Dec. 16th, 2011

With Care

Dec. 16th, 2011 10:58 pm
Dino crept down the carpeted stairs in his footy pajamas, making no noise whatsoever. He had to be careful. This was a life or death situation. He was an anxious child, and whenever Dino told Mom or Dad that things were a life or death situation, which was often, they would tell him not to worry so much, that his imagination was getting the better of him.

But this was really, really a life or death situation.

Dino reached the tile floor of the hall and tiptoed over to the cased opening leading into the living room. He pressed himself against the wall, his heart pounding, and peered around the corner. There it was, by the fireplace; the object of his terror. The Christmas Tree.

It was massive, almost eight feet tall, filling an entire corner of the room. The star topper brushed the ceiling, and its broad base of dark-green branches filled the space between the mantel and the armchair. Dino stared at it, his eyes wide. Almost every square inch of the thing was draped and encrusted with ornaments – thick ropes of tinsel and beads; tchotchkies and doodads of every size and description; colored lights that strobed on and off hypnotically. It was beautiful. Beautiful, but deadly.

Dino's eyes strayed to what lay below the tree. There were presents stacked there, two feet deep – a potential treasure trove for a seven year old boy. One box was larger than the others, wrapped in emerald green paper and stuffed almost entirely under the tree's branches. It was the precise size and shape, Dino knew, of a box containing a Cryptocon action figure, specifically the AwesoMaster, with real triple-blaster action and laser-skates, for which Dino had been begging for the past three months.

Somehow the tree knew which present Dino wanted the worst. It knew, and it purposefully tucked that present deep underneath itself, to lure Dino in close, to make himself vulnerable. Dino wanted to shake that box so badly, to make sure that was what it really was, maybe even peel up the tape and peek. But he dared not.

The tree stirred, sighing and settling itself a little squarer in its base. It shifted its upper branches, its ornaments jouncing and sparkling enticingly. Then it belched, loud and deep, and its concealed maw made smacking noises as it settled down, patiently, to wait.

Little boys would come. They always did.
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