As the Christmas season approaches—introduced by festive television advertisements in November and seasonal goods in the shops— it is clear that the message of consumerism cannot be avoided. In fact, much like every year around this time, it has only intensified when compared to the levels throughout the rest of the year.
When there is a new financial crisis reported in the news almost everyday, I would have thought that this would have a knock-on effect. How naive I am. Maybe it has had an effect and the public intend to tighten their belts, but the advertisers didn’t get the memo.
I don’t know why people feel the need to accumulate a load of stuff when there are so many more important things to consider, like the sound of a child’s laughter, the beauty of a crisp winter day, good health and being around family. Not that I want to get too sentimental but there has to be some upside to the world being in financial turmoil.
Like Robert, some talented and selfless people will be able to give a gift without the recipient even realising they’ve received it.
“Hello,” she trilled, with affected cheer. “I was going to take a shower…after cleaning.”
Robert gave her a strange look, as if her words were incomprehensible, making her pull her stomach in and hold her breath. “Forget that.” Lifting his arm, he beckoned her back downstairs. “I need to speak to you.”
Breathing rapidly, the need intensified by the exertion of running up the stairs, she walked back down, each footstep like a thunderclap. Watching his face as she went to him, Anna found his expression unreadable.
“I’ve got great news.” He grinned triumphantly, squeezed her hand and kissed her before taking off his coat.
The knot in her stomach loosened as she blindly followed him to the kitchen, listening to him talk about a cottage in Oxford. She looked at him doubtfully. “You want us to spend Christmas in Oxford? Why?”
“My boss was going to use it, but he can’t go so he offered it.” Robert’s warm smile was alluring, immediately and powerfully persuasive. By the time he finished his speech, she agreed to go.
“Oh, Harris forgot something or other last night. Did he call? I gave him your number.”
“Gloves,” Anna blurted unthinkingly, opening her mouth again before having second thoughts. Suddenly, she could smell Harris, like the aroma of sex, sweat and crisp aftershave was emanating from her own body.
“Did he call?" He repeated.
Hesitating, she feared a lie would give her away. “Yes. He came and got them this morning,” she recited carefully.
“Where did those flowers come from?”
Having completely forgotten about them, the question made stiffened Anna’s body, her breath caught in her throat. “Um, Harris. He gave them to me for…” She tailed off, suddenly thinking about the fact he had a condom within easy reach. Was his sole intention to seduce me?
“For last night?” he suggested.
She beamed a little too wide. “Yes.”
“That was nice of him.” He touched his finger to a bloom. “He didn’t mention anything to me.”
Anna stiffened, frantically seeking an easy change of subject and wishing Robert wasn’t standing so close.
“Have you finished cleaning up already?”
Anna sighed with relief.
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