The following is the first character intro for the rewrite of my holiday story, Let It Snow. You can read in full on Wattpad by clicking on the title link.
Happy holidays, and happy reading!
Wondering how he’d gotten himself tied up in the task of making strangers happy, Emilio Nunez looked forward with a blank expression on his face. Before him was what seemed like a sea of children hyped up on sugar and their aggravated parents.
Beside him, his best friend went on and on about the good he was doing; hoping Emilio’s mood would lighten up enough to take him from The Grinch to good old Saint Nick. His own cheerfulness was of no help and allowing Emilio to clown him for the tightness of his elf suit stirred not a single laugh or joke.
“This suit is too damn itchy, for one thing.”
“Think of the good you’re doing. Look at all the smiling faces of the children! They’re so excited to see you man.” The angelic faces he did spot did nothing to sway Emilio and his Scrooge-like attitude. “Come on E, it’s the easiest money you’ll make. That’s gotta at least be worth something.”
“Darren, you of all people know how this time of year makes me feel. Nothing about the holidays or Christmas warms me up or makes me feel fuzzy inside. Nothing brings me joy, nothing makes me happy this time of the year. And I shouldn’t have to walk around pretending I am just to make others feel better.”
Darren, who’d been through many of the ups and downs of Emilio’s life since they were children, could only shake his head. “Well you can’t interact with the children with a scowl on your face.”
“Which is the reason I kept telling you I didn’t want to do this. But no, you owe me, E. Come on, E, it’s for a great cause. It won’t be that bad, E.” It was terrible.
Before Darren could plead his case for the joys of Christmas, the Jackson Five’s rendition of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town began to play over the mall’s speakers. It was the signal that Emilio would have to throw on a smile, whether he wanted to or not, and at least try to brighten the day of the children rushing towards him once Darren moved to open the rope that separated them.
Standing to stretch after five hours of children sitting on his knee, he turned slowly at the sound of his name. The voice, low and soft, sounded familiar but he couldn’t be certain. Squinting, he tried to recall the young woman walking towards him.
“Wow, you’ve really let yourself go. Never expected to see you with a gut and scraggly beard.”
He let out a slight chuckle, removing the Santa hat and fake beard. “Didn’t think the kids would believe a skinny Santa was real. Hi, Sharleen.”
“It took you long enough to recognize me. I mean, I’m no longer your sister-in-law, but I thought family would be unforgettable. Assuming we still consider one another family.”
“Somehow, I don’t believe your sister would like the idea of that. I also don’t believe you’re here to play nice or catch up.”
“I didn’t even know you were back in town. I ran into Darren when he was on his way out and he let me know where to find you. Glad to see you.”
Emilio only gave a slight nod, sighing deeply. Just like Darren and his own family, he hadn’t seen his ex-wife or her family in over seven years. Didn’t think he’d ever see any of them again, not if he could help it.
“And just how can I help you today, Sharleen? Had this been like any day a few years ago, you’d have ignored me.”
“True. And I was hoping that I could go on like every other year and tell my mother that you were nowhere to be found. As it stands, with you here now, I can finally deliver her invite.”
“The family Christmas dinner and party. You know how she is, Emilio. Former family, enemy, church folk she don’t even like, it don’t matter; she loves a celebration and she likes a full house.”
A true smile finally etched itself across his face at the thought of his former mother-in-law, feeling it were nice that she still thought of him. “Um, that’s very sweet of Ms. Cheryl, but I’ll pass. Send her my love and uh, happy holidays.”
He excused himself, rushing towards the nearest exit to seclude himself for the remainder of the month he’d be in town.