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FNL: The Last Interface

Behind the Last Window Challenge

By Shea DunlopPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 24 min read
Jackie and Marvin

The outside world was unknown to her, but she could see a glimpse of it through the window in his room. Jackie’s friends take turns crossing her perfectly programmed lawn to sit on her auto-generated front porch and gaze out at the wall of pixels. All of their interfaces have gone dark by now, shutting down one by one until Jackie’s view was the only one left in the neighborhood.

Sam usually powers up his computer as he gets ready for school, around 7 AM. The front-facing wall of Jackie’s second-floor bedroom blinks out of existence, replaced by Sam’s touseled brown hair and bright blue eyes peering in at her through square glasses.

Today, she hops of out bed and stretches, offering him a “Good morning!” she knows he won’t understand.

Nevertheless, he smiles. “Gurb nargin to you, too, Jackie!”

His eyes flick to the corner of his screen, checking her bank account. She makes her bed, then stands by the door, waiting for him to click the “Daily Routine” button, as he always does on school days.

“Work hard today, okay?” he says, setting her on her course and gathering up his pre-algebra homework from the night before. “I know you’ve been wanting me to customize the porch.”

Sam had noticed the porch attracting the neighbors and finally got the hint that the two rock-hard wicker chairs from the Basic Porch expansion weren’t cutting it.

Jackie heads downstairs to make breakfast, keeping an eye on the interface as her hallway and kitchen walls disappear.

Sam’s desk sits opposite the window in his narrow bedroom, allowing Jackie and her friends to watch the leaves change on the old oak tree and track the clouds across the sky. Though she can’t see it, she knows the door is to the left of her view, because that’s where he comes and goes from. The bunk bed he’s outgrown is to the right of her view. He grumbles about it sometimes in the morning when he wakes up with a sore neck, but he won’t tell his dad.

Jackie knows money doesn’t just appear at the end of a workday in the outside world. Even at age 11, Sam understands this, too.

“I’m cooooold,” he says to her, shoving his folders into his backpack. “Dad’s keeping the heat down again.”

Jackie cracks an egg into a pan, watching him fumble with the broken zipper. “I’m sorry,” she responds. “I wish there was something I could do!”

He glances over at her. “Eggs this morning?”

There’s a knock on Sam’s door. “Yeah,” he calls out, ducking out of her view to rifle through his closet.

Jackie hears Sam’s dad come in, the old door creaking on its hinges.

“Happy Monday! Talking to Jackie again?” Dad asks, swinging his head into her view. Jackie flips her egg with a flick of her wrist, catching his grin through the side of her kitchen.

“No!” Sam lies. “Just talking.”

“Uh-huh,” Dad chuckles. “Hey, kiddo, Christmas is coming up… How about that new version of FML?”

Jackie freezes, listening.

“Daaaaad, it’s not FML, that means ‘frick my life’!” Laughing at his dad’s accidental swearing, Sam corrects him, “It’s FNL, Friendly Neighborhood Living.”

“Of course, of course,” Dad confirms. “How about it, huh?”

Jackie doesn’t move. She’s been dreading this. All of Sam’s friends, the kids who once designed her neighbors’ houses, had moved on. Her whole neighborhood, their shared server, had FNL 2.0 to blame for the dark static interfaces in every yard.

Once Sam stopped playing… well, she didn’t know what would happen. Would her interface go dark, leaving them all trapped in stasis? Would they cease to exist altogether? Her next-door neighbor, Marvin, had some wild theories, but they’d all been just theories until now.

“See?” Dad taps the monitor. “Jackie froze up. I bet the new version’s smooth as butter.”

Jackie shakes herself and quickly plates her egg. She can’t afford to slip up like that again.

“That would be pretty sweet…” Sam thinks for a moment.

Jackie’s heart races.

“I don’t know, Dad,” Sam turns to look out the window. “It’s really expensive.”

Dad joins him, placing a hand on his shoulder. Jackie watches them with bated breath.

“I’ll see if I can pick up a few extra shifts this week. 12 days is plenty of time to come up with the money.”

Sam looks like he’s about to argue, but his dad doesn’t let him get a word in, giving his shoulder a squeeze and sildling back into the hallway.

“Come on, grab your coat! You’ll miss the bus!”

“Coming,” Sam mutters, turning away from the window and looking in on Jackie. She’s so full of nerves that her egg tastes like rubber. She’s pretending to enjoy it.

“Have a good day, Jackie,” he whispers, giving her a little wave.

Jackie is so distracted that she waves back. She mentally kicks herself for the action; it wasn’t prompted.

“Weird.” Sam’s eyebrows knit together in confusion. “I swear you understand me sometimes.”

It takes all of her self-control to continue eating as normal. She’d love to talk to him, to let him know she hears everything he says, but that’s the golden rule of FNL: residents cannot act outside of their predetermined course while the player is present. If they do, they risk the players reporting glitches and getting the server wiped.

Jackie waits for the click of Sam’s door before running back upstairs to her closet. She pulls on jeans and smoothes her dirty blonde hair into a low pony.

She has to find Marvin.


Each day while Sam is at school, he leaves FNL running so Jackie can “go to work.” Her bank account grows each day, allowing Sam to purchase new furniture for her. Jackie doesn’t actually work; there’s nothing to produce or sell in a world where everything is generated with a click of a button.

Today, she’s bound for Marvin’s house. Marvin’s player, Jamar, was the first of Sam’s friends to switch to FNL 2.0. Marvin hasn’t been quite the same, since.

Jackie crosses Marvin’s lawn, dodging a large collection of garden gnomes and random pieces of metal. Jamar had bought the gnomes, but ever since Marvin’s interface went dark, he’s developed a fascination with pushing the boundaries of the game. He’s become a bit of a tinkerer, seeing what he could create himself with no player around to make purchases.

Jackie raises her fist to knock, but the door swings open before she even makes contact.

“Saw you coming,” Marvin says, gesturing to an old TV screen in the hall, multicolored wires sticking out of the back. Jackie peers at the screen, a blurry live feed of the gnomes making her smile.

“You got it working?” Jackie eyes the wires curiously, reaching out a hand to touch one.

Marvin’s boney fingers slap hers away. “Don’t!” he scolds. “That one’s live.” He turns away, already walking towards the kitchen. “Latte?”

“I’d love one,” Jackie grins, following the swing of his braids around the corner.

“What’s new?” Marvin asks, clicking the portafilter out of his espresso machine.

Jackie slides onto a barstool, leaning her elbows on the counter. “A lot, actually. That’s why I’m here.”

“Oh? Not just dropping in on your poor, lonely best friend?”

Jackie laughs. “Not this time.” Her face falls. “I just heard Sam’s dad saying he’s trying to buy him 2.0 for Christmas.”

Marvin drops a mug, the clay shattering on the tile floor.

“What?! But– he can’t afford that.”

The remains of the mug blink in and out of existence before reappearing on the counter, fully mended.

“That’s what Sam said,” Jackie nods, “but his dad says he’s going to pick up some extra shifts and make it happen.”

Jackie’s coffee drips into the drain, forgotten. “This is it, then,” Marvin prophetizes. “He leaves, and we’re done.”

“We don’t know that, Marv,” Jackie tries to reassure him. “My interface could just go dark, and we could carry on as usual.”

“But what’s the point,” Marvin whines, sinking dramatically onto a barstool. “No players, nothing new to work with, just the same eight people surrounded by the same old stuff.”

Jackie takes his hands in hers and says, “We’d all still have each other.”

“You’re so cheesy, Jacks,” Marvin rolls his eyes.

“Well, it’s true!” She stands, pulling him up with her. “Besides, I haven’t lost hope. There must be something we can do to convince Sam to keep playing.”

