– A story written in the December time. As it wasn’t published online due to festivity complications, I thought I’d upload it onto my blog. Here it goes… –
When I Killed Santa
Today I killed Santa. I know it sounds terrible but he asked for it. Really.
At first, I wasn’t sure whether killing Santa was a great idea. I mean, there must be some sort of penalty for killing Father Christmas, right? Perhaps I’d be denied access to the pearly gates? At the very least I wouldn’t be getting any presents on Christmas day.
Still I put a lethal dose of valium into a batch of cookies (chocolate, not the nasty raisin ones) and he washed it down with milk.
I realise this sounds bad but I never really wanted to kill him. I wanted to kill myself actually. It all went horribly wrong.
I’ll start from the beginning.
It all began on the day of my sixty-eighth suicide attempt. (The other sixty seven hadn’t worked. Obviously.) Still, I refused to think of them as failures. When Thomas Edison was asked why he persisted with his goal to invent the light bulb after failing so many times he replied, “I never failed. I just found 10,000 ways that wouldn’t work.” I always found that inspirational. Edison could have given up but he chose a light-hearted approach to life.
Light-hearted. Ha. Perhaps people would miss my sharp wit when I passed on, I told myself that morning. In hindsight, I don’t know which ‘people’ I was referring to; the only person I spoke to regularly was my therapist and she certainly didn’t understand my humour.
My therapist’s name is Louise and she can’t figure out for the life of her what’s wrong with me. I’m not depressed, she says. Yet I’m not apathetic. And we both know I’m not happy. Once, in an attempt to understand my pattern of thought, she poured some whisky into a tumbler and placed it on the table between us.
“Is this glass half full?” she said. “Or half em-?”
She stopped because I poured the tumbler’s contents down my throat.
“Empty,” I replied, dragging the back of my sleeve across my mouth. “But I sure wish it was full.”
She sighed as she refilled the tumbler. She told me my response wasn’t ‘normal’ or ‘expected’ and that most men just answered her questions. At least I think that’s what she said – I spent the rest of our session fighting waves of nausea.
I wasn’t always a lightweight but I stopped drinking two years ago upon recommendation from my friend Andrea. It all happened when I went to Andrea’s house for a garden party. I had a lot to drink and was feeling queasy so said I’d be on my way. Apparently I never left the garden – I sat astride her lawnmower and wondered why I couldn’t insert my keys into the bloody thing. That was when she suggested I seek some help.
So I went to an Alcoholic’s Anonymous group and now I only drink wine with meals or mulled wine at Christmas, or a beer after work or cider at the weekends. So the meetings sort of worked.
My first Alcoholic Anonymous meeting was a bit of a shock, actually. The leader – this fat guy whose breath reeked of alcohol – asked me how long I’d been ‘suffering from my addiction.’ He looked angry when I told him that I didn’t suffer– I enjoyed every minute of it. He insisted that I must know I had a problem, otherwise I wouldn’t be there. That was total bollocks because when I was younger, I knew I was never going to need algebra or Pythagoras’ Theorem but I went to school anyway. Here I am years later, after many a suicide attempt and yet to use any algebra. Perhaps as I draw my last breath I’ll scrawl a quadratic equation in my blood. I think that would look quite impressive – a sort of modern art installation. Although realistically, I’d like there to be as little blood as possible.
Many attempts ago (I want to say my tenth) I tried to bleed to death. It didn’t end well, primarily because I remembered how much I really, really hate blood halfway through. I couldn’t even find a plaster because I’d emptied all my cupboards the day before. (I’d been trying to get rid of my smaller possessions, so as not to inconvenience my relatives after I’d passed.) I ended up running to the corner shop but they didn’t have plasters either, so I panicked and bought some maxi pads. I can tell you that there’s no better time to contemplate the state of your life than when you’re watching reruns of How I Met your Mother with a feminine hygiene product pressed firmly against your inner wrist.
Anyway, I promised to tell you the story of how I killed Santa with a bowl of cookies and half a glass of milk. I keep thinking that if I’d just kept walking past him on Organising Day, none of this would ever have happened.
An Organising Day is when I make a long to-do list and focus on nothing else but completing it. The day I bumped into Santa, my list looked like this:
Andrew’s To-Do List
- Wake up at 8:50am.
