[WP] A child poisons Santa's cookies and milk, inadvertently killing his parents.

   “I hate Him.” Esther whispered under her breath.  “I hate Santa” she said clutching the white and pink striped envelope.   It was hot under the heavy wool covers.  The air became thick and difficult to breathe the longer she stayed under them, but this was her fortress.    She could not help but think of the countless times she and her older brother spent tucked away from the rest of the world, hiding from the monsters and other creepies that came out after bedtime.   Even though Ronnie was only 8, two years older than she was, Esther always felt safe with him under the blanket, despite the fact that neither of them could breathe comfortably.  She lifted the edge of the cover up creating an opening roughly the size of her fist to let some oxygen in.  She gulped the incoming supply of fresh air like fish under water and in a rapid jerk, sealed the hole again.  It was time she thought.  There was no way she would let him get away.

            She tossed aside the blanket and tip-toed her way towards the bedroom door.  She fumbled for the doorknob which was now head height to her and turned it carefully until she heard the click.  She pushed the door up a little as she inched it open so that it would not creek, alerting Mama and Papa down the corridor.  Ronnie taught her that.  She made her way down the hallway quieter than a mouse but stopped abruptly in the middle.  How could she forget the letter!?  She about-faced and back tracked with as much speed as she could muster without compromising stealth.  Underneath her parent’s door, a sliver of white light door sliced through the dark hallway.   She could hear their muffled voices and knew that they were still awake.  She knew mama would be upset to find her up past her bedtime, especially after they had placed the milk and cookies next to the fireplace already.  Ester quickened her pace.        

She pawed at the letter on top of her bed. The darkness made it difficult to see but she had an idea. The edge of the envelope sliced across her slender finger opening up a tiny paper cut. Esther winced but she did not cry, she was a strong girl. The pain reminded her of the time she fell from her bike. Even though her knees bled, and tears streaked her face, Ronnie told her to be strong. So she choked back her tears as he bandaged her up. She had kissed his bald head and gave him a great big hug, but decided never to ride a bicycle again for the rest of her life. She grabbed the envelope and started back.

The stairs were the worst part. They creaked with every step, and with every step she peered over her shoulder to check for Mama and Papa. After what seemed like an eternity, she reached the bottom. She was safe, for now at least. She swam through the darkness feeling her way through the familiar furniture towards the kitchen. Esther was afraid but she drowned her fear of creepies and shadow monsters with the hate she felt, and she had enough hate bottled up to fill a swimming pool. “Simmer down, baby girl.” She said to herself. That is what Mama always said to her when she was angry. She felt the transition from soft carpet to hard tile and knew she had arrived. She felt her way towards the refrigerator and pried it open to allow a beam of light to illuminate the blackness around her. She reached behind the fridge; it had to be here somewhere. She felt the cube right at the tip of her ring finger, millimeters out of reach. She pushed hard into the narrow crevice and felt a wincing pain in her left shoulder, but she finally clasped the small cube with her thumb and index fingers and pulled it out. Rat poison. She broke off a few tiny pieces and tossed the rest of the cube back where she found it. She closed the fridge and made her way toward the living room.

She tip toed towards the fireplace with the poison in one hand and her letter in the other. Papa had warned her and her brother never to touch the poison, it was very dangerous. She always felt bad about killing the mouses, but Ronnie told her that they were icky and it was the only way to make them go. Ester always thought they were kind of cute. This is how I will make santa go away too, she thought. In the darkness, she felt her elbow pummel table lamp knocking it down and knocking Esther out of her nostalgia. It came down with an ugly crash, tearing through the serene silence, as the bulb shattered behind her. She hears Mama’s door open. It was over. She had to be quick now, there was no more time. She raced towards the milk and cookies which the family had placed neatly next to the fireplace. She heard mama’s footsteps darting down the hallway above her. With the poison in hand Esther rubbed it all over the three soft baked chocolate chip cookies the best she could and dropped whatever remained to the glass of milk. mama flicked on the stairway light behind her. She saw both her mama and papa on top of the steps looking down at her. Their expressions were a mix of worry and surprise.

“Esther!?” Mama said, shock still resonating in her voice. “Are you okay, baby?” Esther’s legs felt like jell-o. It was not a heart beating in her chest, it was a drum. “Y-uh-I-uh-yes Mama, I’m okay.” Esther said. “What happened, honey? What are you doing up?” Papa said as he surveyed the scene with furrowed eyebrows. His eyes jumped between the broken glass and his. Esther remained silent, still clutching the envelope. She had not realized that her letter to Santa Claus had been wrinkled from how tight her grip was on it. Carefully avoiding the broken glass, her parents made their way to their child and knelt beside her. “Are you hurt?” Mama asked. “No” Esther said looking at the ground, her short auburn hair tickling her nose. “I forgot to give Santa my letter.” Her mother smiled with tenderness and put her arms around the child and glanced at her husband with a twinkle of relief in her eye. “It’s okay baby. Here, why don’t you give me that and papa will take you up to your room.” Mama said, taking the crumpled envelope from her hand. Her father hoisted her up. “C’mon kiddo, it’s way past bedtime. Don’t you want Santa to come so that you can open your presents in the morning?” Papa said as they made their way up the steps. “Papa, I don’t want to sleep in my room, I wanna go back to Ronnie’s room.” Esther said with her face partially buried in her father’s shoulder. Papa sighed. “Sure, kiddo.” He said as they made their way down the hall …. Aimee and Peter collapsed on the couch holding Esther’s letter with trembling hands. A few hours had passed after they cleaned up all the bits of glass from the broken light bulb and placed the presents neatly under the tree. Esther was fast asleep. Peter glanced over at picture which rested on the table next to the cookies and milk they had placed earlier that night. It was a picture of the four of them; one happy family. He picked it up and caressed it as though it was alive. Enough tears had fallen that they glistened on Aimee’s cheeks and made Peter’s beard wet. He opened the crumpled letter once again to read the scribble and misspelled words that his first grader had left for Santa.

            Dear Santa,

            I now I alredy wrote a letter to you.  Mama and PaPa said santa would give me what I want if I was a good girl.  I was so good.  I didn’t cry.  I did al my home work.  I lisened to Ms. Finer.  I didn’t ask you for the Helo Kitty bag.  All I wanted for Chrissmas was for Ronnie to not be sick anymore.  I wanted to play with him for chrissmas and I wanted him to be back home  I wanted his cancer to died.  Now Ronnie is dead like the mousez.  And now papa said hes gone and I cant play with him again.  I don’t want anything for Christmas EVER AGAIN.  I hate you Santa.

Love Esther

            Peter wiped his wife’s tears and kissed her on the cheek.  He reached over and grabbed the milk and cookies from the table with trembling hands.  “I don’t think we’re sleeping tonight.” He said as he took a sip. 
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