You brought the handwritten letters she had mailed you earlier in the year—you told me her scribbled writing had seemed so alien to your eyes, which had grown accustomed to typed words of an expected size. I brought, among other things, a half-filled pack of cigarettes and an empty notebook. The blaze grew brilliantly red and so bold it looked through our eyes, which were cracked-out on gloom. You took my hand wrapped in emerald green yarn and told me we had made the right choice.
“I don’t know. I mean, I— I always don’t know,” I half-moaned into your shoulder.
My lips, which you licked as you kissed, carried the same bluish-red tinge of my mother’s blueberry-raspberry pie. No one would eat her homemade dessert later that day since I was the only one who enjoyed it. Everyone else always chose store-bought pumpkin pie or deep-hued alcohols instead.
Several days before this one on the night of the full moon, we paddled an old molded boat we found to the middle of a greenish river and watched the Earth’s largest satellite become red-rusted and then blank. We decided to skip our family holiday celebrations: my Southern Christmas and your bizarrely large gathering overflowing with hedonism like the parties once held during the ancient Roman celebration known as Saturnalia. We knew we couldn’t tell our parents about our decision to fuck holidays, so we didn’t. Instead, we played in the puddles of any conversations with family members and refused to delve deeper.
The flame became something for us. A chance to burn it all down and begin anew. But then, through the wind that brought red blisters to our faces, we heard a ringing—oh no, the sound of sirens!
The firemen arrived, and their splurge of water soon left us alone again in the hollowed-out cold with a green ticket for making a fire within city limits and the charred remains of ourselves at our feet.
You got up and went inside to mix your tears with self-induced delusion and a red cherry on your tongue; I ran to the middle of the forest and began carving a new tradition into the trees:
a world sans santa claus,
not because he didn’t have value,
not because he didn’t contain
a once-wild beauty, but because his value
had run out, abandoned us and left us
with so many things we didn’t need
yet had somehow come to desire.
The next year, I headed up a campaign called, “Fuck Christmas.” I wanted to burn down the walls the other holidays had built up too, but I also wanted to make an impact. As I traveled alone—you refused to go with me, laughed at me actually—I wore a white scarf and told real life horror stories about my holiday experiences, and sometimes I made them up. But that was OK. I did what I had to do: blended reality with fantasy and created another view of the world that didn’t plummet itself into darkness without first asking questions.
Lindsay Oberst is a freelance writer and journalist who writes about art, culture, technology and other curious things. She also writes fiction—mostly short—although she’s currently working on a novel set in a music festival about a girl who realizes she isn’t entirely of this earth.