Young couple Ellis and Casey’s Christmas is set to be a lean one. Struggling financially, they’re only able to manage the most basic needs for their holiday celebration. They can’t afford luxuries like a turkey. Or decorations. Or presents. Between the recent death of Casey’s beloved momma, and Ellis’ estrangement from his family, all they have is each other.
When Ellis finds the saddest looking Christmas tree south of the Mason-Dixon line thrown outside his workplace and brings it home to Casey, things look up. Because what more do you need to have a Merry Christmas than enthusiasm, ingenuity, and someone to love?
Back out by the door, he got down on the floor to put his sneakers on -- no shoes inside, thank you very much -- and noticed something under the Christmas tree.
He abandoned the worn sneakers and knee-walked over to check the item. It wasn’t very big, so he got down on all fours to see better.
It was a ball: a little bigger than a ping-pong ball and wrapped in newspaper. It hadn’t been there yesterday when they’d gone to bed, so Ellis must have sneaked it under the tree this morning.
He sat back on his heels and his hand flew to his mouth.
Ellis had gotten him a gift for Christmas!
Tears welled up in his eyes and spilled down his cheeks. He didn’t wipe them away; he just sat there. Staring at the newspaper-covered ball.
What could it be?
He threw himself on his stomach and crawled as close as he could while making sure not to tangle his hair in the low-hanging branches. A message scrawled with a red marker in Ellis’s almost illegible writing greeted him: merry xmass boo.
Next to the writing, he’d also drawn a small, crooked heart, with one arch much bigger than the other.
Casey couldn’t keep his hands off it. He traced the heart with his finger, wanting nothing more than to tear off the paper and see what Ellis had gotten him. But he didn’t, of course.
Instead, he crossed his arms on the floor in front of him and rested his head down. Watching the present, he exhaled a shuddering breath and closed his eyes.
He still had no idea what to give Ellis tomorrow. Considering he had absolutely no money, what could he buy?
Untangling one of his hands, he reached out and enveloped the ball, but resisted the urge to shake it. He just held it in his hand, and somehow it made him feel closer to Ellis.
He shouldn’t be surprised that Ellis had gotten him a present. He knew how much Casey loved Christmas, how desperately he missed his mother, and was sad that there wouldn’t be any knitted socks wrapped in plain brown paper for either of them this year.
Of course, he’d found a way to cheer Casey up.
Casey let go of the present and wiggled his way out from under the tree. He supposed he could always resort to giving Ellis stupid coupons like he’d given his momma when he was a kid. But instead of one month of doing the dishes, it could be stuff like one hour of hard ass-fucking or a promise of rimming Ellis until he screamed Casey’s name and shot his spunk all over the place. He could even draw dirty pictures on the coupons to illustrate the gifts.
He nodded to himself. It would have to do. But next year he’d buy Ellis a real present.
Casey jumped off the floor, took one last longing look at the ball before he pulled on his shoes and went out for his run.