December 22nd

A distant relationship between father and son is further stressed when the family gets together for Christmas.


1. December 22nd


“December 22nd” I whispered to myself.

 It was already that time of year again, my son and his family were coming for Christmas. It was time to deal with my son. He always bothers me about my feelings.  I walked away from the calendar towards the fireplace. Tossing a piece of wood into the crackling flames I sat in my rocking chair. I wanted to be alone. That’s why I moved into this isolated house in the middle of a dense forest. The paint was peeling off the walls outside revealing the muscles of the house.  It was an old house. There was a time when I had to have the roof double inverted to keep it from freezing over. I’ve been living here for a while now. Eight years to be exact. Winter brought with it harsh, cold winds this year. As they washed against the side of the house the walls ached like my heart.

“It’s already been eight years since then,” I thought to myself.

The aroma of the burning wood in the fireplace was making me drowsy. I closed my eyes and let the sand man do his job.

                Suddenly the phone rang causing me to jump in my chair.

“Damn phone!” I picked it up and roughly answered, “Who the hell is it!”

My son’s voice leaked through the phone.

“It’s me, Mike. Are you alright?” I apologized and said I was fine.

He called to tell me they would be arriving tomorrow.

“Alright, what time should I expect you guys?”

“We should be there by two.”

I made a note of it and we said our goodbyes. I looked up at my quartz clock. 7:30. I looked outside and could see it was getting dark. It was too late to walk in the forest (something I did regularly) and too early to turn in. Damn, I really want to go to sleep, I grumbled. I rocked back and forth in my chair and decided to take a nap. Napping isn’t the same as sleeping right? Slowly closing my eyes, I took in the warmth of the fireplace.

                Crying. I could hear someone crying. I knew it was hers but pretended not to know. Her face then appeared in front of me. I was in a hospital room next to a bed. She was in the bed looking at me with disappointed eyes.  An ear piercing ring entered the room. I covered my ears but it didn’t help at all. It started to become unbearable.

                As if emerging from water, I flung from my chair gasping. My chest was heaving and a tear escaped my left eye and went down my cheek. I looked to the clock. 11:00. It was dark outside. That nightmare keeps coming back. There was no way I was going to sleep easily the way I was. It was time to break out the scotch. Not even bothering to get a cup I went straight to the cabinet and took the big bottle of scotch with me to the rocking chair. I sat in the welcoming glow of the fireplace in the dark. Removing the top I drank some of the scotch. It burned all the way down.

” A feisty drink.” I chuckled to myself.

Another wave of scotch made me a bit dizzy. I didn’t drink all that much, only when I needed to drown some inner demons. With each drink I felt myself relax until everything went dark. 

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