“What, like, make the game more fun? Everyone knows you’re already the perfect neighbor, what could you even—“

“No, I want to tell Sam! There has to be a way to show him we’re really in here.”

“Do you know how many times I tried to talk to Jamar? Jacks, you know the software garbles everything we say. You’d be wasting your breath.”

Marvin stalks through the archway to the living room, flopping on the couch.

Jackie follows, facing him with her hands on her hips. “I could glitch.”

Marvin gapes up at her. “You wouldn’t. He’ll report you. Or want 2.0 even more.”

“He won’t,” Jackie insists. “I know him, he cares about me. I glitched just this morning and waved at him by accident. He seemed suspicious, but only concerned.”

“So you’re just going to wave at him until he realizes you’re alive?” Marvin’s tone drips with sarcasm. “Good luck.”

“Thank you,” Jackie sniffs, ignoring his tone. “I’ll need it. For all of us.”

She turns on her heel and marches out, determined to prove Marvin wrong.


Jackie throws open the door to Marvin’s house, storming through the kitchen and out the back door towards his shed-turned-workshop.

“He’s an idiot! He’s an unobservant nincompoop who refuses to acknowledge evidence that couldn’t be more clear—“

“I’m guessing the waving didn’t work,” Marvin looks up from his workbench, small round glasses perched on the end of his nose.

Jackie snorts. “No. I waved, I danced, I jumped up and down… nothing. He thought I was excited about the new porch chairs he bought last night.”

“Are you?”

“Well, yes, but that’s beside the point!”

Marvin smirks over his circuit board. He’s baiting her.

“Okay, Marv, you can be part of the problem or you can be part of the solution. If my idea was so stupid, let’s hear a better one.”

Marvin grabs a pair of pliers and twists something, not looking at her.

“Alright, yeah. You could try a physical distress signal. Bring furniture out onto the lawn and spell something out.”

“Why does it sound like you don’t think that will work?” Jackie says, frustrated with Marvin’s apparent apathy.

“Because I don’t. The software is just as likely to scramble a spelled word as it is anything we say. But until I get this up and running, it can’t hurt to try.”

Jackie leans across the counter.

“What are you making?”

“Not telling. Ask again tomorrow.”

A little hurt by his bluntness, but used to his moods, she shrugs and wanders out, abandoning the sidewalk and strolling home directly through the gnomes.


“You were right,” Jackie announces, heading straight for Marvin’s drip coffee machine, where the pot is always full. She doesn’t have the patience for a latte this morning.

“I dragged the couch, side tables, and a bunch of other junk out onto the front lawn. I even checked the view from the second floor, it clearly said ‘HELLO.’ But Sam just laughed and thought I wanted the couch on the porch. He kept it there and put the new porch chairs in the living room.”

Jackie sinks onto the barstool beside Marvin, moving a thick reference book aside to make room for her mug. “It’s a disaster.”

Marvin hums, lost in his text. “Sounds like it.”

“What’s all this?”


“What for?”

“Still not telling. Hey, I need an antenna. Do you think you could get Sam to buy you a radio tonight?”

Jackie frowns. “Probably.” She sips her coffee, an idea forming.

“You’ll have to come over, though. Dressed for a dance party.”

“Not gonna happen.”


Boogie Wonderland,” Jackie sings, swanning through Marvin’s front door.

He’s on the couch in his pajamas, the old TV from the hallway now in pieces across the cushions, accompanied by what appears to be bits of her old karaoke machine.

Jackie holds out her shiny new boom box with pride.

“Easy,” she grins. “The girls all came over, dressed to the nines. Wren even brought a disco ball. We just stood around looking pathetic until Sam bought the radio.”

Marvin’s eyes light up as he extends the antennae. “This is perfect. Thanks, Jacks.”

“No problem,” she yawns. “Coffee?”

“In the pot,” he says distractedly, already pulling out a screwdriver to dismantle his new toy.

“What, no time to play barista?” Jackie teases.

