I keep going back to the same two rooms, with the dying widow below and darkness that eats me. It is Christmas Eve with the smell of snow in the air. There is an ominous muffled thud from below. I slip deeper into the bed awaiting his visit and feigning sleep.
Mother’s anxious voice hissed in the dark, ‘You’ll have to come downstairs with me, your dad can’t.’ Dad couldn’t, he had an accident in the shipyard a few weeks earlier: ‘Left his toes in his boot’, someone cryptically said.
Creaking down wooden stairs, cold bit me stomach. An early Christmas present – a bicycle torch – led the way, dancing down the stairs and diving to the ceiling. The key skated across the barrel before connecting and the torch eventually settled on the widow’s cream mask face which faced the floor. She was dead.
The rest was formality; women in the street would ‘lay her out.’ The identity of Santa Claus forgotten in light of more pressing matters.
Meet the Author!
Tom Kelly is a Jarrow-born writer. He has had eleven books of poetry, short stories and a play published in as many years. His new collection ‘THIS SMALL PATCH’ was published and re-printed by Red Squirrel Press in 2020.