Black Friday

Holiday shopping becomes serious business in this new fiction from Jonathan Danielson. For Beatrice and her three children, Black Friday isn't just about great deals–it's about survival, and Beatrice is willing to do just about anything to provide for her family.

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Around eleven, the snow fell fuller and the line stretched around the building past Gardening. At the back of the line, those who just arrived laughed loudly and joked around, but everyone else, those who had stood or sat or squatted since the morning or early afternoon, quietly huddled next to one another, as if silence conserved heat. Beatrice hadn’t heard the final score of the Lions game, not that she really cared.

Forty-five minutes later, when the store was near opening, Beatrice gave her eldest her keys and folded up her chair, her other children folding up their own. Her eldest helped his little brother when he couldn’t get the lock in place, then cradled the chairs in his arms and disappeared into the lot, his image slowly erased by white.

When he returned, friends of the three people in front them had showed up, and the three people in front of them became five. A few grumbles came from behind Beatrice, but everyone was either too cold or too far back for a television anyway to really care.

“Excuse me,” Beatrice said, once the new people made it clear they weren’t intending on leaving. “I said, excuse me,” she said, when they made a conscious effort not to look back at her. The man turned, his scarf tight around the bottom of his face, his recently warm cheeks red and splotchy. “But, the end of line’s over there,” Beatrice said, and pointed past Gardening. The man looked past her then smiled as if he didn’t know English. He turned back to his group.

“I said,” Beatrice said, “that the line starts over there.”

“Listen lady,” the man’s companion said, her hat tilted on her head like a beret. The diamond on her finger shimmered in the streetlight. “Our friends saved our spots.” She shrugged her shoulders like that was enough said.

“Mom,” Beatrice’s eldest said, pulling on her sleeve. “I can run past them,” he said.

“Tough,” Beatrice told the woman with the stupid hat. “If you wanted this spot, you should have been here before the Cowboys game.” The woman didn’t understand what Beatrice was talking about. “But we’ve been here for hours,” Beatrice said.

“Deal with it,” the woman said, and she turned back to her friends. She made quiet comments about Beatrice’s fat ass, but loud enough for Beatrice and her children to hear. She told her friends there would still be enough pork rinds inside when Beatrice finally got in. She mentioned how Beatrice probably couldn’t even afford a television anyway, even if it was on sale. Then, she tucked her arm around her husband, who turned and smiled as if Beatrice hadn’t been listening the entire time.

“Mom,” her eldest said, tugging on her sleeve.

Beatrice said nothing. She pulled her arms as tight against her body as her poofy jacket allowed and stared at the woman, her blond hair sticking out the bottom of her beret. The woman kissed her husband’s red cheek and wiped something away from his eye.

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