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A Christmas Carol

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February 23rd 2013  |  0  |  Category: Bedtime , Children  |  Author: Albert  |  1025 views

Two days after Christmas, Samantha posed a grave question. “Where’s Santa?” she asked. “And how come he didn’t show up?” Mr. Turner peered over his lens, and laid down the Daily Sun newspaper with a plaintive grimace. He leaned back in his chair and molded his hand into a steeple, two index fingers casually touching the underside of his chin like a girder. He brushed his scruffy chin—rubbing across coarse unkempt quills—as if it were a marble floor. He smelled of Hugo and Butterfinger, like always.

“Well… he must’ve missed our house.”

“Blasphemy! He never misses our house.”

“He might’ve hit a roadblock.” Mr. Turner said. “Or perhaps Rudolph got a nose job. Either way Santa can’t always come ho-ho ing down every neighbor’s chimney, can he?”

“But he’s been planting gifts for the past eight years!”

“Have you actually seen Santa with your own eyes?”

“No…” Samantha replied, swallowing hard. “But that doesn’t matter!”

“Oh?” Her father asked. “Why is that?”

“I already made my wish-list.” She pulled out a crumpled memo pad, where all the to-do lists were once scribbled down in robust hand. “See, dad? Look for yourself, if you don’t believe me.” Erick Turner (otherwise known as Eddie to his friends) unfolded the creased, crusty paper, and read something that filled his eyes with tears. He pulled away, and made an attempt to block them. “If I look at this, it won’t come true,” he whispered; hands trembling. “Do you want that?”

“Why would I not want that? Don’t you see, daddy? It’s come true!”

“What has, dear?”

“This dream—to be alive. You and me! We’re alive!” Samantha rushed him like a defensive back, and hugged him as if she was the world’s yellowiest life-jacket. Eddie had to pry her off. “Thank you, daddy.”

“Do your stitches hurt?”

“No. I don’t feel anything.”

“How’s the kidney holding up?”

“Holding up, pretty good.” She said, and grinned.

“Have you taken your medication?”

“Yeah, a couple of hours ago.”

“That’s my girl,” Mr. Turner replied, chuckling, and patted her gluteus maximus in a low-five; he poked the side of her ribs. “Want to try it out?”

“Okay,” she gushed, “what should I bring?”

“How about some milk and chocolate?”

“Great idea, dad!”

“Well, I am a genius.”

Seconds ticked by. Minutes lead to hours.

“So?”

“Okay… okay.” Samantha said, raising her palms. “I’ll be right back.”

“Now—where were we?”

“We were talking about Santa—”

“Oh, yes—Santa,” Mr. Turner muttered, sipping hot cocoa. (She slurped some too.) “Now, Santa—” He tried again. He let his index finger, which was raised a minute ago, drop to his side like a blown electrical cord.

“Yes… Santa…”

“How should I go about saying this…”

“Santa Clause…” Samantha blew on her mug. “My friends say he’s real.”

“Didn’t I already talk to you about this?”

“I want to hear it from you.”

“Alright, alright, fine… But, don’t be offended.” Mr. Turner observed his daughter with one eye.

“I won’t.”

“Santa is a myth.”

A monumental silence.

“—I told you not to be offended.”

“I’m not!”

“Why do you look like you just got pooped on?”

“I’m just wondering how I’m going to tell my best friend—”

“You better not.”

“But Justin thinks he’s real!”

“Then let him—all right? That’s none of our business.” Mr. Turner said with staunch, solemn eyes. “He’ll figure out the truth for himself.”

“Fine then,” she said, and then, snickered: “He’s a funny kid.”

“What? Why’s that?”

“He came to me last night with a bouquet of lilies. Isn’t that just so sweet of him, dad? I mean, he never does anything like that.”

“Am I supposed to be jealous?”

“I thought that was kind of neat thing for him to do.”

“Okay, that’s enough of Justin for now.” Mr. Turner said. “What do you see in him, anyway?”

“You, I guess.”

“We look nothing alike.”

“Yeah, he does.”

“The beady little eyes, with parse, balding hair, that kind of curls back in a nappy cowlick?—nah. The physical characteristic doesn’t even resemble my skull—far from it. Our minds don’t think the same”

“How so?”

“Well, for one thing, Christmas means something totally different for me.”

“Why?”

“It just is.”

“Why?”

“There really is no right way to say it.”

“Why?”

“Do you want your father to get stuck in the roof of the chimney?”

“Why?”

“Does it look like my fat gut can down the chute?”

Samantha giggled. “Why?”

“You don’t want FBI agents coming to excavate my dead bones like an old wooly mammoth, do you?”

“Why?”

“Because I want to live long and healthy.”

“Why?”

“I live for you.”

“Why?”

“I don’t intend to carry a sack load of treasure for some naughty girl.”

“I’m not naughty.”

“The way you’re repeating the same thing, makes me wonder alot these days.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be. Just try not to make my brain cells go into overdrive, that’s all. I don’t want to end up a vegetable.”

“No, daddy.”

“Good. Every neuron counts.” Mr. Turner paused for a moment, fingers on his lips. “Hey—isn’t that your mom calling you?”

Listening intently, Samantha cocked her head like an old lady hearing buzzing noise. She nodded.

“Go on then.”

“No, I want to stay with you.”

“You can’t. You know our time’s up.”

Her lower lips quivered. Tears as large as rhinestones began to fall.

“Come here.”

Samantha nestled in the crook of his father’s lap, as she had done many years.

“We will see each other again, you hear? Whether it’s a month from now, or two, or even weeks, we will see each other again, you hear?”

She nodded, sniveling, “Don’t go, Daddy.”

“I’ll always be right here. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise—not even your mother.”

“Will I ever see you again?”

Eddie Turner smiled, and crouched for the last time. “Why, of course, honey.” He beamed. “Remember what I told you.” His grin was wide and saturnine, and could melt a woman’s heart into cinnamon gel. Samantha nodded, unable to keep the grin off of her face. She giggled, helplessly.

“Don’t forget.”

“Okay.”

In the silence, the ticking of the grandfather clock sounded almost serene.

Janice Turner stepped into her daughter’s room and closed the door. “Who were you talking to, honey?”

“My dad.” Samantha mumbled.

“Didn’t you hear me calling you?”

“I was talking to my dad. You know—your husband.”

“What did you just say?” Janice eyes grew wide and frightened like a cornered pup. They darted around the room in telescopic brilliance.

“That’s not possible.” she whispered, “He doesn’t live with us, anymore. Remember what I told you about grief? How it can overtake us, and cause us to imagine things?”

“He’s real. He’s alive. You lied.”

“No.” Janice held her daughter in her arms. “Listen to me. Your biological father is dead. He died two months ago in the surgery room. There’s no way he could’ve survived the operation, do you understand? We had him cremated.”

“He told me, to tell you, that he’s sorry—that he never meant to cause you any harm. He says that he only hurt himself.”

“No—”

“He says he loves you.”

“No—please stop. Just stop, Samantha.”

“He says he never sold the ring—that he always kept it in his top drawer.”

Janice’s face wrenched in half, and her lungs felt as if being torn in a paper shredder. She gasped for air. All the years pent up grief, anger, pain released like a crumbling dam, and Janice began to cry for the first time—going slack, loosening, and coiling like live wire in her daughter’s arm.

“Don’t cry, mother. He’s here with us.”

And for once, Janice believed her.

Christmas came late, as always. The empty feeling in Samantha’s stomach was no more. Santa arrived this time, just as her father had promised.

 

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