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Fiction #319
(published March 1, 2007)
A Merry Christmas
by Rhonda Parrish
She left her morals on the dirty floor — buried beneath her discarded clothing. They peeked out at her now and then, while the stranger grunted above her and the springs of the hotel bed squeaked, but she looked away so she didn't have to see them. Once she saw her self-respect peer in from the hallway. It was battered and neglected, and she felt a pang of guilt when she slammed the door on it — but only for an instant.

Later, as she dressed and shoved the wad of bills from the dresser into her bra, she felt her conscience tugging on her sleeve and shoved it backward into the wall. A fine shower of dust fell upon it, and the picture above rocked on its nail, threatening to fall.

She spun around to face it and found it cowering, crying with its face pressed against the faded flower wallpaper.

"Fuck!" she shouted and spittle flew from her lips to land on the stained carpet "How else was I supposed to afford to give my kid a Merry Christmas?"

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