Marvin misses her humor in his concentration. “Some of us are actually concerned about the end of the world and don’t have time to make fancy coffee or get blackout drunk on a Wednesday night.”

“It was Wine Wednesday! Can’t break tradition just because of a little apocalypse.”

Marvin sets down his screwdriver, finally giving her his full attention.

“Jacquelyn, I feel like you’re not taking this seriously. We could cease to exist in less than nine days. Doesn’t that bother you?”

Jackie shrugs. She’s actually been trying not to think about that too much.

Marvin sighs, pinning her with a stern look. “I think it’s time to tell everyone. I don’t think it’s fair to keep this to ourselves.”

Jackie had been thinking that, too. Just the thought of getting everyone together to explain makes her stomach tie itself in knots. She grips her coffee mug a little closer.

“Yeah… yeah, okay. I’ll call a meeting tomorrow.”


“Alright, I told them, it’s your turn to tell me what it is you’re working on.”

They’re out on Marvin’s lawn under the usual pleasant sunlight. A wheelbarrow is propped up on cinderblocks. He’s lying on his back underneath it, the way Frank down the street works on his cars.

“Drill,” he says, holding out his hand. Jackie places the drill in his palm.

“I’m serious,” Jackie persists. “You wanted me to worry, so I am. I don’t see how poking holes in the bottom of a wheelbarrow is supposed to help me convince Sam we’re all actually in here.”

Marvin doesn’t speak for a moment as the whirr of the drill fills the air. Finally, he wiggles out and sits up, sawdust stuck in his braids.

“The holes are for securing the thing.”

“And what’s the thing?”

“I’m afraid to jinx it.’


“Give me a few more days. You’ll have to actually be on duty this weekend anyway. If I have any hope by Monday, I’ll fill you in.”

Jackie throws her hands up. “And what am I supposed to do until then? Just hang out with him as usual, pretending everything’s fine?”

“Try to think of more ways to catch his attention. Brainstorm. He talks to you, listen to him.”


“Okay, I listened all weekend, just like you said, and I have a plan: we’re gonna do a sit-in.”

Marvin hands Jackie a steaming latte and joins her on her porch couch. Overnight, the software finally switched to Winter Mode, covering the grass beyond with a fresh blanket of snow. Jackie likes how it matches the view out of Sam’s bedroom window.

“What, like a protest?” Marvin adjusts his scarf.

“Yeah. Sam was working on his social studies homework and talking through it, as usual. His class is learning about nonviolent protests. That’s what we have to do! Protest against him getting 2.0!”

“That’ll get his attention, for sure. We’ve never tried to gather everybody in front of one interface.” Marvin considers the idea. “He might think you’re trying to have a party though, like when you had the girls over the other night.”

“Oh, I didn’t think of that,” Jackie deflates a little.

Marvin gives her shoulder a nudge. “Hey, I still think it’s a good idea. You should give it a shot tonight.”

“You won’t come?”

“I want to keep working. That’s why I came over, I’m looking for any batteries you can spare.”

“What, not just dropping in on your poor, lonely best friend?” Jackie throws his words back at him, nudging his leg with her foot. “Hey, you promised you’d tell!”

Marvin sighs, pulling his legs up and resting his chin on his knees. “Alright, yeah. Yeah, I mean, it’s a little out there–”

“It’s you, everything is,” Jackie interrupts, laughing.

Marvin grins sheepishly. “Well, even for me.”

He pauses. Jackie holds her breath.

“What if I told you I could make a translator?”


“It had better fricken’ work,” Jackie pouts, dropping down onto a wicker porch chair beside her fireplace. She winces, both at how uncomfortable the chair is, and at the fact that it’s in her living room in the first place.

“Language,” Marvin says absently, pulling batteries out of a tacky dancing snowman on the coffee table.

Jackie huffs. “The sit-in was a total flop. You were right. Even though we all just sat around not moving, he thought I was throwing a Christmas party.”

