Humming Jingle Bell Rock would never drown out the moans, but then again, the discordant noise was a chorus all its own. I continued, though, despite the reaching hands, clenching fingers, and snapping jaws. Their lust for flesh wasn’t enough to kill my mood.
After placing the last hook on a branch, I stepped back to admire my work. The Christmas tree stood only five feet tall, but the white LED lights shone beautifully, allowing the blue and silver ornaments to glisten.
I smiled and took a deep breath, wishing it was pine greeting my nostrils rather than rotten eggs and crap, the putrid stench of death. A real tree was undoable, but the green plastic on thin steel rods worked well enough. The pine-scented car fresheners I hung did nothing unless I got super close. It was a decent effort. The holiday season had arrived, and I was ready.
But as my eyes leapt from ornament to ornament, from light to light, something I couldn’t quite explain gnawed at me. Only when my eyes reached the top of the tree did I realize what I had forgotten: a star.
I slapped a hand to my forehead. “Preston, how could you forget the star? If Mom were here, she’d be ashamed.”
My mom hadn’t been around for a year–a year today, to be exact. She didn’t survive the day everything fell apart. It happened so quickly, so suddenly. Laughter from children building snowmen turned to screams of terror heightened by the whistle of a chilling wind. After that, snow would never look white again…
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Cover art done by @cleysoncafe on Instagram+Twitter (Shout out: He’s pretty awesome)