Rated PG; unsettling imagery, mild language
Prompt; write a story about a character who's trying to fill an empty space, literally or metaphorically.
Author's note: This story is for a friend of mine, who told me they were going to start celebrating Christmas now.
“. . .should I put a snow person or a candy cane here?”
I’m finishing up with decorations when Sophie opens the door. She looks at me--a stuffed snowperson in one hand and a plastic candy cane in the other--then at the apartment. Her mouth falls open as she takes the scene in.
Right at the front entrance, holly hanging from the ceiling. Then, further in, the living room. A Christmas tree is next to the Tv, decorated from bottom to top in handmade ornaments. Even the star was a gift from my cousin. From the ceiling, hang fake ice crystals. On every table, there’s something. A glass figurine of Santa Claus, two snow people holding hands, a plastic gingerbread house, a real gingerbread house. I’ve closed the blinds to keep my mind off the terrible weather, and popcorn strings are hung from them.
“So, what do you think?” I ask, grinning.
Sophie drops her keys in the dish. her eyes dart around the scene.
“I think you’re crazy.”
I wave the thought away.
“So I went a little overboard. It looks great, in my opinion.”
Sophie glares at me. “You know that’s not what I mean.”
She storms over to the blinds, and flips them open, making the popcorn fall.
“It’s August. What the hell?”
The room is flooded with bright sunlight, ruining the aesthetic. I will admit it reflects nicely off the crystals, though.
“So?” I scoff.
“No Christmas decorations until after Halloween.”
“But Christmas is so fun! Why do I have to wait?”
“The winter solstice holidays are more fun when you wait for. . .you know. . .the winter solstice.” Sophie gives me a pointed look.
“Oh, boo,” I say.
I look at the decorations in my hands and nod. I put the candy cane on the front table. The stand holds it in place.
“There. Isn’t that perfect?”
Sophie rolls her eyes. She kicks off her sneakers and takes her phone from her purse.
“You’re going to take them down.” She says.
I stick my tongue out behind her back as she goes past me, turning down the hall. A door shuts, and I hear her yell.
“What did you do to my room?” Sophie screams.
That night, I fall asleep with an elf statue looking at me.
Well, I fell asleep. Now, I’m awake.
And I’m not at home.
I’m suddenly in a courtroom. I’m wearing a bright red suit with shorts. I like the look, I’m not gonna lie. On my feet, are winter boots with green pom-poms. I feel my hair and It’s tied back with a bow. On my wrists are a candy-cane coloured watch and a charm bracelet--the charms being a Christmas tree, a candy cane, a tree ornament, a present, and a bell.
I look up and see that the courtroom is packed. Various entities in colourful clothing have filled the seats. Not just the jury, but the rows behind me. They’re all whispering, occasionally glancing at me. I wave awkwardly.
I’m on one side of the court, sitting at a table. At the other, staring straight ahead, is a figure, with a cat next to them who's dozing off. They have a fish hook through one of their eyes. It’s bleeding badly, dripping down their white face and onto the table. This doesn’t seem to bother them. Neither does the slash in their throat, also overflowing with blood.
They’re wearing a headband with a jack-o-lantern on it, holding back their unevenly cut white and orange hair. They’re wearing a long white dress, stained in blood, with a broom going through a belt loop. The bottom of the dress is brown and torn. Their shoes are black boots, curled upwards at the end. They, unlike the rest of the outfit, look new and clean.
A security guard, at the front of the court, shoots a gun in the air. The bang stings my ears. The entities stop talking.
“Everyone shut up!” the guard shouts. “The honorable judge Chanukah is coming out, and you have to respect her. So, stand up.”
The court rises. I do too, fiddling with the sleeve of my blazer.
A judge pops into the high seat thing. They’re wearing the black robes of a judge. On it, a giant Magen David is stitched in blue. It twinkles when she moves. Her hair would be about shoulder length if it wasn’t a flame flickering softly above her head. She adjusts her glasses and stares at the court.
“Okay, sit down, now. You doing this is getting boring.”
We all comply. The judge shuffles papers and addresses the court.
“Everyone, we’re here today because that idiot-” she points to me. “-has decided to start celebrating Christmas, a holiday revolving around the winter solstice, in August.”
The entities in public seating boo loudly.
Judge Chanukah bangs her gavel. “We get it, we get it!”
The crowd reluctantly settles down.