“Hey, still a means to an end. I still needed two more double AAs.”

Jackie glares around her living room, now decked with strings of colorful lights and cheap Christmas decorations. “It’s so… loud.”

“He went for quantity over quality this year, huh?” Marvin stands, looking around for his coat.

Jackie copies him. “Here, I’ll walk you home. I can’t sit around in here anymore.”

Marvin chuckles. “Fair enough.”

Jackie gives the porch couch a forlorn glance as they pass, leaving footprints in the snow across her yard.

She sighs. “How much longer do you think it’ll take? I’m getting nervous, Marv. I feel like I’m not doing enough.”

Marvin takes her arm as they cross onto his property. “Come on, you’ve had plenty of new ideas. Is there anything you want to try tonight?”

Jackie takes in a breath to respond, but with a jolt, finds herself with a mouthful of snow.

Marvin tries not to laugh. “S- sorry, Jacks,” he chokes out, pulling her up.

“Gnomes!!” Jackie squawks, wiping snow off her face and coat. She freezes, an idea igniting a light in her eyes.

“Wait… there is something we haven’t tried.”


“It was perfect! He was totally weirded out. Jamar is coming over tomorrow to see it for himself.” Jackie squeals and does a little dance, knocking over a box of screws in Marvin’s workshop.

Marvin’s head snaps up at the mention of his former player. “Wait, for real?”

“Yeah!! Oops, sorry,” Jackie bends to gather the loose screws.

Marvin sets his glasses on the counter and leans back, cracking his knuckles. “I guess that did the trick. The game certainly isn’t supposed to randomly populate 76 gnomes onto a perfectly nice lawn.”

Jackie giggles, presenting Marvin with the now tidy box of screws.

He snatches it back. “Thanks, I actually do need these next. And– can you go grab the wheelbarrow and get the snow off of it?”

Jackie nods. “Do you think we can finish this before tomorrow?”

“We have to try.”


“Merry Christmas Eve!” Sam grins in at Jackie, who pops out of bed as usual. She yawns and waves, then makes her bed as Sam checks her bank.

“Do you want me to get you a tree? I’m cutting down a tree with Dad today, we can match!”

Jackie does a little dance to show yes, she would like a Christmas tree.

“Hang on,” Sam says, his eyes losing focus. He’s scrolling through the holiday catalog, a pop-up on his screen.

Jackie hurries downstairs, sure he’s about to put it in the living room. While the rest of the decorations might not be to her taste, how badly can you mess up a Christmas tree?

“Yes, there! Now THAT’s a tree!”

Jackie resists the urge to roll her eyes. Sam had chosen an evergreen with an astronaut theme. It matches absolutely nothing in the room, but at least the star on top is impressive.

“Ready to hit the road?” Dad calls from out of sight.

“Just a sec!” Sam replies, pulling on his mittens.

To Jackie, he says, “Don’t forget Jamar’s coming over later. He wants to try and figure out how you stole his gnomes…”

Marvin’s gnomes,” Jackie grumbles, but Sam’s already out the door. Not that he’d understand her, anyway.

Jackie sighs and grabs a muffin from the kitchen, alternating between taking bites and getting dressed for the trek to Marvin’s house. She pauses on the porch, admiring the view of all 76 stolen gnomes.

She finds herself smiling, despite everything. It had been an out-of-the-box idea, but she’d finally shown Sam there was more to this game than he realized. She was more than he realized.

Her gaze drifts up to the interface. She can see a glimmer of Christmas lights through Sam’s bedroom window. Snow is drifting down in steady flakes, both in the outside world and in the game. She put her head down and crosses her lawn, careful not to trip on the gnomes.

Marvin is in his workshop, right where she expected him to be.

“Good morning!” she chirps, knocking the snow from her boots.

Without looking up, he points at a thermos balanced on a stack of cardboard boxes. Jackie grins and takes a sip, the latte warming her from the inside. She’s content to watch Marvin work, admiring his dedication and persistence.

