Arts & Culture

Short Story: Christmas Ham

It was a few nights before Christmas, and Jason’s mother swung by the local grocery store to pick up the last few items on her list for her dinner. Jason wanted to wait alone in the car, but she insisted that he join her inside in case he spotted something he desired, or if she needed help finding something within. Upon walking inside, Jason’s nose was penetrated by the tasteful fumes of both cheese and garlic — making his stomach growl instantaneously. He had forgotten that he was starving, as just an hour ago was begging his mother for Kentucky Fried Chicken while pulling out from the adjacent JCPenney. 

I can wait until I get home, Jason thought to himself, whilst he imagined the most tasteful cheesy garlic bread — a desirable delicacy. 

His mother pulled her cart in front of the deli, which only contained processed cheese and Twinkies for the children. She handed Jason her grocery list of things she needed for the dinner tomorrow and asked her son to go look for some of them while she took her order at the deli. Her son obeyed immediately and began his search throughout the store.

On the day right before Christmas Eve, Jason didn’t expect the shelves to be fully supplied, nor did he expect to find everything on his mother’s list. He scavenged a few items off the list, however — a dozen eggs, flour, and mayonnaise — and he was glad none of these made him feel the urge of hunger. But most of the shelves were empty, waiting to be restocked. 

People always get themselves in a last-minute rush, Jason thought. 

He was unable to find most things on his mother’s list, and he knew she would be disappointed. Jason took the cart and hurried back to the deli, but stopped himself after witnessing a beautiful and delicate display of crisp wonders and a roasted honey coating, surrounded by a mixture of fruits and vegetables on display at the meat deli. From a distance, he could see it sitting there, immobile and waiting for someone to eat it. His appetite ran through the roof — it looked so delightful — but Jason still felt teased. Still hungry, he could feel the saliva in his mouth rushing to his tongue, and his stomach growling uncontrollably. He wanted to walk away from it, but he couldn’t. Jason wanted to get closer, to linger himself the immobile chunk of meat and bite right into it, taste everything it had to offer. The pineapple looked like a giant yellow eye, antagonizing Jason as if it were provoking him to approach.

He could hear the ham smirking and see it laughing, “devour me, Jason. Devour me.

Jason couldn’t help himself. He pushed the cart closer and closer to the Christmas ham, every step he took becoming faster and faster, while his thirst for hunger grew and grew. Greed and gluttony had gotten the best of him, but he was starving and just wanted to look at it. But when Jason got closer, the thoughts of roasted honey had vanished, only to find the delicious ham to be a giant rock of plastic. It was a fake — a fraud — a deceitful manipulator who lied to Jason. His hunger grew more prominent and was disgusted at the displayed imagery. The whole display was fake.

He walked back to his mother who placed her deli orders into the cart and moved along. Before going any further, Jason’s mother paused by the meat section, staring at the monstrosity the people of the store call a “Christmas Ham.”

“My, my. What a beautiful, scrumptious-looking Christmas ham,” his mother awed. But as much  Jason wanted to alert his mother, he didn’t want her to feel disappointed — and kept the thoughts to himself.

Leaving the grocery store, the smells of garlic and cheese swept away, and only the scents of the night were present within his scent of smell. Arriving at the car, Jason noticed he had left the store hungry and unfulfilled.

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