Christmas Only Comes Once a Year
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 by Frank Shortt
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            She was such a lovely girl, outwardly. None would ever suspect that inside she was a completely different person. When she had it in for someone she would go to any length to carry out her vendetta.
        Like the time when Evan Thomas, the little chubby boy at elementary school, had accidently dropped ice cream on her jacket.
        “You little creep! I’ll get even with you if it takes me forever!”
        “But it was an accident,” cried the repentant boy.
        Susan Green was not satisfied until, in her twisted mind, she had gotten even with the little boy. A few weeks later, Evan found a nice dead, rotten rat lying in the bottom of his locker. The boy did not even tell her he had found it even though he knew who had placed it there. Susie Green was unredeemable.
        Susie had grown up being spoiled by all who knew her. If she wanted something it was usually there before she could get the words out of her mouth. A doting Grandma and Grandpa made sure she had every toy known to mankind, and every new fashion in clothing. Oh how she would strut her stuff at school when she figured she had something that no other girl had. The other girls only befriended her because she would occasionally drop them a castoff.
       As Susie grew into near adulthood, she now saw that Evan Thomas had grown into a very handsome catch for some young lady. He was the top student in chemistry class, as well as being the football hero that all the girls were gaga over.
        As the Sadie Hawkins/Christmas dance drew near at Richfield High School, Susie was determined to invite Evan Thomas.
        “I’m sorry Susie, Ellen Lowe already asked me to go and I’m obligated to my promise.”
        “Oh, those things can be arranged,” Susie replied in her conniving heart.
        Ellen Lowe was from one of the poorest families in the Red Ash Coal Camp where Susan Green’s father was the mine Superintendent. Ellen’s father was a lowly coal-loading miner, who sometimes drank to escape his depression, leaving his family to fend for themselves. Ellen attended the church where Clarence White was the pastor. She was popular at Richfield High School because of her superior looks. Her mother had been a beauty before being drug down to the dregs by an unthinking husband.
        “Hi Ellen, Susie purred as she approached the unfortunate girl. What have you been doing for yourself lately?”
        Ellen felt quite taken aback that the most popular girl in the school would grace her with conversation.
        “I’ve been helping set up a food program at our church to feed some of the less fortunate ones in the Camp at Christmastime.” 
        “Are you planning to attend the Sadie Hawkins dance at school next week?” Susie asked, even though she knew the answer already.
        “Yes, I’ve been asked by Evan Thomas and I feel quite honored that he would ask a nobody like me,” Ellen replied.
        “Ooh! I’ve been planning to ask him all along but just didn’t have the opportunity. Would you mind if I invited him and you can ask someone else?” Susie wheedled.
        “I’m sorry, Susie, but we have made all the arrangements and I couldn’t possibly renege now.”
        “Oh, you couldn’t could you? Susie sneakily replied. I’ve heard that your dad hasn’t been performing at the mine very well and I’m sure that he could be replaced anytime, if I was to influence my daddy.”
        Ellen just stood there with her mouth open too dumbfounded to make a reply. This is the first time she had realized what lay behind all the outward beauty of this heartless creature. She meekly said that she would arrange to break her date with Evan. She did so that very evening.
        When she called Evan that evening he was not at home. She talked to his mom and asked her to tell him that something had come up and she would not be able to attend the Sadie Hawkins dance with him.
        “Please tell him I am very sorry! I did not mean to inconvenience him in any way.”
        Mrs. Thomas could sense the consternation in Ellen’s voice.
        “Is there anything I can do to help the situation?” Mrs. Thomas asked.
        “No, there’s nothing anyone can do about it, it’s just something I must do.”
        Ellen hung up with the most sorrow she had ever felt in her young life. Not so much because of the dance, but just to know that there were such vicious people at her school. Now she wondered, “How many other girls have been used by Susie Green just to get her way about things?”
        Evan Thomas attended the dance with Susan Green, but with many misgivings. He really liked Ellen Lowe.
        The Sadie Hawkins/Christmas dance at Richfield High School went over without a hitch, although there was one young lady who was very disappointed. Christmas drew near and presents began piling up under the Green’s Christmas tree.
        “Why do I have to wait for Christmas?” Susie whined.
        “Because it has always been a tradition in our home to open gifts from each of the family members on Christmas Eve”, replied her patient mother.”
        “Daddy, could I open just a couple?” Susie had gone to the one who spoiled her most.”
        “Oh, I s’pose it would be alright,” this directed to his spouse.
        “Oh! Thank you daddy, I love you so much!”
        As Susan greedily opened her two gifts that night she undid the ribbons and tore the wrappings off like a madcap! In doing so she pricked her little finger on the right hand sometimes called a paper cut. Her mother stopped the bleeding and applied some mercurochrome to insure there were no germs and placed a Band-Aid directly to the wound. Susie’s finger began turning purple next day as Susie began feeling very faint at times. She died that evening without warning.
        After Susie’s funeral, attended by a few of her classmates who really didn’t know her motives, there came a warning over television and radio that the company who had sold the Christmas ribbon was recalling all rolls. It seems that somehow a deadly poison had somehow gotten mixed in to the ingredients of the rolls of ribbon. The settlement received by Susan Greens parents could not possibly bring Susan back!