Remember this guy? He surfaced in our new house’s yard, face-down under a bush, after a strong wind a couple of weeks ago. In an effort to banish the creepy factor and turn this into a fun discovery, we launched a short story contest. Congratulations to Grand Prize Winner Kathy Osborne Still. Kathy is Director of News and Media Relations at UVa Wise.
Second Prize, Honorable Mention, and Flash Fiction Short Short prizes posted next week.
It was the longest ten days in Sparkle the Elf on the Shelf’s artificial life. Becky, Wytheville’s biggest QVC fan, sent Sparkle on a bumpy UPS truck from Newark to Wytheville.
Becky unboxed Sparkle and the little spy started observing her straightaway. She bought purses hawked by tired sitcom stars, slow cookers endorsed by celebrity chefs, and décor that would never make sense in southwestern Virginia.
On day five, Sparkle witnessed the woman unbox perfume, a Saturday Night Fever commemorative plate, Pioneer Woman salt and pepper shakers, and skin care products by Victoria Beckham. Sparkle and Becky’s cat, Jade, made a game of predicting how long it would take the hosts to sway Becky to send another useless product to Wytheville. Jade always won. The tabby had skills.
Becky’s latest purchase was an expensive cosmetics case filled with sticks, tubes, pencils, tubs and brushes. Sparkle and Jade spent hours watching Becky watch make-up tutorials on her tablet. They smirked—Sparkle wore his permanent smirk—as Becky never quite recreated the photos on the screen. Jade found it hilarious. Sparkle watched and judged.
Day seven arrived and Sparkle cursed the worker in China that painted lidless eyes on his plastic elf face. Watching QVC hosts digitally peddle mops, faux diamonds, rugs, and yoga products was torture. Jade would gently knock the elf off the table when he could, and Sparkle was always grateful. On day eight, Sparkle begged the cat to bury him deep in the litter box. The QVC show on Christmas wrapping finally unhinged Sparkle.
Day nine came and Becky’s niece visited. The four-year-old child would have driven any elf on the shelf insane. She put Sparkle in the chair of her Barbie Beauty Parlor playset, clutched a fine tipped permanent marker from QVC’s Home and Office Collection and mimicked each stroke Aunt Becky did with the QVC cosmetics. Once Becky noticed her niece’s work, she knew Sparkle was headed for the landfill. She tossed Sparkle in the kitchen trash. All thoughts of the elf vanished from Becky’s brain when she turned up the volume to hear the chimes playing from the Santa’s Workshop mantle clock that was selling for an unbelievable $29.99 for the first customers who place orders in the next hour.
Jade quietly padded to the kitchen, jumped on the Nigella Lawson microwave cart, and saved the elf from the landfill. Sparkle was tired of his artificial life.
Jade hid the elf behind the Debbie Reynolds’ Singin’ in the Rain umbrella stand. The UPS truck would arrive tomorrow with a QVC plate of Donald Trump at the National Prayer Breakfast. Jade knew a signature would be needed for an expensive item. The artist chose the perfect hue of orange, Jade remembered. Fake hues would not do for Trump, Jade surmised.
On day ten, the doorbell chimed. Becky opened the door and did not notice Jade escape.
“Please carry me under those bushes,” Sparkle said. “And put me face down so the world can kiss my ass.”