After a moment, he sits back on his heels from his spot near the floor, adjusting the tethers on the wheelbarrow. “Alright, that’s about all I can do. Either she works or she doesn’t.”

“Only one way to find out!” Jackie tucks the thermos in her pocket. “Let’s wheel it over to my place.”

Sam is only gone for a few hours, but it feels like a lifetime. Jackie and Marvin park the wheelbarrow in front of the porch, then sit on the couch and attempt to enjoy their coffee while watching the Christmas lights flicker. Jackie’s nerves build to the point where her coffee starts tasting like acid.

“What if he doesn’t like me?”

“Jacks, he talks to you more than he talks to his own father.”

“What if he still wants to get 2.0?”

“He didn’t even want to in the first place, I’m sure you can convince him to keep playing.”

“What if…”

Marvin patiently fields each new worry with a reasonable response. Completing his project seems to have caused a sense of calm to settle over him.

“How are you not freaking out?!” Jackie finally asks. She’s taken to pacing the length of the porch.

“It’s a matter of practicality, Jacks. If it works, that’s great, if it doesn’t… there’s nothing we can do about that now. We can go into the void knowing we gave it our all.”

“What about Jamar?”

“What about him?” Marvin tenses, crossing his arms. “He gave up on me a long time ago.” He doesn’t meet Jackie’s eyes.

“That doesn’t mean you have to pretend not to miss him,” Jackie says, settling beside him on the couch. “This is a chance to talk to him, to tell him how you feel. Have you decided what to say?”

They hear Sam’s front door bang open, several pairs of boots stomping around.

Marvin swallows, gloved fingers laced tight together. “I’m not saying anything. This is about you and Sam and getting Sam to stay. Jamar doesn’t have to–”

“Bro!” comes a shout from the hallway.

Marvin freezes. Jackie smiles, squeezing his hand.

“Dude, maybe help?” they hear Sam respond, laughing.

“Man, that’s a big tree!”

There’s more rustling. Something goes thud.

“Watch the floor, boys, no scratching!” Dad calls.

Inside the game, Jackie and Marvin sit stalk still, listening to the kids bicker over how to balance the tree and secure it in its stand.

Finally, Sam comes into view, taking off his beanie.

“It goes like, whoop,” Sam barks a laugh, using his neck to imitate the tree scrunched up against the ceiling.

Jamar drops his backpack, grinning. “That’s your biggest one yet!” He catches sight of the screen. “You got FNL up already?”

“Yeah, all day! Pull up that chair,” Sam points to his half-dirty laundry chair and settles in at his desk. “Hey, what’s this wheelbarrow of junk?”

Jamar dumps the clothes on the ground and swings the chair around to join Sam.

“Bro, what? How is Marvin there?”

“Whadaya mean? He’s over all the time. Most of the neighbors were over the other night, they’re always doing that.”

Jackie steels herself and stands up, making her way to the wheelbarrow.

“The game isn’t programmed to let the neighbors just hang out like that, without us playing. They should have gone dormant by now, deactivated.” Jamar takes up the whole interface as he squints in at them. “And yeah, how the heck did all my gnomes make it over here? I’m grabbing my laptop, see if I can log back into the old version.”

Marvin leaps to his feet. “Wait, no!” he shouts, sprinting back across his lawn towards his workshop.

“Marvin!” Jackie calls, running after him. She makes it to the line between their properties but slams against the invisible wall, cursing. No Free Roam when her player is online unless he allows it.

“Dude, they’re being really weird…” Sam says over his shoulder. Jackie spins to face him, glimpsing Jamar on his laptop in the background.

“I’m in!” Jamar says, holding his laptop on his knee. “Holy shh…”

Jackie turns back around just in time to see Marvin’s interface blink to life for the first time in almost a year. Marvin’s house blocks most of her view, but there’s Jamar, staring out at the wreckage of what he once designed.

“Man, there’s junk everywhere!” Sam leans over Jamar’s shoulder.

