Escaping the Christmas Nightmare

My first work of Fiction: Let me know what you think!

Clarice always went by Clare when she was a little girl. A daddy’s girl, with bright blonde hair and all smiles, her life was perfect. Nowadays, the thought of that nickname made her shudder. The last time she was called that was one night a month ago, when right after turning nineteen, she was forced to run away with her boyfriend — her drunken father chasing after her with a shotgun.

“You get back here, now… Clare!” Racing down the driveway, her one bag that carried all of her belongings in one hand flopping around, she had barely made it into the passenger side of Troy’s pickup in time for daddy Johnson to take aim and pull the triger. God knows what he was trying to hit. The bullet ricoched off the back end of the truck as the young lovebirds sped away.

Now, as she sat curled up on the couch, a steaming cup cradled in her hands, Clarice thought back to the bizzare moment right after the escape, when all she had to say to Troy was “Please don’t ever call me Clare.” As much as it had a good history in the begining, “Clare” also had a terrible, awful history that overshaddowed the good. Growing up, she not only had to deal with growing up too early after her mother died, but she had to endure absuse in its worst forms. As opposed to beer, Michael Johnson’s former drink of choice, whiskey made him meaner than sin. It was his way of coping: to try something strong enough to kill him if he had enough of it. She tried as hard as she could not to make him angry, but it was never enough. She was never enough, or so he made her feel. When her father wasn’t leaving bruises and scrathces on her, her only brother, Jeb, would leave very different scars on her body, ones everlasting and far more painful. Michael turned a blind eye to it. One night he had caught his oldest red-handed in her bed, and Clarice guessed he figured he had to do something about it. But Jeb begged and pleaded, promising to never do it again. Jeb was the golden child, the only one that was truly loved. So Michael chose to trust Jeb. Jeb never stopped until he was out of the house — shipped out to the Army as soon as he turned eighteen. Her father’s physical abuse continued until she could take it no longer and, right after meeting a nice young man named Troy, she ran away.

They had escaped to a cabin, Clarice and Troy, located somewhere in the woods in the Northern part of the state. It was near Christmastime, so they had actually cut down one of the pine trees in the backyard and brought it inside. They bought some lights and whatever ornaments they could find from a tackle store nearby. It wasn’t big, the tree, but it did look nice sitting by the front door. There was even Christmas music playing in the kitchen, where she had a Sprcue candle burning. It smelled fantasic in the small log bungalow. On the way up, the first thing they did was change Clarice’s hair. She thought that was a swell idea. She didn’t want any reminders left of the life she had left behind. They had it died a dark purple color. Troy also convinced her to get a tatto of a mole on her lip — He said it would look sexy. It was painful, but quick, and satisfaction grew in her that she looked different: less inncoent and more mature. As they continued climbing in altitiude, he had told her all about his family that was here: about all his aunts and uncles and cousins, even his own parents and granparents that he couldn’t wait for her to meet. They seemed like great people; his uncle had even rented out this cabin to them. Clarice grinned as she blew the steam off the top of the cup and took a slow sip. It not only felt like Christmas for the first time in forever — she now had a future to look forward to.

The front door opened then, and Troy stepped through the threshold, shaking snow off of his jacket. As he closed the door behind him and hung his jacket up, he glanced at her with his tantalizing blue-grey eyes. Then he flashed his amazing smile at her — the one that made her feel tingly all the way down to her toes. “Hey, babe!”

“Hello, my dear,” she said back, matching his enthusiasm. He went into the kitchen then. She could hear him take the brandy out and pour himself a drink. When he came back into the room with a glass of burgondy colored liquid, her suspicions were confirmed. He slowly walked over to the mantel of the fireplace — staring at her all the way, making her heart stop. When he turned his back toward her, she finally found her head and could speak again. “Where’s the wood?”

“Oh, it’s on the front porch,” Troy answered her dissmissively. “I’ll get it in a minute. I just needed to warm up first.” She shrugged as he took a sip from his brandy. That made sense to her.. er, she guessed it did. It didn’t matter anyway, because he was spending an extra minute closer to her. She felt the urge to stand up, wrap her arms around his middle, snuggle in close, and let him tell her more about this family of his that she was about to meet. She was about to set her cup down on the end table and do just that, when Troy set his own cup down on the mantle and turned back to her. He now had a look on his face she didn’t recognize, one that was a bit on the serious side.

A red flag went up in her head just then, but she ignored it. Every fiber of her being wanted desperately to believe that this man standing in front of her was the one. He was her savior, the one she would marry and have children with and live happily ever after. “Oh…” He started again. Now she didn’t recognize his voice. Her heart sank. Something indeed was wrong. “There’s one other thing I need to take care of… Clare.” As he was talking, the love of her life was pulling something from his wasteband. She glanced down and saw that he was now pointing a gun at her. She froze. Confusion and devestation exploded in her at once, and it was hard for her brain to make a decision on how she would react. The last pleasant thing she heard was the ending of “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole:

“Merry Christmas to you…”

2 thoughts on “Escaping the Christmas Nightmare

  1. Good job!!
    Loved how you showed the tradition of abuse in Clarice’s life. Too many times, women choose what they are accustomed, familiar instead of breaking the chains and channeling new experiences. Are you going to expand it or is it flashfiction?

    Liked by 1 person

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