Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays 2011 Challenge Entry #4

From Vannessa McClelland (member, Westside Writers)


“Such a magnificent tree. As good as the one at the Davenport,” Michael said, head craning back, his hair cascading down his back. A five pointed star twinkled at the peak. “Who did all this?”

Nash glanced around the decorated manor, a Whittaker institution for seven generations. “I did.” His mother was in France and his father… the Enron incident took many hostages.

Michael nodded, and Nash wished for an inkling of Michael's thoughts. His expression revealed nothing.

“I used to be happy back then, working for Task Mistress Dolohov.” He faced Nash. “It was my first tree.”

He’d known of his friend’s dismal childhood before working at the prestigious Davenport Inn. He’d been happy. Then, inexplicably, he’d disappeared.

But Nash found him, and followed Michael for months disguised in all manner of ways, even wearing sweatshirts and baseball caps. His mother, the heiress, would have fainted if she’d seen him.

“And now?”

Michael turned for the door. “I should go.”

Nash reached out, grabbed at the collar of Michael’s peacoat. Michael stalled his flight, but didn’t turn. His chin dropped to his chest, shielding his face with a veil of golden hair.

“Why did you bring me here?”

Nash looked down, the tree lights reflected off his leather shoes. “You have to go somewhere, don't you? You can't keep running.”

“You know.” It wasn’t a question.

“Yes.” He’d known for months now. Known that his friend paced the dark streets, mingled with even darker people. He’d seen Michael slip into back alley dives, a ghost of a man, and return rejuvenated. He’d seen his aversion to garlic.

“I felt safe there, at the Davenport.” Michael turned to Nash and the pain in those eyes cast Nash’s resolve into even firmer stuff. “I--I need another safe place. A sanctuary.”

“From the sun?” Nash asked.

“From myself.”

Nash swallowed, but didn’t look away from those plaintive eyes. He ushered Michael to the couch near the crackling fire; two glasses of wine sat on the table as closely as Nash sat next to Michael. In his childhood, Nash had wondered about love and sacrifice and fairytales. He only had his mother and father and children's books as teachers. One contradicted the other. He'd always loved fairytales.

"Nash—" Michael gestured at the glass, "—I can't…"

"I read somewhere that this would work," Nash mumbled, and cut through the meaty part of his palm over the glass. Inconsequential pain.

"You read about…?" Michael's eyes glowed. The blood dripped.

Nash looked him square on. "I've read everything."

"Everything?" Michael asked, giving the glass of bloodied wine a sniff.

"I did. After I’d figured it out." He chuckled with counterfeit bravado. "Somebody had to."

Michael glanced up through his fringe. Outside the snow fell thick through the window panes.

"I'm glad it was you." And Michael smiled, eyeteeth a little longer than before, and took a sip of the wine.

“You’ll stay?” Nash asked. Michael nodded.


  1. Good read and a great variation on spiced holiday wine...!

  2. Very well written and now I'm starting to sing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" but changing the "know" to "bite." Thanks for the twist!