My daddies woke me up again.
After dinner Dad took me upstairs, helped me put on my pajamas, counted to 120 as I brushed my teeth and told me a story about a girl who followed a rabbit into a mysterious world. Poppy was downstairs cleaning up dinner and humming “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. Dad read for a bit until my eyes fluttered and I fell asleep. He tried to be quiet as he slipped away from my room and down the stairs but the top step always creaks and I woke up.
I listened, hoping that tonight would be different because Christmas was coming.
Daddies were so happy during the day, smiling as we decorated the tree, holding hands as we walked in the snowy park and taking turns messing up my hair when I begged for a new toy. It was not the same when they thought I was asleep. I would first hear Dad talking very low, saying things like “house” and “bills”. Poppy would also be talking low except for when he said, “we can do this”. I don’t know what bills are but I hate them.
Poppy would keep talking low, but Dad would move something a little bit too loud and Poppy would tell him “Shhhhh”.
One year Poppy got a doll for me. He said it was a special doll from Santa that would make sure I behaved. It wore a green jacket with a red belt and had a pointy green hat. He put it up on a high shelf and it sat there with big eyes that would stare and stare.
As I watched TV it stared. Eating dinner it stared. Poppy even moved it to my room where it would stare at me.
I kicked my robot covers off of me and tiptoed to where the doll sat staring.
I thought maybe daddies needed someone to watch them to make sure THEY behaved, then maybe they wouldn’t yell so much.
I opened the door just enough so that the doll and me could squeeze through. I was good at making myself small and I was really good at hide-and-seek so I was able to get around to the part of the upstairs hall where I could spy on daddies without being caught. I lay down flat on my tummy and made the staring doll sit up and look downstairs. He watched daddies as they pointed at each other with angry faces. The doll watched as Poppy showed Dad something on his phone, which made Dad angry and Poppy cry.
“Who is this?” the doll heard Poppy ask Dad.
I left the doll alone as I snuck back to my room and into bed. I hope Daddies see the doll and stop yelling.
I was dreaming that a goat was running downstairs in the house. It must have been a big goat that worked on a farm because I could also hear chains making a lot of noise as they hit the ground and slammed into furniture. The goat growled like a lion, which was weird. I think my daddies were in the dream too because I heard yelling. Then one of them yelled out my name…
I woke up and then quickly stood in my bed getting a little dizzy.
I jumped down to my bedroom floor and while holding my head called out,
The house was quiet. No daddies yelling and no goat with chains. I could see that the lights were on from the little line of light at the bottom of my door, so I thought daddies were in the living room.
The top step did not creak because I was too afraid to go downstairs. I stood at the top frozen. I wasn’t dizzy anymore, but I felt sick. I could see why Daddies were so quiet. They were not there.
The black leather couch that I was not allowed to have snacks on was covered in a red thick mess. All over the pillows were long sausages that were also covered with red.
Small chunks of meat hung from the lamps at the side of the couch. They were stringy and slowing plopping down onto the side tables. Behind the couch on the wall it looked like black snails were moving down towards the floor. Across the TV it looked like someone used a brush to paint long streaks of crisscrossing red with lots of red dots in-between, above, and below. I looked more and the red was on the ceiling, the drapes, the carpet, the cabinet, the lights, the chairs, the blanket, on Dads book, on Poppy’s phone…
Poppy’s phone was in Poppy’s hand.
Poppy’s hand had no arm, or body.
I was shaking very hard. My pajama pants got very warm for a second, but then it quickly got cold and wet. I could smell pee, and it reminded me of when I used to wet the bed. The house now smelled like my pee, daddies’ red and a dirty animal.
I was too scared to move but I did turn my head to see the doll still sitting, still staring out where daddies had been and where the red puddles are now. In its’ lap was a piece of ripped paper. There was a red streak on it but it did not cover the two words that someone had written. The first word I knew because it was in the story Dad had read. It was “Behave”. The second word I didn’t know but I tried sounding out the letters.