She Didn't Need Christmas
Thursday, December 29, 2016
New moon means dark night. Karina only ever uses the one light near her bed, so when night falls early she feels her way around in the dark and turns in before eight. Sleep comes easy, but it doesn’t stay. Midnight blackness suffocates, paralyzes… but it is almost a welcome feeling. At least she doesn’t have to breathe, doesn’t have to move. Breathing so shallow and being so still makes her pass out again, and surely her breathing returns to normal when dreams she won’t remember take over.
New moon means winter break is almost over. Winter break’s end means back to school. Back to school means back to people. Karina makes herself stop thinking about it.
She enjoys the dark night alone.
So alone. Like the nights from her childhood. Hiding under the covers in the darkest of dark because if she could convince herself that she was choosing the darkness she could forget that even if she faced her fears long enough to steal across the bedroom floor to the light switch, flipping it up wouldn’t last long. Dad liked the darkness, so Karina learned to embrace it too.
She would comfort herself, cuddling her books, whispering to them of the new friend that would join them in the morning. Eventually she would fall asleep dreaming of being carried away to the new world in the new book. That was the real reason she loved them so much—the books took her from her dark reality into colorful worlds of adventure, where the people always lived happily ever after, even if life wasn’t perfect. As she grew up she learned that you didn’t even need a happily-ever-after to have a satisfying ending.
Will her ending be satisfying? Or is that just a perk of fiction, where a meticulous author crafts and controls the characters so that the ending comes together in a way that makes you breathe deep and smile?
In this world of random chance, can she even hope for a beautiful ending?
New moon brings another brown paper package, dropped inside the little porch-turned-mudroom.
Some people had Christmas, Karina had new moons. When the kids at elementary school would come back from winter break with stories of piles of presents under a tree in their living room, Karina had pouted a bit, but only until she realized that their gifts came but once a year. They bubbled over about toys they tired of within a few weeks—if they lasted that long—while Karina could still smile at the gifts she unwrapped throughout the year, year after year. She didn’t need Christmas.
This new moon brings a nice thick volume. She brings it into her bedroom, tearing off paper to find a leather-bound book. Her shoulders tighten and her lungs constrict. She recognizes this book without reading the title on the spine.
She runs her fingers around and around the embossed swirls. It’s the most beautiful book Grandmother has ever sent, but Karina has to force feelings of appreciation.
The usual note from Grandmother tucked between the pages speaks to the content. This note is different from the two hundred twenty-two that came before… Grandmother writes of this book as if there is no other book worth reading. She calls it The Book.
Karina knows what The Book holds, and she’s not interested. She shoves it between the bookend and That Hideous Strength—the book Grandmother sent last month. Then she crumples the brown paper into a tight ball and throws it at the trash can without bothering to lift the lid.
New moons are supposed to bring peace and rest.
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