2. When Things Were Still In One Piece
The alarm sounds with a noise that I immediately relate to the screams of the tortured. I open my eyes. Perhaps they won't notice me. Maybe I have a few more precious seconds. A shout proves me wrong. I groan audibly. Taking a deep breath, I animate my muscles with fake energy and drag my completely uninterested body out of the warmth of my duvet and into the frozen corridor. Early mornings are bad enough but Christmas brings the competition to a new (and completely pointless) level: everyone wakes up happy and excited and hours earlier than normal on this 'morning', if you could call this unearthly hour morning. And waking up happy? I can't remember the last time I woke up happy. Actually, I can't remember the last time I woke up with any emotion other than anguish.
To be fair, I have never been fond of Christmas, even before everyone died. Celebrations are not my thing. A cacophony of fake cheerfulness wrapped in pretentious mockery of pretty much everyone and everything. I remember that I used to constantly wonder why stores automatically assumed that the brains of the public immediately developed desires to purchase tinsel at the start of October. One store I once visited won the prize though: a display of turkeys (because Thanksgiving was also the pinnacle of interests in October) next to skeletons hanging above a Christmas tree. Stupidity defined in a shop window.
Everything was different now but everyone has the same stupid grin on their faces. They crowd around the 'Christmas Trees' (left over green plastic taped to the walls) and their eyes opened wide with excitement at the presents. The bland wrapping (five year old newspapers) seems to invigorate them even more. I go back to my bed and dress quickly. Daily duties still need to be completed. Only one job had to be completed this morning and then I could feast upon the slightly-less-rationed-than-normal celebratory lunch.
I close my eyes and remember the last Christmas I enjoyed.
I'm in my old living room. The smell of the carpet and fire mingle in the air creating the comforting scent I grew up with. My siblings are scattered around the room. My parents, as tired as I was, feign interest as my little brother unwrapped a Nerf gun. My sister, still a toddler at the time, was sitting on the floor attempting to stuff her entire body inside a stocking that must have been older than I was.
I had already unwrapped my present and was surprised when my parents handed me a small box. I opened it and was greeted with a glimmering golden bracelet. I looked up at my parents, both in shock and thanks, and they smiled. 'Merry Christmas Atalanta'.
I snap back into reality. Jethro is at the door. We have a job to do before we could celebrate. I stand up and walk purposefully through the door.