I crack open my eyes. Through the dark sliver, the glowing green numbers on the clock flip to 3:00 AM. Right on schedule. With the subtlest of motions, I flex my fingers and toes. Nothing to worry about here, pay me no mind. My hips give a tiny hula wiggle and I use my thumb to pop my index finger.
No response. Perfect. Time for the potential deal-breaker. If I fail again, I’m screwed. The party is tomorrow and this is my last shot to prep the curse.
Taking a deep breath, I inflate my lungs to their fullest, taking in so much air the muscles in my neck swell. But I don’t stop until silvery dots dance in the stygian darkness above me. I’m swirling in my own universe, the center of everything and nothing. I can’t take much more. Biology will take over before too long. Before my body can force my will, I eject every particle of captured air and send up a wordless prayer.
My ears pop. The twin explosions eclipse my immediate awareness. The next seconds are critical. Did I go too far? Am I trapped here for the rest of the night? I only get one more shot because I’ve blown the last seven. My heart thunders in my chest like a soccer mom on a busted dryer. Sweet silence broken by deep whispers of breath is all I hear.
The sleeper doesn’t awaken. I weasel my way out of our bed. I make fists with my toes in the plush pile of the carpet and briefly exult in my success. She sleeps on, none the wiser. I slip into the flannel nightie flung on the nightstand and exit the room soft and still as a shadow in a crypt.
It’s party time. My time.
The full moon’s invigorating light shimmers through the open blinds and lights my way. My skin frills as my bare feet leave the carpeted stairs for the laminate flooring. Crisp peppermint and heady evergreen flood my nose. It’s almost Christmas and this year she went all out. The tree is festooned with more candy canes than a whole platoon of elves could suck down to sticky nothingness.
My knees give a little creak like stairs in a haunted house as I squat down to plug in the lights. It’s been a while since she’s wanted to celebrate the holidays and I’m unwillingly anxious to see the ornaments again.
The soft whiff of electricity makes my nose wrinkle. It’s no wonder I can smell the current. I whip my hand up to cover my eyes at the sudden glare of a thousand white lights and blink back tears seconds after my ass hits the floor, jarring my tail-bone up into my skull. The two years of anti-celebration had apparently caught up with her and pole-vaulted her firmly into Christmas over-kill. This lit tree could be seen from space. Or invite the FBI on a possible pot-growing operation.
Analyzing her holiday mood swings was not why I left the toasty cocoon of our bed, however. I’ve got a curse to throw. But before I can make my way over into the kitchen I have to hunt up all the talking ornaments. I can’t help it. It’s a strange compulsion I can’t deny. Why bother? Christmas only comes once a year—in most houses at least—and I’ve missed these guys. My fingers twitch until I find the first one. I giggle as I press the tiny button. Animal and his drum set sound off as I search for Statler and Waldorf. Their cranky sarcasm fuels me until I find all the Ralphie’s from A Christmas Story. She’s got them grouped in scenic order. I sigh and shake my head. The last time she decorated she only had four. Now she’s got seven. Obviously, not celebrating doesn’t stop her from shopping.
Once I’ve pressed all the buttons, an unfamiliar sense of peace and joy flows through me. I revel in its quiet warmth for a moment before I ruthlessly slough it like a worn-out skin. After all, I’m spinning a curse and peace and warmth aren’t the requisite emotions for that.
Darkness is needed. It’s what I was born in. She has me to do her dirty work and my dark heart craves a good curse.
In the kitchen, the light from the moon and the tree are all I need. I stare at my nemesis—a moo cow creamer—and resist the urge to hurl it against the wall. The end would be too quick. The ceramic beast practically glows with smug security from the safety of the island. Its vapid eyes stare at me with bovine blankness. I can’t let her keep it. It has to find another home. As a matter of fact, it needs to find its original home—whoever gave this to Gina is going to get it back and will be compelled to keep it. Forever. This home has no place for insipid cuteness.
The heat blooming from my fingers causes a flush of condensation to appear on the gleaming whiteness of the cow’s rounded sides. The soft ‘o’ of the open mouth seems to whisper riddles. Riddles of existence and wholeness I have no desire to solve. If I wanted to be whole I’d swallow her sugary goodness and find salvation. Bah. Humbug. This damn thing has to go before it ruins everything.
“From whence you came, there shall you go.
“Though all may want you, none shall keep you.
“Through silken fingers and glass-fronted cupboards shall you slip,
“Until you once again kiss Morgan’s sweet lips.”
As curses go, it isn’t my worst. Hell, it’s not even close to what I threw on the GOP but it’ll have to do. This is a last ditch effort before Gina finds a spot for it next to the Limoges.
I shudder. Not because of the moo-cow but because there’s a warm hand on my shoulder.
“Babe? You awake?” His hand gently squeezes the curve of muscle between my neck and shoulder. His thumb coasts up the side of my neck and rubs a sweet circle behind my ear. But it’s not my ear anymore. It’s hers. I can feel her waking up and I have to scoot back into my corner of our mind before she notices me. Fuck. I didn’t even get to kiss him.