Flash Fiction: A Soup Kitchen on Christmas Eve - BlueAnteater.com

Flash Fiction: A Soup Kitchen on Christmas Eve

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
— Maya Angelou

“Sure smells good in here.”

“Yeah, that tomato bisque – they put basil in it.”

“Did they? That’s mighty fancy.”

“I think it’s pretty standard, actually.”

“Is it? Well, why point it out then?”

“I meant more like, that’s why it smells so good. Because of the basil.”

“Oh. Still. When I make soup, I just heat up the can in the microwave and eat it.”

“You heat up the can?”

“Yup, and then eat it.”

“You eat the can?”

“No, of course not, I eat the soup inside the can.”

“Okay, but I don’t think you’re supposed to put metal cans in the microwave.”

“Aren’t you?”

“Pretty sure it can cause a fire or something.”

“I always thought those sparks were to add flavor or something.”

“. . . Do they?”

“If ‘burning’ is a flavor, then sure.”

“Hey, guys! Whoa, why is so dark in here?”

“Is that you, Rich?”

“Yeah, Nathan, it’s me. Is Bethany with you?”

“I’m here!”

“What’s with the lights?”

“Dunno, we were wondering the same thing.”

“Actually, I was wondering why Nathan’s microwave hasn’t exploded yet.”

“His microwave?”

“Rich, c’mon, you’ve nuked metal cans before, right?”

“No, that can cause a fire. Listen, we need to figure out what’s going on.”

“Sparks yes, fire no.”

“Rich, this is Bethany.”

“Yes, I know, I recognize your voice. Did you find the lights?”

“No, but it’s weird. The lights are off, but the stoves are still on.”

“Well, at least the soup is safe. Smells good, too.”

“It’s because of the basil.”

“Good to know, Nathan. Okay, we need to figure this out before anyone comes. We can’t serve people soup in the dark.”

“People soup?!”

“Soup to people, Nathan.”

“Right. Sorry, Bethany. I watched Soylent Green last night, and my mind’s in a weird place.”

“Why on earth did you watch that?”

“It was on TV, the Hallmark channel. Right after It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“Guys, guys, this is a serious issue. How long have the lights been out?”

“Ever since we got here.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Oh, a couple hours, wouldn’t you say, Bethany?”

“I suppose. I left my phone at home, so I’m not sure.”

“You guys have been sitting in the dark for two hours?”

“Well, I also left my phone at home, so it’s possible that it’s been longer.”

“You didn’t think to call—er, yell for someone or go find the circuit breaker or something?”

“I admit that did not cross my mind.”

“I found the light switch, but it doesn’t work.”

“Where’s the switch, Bethany?”

“Over there, by the brooms.”

“. . . You realize I can’t see where you’re pointing, right?”

“Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.”

“How—AGH!”

“Yup, I tripped on them, too.”

“Thanks for the warning . . . Ugh. Okay . . . here’s the switch. On, off, on, off—nope. So it must be a broken circuit somewhere.”

“Very smart thinking, Rich. Wish I’d thought of it.”

“Thanks, Nathan. Okay, I’m off to—AGH!”

“Watch out for the brooms!”

“Ugh, thank you, Bethany. Alright, I’ll be right back, I’m going to go look for the breaker.”

“We’ll wait here in case they come back on.”

“Probably the best idea. Be right back.”

“. . . D’you think Rich was angry with us?”

“More at the brooms, I think. I should’ve warned him earlier.”

“It is pretty hard to see, to be fair.”

“Hello!”

“Ah!”

“Who’s that?”

“Are you guys open?”

“No, the lights don’t work.”

“But I smell soup!”

“The soup is fine, but Rich says we can’t serve soup in the dark, so you’ll have to wait.”

“Wait, are you a guest or a worker?”

“I just wanted some free soup. This is a soup kitchen, right?”

“Indeed it is, miss. I’m Bethany, this is Nathan.”

“I can’t see either of you.”

“Yes, well, Rich went to look for the lights.”

“There’s no lights at all in there?”

“No, there are, but they don’t work.”

“Did you try the switch?”

“Yeah, twice. Both Bethany and Rich.”

“Well, that’s got me stumped. Listen, do you have other things besides soup?”

“This is a soup kitchen.”

“Yes, but isn’t that more of a general name of your services? Not like a food truck, where you only serve one thing.”

“If this were a food truck, I don’t think not having lights would be such a problem.”

“Yeah, as long as the stoves worked, we could park under a street lamp and have all the windows open.”

“I mean, I know we’re basically just a hole-in-the-wall food kiosk anyway, but the windows are small and don’t let in much light.”

“They’re designed for passing out soup, and that’s about it.”

“Does that answer your question, miss?”

“Not really, ma’am, but I appreciate the effort. Well, what kinda soups you got in there?”

“Definitely tomato soup.”

“With basil!”

“Anything else?”

“Probably, but it’s dark in here, and the basil kinda blocks out other smells.”

“I see. Will you guys be open within an hour, maybe?”

“Oh, I hope so. Rich went to fix everything, he’s very smart.”

“It’s just that it’s Christmas Eve, you know.”

“Yes, of course—and Merry Christmas to you!”

“Thanks . . . I was rather hoping to get soup to bring home to my family.”

“That’s what soup kitchens are for, miss.”

“But only when the lights are working?”

“Unfortunately, yes.”

“Well, I’m not gonna be the only one out here for much longer. Lots of people are gonna want some soup.”

“Lady has a point, Bethany.”

“But what can we do?”

“Well, ma’am, I may have an idea.”

* * * * *

“I’m sorry, guys, I can’t find the breaker anywh—What’s going on?”

“Hi, Rich! Oh, I can see you now! You got a haircut!”

“Yesterday . . . Bethany, where did all these candles come from?”

“That big ol’ church down the street. I guess they use them for their Mass or something? I’m not really sure, but this nice lady came up with the idea.”

“Hi, Rich! I like your hair!”

“Thanks, Nathan . . . A nice lady?”

“Yeah, she really wanted some soup for her family, but we told her we couldn’t serve any while the kitchen had no lights, so she went down to the church, and next thing we know, she’s coming back with boxes of these lovely white candles!”

“And we only had the one match, but that was all we needed! It’s like a Christmas miracle or something.”

“Well, I guess one really is all you need . . . So where is the lady? I’d like to thank her for her help.”

“She already took her soup and left. Oh, excuse me, Rich, more people are at the window. Hi, what kind of soup would you like? We have tomato—”

“With basil!”

“—and chicken and tortilla and vegetable . . .”

Rich stepped outside and gazed at the slowly growing queue. He turned toward the church down the street, whose windows did look slightly dimmer than before. The singing from inside, however, was bright and loud. A smile spread across his worn face, and he glanced up at the sky, which was filled with stars on the clear night. Wherever that nice lady was, he hoped she knew what a good deed she’d done.

He lingered for a bit longer, then went back inside to help pass out soup.

 


 

It’s the holiday season, so here’s a Christmasy story! The odd format is because I’ve been listening to a lot of Paul F. Tompkin’s SPONTANEATION podcast, which is . . . hilarious. So this is my attempt at written improv, basically. I started with the location and made it all up from there without any editing. Probably not too successful, but it was a great deal fun to write, and that’s all that matters! Hopefully it wasn’t confusing, either. XD

“Votive Candles” by Garry Knight is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

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