In Black Friday, the Clay family is waiting on line, talking about what they’re going to buy. But what the reader will soon discover is they are not waiting on line to receive, but rather to give. This satirical sick tale has been compared to “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, and was recently published in Penumbra eMag’s December 2013 issue, Volume III, issue 3. Purchase your copy today!
by Jaimie M. Engle
The Clay family had been waiting in line since Tuesday. Now, here it was, Thursday eve, and the line had just started to move. The chapel bells pealed their cries of midnight, the beginning of a new day, Black Friday, and everyone was itching to get out of the cold and into the warmth of the chapel.
Martha Sprinkle stood near the front of the line, her straw-colored hair pinned beneath a brand new bonnet. She turned back, looking at Corra with a stare that would have caused a snake to shed its skin.
Corra bit at her bare cuticles, drawing blood. She was mousy, that’s how she’d always been described by adults, and the boys passed her by the way they did an oak, without a second glance.
“Come, Corra,” Regina Clay prompted, taking a step in the line.
Corra shuffled her feet behind her mother, kicking up dirt in puffs.
“Watch it, stupid,” Raymond Jr. blasted. “You’re getting shit all over my boots.” He pushed his sister from behind and Corra stumbled, bumping into Martha who let out a shriek.
“Corra Clay, you have to be the clumsiest girl I’ve ever met,” she said.
“At least I ain’t stuck on myself,” Corra mumbled, which was met by glares from both her mother and brother.
“Now serving seventy-three,” the man with the mustache announced from the town square.
Corra looked at the crumpled paper in her hands, the number seventy-seven scripted in perfect calligraphy.
“I’m getting a beautiful new China doll with a red silk dress covered in roses,” Martha beamed.
Her parents beamed back, her father adding, “Bet it won’t look more beautiful than you, darling.”
“Of course not,” Raymond Jr. chimed in. “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world.”
Corra made a gagging sound, met by more glares from her family, including an awful one from Martha that made her face scrunch up and turn crimson. Corra smiled, happy to see she had wiped the pretty right off of Martha’s face.
“Now serving seventy-five.”
In small steps, the line herded forward, like cattle being led to the slaughter. Corra glimpsed at her ticket again. The number hadn’t changed…