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Falling for You

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By: Jae El Foster

December 16, 2018

At a little past two in the morning, soot fell from the chimney down to the lit Yule log in the fireplace. Mother and Father rested soundly in their beds, exhausted from a night of gift wrapping, egg nog, and celebration. Sister Kelly was at her friend Stacey’s house for the night, with a vow to return home by noon for lunch. As for little Caiden, he was wide awake and sitting on his knees in the living room. There was a smile wrapped across his little face that would have lit up the room if possible. With only the glow of the fire and the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree, he watched for Santa.

There was a rumble from the chimney, and Caiden’s heart skipped a beat. Santa was coming. It was almost time.

Caiden held his position with great anticipation. He’d waited his whole life to see Santa Claus in his home, and now he would have his chance. Right from that chimney, Santa would drop, and Caiden would watch in glee as the jolly elf burned in the fire.

A little more soot, a piece or two of brick or mortar… they blended with the flickers of the flames and the smoke that wafted upward as the man in the chimney continued his descent.

Caiden glanced at the clock on the mantle. It was two fifteen, and he’d been positioned here since his parents passed out at 11:30. He was excited, and he was glad Santa would drop down soon, as he had been getting impatient.

“Come on, come on, come on…” he whispered in his sweet little voice, holding his hands before him as if he were praying. “Hurry up…”

Much to Caiden’s joy, he saw one black boot appear, followed by another. The flames encased them, but while Caiden watched with wide eyes, the boots were not burning. In fact, they seemed to absorb the fire in such a way that it was fully extinguished without any damage to the boots what so ever.

And as the fire died, the room fell into darkness.

The boots, and the being wearing them, landed atop the cooling remains of the Yule log. Upon contact, the log turned to ash.

Caiden stood and backed away as he watched one white gloved hand and then another appear as Santa pulled himself free from the chimney. It was just like he had imagined – the red suit with the white fur lining, the white gloves and black boots, and a long white beard that travelled halfway down Santa’s chest. Once Santa had fully climbed out of the fireplace and stood on the rug before him, Caiden took in the moment with hesitation and fear. Santa had foiled his plan.

Santa was not so much fat as he was large and tall. His face was chiseled and rough – like an aging sea captain who had seen many a foul storm. He did not seem jolly at all, but then again Caiden had just tried to catch him on fire.

“You’ve been a naughty boy again this year, Caiden,” Santa told him with the voice a demon so dark that the boy nearly wet himself. “Very, very naughty.”

Caiden wanted to retaliate – to tell Santa to leave him alone and never return – but he couldn’t say a word. He was just too afraid.

“Do you know what happens to naughty little boys that try to pull the wool over Santa’s eyes? To little boys that try to bring harm to Santa?”

Caiden could smell Santa’s breath as the giant elf approached him. It smelled of spoiled milk and burned cookies.

“Coal,” Santa said, grinning at Caiden as he crouched down beside him. “You get coal, Caiden.”

Caiden began to whimper as Santa put his hands on his shoulders. Then, as the angered elf stared deeply into his eyes, the little boy felt heat begin to take over his body. It was as if he was burning from the inside out – and perhaps he was. Smoke came with his breath and flooded from his ears and the corners of his eyes. Pain – sudden and irrepressible pain – encompassed him. He wanted to look away – to pull away and to run away – but he could not. He could not break from Santa’s magical, fiery stare and the grip that held him into place.

And then, finally, he cried out – only a whimper as his body burst into flames. Santa broke the gaze and the grip on his shoulders, stood tall and mighty, and took a step back as Caiden burned.

“You shall be an example, young man,” Santa told him. Caiden could feel his body harden as it burned – char and blacken. He was in too much pain to flee. Instead, he tumbled to the ground, shattering into hot chunks of coal. “Every naughty boy and girl will receive a piece of you in their stocking tonight, and they will be reminded of what happens to those who are bad.”

Santa picked up the pieces of the dead and transformed child, dropping the cooling coal into his bag. Then, before departing up the chimney to continue his Christmas Eve adventure, he kicked over the Christmas tree and stomped on all of Caiden’s presents.

“Bah…” he whispered, darting up the chimney. “Humbug.”

And like the flashing twinkle of a snowflake, he darted off to the next house on the list, little Mary Wilson down the road – a little girl who did not believe in Santa Claus. Perhaps tonight, she would be persuaded to believe.


Copyright Jae El Foster, 2018