Once again, Chloé was rudely awakened. This was her third meeting that night, presumably with the Miracle of Holidays Future. Her father’s spirit had warned her about this, but this André was different than the one she’d known as her Daddy. Forced to suffer the chains of ill-wielded wealth for eternity, André still had the energy to “make time” for Chloé. She’d already met with a raven-haired girl decked in red with black spots, accompanied by a blond boy with cat ears and tail, calling themselves the Miracle of Holidays Past; and the magical retelling of her past shown before her very eyes left her feeling pretty unpleasant about herself for the first time in years. The Miracle of Holidays Present had been a young, punkish girl wearing roller skates and a helmet (I’d bet that helmet doesn’t work if she looks this poor, Chloé mentally snarked, but she immediately felt like a jerk after), commoners’ clothing and wild pink hair in dual pigtails. Chloé had once again felt bad (if not worse) about the situation of others; her workers Jean, Sabrina and others, were struggling and overworked, and some of them were still working. Sabrina’s tiny nephew August was also still struggling; he was in great need of a prosthetic leg, but his parents couldn’t afford it.
The final ghost, materializing in Chloé’s path, was a tall man looking 25-30 physically, thought he was most likely much older. They looked like a red-cloaked Grim Reaper, but before Chloé could further insult this specter, they beckoned with a gloved hand that was too fleshy to seem skeletal.
Not the Grim Reaper - thank goodness, Chloé thought to herself.
The world seemed to twist around her as she followed this Red Reaper (I’m calling them that now, she said to herself with a small laugh) as if she was inside a tornado - minus the getting blown around part. She was put in front of Alya, Nino, Kim, Max and Ondine - folks from her high school when she went to Francoise-Dupont. She was a grown woman now, and too important for them. Chloé shut up when she heard the reporter speak.
“I don’t know why we’re being invited, really,” the fox-like firecracker grumbled, “but on the bright side, who here wouldn’t mind a free and exquisite lunch!”
That made everyone laugh. The almost traditional pang of pain hit Chloé, but she knew she couldn’t do anything. What event were they going to, anyway? Kim spoke up next, interrupting her train of thought.
“I can’t say I’d miss her, even if she’d associated with us after treating us like absolute-”
“Be nice, Kim.” Max spoke up sternly. Chloé did not feel relieved despite Mr. Kante coming to her defense.
Looking back, Chloé would say she thought that this insult was going to be the kicker for her. Nino, who was relatively quiet but very clever, delivered verbal pain just as hurtful as the Dupain-Chengs’ pastries were delicious - and that definitely said something! Anyway, Nino’s lips didn’t seem to want to restrain the spouting of this comment:
“Do you dudes think she arranged for us to say nice things about her for money? I don’t think I’d take that offer if I could help it!”
Ondine, who’d been listening, burst out in laughter, and the rest followed. Chloé was resisting the urge to cry when the world shifted again, but the tornado felt stronger this time. Fujita and Pearson would be rolling in their graves if they felt this level of power from what was sort of a tornado.
All was quiet in the night of a graveyard - Chloé noticed she and Red Reaper had not left - they’d merely went ahead in time by a few hours. A gloved hand, extended once more, pointed towards one particular gravestone. It was dirty on the flat part - clearly some jerks had been dancing on this one. It also glistened with some kind of liquid - had it been raining? Chloé walked over to take a closer look, and promptly recoiled at the name and dirt marks left behind.
This grave was HERS, and some jerks had danced on her grave!
“How could this get any worse?” she screamed to the heavens.
Then she took a whiff of the gravestone by accident. Dear God.
Someone peed on it. DISGUSTING! She had treated people like they were waste, so it was fitting that someone used her grave like a toilet!
Chloé felt like she was rightfully kicked off her metaphorical golden throne, and for a minute she did what she would’ve done over a porcelain one. Then the realization the way she had acted for about… pretty much her entire life (the thought of oh, no was instant) didn’t make her deserving of any throne hit her, and she had Round 2 of ralphing.
Red Reaper was nice enough to cool her down. A quiet and muffled voice, as if a preteen fused with a gravelly war veteran fused together spoke in a tone that was not as comforting as the Red Reaper most likely intended.:
“Faci paenitentia, et tum vigesque,
Si recusas, id futurum revirescerit.”
Chloé was magically given translation. It was an unpleasant warning, with imperative endings practically telling her to take the advice:
“Do the penance, and then you thrive,
If you refuse, this future will come alive.”
Chloé woke up in a cold sweat. Realizing what she must do, she scrambled to the window, scanning the street for someone. Upon catching sight of a young girl in brown pigtails with a woman that had a reporter’s aura about her - oh, that was Ms. Chamack! Formulating a plan quickly, she shouted just loud enough to get their attention:
“Excuse me, but what time of year is it, Ms. Chamack?”
Before the often-nosy mother could speak up, the little girl - oh, yes, Manon was the girl’s name - responded for her, with a voice containing the cheer only a young girl of about 8 to 10 could have during the holidays:
“Why, it’s the holidays, ma’am!”