Karla blew a stray strand from her eyes as she shivered in the cold, gloved hands buried deep within the pockets of her bulky jacket. Her breath proceeded her, though the line itself hadn’t moved in the hour she’d been waiting. In fact, it had grown, the queue stretching around the block. She craned her neck to view the nexus, listening to the growing murmur that traveled toward her like rumor in the wind.
Three uniforms approached the front of the line, the leader with keys in hand. The first two unlocked the doors and let the first few people inside, while the third sat down behind a nearby iron kettle with a conspicuously labeled sign. He rang the bell, calling Merry Christmas to disgruntled shoppers as they entered and left the establishment. Karla envied his heavy white beard and hat. Her own face froze, the biting wind blew snow into her eyes, but she resolved to stay her course. She refused to contribute to the metal drum, resenting its presence as she prepared to lighten her wallet in the cause of childhood memories. Santa flashed her a grin. Despite herself, she threw a handful of coins into the container. They made a satisfying clanking sound when they hit bottom. The man thanked her.
She smiled, despite herself, and walked inside to the glowing warmth of consumerism and January headaches.