They think I’m a Christmas elf because of my red hat and silver shoes.
She found the hat next to the highway, half way down the rocky embankment. Crumpled and smeared with dirt, it reminded her of an empty carcass, of road kill, of torn paper and old underwear.
With a damp stick, she lifted the hat up. It was months away from Christmas, but the lonely Santa hat seemed new. Except for being damp from the flood waters, the white fur was fluffy and thick. She’d take it home. Cleaned and dried, it would be a good gift for her nephew.
Because I’m pretty, they don’t suspect I want to eat their faces and soak my hat in their freshly spilled blood.
She kept it in the back of the coat closet with her other early purchase gifts. The week after Thanksgiving when she was digging in the old Macy’s sack to divide out the presents for family and friends, she found it again. The velvet had faded to a dull red, and perhaps wouldn’t be so thrilling for a 3 year old. Better to fluff it up and wear it herself. She had a jumbo-size lego set for her Justin now, anyway.
I know when I need to feed because the brilliant red fades into brown. A decayed color, dark and dead as burned summer grass.
“Merry Christmas!” she called, throwing open the door to her sister’s house. The hat pinched at her temples. As soon as she’d seen Justin, she’d stuff it into the bottom of her purse. From the canned Bing Crosby and chatter, it sounded like her family was crammed in the kitchen. She swung through the living room to drop her gifts under the tree.
Her stomach growled. The hat tightened around her head and blood throbbed behind her eyes. Dizzy, she knelt. She dug at the fur rim, pushing at the hat, but it gripped to her skin.
“Justin,” she whispered, eyes squeezed tightly shut, fingers digging into her scalp. Her head burned, filling her body with hot pickling pain.
“What’s the matter?”
His little hands were cold on her cheeks, and she opened her blood-shot eyes. “I’m so hungry suddenly,” she whispered.
Children are my favorite. They’re so trusting. So soft. So compliant. Following me away from their mothers, into service hallways and bathroom stalls. They laugh and giggle until the very end.
Author’s Note: a little flash fiction in the Merry Fates Christmas spirit.
image by formatc1 via Flickr Creative Commons