Covid-mas Tales 2: “HoHo-19”

The second of a series of stories about the holidays and quarantine/coronavirus. We all wish it’ll be gone by the next big day, but we should shelve these stories under “fantasy” to be safe. You can read all the stories in this series at this link. Enjoy!

HoHo-19

by Mikael Valion

“It’s that fat bastard’s fault.”

“You don’t know that, Rick.” Jimmy’s mother stared out the passenger window as they drove home from another funeral.

“Like hell! By New Year’s, thousands of dead kids? Who else could infect people across the country in one night? People who hadn’t left their house in weeks?”

Jimmy’s parents never argued before. But the last few weeks since his brother died, they fought constantly. Always about Santa. He knew deep down that it was all because they missed his brother, just like he did. They were angry, just like he was, angry that the virus killed Tom, even though it wasn’t supposed to hurt kids. They argued and blamed instead of cried.

Jimmy wanted to cry. But not because he missed his brother, although he did. And not because he hated his parents arguing. He hated that, too. But he’d wanted to cry for weeks and weeks because it hurt to stay quiet.

“You can’t just blame someone you’ve never seen when you don’t even…”

“Oh, I’ve seen the old asshole all right. And when I see him again, I’m gonna grab his beard and smash my knee into his jolly face.”

“Rick! Stop!” She lowered her voice, “Think of Jimmy.”

His father was too worked up.

“I am thinking of him! Jimmy! No more Santa Claus, you hear me? No more Christmas! Santa killed your brother just like he killed your friends and your cousins and all the other kids with his goddam ho ho ho!”

“Rick!”

Jimmy felt tears in his eyes. He didn’t remember starting to cry, but now he couldn’t stop.

“Dad, it’s my fault!”

His mother turned around. “No, sweetie. We talked about this. I know you were sick, but everyone reacts differently. Besides, you were getting better. No, Tom caught it from somewhere else, just like all the other kids.”

“No, son, it wasn’t you. It was that fat red pimple of a –“

“Stop, Rick!”

Jimmy’s sobs wouldn’t stop. He didn’t want to remember, but it was all coming back: sneaking down the stairs on Christmas Eve. He’d always wanted to see Santa. He crept down in the pajamas he’d worn for weeks while suffering the flu-like symptoms of the virus. Then he hid behind the couch. Waiting was hard, but it was fun. Finally, as he was drifting off to sleep, he heard a scuffling from the fireplace. When he stuck his head out, Santa was already looking at him, a huge, loving smile on his face.

“Come on, son. Only a few special people get to see me. Well, here I am!”

Jimmy crept out, wiping his nose on his sleeve. And just as he was about to hug Santa, whose huge magic bag was right there, so tantalizing, so filled with wonderful toys and treats, he sneezed.

Mikael Valion writes short fiction and poetry out of upstate Minnesota.

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