“This individual celebrates said holiday secularly, so religious offenses will not be counted. The mortal will be defending themselves, for some reason. The prosecutors are Halloween and their associate, Fred.”
Chanukah points at the cat, who mews at her. She blows a raspberry at him.
“There’s more stuff but I forget it.” Chanukah continues. “So, mortal, how do you plead?”
I’m caught off guard by her addressing me.
“I. . .innocent. This holiday-”
“Yeah, don’t care,” Chanukah cuts me off. “So, prosecutors, make your opening statement.”
Halloween rises from their seat. They moan in agony. As they head towards the middle of the room, blood falls on the floor, burning holes in it. Halloween turns around once they’ve made it, addressing the court.
“Hello, everyone. I am here to talk to you about a serious issue.” They begin in a deep voice. “You see, Halloween doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Sure, everyone talks about it and gets dressed up and buys costumes. For what? Two weeks? Then it’s gone, and the only thing keeping the spirit alive are kids trading candy during lunch.”
Everyone nods, mumbling to themselves.
“So, it’s only fair that the day leading up to it are centered around Halloween, which is the closest holiday this mortal celebrates.” They say.
“However,” they point an accusing finger at me. “the mortal decided, why not celebrate Christmas? It is five. Damn. Months. Away. There is no reason to start putting up decorations!”
Halloween gasps, tears coming forth from their good eye.
“I just want to be appreciated.” They sob softly. “I just want to be heard. I can’t do that if I’m always in Christmas’s shadow. I don’t want the magic to leave the second November begins. I just want. . .”
They trail off, falling to their knees. They put their face in their hands as they bawl. The jury exchanges glance. They don’t look good.
Halloween collapses. They’re knocked out.
Judge Chanukah nods. “Defense, what do you have to say for yourself?”
“I. . .like decorations.” I get out.
The judge rolls her eyes. “Uh-huh. Fred, you can take it from here.”
Fred jumps off the table and walks in front of Halloween, who’s not showing signs of waking up anytime soon.
“I’m going to get our first witness now. Halloween needs a minute.” They speak with a southern drawl.
“Of course, Fred,” Chanukah says sympathetically.
She snaps her fingers, and someone poofs into the witness stand. The person is rubbing their eyes. They flatten out their blonde hair and yawn. My friend and roommate, Sophie.
“Sophie Lin.” Fred hops up onto the stand. “Would you lie to me?”
“No, I’m too freaked out by your whole thing.” She replies.
Fred purrs. “Fantastic. Now, what is the scene these pictures captured?”
I’m about to ask what pictures, when several project themselves on invisible screens above the judge and in front of Sophie. They show the decorated apartment, Sophie coming through the door, and me placing the candy cane on the front table.
“Oh, that’s when I discovered that my friend over there decorated the whole damn apartment for Christmas. Normally having my home look like a department store would make me upset, but it’s summer. So I’m livid.”
Sophie pops out of the stand as quickly as she appeared.
“So, there you have it. This mortal was indisputably celebrating a winter solstice holiday,” Fred says to the jury. “The question is. . .why?”
All eyes are on me.
“The magic of the winter holidays is beautiful. We should be able to celebrate it for longer.” I counter.
“Not when it’s interfering with other holidays,” Fred says.
He jumps down and points at Halloween with a smooth, black tail. “Look at the poor holiday! They can’t even stay conscious long enough to defend themselves.”
The jury whispers things to each other.
Judge Chanukah glares at me. “You’re a real jerk, you know that?”
“Don’t need to hear it,” She interrupts. “Anyone actually on the mortal’s side?”
She looks at the jury. Everyone shakes their head. She looks at the public seating. Not a single hand raised.
“Thought so. We could continue, but all your points are stupid, human. So, I’ve just looked into the minds of the jury, and what their verdicts are. They’ve decided you’re guilty and will die via being dipped in acid.”
My eyes widen. I wrap my arms around my body. “What?”
“You’ll be thrown into acid. Green stuff. Will melt off your body and the agony will linger for a thousand years in hell. Okay?”
“No, not okay.”
Chanukah isn’t listening. She bangs her gavel, and chains wrap themselves around my body. They choke me as they squeeze tightly around my neck. I fall over, struggling to breathe.
“Glad we got that over with.” Judge Chanukah gets up and stretches. “Lunch, anyone?”
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