christmas day

Written by Nicole Mousicos
Art by Lukas Rychvalsky

The streetlights move like blinking eyes. Slugged down by a dinner bigger than my eyes, I am fuelled by an anxiety I am yet to be able to cut at its current. The world does not care that it is Christmas. I look around at the trees and the leaves, the animals and the moon. The world does not care that it is Christmas: it looks exactly the same as it did yesterday, and it will look the same tomorrow. Thrice, my sister has agreed with me and said that it didn’t feel like Christmas, as if we were expecting the air around us to shift, the plants to sing and the animals to parade. I can remember the magic I felt when I was younger – the feeling that nothing could go wrong, surely, because the world knew it was Christmas Day. 

Now, the fantasy dies. I have come from my mother’s house, en route to my father’s. There, the routine will be mostly the same. I will hug and kiss, express my well wishes for the season, eat some (more) food, open presents and nurse a cup of tea. My mother prefers an English breakfast, while my father serves decaf. I am far beyond the age of picking sides. My mother is my mother and my father is my father. I love and hate equally. Thus, I am a seesaw, dipping in and out of affection for the people that raised me, as every child eventually becomes. 

My aunt, on my father’s side, is driving. There is a sense of transition in her as we bolt towards the countryside like some magical portal, away from the familial place I grew up in, and into a whole new world entirely. One can easily pretend the other doesn’t exist. The windshield wipers churn and groan, sweeping away the rain that keeps on coming – of course, nobody told the rain that it was Christmas Day. Somebody told the moon, though. Its light seems almost impenetrable, even with the clouds and the rain. I am waiting, hands interlocked in my lap and feet drumming against the passenger seat, for the change that will overcome me. Some pull of my genetics one way or another, a new vein inside my body to open up and flood into my heart. 

I settle into my seat, and I wait for the engine to drop to my feet as the car is parked. 

Eventually, the windshield is wiped clean, and new rain spatters the glass.