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The Gift

December 27, 2017

Frances Hardwick thought little of the gift’s apparent failure. Probably during some late night at the office the “smart home” had set the temperature too high and it melted right there on the kitchen island.

She had forgotten who sent it anyway, having thrown the card into the recycle along with the wrapping of it and several other things he’d received at the office at MSNBC.

It was a cold one for D.C., and she had probably said something in front of Alexa–or was it Alexis?, she always got it confused. The device, the “brain” of the smart home, had often done things to be helpful and Frances had had to correct her later. Lately, “she” seemed to have learned her preferences and habits.

Anyway, she had came home a few days ago to a melted Holiday candle. In fact, it looked a bit more evaporated, like half of it had just disappeared and left a blob shape in its place.

She forgot about all of that, however, and was now home drinking. She drank while waiting for her doctor to call her back.

On the air, a mere twenty-seven minutes ago, she had had a…what was it? A flub? No. It was more than that.

She had meant to say, as she always did on these occasions, partly because it was part of who she was and partly to goad her various nemeses at FOX, “Happy Holidays” at the end of her show. Instead, “Merry Christmas” had popped out.

That hadn’t been all either. She had at one point, during her op-ed segment, meant to accent a particular point with a simple “Jeezus.” In its place, she blurted “Golly.”

While she did at times use that word, mostly during something sarcastic, she had been playing serious and irate at the time. The resulting pause as she tried to stop herself saying “gee,” or “gosh,” or whatever else her brain was about for force out was noticeable. It was a sign of weakness, and weakness wasn’t something that she could afford in her shoes. Besides the obvious fun conservatives would have at her expense, there were co-workers who wanted her slot; her job, really.

And the weirdest part of all she had said, when she tried to correct herself, “Growth for a Better World.” The slogan belonged to a multinational corporation–a monster–that she despised and, God help her, her viewers hated even more. Thankfully, her editor had been alert after the early flubs and managed to mute that before it reached the air.

Frances sipped her drink and wondered what it could be. She didn’t give the “melted” candle a second thought.

Nor could she see the microscopic machinery that had come to life and climbed out of it. Tiny, little ant like things with an even smaller Chinese manufacturing symbol on them, that had made their way to her bedroom as she slept three nights back.  Slowly, but dutifully as if on some pilgrimage, they climbed up and entered her ear. Nor would she recall the name of the company that had sent the gift, a phony shell corporation founded by a billionaire she sometimes talked about negatively on her show.

Contrary to what she expected, her opponents would wind up referring to her flubs as some kind of Christmas miracle. She, contrarily, would spend many hours and thousands of dollars on MRIs, and secretly wonder how she had come to be a believer in what was essentially a borrowed Pagan holiday and conglomerates that were destroying the planet. She’d continue to play to her fans, but her heart, or at least some rebuilt part of her brain, wouldn’t be in it.


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