The gingerbread house sat upon the dining room table, the only vestige of holiday cheer. Without her children for Christmas this year, Elf on the Shelf and Treetop Angel remained boxed away in the attic. Sometimes she could hear them through the air vents whispering of holidays past when they had all still been a family.
Each morning, she’d call the children to breakfast before remembering their absence, and when she could no longer bear the loneliness, she took refuge inside the cozy cookie dough home. There tiny gumdrop boys and girls sat on her lap begging her to read “Rudolph” one more time. In the corner, a licorice Labrador curled up in a matchbox. Her ex had been allergic to dogs. She had only to lick the walls for nourishment, and slumbered on a marshmallow mattress drunk on the aroma of sweet molasses.
When the children returned from their father’s house they would wonder where she had gone, would peek into the gingerbread house and call for her to come out, but she had new children now with toothpicks for legs that would never leave her.
Jayne Martin is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her debut collection of microfiction, “Tender Cuts,” from Vine Leaves Press, is available now. www.jaynemartin-writer.com.