Photo of a Santa decoration

On the List – Flash Fiction

‘You’re on it!’

‘Are you sure?’ My voice trembles and sweat clings to my palms. 

I don’t have the guts to check the list myself, not after last year’s disappointment.

‘It says it right here, “Rose Adamson”.’ My best friend, Jill, jabs at the computer screen with her shellac nails, decorated with tiny Christmas trees.

I dare to take a closer look. She’s right. My name is there, near the top of the list.

‘It’s a Christmas miracle!’ Jill gushes.  

I’m glad she’s here for my victory, especially considering the whole thing was her idea in the first place. 

I feel something between relief and vindication. The opposite of how I felt last year when I’d been so sure of myself. 

I knew I had a gift for writing. No-one was a match for my wit and cleverly crafted commentary. I knew how to use words to get people talking. And talk, they did. In every respect, I was an accomplished writer and I didn’t care what people thought of me…until the list – a shocking reminder of the fragility of writers’ egos.

I tried to brush the list off as unimportant. It was just one opinion, but for some reason, it did matter. It tapped into something primal, something deeply ingrained. It attacked the core of my being. 

So I spent the next 12 months working harder than ever. I chose each and every word with extreme precision. I wrote with care. I thought not just of the readers but the impact of my words. I forgot about what was “expected” of me and my words bled on the page with honesty as well as heart. Then there was nothing to do but hope, wish and wait for judgment. 

And now I’ve done it! I’ve redeemed myself. I’ve proved myself worthy. I’m no longer being punished for being “the country’s nastiest literary critic”. This year I’m on the right list.

‘Shit!’ Jill frantically taps away at the computer keys.

‘What is it?’

Jill’s fingers freeze over the keyboard and she stares at the screen. She shakes her head, and her tiny sleigh bell earrings tinkle tauntingly. 

‘I’m not on it,’ she says with the devastation of a child who didn’t get the latest games console they wanted for Christmas.  

I scan the list. Jill’s name isn’t on it. I check again to no avail. We both know what it means.

Jill steps away from the computer. ‘I can’t look. You’ll have to do it for me.’

‘Are you sure?’

Jill nods slowly, her usually rosy cheeks devoid of colour.

I scroll right down to the “other” list and my throat constricts. 

‘Just say it.’ 

‘You’re on the…’ I can’t finish the sentence.

Jill slumps into a chair, oblivious to the stuffed reindeer splayed underneath her. ‘I guess I deserve it,’ she says in a tiny voice. ‘Hacking into Santa’s iCloud account, two years in a row, was a sure way to get myself on his naughty list.’

Kylie Fennell
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