person, so here I thought why not give it a try… and I do know your single!”, she gave him a determined look with her cheeks full of air.
His face flushed, as he took back his hand, “Girl, your barking at the wrong tree.”
She took out from a drawer a small present then gave it to him… forcefully. He sighed as he took it, shaking it near his ear as he glance at her, anxiously smiling back at him. He took out the ribbon and carefully removed the packaging, inside is a brand new casing for his old phone.
She rushed towards him to help open it up, “Take out your phone let’s try it out.”
He took out the phone from his pocket and gave it to her. She meticulously tried to pry it open with a teaspoon, then laugh nervously after she broke it, she sneakily threw away the old case before replacing it with the new one.
“Tada! Happy holidays sir!”, gave it back to him with overextended arms.
He is unsure if he is smiling due to the scene that just unfolded before his eyes or is it because of the gift that has just been presented to him.
”Thank you, for this.” he said, as he gently took it off her hands.
”See sir, you look more handsome when you smile!”
He sent another karate chop, “Stop with the flattery." using a bit harsher tone. She just made another peace sign then stuck out her tongue.
He sighed deeply, “You said you're an orphan and got no place for the holidays, right? Guess what, we still have New Year... so, would you like to come with me and visit my parents?"
She smiled so brightly that even the stars in heaven would pale in comparison, “Have you decided to introduce me to your parents… Sir, my heart is not ready yet!”
He raised his hand for another karate chop, but she immediately raised both her arms in defense. He chuckled and said, “Nah, for some reason you being here… doing this… reminded me of what the holiday season is all about, in a way, and I want to thank you for that.”
"You can also show your utmost gratitude by marrying me."
He sent a karate chop so quick that it went past her defenses.
Thank you for reading 😁! Oh! on a side note... in the future, Miss Secretary manages to block all the karate chops even those coming from a blind spot.
I was referring to American Football, which is about 100 yards (91.44m) long between the goal lines, and 160 feet (48.8m) wide.src
I am really sorry for the 2100+ word short story... I was trying to maximize it at 1500 (I seriously tried to cut it down 😭), as I am trying to make it a broader story with more details, then see how it goes. In preparation for next year.
I was trying to achieve: visually building a character, building the world he lives in, creating his personality and character, sneakily inputting the plot and conflict according to prompt (Holiday), then lastly resolving it in the spirit of the holiday season.
Lastly I would love to hear any comments or suggestions 😁.
All links go to Wikipedia.org. The pictures and banners in this post were made or taken by myself, ©@khoola. In the cases when they were taken from other sources I stated the source in the sub-caption of the pictures.