The Last Christmas

Evan sat on the floor in front of the Christmas tree in a fog. He didn't remember waking up and coming downstairs.

"You ok there, Buddy?" he father asked.

His father was in the chair behind him. That felt right. But where was his mother? His younger sister Ellie should be tearing through her presents already. Where was she? In fact, where were the gifts? Before he and his sister went to bed last night, there were piles of brightly wrapped packages. They were all gone.

"You're alright Buddy!" his father said putting a heavy hand on his shoulder.

He leaned in close to Evan's ear "Hey, look, you have a gift to unwrap!"

Evan could feel his father's breath on his cheek. Looking down at his lap, he noticed he had been unwrapping a small package. The red wrapping paper tore in his hands, but it was an automatic action, practically unconscious.

As he continued to absentmindedly tear the paper his gaze drifted to the living room window. It was snowing outside, but the snowflakes fell so slowly, and the color wasn't right.

"Oh, you're going to love this present!" his father's face was still right there over his shoulder, and his grip on Evan's shoulder was getting tighter.

Evan noticed that his hands were wet and he looked down. The gift box was ripped apart in front of him with wrapping paper in two small neat piles of shredded strips on either side.

His hands were in his lap and cradled a pair of dentures just like his grandpa had. But different. The teeth were so white. The gums were wet and warm, but it felt good in his hands, comforting even.

The door to the kitchen opened with such force it banged against the wall and swung back to hit his mother in the shoulder as she walked out. She stood there unfazed and smiled ear to ear. Despite being silhouetted by the kitchen light, her smile glowed.

Ellie came out of the kitchen from behind their Mom. She seemed so happy. She also wore a big, wide, glowing smile. It practically sucked the light out of the room.

"Evan! Look! Look! This is the best present ever!" she yelled way too loud.

His father's tight grip on his shoulder relaxed as his mother walked toward him. She reached down for Evan's hand and crushed it with her otherworldly grip. Blood streamed down his forearm to his elbow as she helped him up to his feet, but he noticed neither it nor the pain. He felt good and concentrated on the new dripping set of teeth his other hand held close to his chest.

"Merry Christmas Evan!" his mother shouted "Are you ready?! Isn't this the best Christmas ever?"

He was crying because he knew she was right. As they walked back toward the kitchen, he noticed the bloody pliers in her left hand. Beyond the door, he registered a pool of red on the kitchen floor. Teeth sat in the pool in jagged white islands.