Short Fiction Based in Reality

Dominique knew she would always remember the uncanny timing of a trio of little “signposts” during her first Christmas season in the United States as a foreign exchange student.

First, after attending a Sunday worship service a few days before Christmas, Dominique followed the Jensens—her host family—to the church parking lot, where she saw an automobile sporting a colorful bumper sticker that read:

Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:

The American Soldier

and Jesus Christ.

One died for your freedom

and the other died for your soul.

Then, two days before Christmas, Dominique went to the mall with Clara, the family’s teenage daughter, so that Clara could pick up a last-minute gift. As Dominique gazed in the windows of the various stores they passed, she noticed a graphic T-shirt that featured a Christian cross colored with the stars and stripes of the US flag and a message that read:

Stand for the Flag

Kneel for the Cross

Finally, on their ride home from a Christmas Eve church service, Mrs. Jensen exclaimed “Scenic route!” and took a different way so they could enjoy the Christmas lights throughout the neighboring neighborhoods. Dominique smiled at the array of multicolored lights, but then her eyes stopped and lingered on a display in one particular yard:

A US flag fluttered in the wind atop a flagpole.

At the base of the pole sat a manger scene

with Jesus at the center.

Later that night, lying in bed with the sweetness of eggnog lingering on her lips, Dominique could only shake her head in wonder at all three of these clearly contradictory couplets.