The Worst Christmas Ever

I wrote this at two in the morn­ing after fin­ish­ing Neil Gaiman’s The Grave­yard Book and then stum­bling onto this story by Joey Comeau.


Santa Claus was lying in our fire­place. Dead. Very dead. The little brown tiles he had landed on, head-first, were covered in a grow­ing pool of ruddy blood. His huge booted feet were still up the chim­ney. A grim­ace of sud­den shock was plastered across his jowly, bearded face.

I don’t think that was sup­posed to hap­pen,” said Mina. She was not my identical twin, but looked a lot like me any­way. She was tall and blonde and bright, and stand­ing in the middle of the liv­ing room in her pyja­mas and look­ing at Santa’s body.

No, I really don’t think so either,” I said. Santa smelt like pine needles and wet fur and reindeer musk.

The reindeers are prob­ably still up there on the roof!” I moaned. “Reindeer? Reindeers?”

Who cares?” yelped Mina, then glanced in the dir­ec­tion of our par­ents’ room. “Alright. Quick. Think! We have to do some­thing – get rid of Santa’s body.”

We do?” I said. The corpse grim­aced at me pain­fully. I was per­fectly happy to climb into bed and pre­tend noth­ing had happened.

Yes, we do!” she whispered angrily. “We can’t just leave him! Our par­ents will notice! There’ll be questions!”

They might not notice… they don’t believe in him…”

Sam, you moron, it doesn’t mat­ter how much you don’t believe in someone if his body is crammed up the fire­place and bleed­ing all over your tiles! Ugh.”

Right. Yes. Fine. Uh, let’s…” I stopped. “Is he heavy? Can we take him somewhere?”

Where?”

I thought for a bit. Some­where with no people. Or reindeers. Reindeer?

Ooh!” I remembered. “The skip at the back of the super­mar­ket down the block. There’ll be nobody there.”

You sure?”

I swear.”

Alright. Let’s drag him.” We grabbed an arm each, after shift­ing the Christ­mas tree, and pulled him out of the liv­ing room and into the hall. His head dripped little rubies of blood onto the car­pet, and his body smudged them into wet stains as we pulled. He was heavy, after all – very heavy, like a sack of bricks, and just as bad to pull. Mina’s pulling helped more than mine and I kept try­ing to pull harder to catch up to her. We man­aged to get him through the liv­ing room door, past our par­ents’ room and past little Maddy’s – I think we woke her up, but little Maddy’s the sort of really quiet kid who doesn’t ask ques­tions at two in the morn­ing, so she just stared at us with big white eyes from her bed and then lay back down.

The hard­est part was drag­ging him out onto the street. The front door was okay, and then there were steps, but just when we thought the coast was clear, a big gang of drunks came wan­der­ing down the street, and I felt scared even though I had Santa’s corpse with me. But after they left, we still had all the block to go to get to the shops. It was the hard­est thing I’ve ever done in my life – harder than the beep test, harder than a mara­thon or a hun­dred metre race or any­thing. My arms felt numb and pained and blistered all at once, and the fact that Santa’s expres­sion changed at one point – we must’ve bumped him against the path really hard – really didn’t help make me feel bet­ter. We dragged in silence, pant­ing and puff­ing. Some of the reindeers trot­ted with us, a few steps behind, and even though they seemed con­cerned and friendly, it made me feel uneasy.

But finally we got him to the skip, which was behind the super­mar­ket through a little alley closer to our side of the road, which was good. The skip smelt awful, and we had to have the heavy metal lid of it open for so long, what with try­ing to lever and push and pull Santa’s body into it, that I felt like I’d smell of old fish and sour milk and veget­able peel­ings forever. It wasn’t easy, but we man­aged it in the end. When we’d fin­ished, you could only see the tip of one of Santa’s shiny boots stick­ing out a corner of the skip, and we both decided we weren’t keen on the idea of climb­ing in there with Santa and rearran­ging his limbs so he’d fit bet­ter, so we just walked home. The reindeers stayed behind, all big and silent. I felt des­per­ately tired. But when we got back home, we still hadn’t fin­ished, because Mina handed me a sponge and we had to clean the car­pet. It did very little. You can still see the stains pretty clearly, but our par­ents never asked about them much.

 

When school star­ted, the next year – we were in year six, which was fun because we were finally in dif­fer­ent classes so people stopped ask­ing us if we were twins (yes) and were we identical (no) and how come we looked the same (don’t know) and did we have to share our clothes (only our school uni­forms, some­times) – we asked around how our friends’ Christ­mases were. Most of them seemed bet­ter than ours. We decided ours was the worst Christ­mas ever. But then Frankie Black came up to me at the end of lunch and said Santa had had a heart attack on his nice liv­ing room sofa, and Annie McClaren told Mina that Santa had fallen off her roof and got­ten impaled on the garden fence – so we worked out it happened to some kids some years and some kids oth­ers. But Santa def­in­itely won’t be com­ing to our place again. Except maybe for little Maddy. But I really hope she’ll wake us up when she finds him dead, because she’s very small and not very good at walk­ing to the shops by herself.

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