- Spend next ten minutes properly waking up.
- Have shower, brush teeth and attend to any other toiletry needs. (NB: Do something good you miserable sod and save water by peeing in the shower)
- Wear fresh trousers and hooded sweatshirt, take money and exit house
- Walk to tescos and buy:
5a) Paracetamol x 1 pack
5b) Diet coke
5c) Toilet roll x 6 (Preferably Andrex, because puppies are adorable)
5d) Soup tins x3
5e) Cereal (Cornflakes. Tescos own)
6. Go to handy store and buy:
6a) Rope (Long. Approx 5’5”)
7) Return home
8) Embark upon (hopefully) final attempt.
But it was as I was leaving the handy store that I saw Santa. I didn’t recognise him at first but he caught my eye because he was dressed in red and white and his beard looked foamy like bubbles. He was also surrounded by several children and their parents who wanted to take pictures or present him with their Christmas lists. He called,
I recognised his voice. Santa worked at my school when I was a kid (although then we called him ‘Gary’). He’d been retired for years and ran the stargazing club in town. I said, “Gary?” at which several parents glared at me and the surrounding children seemed confused.
“I mean, Santa?” I added feebly. (I think I got away with it). I went over to him.
“Kill me,” he muttered. I laughed. A kid wanted a picture with him and pushed me out of the way for it. The kid smiled a toothy grin that made me want to punch him in the mouth. The camera flashed and the kid skipped away. “No seriously,” Gary added. “I’m done.”
“Where’s the Christmas cheer?” I said, which felt horribly ironic considering the 5’5” length of rope concealed in my bag. (I made sure I got five foot five that day, because the first time I tried to use rope, I forgot that the length of rope would have to be shorter than the length of me. But this time I was prepared.)
So was Gary apparently. Because he told me that he didn’t have the strength to carry on – nor did he feel able to end it himself. And would I help him?
Sorry I was unable to finish telling you the story of how I poisoned Santa; yesterday proved to be a very busy evening because my sisters came to visit – all seven of them. Unannounced.
As usual my sisters reminisced over fond memories. This would not be a problem if their amusing memories weren’t the same childhood traumas I’ve tried to suppress for many years. Like the time I wet myself in school and had to wear spare clothes but there was only a dress in the Lost Property. But every time I saw them, without fail, my sisters brought up how ‘positively adorable’ I looked. And wasn’t the whole thing hilarious? And didn’t little Andy look adorable dressed in frilly pink? Ha. Ha.
There. I’ve written the trauma down now. This is partly because I’m telling you a story (frilly pink dresses are most definitely related to euthanising Santa,) and partly because Louise says suppressing memories will result in unhealthy behaviours. She says unhealthy behaviours include ‘depriving yourself of romantic attachments’ and ‘harbouring unhealthy obsessions,’ like the time I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and convinced myself for months that I was in a relationship with Kate Winslet but the world was conspiring to erase our cherished memories.
After my sisters left, I sat quietly for a few hours, contemplating Gary-Santa’s death. It was difficult to adjust to a Gary-less world. Before he’d died, he told me that he had nobody to share Christmas with – no family and no real friends to speak of. Well, with the exception of his daughter who, as I gathered, wasn’t speaking to him. As I fed him the valium-loaded cookies, I thought I was doing the right thing but it was only when my sisters left and I sat in the loud silence they left behind, that I realised I’d made a horrible mistake. Gary and I were not the same. Gary had no one. I had someone. And seven someones at that. And all those memories I despised that lurked in my subconscious were evidence that I had lived and that I still lived.
(This is a roundabout way of saying that I’ve decided not to use the rope – not tonight anyway. I’m going to hang around for Gary’s funeral instead.)
I saw Gary’s daughter at the funeral. I wanted to say something comforting to her but I couldn’t think what. But it was okay because I’d already given a eulogy. I said that Gary was a great caretaker and an even greater man. I said that he was a brave man too.
Gary taught me a lot. I was sorry he sacrificed himself to darkness when he was a man who loved constellations, suns, and all lights in our system that burn bright. In some ways, Gary was my saviour because in six days it will be Christmas Day.
And I’ll still be here.