Prompt: I saw mommy kissing Santa Clause, underneath the mistletoe last night. Nine months later mommy gave birth to a suspiciously rosy cheeked baby.
It had been nine months since I found my mother kissing a large man, who wasn’t my father, wearing a red suit lined with white fur. It was as though time skipped ahead; one moment she announced she was pregnant — by whom? I asked, to only be told I was being silly, it was my father’s of course — and the next she was at the hospital, feverishly pushing and screaming obscenities at my father who held her hand so tightly I thought I could hear from the waiting room his bones grinding together.
In a rush of days, of the family coming and going from the hospital room, of piss-poor coffee and stale food from the kitchen, from work to the hospital, then back again, eventually it came to the day we were to take the child home. My father had difficulties with the baby seat until he tossed it across the backseat and told my mother to hold the child as we drove. I sat next to the seat, holding it still so the hard plastic didn’t dig into my side.
Home was another whirlwind of annoyance and learning. It had been so long since they had a baby in the house, eighteen years or so. My father took it in stride and my mother, save for over-worrying, did as well throughout the summer and fall, but once December rolled around, something began to change. Not with my parents, no, but with the baby.
His cheeks grew plump and rosy. His tiny fingers became doughy. My mother said he hadn’t gained weight, but anyone holding the child knew that wasn’t true. His eyes became a crystal clear blue and glistened under the glow of the fire coming from the hearth. The soft brown hair on his head lightened to the point it looked almost silver. Day after and after day more changes came, more and more things that I, and my father, noticed. The weight gain, the reddening of his now bulging nose, the way it was drawn to the tall evergreen sprinkled with lights and bulbs in the study, the giggling when bells chimed or the fire crackled, and its obsessive nature for sweets and cold milk.
My father took to the drink that month. Although he hadn’t questioned my mother, he knew in his very soul that the child he had welcomed into his home, into his arms, was not his. I discovered this one night after he had gone asleep. He left his notepad out next to the decanter, scribbled with dates and mathematic equations. If the baby was born on August 25, then that meant… More notes, scribbled text: We didn’t make love on the 25th that night, hardly the entire month — busy with presents and work and family… Jesus, my wife… No, but… Must be!
But it was all doubt and suspect, heresy without proof, until the morning of Christmas. I went into the baby’s room, who I found already awake, his fat fingers wrapped around the brim of the crib, his blue eyes wide and wondrous, his silver hair wafted over his forehead. His small mouth formed an O and it seemed he was trying to speak. Which at the time I thought was odd, babies couldn’t speak that early on, or so I thought… I hunkered down to his face and turned an ear to his mouth.
“What are you trying to say?” I whispered.
After a few still moments, I heard…
“Ho… ho… ho.”
Read my previous prompt, “He Was Me, and I Was Him.”
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