As the party goes on I find myself getting bored. Santa Claus isn’t even trying to hide his drinking anymore. Elsa won’t look at me. The last child to touch her had to have warm water run over their hand for twenty minutes. I have been avoiding the entire side of the room she occupies.
The Snowman has completely lost his bottom ball now. His stories have grown stale and the children, bored.
“Is it him?” I ask, pointing to The Snowman.
DEATH shakes her head. “Nope.”
“Oh come on, how is he going to survive this?”
“He won’t, but, he doesn’t have a soul,” she says.
I look over at The Snowman. He waves and smiles. DEATH and I wave back.
“Poor bastard,” DEATH says, “shit,” she adds nodding to the entryway.
I look to the door and see The Babushka standing there.
“Please tell me it’s her you’re here for,” I say, quietly.
DEATH laughs. “I wish,” she mutters.
The Babushka is staring right at me. I pretend to cough and walk off. A group of children are sitting. They have one of the bells that had been floating through the air pinned to the ground.
“Candy?” I ask.
The kids jump up and flock around my basket. In the hubbub, the bell scampers free, returning to the ceiling. The boy who’d been holding it down scowls at me. I shrug.
The fake elf ears are starting to itch. I walk to a corner and place my basket down. I try to scratch just under them.
One of The Babushka’s minions, a woman in a black sweater, stalks up to me. She glowers.
“What are you doing?” she demands.
“I’m fixing my ears.”
“You’re supposed to be handing out candy!”
“Yes, Sorry.” I pick up my basket and walk away. I find a couple children having a thumb war. I hold out the basket.
“Want some candy?”
They turn. One of them, a small boy, has two lumps of gold where his eyes should be. He licks his lips.
I back away. A child across the room cries out. Everyone turns.
The Snowman who’d been robbed of his bottom half is laying on the floor, melting. His carrot nose has fallen to the ground. His eyes are in pursuit.
The children all run to him. They swarm around him. They try to pull him together with their warm little hands. It’s no use.
They hold each other, wet and sobbing. The woman in the black sweater walks over. She picks up the carrot.
“Who wants to feed Rudolph?” she calls. The children look up at her. She breaks off a piece of the carrot and walks over to Rudolph. The children follow her, clambering over each other to be first. Santa tucks away his bottle as they arrive.
I look back at the puddle of dead snow and tears. I look up at the clock.
One more hour.
to be continued…