On the 31st Day of Christmas Chris Eder gave to me…
You have Chairman Santa Clause fixed in the sights of your slingshot. Tim, your spotter, has adjusted for height, angle, and wind. You’re all set. He’s 1,000 yards off, but that’s chestnuts to you. Ah, chestnuts. Been a long time since you had that toasty flavour in your mouth. Granted, it’s been a long time since you’ve tasted anything besides root vegetables. Hard to believe Forever Christmas started twenty-five years ago. Though what’s a year anymore? There are no seasons to build a year around. Only one season’s left: Winter. It’s the season of giving, and the Chairman did not make it on the nice list.
The Chairman is riding in his sleigh down Fifth Avenue, surrounded by armed elves. Ranks of reindeer goose step in front of him. You’re perched in a skyscraper overlooking Central Park East. Your slingshot’s loaded with a snowball. A rock’s packed inside of it. If you release your grip now, there will be a global manhunt for you lead by the shrewdest minds in the Democratic People’s Republic of the North Pole. But you are the leader of the Freeze-istance. It’s you who brought on Forever Christmas. It’s you who must break its spell.
“Take the shot,” Tim says.
Your arm is tense. The snowball trembles in the sling. The problem is the Chairman’s beard. It’s white and full like a snow cloud, same as it’s always been. You remember that beard from twenty-five years ago. You stayed up all night on Christmas Eve with chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. The other boys in the orphanage were already in bed. But not you. It had been a lonely seven years, your childhood. Christmas was the only day of reprieve. The only day, all year long, you felt any cheer. So you pinched yourself to stay awake, fought off yawns. Finally, Santa came. He saw you first. You were bashful, but he was kind. He asked you what you wanted for Christmas, if you could have anything in the world. You wish now, more than anything, that you could take back what you said: “I wish Christmas time would never end.”
It didn’t. The snow never went away. First it was the roads, then it was the crops. The infrastructure failed. Almost nobody was ready for Forever Christmas. Almost.
“We’re running out of time,” Tim says.
You take a deep breath, and manage to stop the shaking. You’re ready for the shot.
The Chairman waves at the crowd. He leaves his sleigh, and approaches someone.
“What the grinch is he doing?” says Tim.
You’re following the Chairman with the sling, ready to fire the snowball. But then he lifts up a small boy. They’re hugging, smiling. You can’t help but smile too. The kid’s got that same goofy bowl cut you had once upon a time.
You lower the slingshot. “Merry Christmas,” you say.
Tim sighs. “God forgive us. God forgive us, every one.”
Chris Eder earned his MFA in creative writing from Adelphi University, where he has also taught. He is the former managing editor of Bookstr, and lives in New York.
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