It’s Christmas Eve. Things around the house have been… tense. Ava isn’t talking to me much but I gave her back her doll so that brightened her up a little.
We’re setting up the milk and cookies for Santa. I’m arranging them near the tree when Ava asks quietly,
“Can I get the carrots for Rudolph?”
“Yeah, sweetheart,” I tell her, trying to use a nicer tone than I have in the past few days. “Rudolph’s gonna need carrots to make his nose glow so bright.”
This makes her giggle a little and I feel better. She runs to the fridge and takes a little longer than I expect her to, but before I go in to check on her she runs back into the living room with the carrots.
When it’s all done, there’s a plate of cookies (I’ll need to take a bite out of each one), a cold glass of milk (I’ll have to drink that too), and a small bowl of baby carrots (good luck on me imitating reindeer teeth marks). I put Ava to bed and go to the garage to get the presents out of my trunk where they’ve been hidden.
While I’m stacking the wrapped gifts in my arms, something behind me skitters across the floor of the garage. I nearly drop them and freeze in place. Fucking mice. I’ve been putting out rat poison for them but sounds like they’re back.
I take the presents inside and arrange them neatly under the tree. I take the requisite bite of each cookie and finish one completely — screw it, it’s Christmas. A nibble from the carrot, and fuck is my mouth dry.
I drain the glass of milk in a few quick swallows. It tastes funny, like maybe it’s about to turn, but I’m still thirsty, so I go to the fridge and pour a few more glasses. When I go back to the living room, I give the place a once-over to make sure it looks like Santa has been here. That’s when I spot the note under the cookie plate. I’d somehow missed it before.
What the hell.
His white outfit is just as pristine as the first time I saw him but he should be soaked in garbage juice by now. Not to mention there’s no way he can be here. THERE’S NO WAY.
My gut rolls. I suddenly feel so sick.