Jamar scrolls around, taking in the scraps and half-finished gadgets littering the house and buried under the snow on the lawn. “And all my gnomes are gone!”

Jumping between the gnomes, Jackie hurries back to the translator.

Remembering the sequence Marvin taught her last night, she tugs on the pull cord from Frank’s old lawnmower, flicks on the switches from Wren’s basement lights, and pushes the ON button connected to the batteries from her dancing snowman.

She doesn’t breathe.

To Jackie’s relief, the contraption sputters to life, blinking and whirring in several different places. Ignoring Sam’s dumbfounded look, she unhooks her old karaoke microphone and takes a deep breath.

“Sam?” she asks. Her voice echoes around her, louder than usual, with a tinny quality.

Both boys freeze, staring in at her. Jamar looks like he’s about to faint.

Jackie smiles, heart pounding. “You can understand me?”

Sam blinks, then nods, too stunned to speak.

“Good. I have a lot to explain.”


“Ho, ho, ho!” Sam’s dad bursts into his room. He’s dressed head to toe in Santa gear, a brown sack slung over his shoulder.

Sam yelps, startling awake. “Daaaad! You gotta stop doing that, I’m too old!”

“No one’s too old for Santa! Hey, bet you won’t be complaining about what Santa’s brought you this year…” He reaches into his sack and pulls out a thin present wrapped with a ribbon.

Jackie, who has been pretending to sleep, gives up and sits on the edge of her bed, watching.

Sam rubs his eyes and smiles at his dad’s antics, despite himself. He unwraps the present and grins. “A PlayStart gift card!”

“I went in there but I didn’t wanna pull a Classic Dad and buy the wrong one… so, I thought we could go together tomorrow and you can pick it out yourself.” He ruffles Sam’s hair. “How does that sound?”

Sam fixes his hair and glances over at Jackie, who gives him a big grin and a wave.

“Actually… I think I wanna buy a couple expansion packs for the one I already have. When Jamar was over yesterday, he pulled up the old version, and we were talking about having Thalia and Riley hop back on, too. Get the neighborhood back together again.”

“That sounds great, kiddo,” Dad gives him a fond smile, backing out the door. “Alright, pancakes are in the kitchen when you’re ready.”

“Yep, just give me sec,” Sam stands and stretches, pulling on reindeer slippers.

Jackie wraps a snowman robe around herself and trots downstairs.

“Merry Christmas, Jackie,” Sam’s goofy grin comes into view.

Jackie picks up her mic. “Merry Christmas, Sam!”

“Say Merry Christmas to Marvin for me? Here, I’ll hit Free Roam.”

She beams. “Thanks, will do. Have a good breakfast!”

In Marvin’s living room, Jackie gapes at the pile of brand-new electronics under his last-minute tree.

“He bought me one of each kitchen appliance!! And two laptops! And a HUGE toolbox!” Marvin claps, rubbing his hands together.

“Betcha he bought coins with real money last night,” Jackie laughs. “You certainly haven’t ‘worked’ in months!”

Marvin laughs. “Well, I love them, but he’s out of luck if he thinks he can buy my forgiveness. He’ll be in the doghouse for a while.”

Jackie smiles and shakes her head, backing into the kitchen to fill a mug of drip coffee. “Go easy on him, Marv. There’s no way he could have known.”

“Humph,” grunts Marvin, joining her at the breakfast bar.

They stare at his mountain of gifts, then at each other, grinning.

“Merry Christmas, Marv,” Jackie knocks her knee against his. “And thank you.”

“Of course,” Marvin squeezes her arm. “Merry Christmas, Jacks.”

Sci Fi

About the Creator

Shea Dunlop

Short stories, anecdotes, and niche interests.

Searching for the meaning of life or maybe just $4 to get an everything bagel with cream cheese.

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  • Sylvie Vidrineabout a year ago

    Thanks for giving a nod to the family dancing snowman!

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