Mokuba taps his pen on his desk, staring attentively at the teacher. He isn’t being of course, but it’s helpful to look like he is. He’s drafting an email to Duel Disk R&D in his head. Trying to come up with a plausible excuse for why they woke up this morning with their access to the Grade 5 Testing Facility revoked. Something other than ‘sorry but the facility disappeared along with the CEO and what you’re actually seeing is a massive hard light hologram which could well short circuit any moment because this isn’t what it’s designed for’.
The heavy late-winter rain drums on the window, masking the sound of his left hand tapping out the email under the desk.
He pretends he’s Seto of course. He’s had more than enough practice that it’s indistinguishable most of the time. Nothing causes a drop in stock faster than ‘the CEO has literally vanished’. Besides, people take him more seriously as Seto. Partly his fault for being a bit more spirited than his brother, partly their mistake. Seto plays on making people think he’s all-powerful, whereas he uses their underestimation of him. It makes them an amazing team.
He sends it. It doesn’t really explain anything, but then his brother wouldn’t, so it should seem convincing at least.
“-leaving Persephone trapped in the underworld with Hades.”
He taps his pen harder and the girl at the desk in front of him turns and glares. He nods, with a look that doesn’t manage to make it to a smile, and stills, pressing it firmly into the table. It’s a blatant tell that he shouldn’t have at this age. He knows what Seto would say. That there are hundreds of influences on him every day, and statistically something is going to remind him of things he doesn’t want to think of, it doesn’t make it a sign, or mean that ‘the universe is out to get him’. But then Seto built a dimensional transporter to go and find a dead pharaoh he couldn’t stop thinking about so what the fuck would he know.
Mokuba puts the pen flat on the table with a snap. Better than throwing it across the room. Many times better than kicking over the desk and screaming, which is what he actually wants to do.
His phone buzzes in his hand. New text. Six new emails. His ears feel like they’re ringing. The sensation that there are too many thoughts in his brain, moving too fast. Cold sweat beading on his forehead. He hears Seto explaining about adrenaline responses and forces it away. Deep breaths.
Marcus moronically asking if it’s true, just to get a rise. It’s only been twenty minutes. He wants them to get it over with, get the lesson over with. Get the story over with. Unbidden, his mind races ahead, trying to recall anything he can about it.
She couldn’t come back. Persephone. That was the point right?
Not his brother though, his brother doesn’t understand that he ‘can’t’ do something as a matter of principle, and the universe therefore just has to move out of the way for him. The idea that Seto ‘couldn’t’ come back, he tells himself, doesn’t worry him. It doesn’t. It doesn’t.
His fingers are ice around the phone.
“Well there are many versions of the myths, so it is not right to say that there is one ‘true’ version. And in the context of a story, everything is true. In older versions of the tale, Persephone is older, a young woman out adventuring who finds herself trapped - not kidnapped,”
His jaw clenches.
“Or she heard the cries of the dead and walked freely into the Underworld,”
He can’t breathe.
“For every story where Persephone cannot return, there is another which says that she chose not to.”
He grabs his bag, shoves his things into it and stands up sharply, causing his chair to screech across the floor and his vision to darken at the edges. He hurries out the door with everyone staring at him. The teacher doesn’t call him back - perhaps thinks he’s going to be sick.
Whatever it takes Santa Claus… whatever it takes. As a former Santa Claus myself I can completely empathize with those who take on the role… many a Christmas Eve I’ve spent assembling toys and trying to make things as perfect as possible for my kids and it is tiring, thankless and downright stressful.
One year after consuming mass quantities of “Christmas Cheer” I set upon putting together a wooden action figure sized tree house which was purchased in May and hidden in the seemingly dry basement. Once I managed to open the package without removing any fingers and started to assemble the pieces, I thought I’d have “visions of sugar plums” dancing in my head within 20 minutes… it was already approaching 2 AM. Well, once the structure was in place the problem became blatantly evident; the tree house wouldn’t stand up.
Months of immersion in the humid basement had warped the bent wood pieces so much that one of the legs appeared nearly three inches too short. I got the sudden sickening feeling in my stomach like you’d get when your blatant, nearly laughable forgery of your Mom’s signature on a note sent home from your third grade teacher Mrs. Clark, got detected and you got sent to the principals office to await your punishment. I stood in the kitchen, poured another drink and brainstormed for a way to make things right… surely Santa wouldn’t bring a tree house that looked like it had just violently crashed to the ground after enduring a category 5 hurricane. The answer was simple… get a couple shims under the shorter leg to stabilize the structure, use some wood glue to hold them together and finish it off with a nice countersunk brass screw to make it look like it was made that way - by the time the kids would see the finished product, the glue would be set and no one would be the wiser.
Problem was… it was 2 AM on Christmas Eve and no matter how hard I looked I couldn’t find the package of shims that were in the drawer in the workbench, the substance inside the bottle of glue was now harder than a slab of concrete and my super convenient cordless drill was completely dead. Well, to make a long story short… An errant paint stir stick, a couple copious blobs of Elmer’s glue, a ½ hour wait on a charge for the drill, a sloppy as hell execution on sinking the screw in the base and maybe even another splash of whiskey saved the day.
By the time I was done, it was nearing 4:30, my wife at the time had put out everything else and gone to bed nearly 2 hours before, and I still had to wrap a couple of the gifts that Santa was bringing her in probably less than 2 hours. When the last strip of tape was applied to the last gift and I haphazardly cleaned up all the wrapping supplies and the ridiculous mess I had made, I paused.
The tree was gleaming, Santa’s bounty awarded to the well-behaved Wilkerson children was now freely flowing forth from underneath the branches, toys were assembled and ready to delight and thrill and on the stereo Frank Sinatra sang “Have yourself a merry little Christmas.” Santa Claus had done his job again and it felt good.
So to all the Santa’s out there, keep pushing on and when the dawn approaches while you’re secretly putting together that train set or Barbie dream house on Christmas morning, remember that all your fellow Santas, both active and retired, have been there too are we’re all pulling for you!
“And the winner of best male artist 2016 goes to……Justin Bieber” you cheer into the microphone, you call along with everyone else as your boyfriend of 6 months stands up and hugs his management team around him. He then turns to his mother and holds her hand “come on mom time to meet Y/N” he smiles while she goes all shy as he walks her to the podium where you are stood with his award *gif*
April is Stand-UP Month on Comedy Central’s tumblr, but you might not see your favorite comedian featured so sometimes you just need to improvise! I wish Grace Helbig would do more Stand-Up or her own special on Comedy Central. Maybe someday?! :)