I was alone this Christmas. I was heartbroken when my husband Daniel told me he was driving to Tennessee for the week. His sister and our brother-in-law had gotten a cabin on AirBnB and invited us both to come. Being busiest this time of year, the line of work that I’m in doesn’t allow for time off during the holidays. Just Christmas day and then we’re back at it.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. It’s a great time to reflect about how fortunate you are. If you’re thoughtful enough you can spread some joy to others. I didn’t know how to help bring Eric and Sandra joy this year, but as things turned out I don’t think they needed my help after all. They used to live across the street and we were once close. That of course all changed in July.
This is only happening because of what we did. I regret it, but not because of the consequences. I regret it because I could have been good; I should have been kind. I think we deserve this. Think of it like Carrie — you remember that movie? Except not. Not at all. We weren’t the popular kids trying to humiliate Gilbert in front of everybody. What we were doing was a coping mechanism — everyone does it, but that’s never made it okay.
I didn’t realize I was making the decision when I did. In a way, I’d blocked the whole thing out — a sort of denial. This all began months ago at the height of summer. There was a soft noise, but the sizzle of the bacon that July morning nearly drowned the sound of it out. I was honestly unsure whether I’d heard anything at all. I’m sure that you know the feeling I mean. We’ve all done it in response to strange noises: What was that? and the hush that follows as you wait to see if you hear it again.
It’s a fever hallucination, nothing more. That was what I convinced myself when I heard the sounds. It was an auditory hallucination and that was a reasonable enough explanation.
The mountains that loomed ahead of Warner were quickly denuded of the vibrancy that remained of the fall leaves; leaves that still stubbornly had not fallen. Everyone told him he should’ve flown, but it was costly. He hated flying and besides, the view on his drive was spectacular. Most of the foothill trees had already molted their skin of leaves in preparation for their skeletal winter forms, painted in shades of brown and ash gray.
I woke in the middle of the night because my right eye itched and twitched terribly and for several stressful moments, though I tried, I couldn’t get it open. Clumsily, I stumbled from the bedroom, finding my way with the bleary vision from my left. Entering the bathroom and switching on the light, I gazed at myself in the mirror.
“Hello Scott,” you say from the backseat. “Jesus Christ!” I say and in my surprised shock, I yank the wheel and the car fishtails into the next lane as the vehicles around me honk in disapproval of my erratic driving. There was no way you could have gotten into the car. I would have noticed it. You weren’t there when I merged onto the highway… then, now suddenly you were…
See, this whole business began with the extra fingers. One on each hand. I cut them off but they grew back again. On the left, between the middle and the ring finger’s one. On the right, the other, between my index and thumb. Now, I’m an artist by trade; avant-garde stuff mostly. I paint and sculpt to pay the bills. Every artist does things they’d rather not in order to get by…my true passion is mostly stuff you’ve never seen. I live to shock. I live to appall. I live for one-time performance art.
The dog won’t shut up. He’s out front, barking his head off in the yard. All of the neighborhood dogs are going wild. It’s been like this all day. I’ve been having terrible trouble keeping the kids away from the door as well. They don’t understand why we can’t go outside. Why they can’t go trick-or-treating tonight.