News Horror Gothic Lifestyle Fiction Movies Books and Literature Dark TV VIP Horror Professionals Professional Writing Tips Links Gothic Forum

Coming Home by Maria Alexander

| |

My mouth is sour with whiskey and the loaded shotgun lays heavily across my lap in my sofa chair. This is my Christmas Eve ritual.

I hate Christmas. The holidays. The time for families to gather to share love and good cheer. Bullshit. I try hard every year to forget there is a Christmas precisely because it reminds me of my family, but this fucking world won’t let me. They’ve romanticized a nightmare.

Now a major industrialist, my father can list many crimes to his name, some commercial, some social. But the greatest are against his family and me, his oldest son. When he first started, he made me and my younger brothers and sisters work in the “family” business on our country estate. Sometimes through the night. Once when I nodded off — I was probably ten at the time — I’ll never forget how he made me stand outside in the snow. Barefoot. I caught a severe cold and almost suffered frostbite. Only then did my mother intervene. She sternly lectured him that she didn’t have time to wipe noses and rub feet. She had charities to run…

Because of his charm and rapidly advancing position in society, he frequently escaped the inquiry of the law. So he starved us, he beat us, he deprived us of sleep. Out of pure malice. Or to manipulate us. And he got away with it all.

On Christmas he strangely thought he could make it all right. By lavishing us — and everyone he knew — with mountains of gifts, he thought he could atone for the foul, frightful being that he was the rest of the year. How sadly wrong he was. Yet I realize now he was not unique. Guilty of what so many people are to some extent, buying the right to inflict pain.

I ran away one winter when I was young enough to forget exactly when, yet old enough to have the strength. I tried three times. The first time, he caught me and locked me in the stable for a fortnight. The second time, he raped one of my brothers in front of me. I wasn’t daunted by the threat, only quickened by it. The third time, I escaped into a heavenly indigo night, lungs heaving painfully and legs plowing heavy and wet through the snow.

And I never looked back.

My lips kiss the mouth of this Jack Daniels bottle and I take another long drink. Coughing as the liquor spikes my throat. Funny how parts of the gun remain so cold, yet my hands are sweaty and warm. When I can’t douse the pain with the alcohol, I sometimes think of using it. But so far I haven’t. Not on myself (obviously) or anyone else.

My black slacks wrinkle and crease from sitting so long. The stereo radio crackles with late-night music from a modern rock station. At least it isn’t Christmas music. Nine Inch Nails. Head like a hole. Black as your soul. I’d rather die than give you control. He had a strange aversion to the color black, and would never let us wear it. Perversion drives me to wear nothing but that now. Contrasting with my pale skin. And faded grey eyes…

The whiskey is making my head heavy. I shift in the chair, the heat of the roaring fire gently licking my face and bare arms. For many years, I wouldn’t even have a fireplace in my home. Even that reminded me of his annual hypocrisy. For who doesn’t look at a fireplace and envision stockings nailed into the mortar? Who doesn’t think a mantle is naked without them?

As my eyes close and my chin dips to my chest under the cottony weight of the whiskey blanket, I recall the letter I received from my father three years ago. Your mother and I are getting on in years. We’re sorry for what’s happened. Let’s put our differences behind us. We want you to take over the family business. And we miss you. Please come home.

Manipulative bastard.

Please come home…

Hark how the bells
sweet silver bells
all seem to say
throw cares away

Smoke belching from the cold fireplace steals my breath. I jerk awake as the gun quickly slides out of my hands and smashes against the lamp, leaving the room utterly dark.

Except for their eyes. My brothers and sisters. Faded grey orbs in the light…

…and luminous in the night. How else could we see as we worked?

Christmas is here
bringing good cheer
to young and old
meek and the bold

Their fishhook claws and teeth gouge my arms, face, legs — barbs in my flesh pinning me to the chair like an insect specimen. The modern rock station has succumbed to Christmas music at the midnight hour and the stereo indicator lights wink. Green. Red.

Skin cracked and thickened with age, blood vessels bursting under the surface, hair white and tangled. Ruddy lips wet with whiskey as he crouches before me, larger than even I remember. Father.

“Well, well, well,” his voice rumbles resonantly before he takes another drink of the Jack Daniels. The liquor sloshes in the bottle, and he dangles the bottle neck in his bloated fingers. “If it isn’t my son. My wayward fucking son.”

My brothers and sisters laugh like squealing rats. Heart pounding, I silently watch him with that childish fear.

“For years your mother and I looked for you.” Of course he couldn’t find me. I’m the only one besides himself not on The List. He wipes his mouth on a white fur cuff. His eyes have their own luminosity, a subtle fire of contempt for humanity. “Then we found you and thought about visiting, just to check on you. But no,” he says, eyes narrowing, “we decided, Son, that this Christmas you’re coming home for the holidays.”

One seems to hear
words of good cheer
from everywhere
filling the air…

Screams from my throat as their hands tear me from the chair. Punctures and scratches raise red, blood welling on my skin as my arms desperately flail through the smoke.

…On on they send
on without end
their joyful tone
to every home …

…songs of good cheer…

Christmas is here.

Cinders scatter onto the carpet as they force me into the fireplace. My head strikes the mantle as I struggle and I slump, blinded with electric pain under the flue. Soot rains softly over my body and blood from my ear trickles down my neck as small, strong hands heave my limp form to the roof above. Hooves pounding. Clattering.

And he laughs. That terrible laugh.

Merry merry merry Christmas…

Merry merry merry Christmas.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts
Posted by on Thursday, December 15th, 2005. Filed under Fiction. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry