The Old Man and the Ghosts: Present

“Wakey Wakey, Ebenezer! Don’t you want to see what I’ve brought you?”

Whatever it is, it is warm. It makes the room around me feel smaller, closer.

“Come on now, Ebbie, doesn’t it smell delicious, after all of that gruel and grimness? Have some cheer!”

It smells meaty and familiar, and my stomach betrays me by rumbling.

“Open your eyes, open your nose, open your mouth, and in it goes! A fine gift — the finest! Don’t be stubborn, dear.”

I cannot close everything. Breathing requires an avenue for air. My nostrils are full of the scent of whatever-it-is. It is sweet and delectable. It is…vaguely woody.

It has a subtle touch of carrion about it, barely detectable.

“This is a delicacy, a precious prize of infinite rarity! So small, so young, so sweet…”

I have a terrible and frightening feeling that a little boy’s voice is crying out to me, but I cannot hear him — lilting bells and singing fiddles and the crushing percussion of dancing feet drown his voice in the shadow of celebration. I cannot move or reach out, because mistletoe is twined around my limbs, waiting with arboreal patience to drink me down if I weaken.

I am choking on hunger and horror, but I will not open my mouth, even to scream.


About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. For now, I labor at a fairly interesting administrative job in order to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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