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By Karl Stevenson
Untied shoe laces, sticky finger, doors the height of skyscrapers, and a vast unknown all filled my life at the age of three. I had already gained my license to drive a tricycle and rights to feed the Angora rabbit. Soon the radio changed from blaring "All Star" by Smash Mouth to announcing air times of The Charlie Brown Christmas Special on cable. Red and green twinkling lights illuminated my eyes like fireflies on every street corner warming the air. Fairies pranced around spreading sugar plums and hopes for wishes.
December twenty fifth was only a few weeks away. I was told that this year was going to be like no other. With my eyes being as full and inquisitive as a barn owl, I scavenged throughout every crook and cranny of the house. Somewhere…somewhere in that house I would find boxes gingerly wrapped by elves that would grab my attention. Attention grabbed not by wondering what gift laid inside, but by unleashing the Pandora box of emotions my child heart couldn’t even label.
With my babysitter here and my entire family out of town it was the perfect opportunity to conduct a full-scale search. Behind the television, underneath my mother’s stacks of unread books, and even the attic seemed to have no leads on my gifts whereabouts. As the hours ticked and the sun began to set, my legs grew tired from what seemed to be an adventure right out of an Indiana Jones film. My babysitter being completely immobilized from a lack of care and a marathon of Road Rules even noticed my snooping around the house that led to several broken household knick-knacks.
When all hope was lost an ambiguous light came calling to me from underneath the closet door. My fingers tingled as the door knob turned in my hand. As the door flung open I finally saw the eighth world wonder. Mountains and mountains of gifts and I was the only climber. I began ascending Mount Everest. My feet dug into its loose gravel and my hands dug deeper and deeper into its cliffs.
Then Jack Frost sent his iciest blast. The front door opened. The front door opened to all my family members. My father, mother, aunts and uncles but their shivery presence was a murky aurora. Something was missing. There wasn’t any yelling or punishment… yet the air retreated from the room and my lungs clung to the scream cultivating in my throat. The one who’s presence circulated like a crackling oak fire warming the hearts of everyone. My grandmother was gone. Each chamber of my heart… collided like the Great Train Wreck of 1918, a railway of unfathomable pain.
Days later winter nymphs stole my twinkling red and green lights and laid down roses. Roses upon an oak box holding an empty body that once held a loved spirit. Like how a cicada leaves it shell behind when it has outgrown its being, I was told my grandmother’s wings weren’t able to stretch so she flew to a better place. I remember how my eyes lingered between the contrasts of the final smile I saw from her in the obituary right beside an ad for a Razor scooter enticing parents to place under their child’s Christmas tree.
A winter nymph must have laughed at me when I said my final goodbye. Before those grim reapers lowered her body into the ground I ran towards her body and did what I saw in every Disney film. I laid my lips upon her cheek and waited for her to resurrect. I drew back my lips from her face and expected, no, demanded for her pulse. Instead my face contorted from touching skin that grew cold and stiff like hay. Christmas Eve, replaced with a kiss from the dead.
I was awoken from my slumber by banshee-screaming little cousins that had all slept over the night before seemingly unfazed from the funeral, ecstatically stampeded down the stairs for Christmas morning. I grudgingly dragged my legs from my bed and followed my fellow peers (hyperactive rugrats) down the stairs towards the Christmas tree. So many boxes were passed around that an outsider would have believed that we were playing hot potato. A huge Elmo, art supplies and Pokémon, yet none of it made me forget what happened the morning before.
I scanned the room and although the other children were oblivious to ominous presence of absence, one lone chair in the corner who’s owner wasn’t there to sit. When I went to leave, my eyes caught the glimpse of one last gift under the tree. I stretched my tiny arm towards the box and pulled it towards my chest. My name was on it but most importantly it was from the one who I wished most was there. I demolished the paper, and cradled the object with confusion. It was a book bag. It had one note.
“I believe in you.”
#Unreal #Fiction #ChristmasInJuly #Family #Funeral #Death #Hope
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