A Gifting Ordeal

08 Dec 2021  C. chou  7 mins read.

Her hand quavered, as she stared at the name on the card. “Bosewyn,” it read. The man that had made publicly humiliated her so many times before her peers. She looked up to find him grinning at her, with his own card in between his fingers. A feeling of dread washed over her. Thank the lord that this gifting event didn’t require names to be listed. She doubted that she would be able to find anything that would make him happy, and even if she did, he’d probably find one reason or another to bring up the gift again… She pocketed the card. There’s no way that she’d let him know whose name she drew.

Turning, she walked back to her desk and sat down. It was nearly noon, time for lunch. A perfect moment to consider what she’d buy. She stood, taking her lunch box and heading to the closest microwave. Luckily, there was no one in line today. Pulling out her lunch container, and setting the time on the small oven, she leaned against the wall to think.

It’s been many years since she’s given anyone a gift. But she wasn’t about to break her office’s tradition being a first year. Her reputation was bad enough as it is, with Bosewyn constantly picking at her words, transforming their meanings, often reshaping them into something totally different from what she had initially planned. She closed her eyes, and ran a hand through her hair, combing back the fringes that drifted to her face.

She let out a sigh of frustration. Others might view this as a perfect opportunity to get back at him. After all, there were no names, no strings attached. But that thought hadn’t even occurred to her. Gifts and presents were always things that she’d enjoyed as a child. She couldn’t imagine sullying someone’s experience due to a personal grievance. It’d be all too scarring.

She pulled out her phone, a tool that she never needed to rely on in her old world. After briefly through recommendations from the web, she clicked off the screen. Things were either too simple or too costly. She couldn’t imagine anyone truly liking any of the them. Furthermore, none of them really applied to their everyday work. If it were her old world…

Then it occurred to her. An average human probably never went to her world. Moreover, it was unlikely that they’d ever seen anything there. Perhaps something from her hometown would do. Just in time, the microwave let out a resounding beep. She stepped forward to collect her food, before being pressed back onto the wall by the very man that she dreaded.

“Really?” She asked, peeved. “You already bother me enough on our daily meetings. Can you not bother me during my unpaid hours too?”

He grinned, slipping a hand into her pocket. The very pocket that she placed the card. On impulse, she slapped him, hard across the face. She had no intention of letting him see it, and his actions recently really deserved a beating. He flinched, recoiling and stepping back from the shock. The brief movement gave her enough time to slip out from beneath him, and grab her food.

“I didn’t join this company to play your games.” She stated firmly, before walking away, her heels clicking against the tiles beneath her as she left him alone in the kitchen to recollect himself and reevaluate his recent behavior.

She’d returned home that night, glad that Bosewyn hadn’t bothered her since their lunchtime encounter. Setting down her belongings, and kneeling over by the fireplace, she put her hands together, as though in prayer and chanted her mother’s old tune. The carpet was instantly replaced by oak, and the home around her transformed into a wide meadow. The sky shone bright, with daylight, despite the nightly hours. She hadn’t come home since her mother’s death. But gift-giving always made her think of the woman.

She walked up the oak patio, and into the small cabin that she had once shared with her mother. The woman had pretty much acted as the figure that the humans of Earth referred to as Santa Claus. She gave presents to all the locals on an annual basis, and regularly purchased crafting supplies to make new items. She opened a drawer to find silver otherworldly metals. Some left overs from whatever her mother previously made.

Remembering the times that she shared with her mother, making a gift, she sat down and began to work. She’d always enjoyed crafting, even if it wasn’t something that she did at her job these days. Carving intricate shapes into the metal, then drawing support from the grasses around her, she popped out excess, allowing them to fall piece by piece, until a cup made of twists and spirals formed in her hand. She applied a little force, with the joy that the grasses psychically transferred to her, allowing the metal to smoothen itself. Then, pressing all the shavings back together to form a clump, she stepped out of the home with her new creation. A pencil holder, something that regardless of whether it was used would be a nice piece of office decor.

She walked out of the little house and smiled up at the sky, thinking of her mother. Would the woman be proud of her now? She wondered what her mother would think of her handiwork. She had relied so often on her mother while she was alive, that while she had learned the art, never showed anything to the woman, not wanting to finally “graduate” from her tutelage.

Standing on the oak patio, with starlight over her, she chanted the same tune again, reentering the world she now called her home. Standing again, she walked through her living room and picked up a box. Carefully, she placed the artwork over a piece of cotton, though she knew such precautions were hardly necessary. The metal of her world, while highly malleable when drawing from nature, were as hard as diamonds in the absence of the force. She smiled, as she closed the box, the metal still glistening from the wisps of light that peeked through, admiring its beauty.

Tomorrow, whether he liked the present or not, she gave it her best effort, and was proud to gift it to someone. Whether he liked it or not, someone would appreciate it, and if he didn’t want it, she was sure someone else would be willing to make a trade.

Gifts aren’t meant to be a tool for revenge, nor just something given for the sake of a season or repayment. Gifts are meant to be given from the heart. A physical manifestation of genuinely wishing someone happiness. Though she had used up most of her mother’s old collection of metals, she didn’t regret it. Personal feelings toward an individual didn’t matter in face of gift giving. Regardless of who her recipient was, she earnestly wished them happiness, that they’d one day smile with warmth in their hearts, and that they, too, would one day discover the true magic of gift-giving.

This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.

Your job is doing the Secret Santa gifting this year. The name you pull out of the Santa hat is someone who has made your life miserable at work. Knowing this will be anonymous, what kind of gift will you buy? Write a scene or full story.

C. Chou
C. Chou

A writer that loves cabbages and bamboo, but also enjoys writing and sharing fiction (particularly the fantasy genre). Find me on Medium at: https://chouxherbe.medium.com/