Christmas Day finally dawned - crisp, cold and everywhere was completely
covered in white - a 'Christmas card' setting.
He was excited - the day was here! He had waited so long for today, and
now he was ready. He leapt out of bed, shivering in the cold air, but
anxious to be out before anyone was awake.
I know I'll have time, he thought, everyone will still be opening their
presents for ages. All cuddled around their Christmas trees, the lights
flickering on and off, lots of noisy kids opening their presents while
their moms and dads laughed and watched. His mouth drooped in a moment
of self-pity - that wasn't the way his life was.
He mentally pulled himself together, and dressed quickly allowing his
plan to distract him from the visuals of the Christmas festivity he had
just conjured up in his head.
He had his own tree to decorate - for Mama - and for all the townsfolk
when they came to Church.
There was a huge fir tree at the entrance to the Cemetery which was
situated alongside the Church. Everyone would pass by his tree before
going inside for morning mass.
A shudder of nervous anticipation ran through him as he opened the door
and went out to his car. He climbed in and backed it up the driveway so
that it was parallel to the side of the house, next to the kitchen door.
He left the engine running while he went inside to fetch the tree
decorations. He had bought miles of brightly colored tinsel, every color
that was available, and he loaded it into the boot of the car. Then
slowly taking great care, he carried out the decorations he had for the
tree, carrying them two at a time. He placed them side by side on the
back seat of the car, allowing them to rest against each other, so that
they wouldn't topple over.
Such beautiful colors he mused, as he slid the last two in. It had taken
him ages to find them. He had cruised the shops and streets for months
taking great care to find the perfect ones. Some had needed touching up,
and others were just perfect as they were. There were twelve in all -
for the twelve days of Christmas.
"I'm coming, Mama" he whispered anxiously. "I won't be late, I promise.
I won't be late." He drove quickly along the silent streets, noting that
there was still no one around, and then pulled up outside the Church.
For the next hour he decorated the tree, borrowing the ladder from the
shed behind the Church. He knew the ladder was there because he used to
do odd jobs for the Pastor. While he decorated, he spoke to his Mama, a
constant flow of words.
"Don't peep, Mama. Not until I'm finished. This tree is yours. I'm
making it beautiful for you. These decorations are for you. I know you
like pretty things - with nice bright colors. I always remember you
looking at the magazines. There were so many different ones. The
brighter the better. You loved them." He paused, admiring his handiwork,
making sure that each decoration was spaced correctly, then continued.
"You loved them, Mama. I hated them! I hated what you would do to me
when you finished looking at those magazines. Why did you do that, Mama?
Why did you?" he questioned, tears coursing down his cheeks.
He took the ladder down, placed it behind the shed, and while he was
there, quickly changed his clothes, wearing the outfit Mama loved him
"You can look now, Mama. There you are - turn over in your grave and
look at what I've done, Mama. This is your Christmas present. Everyone
thinks I'm invisible. No one sees me, but you Mama. And now you are
gone. So now after they see my beautiful tree with the decorations, they
will all see me, and remember me. I will never be invisible to them
The Church bells began ringing, and he could hear car doors banging as
people started arriving. Children laughing excitedly, and parents
calling out greetings to each other, while he waited patiently - anxious
for them to notice him and his beautifully decorated tree.
"Oh look, Mummy, that big tree's decorated too!" he heard a child
"Oh wow, look at all that tinsel" said another.
"Good Lord, isn't that Martin Jones? What on earth is he wearing?"
"What's that in the tree?"
"He's wearing a dress - and make up! For heaven's sake!"
"That's one of Mabel's dresses. The poor boy ! He's lost it since she
"I heard she used to dress him up - always wished he was a girl."
"She was always buying make up. Funny, I never saw her wearing any."
"No, she used to put it on her son. I remember the kids used to tease
him mercilessly when they were young."
"Hang on! What is that in the tree?"
Their attention switched from Martin to the tree. Quite a crowd had
gathered by now and they surged forward to get a closer look. They all
"What the hell!" exclaimed another, followed by a slap from his wife.
"Jeez, get those kids out of here!" bellowed Jack Smith.
"Call the police!" someone shouted.
Women started screaming, men tried to hide their children's' eyes, while
others stood rooted to the spot. Martin could hear someone throwing up,
and women crying, then ushering shocked children away. Most couldn't
believe what they were seeing. Martin was bewildered: his decorations
The heads of twelve women; severed at the necks, tied to branches by
their long hair, entwined with ribbons and bows. Their make up was
exquisite, maybe a little garish in the bright morning light; but so
lovely and bright. Bright red cheeks, red lipstick and blue eye shadow -
several had their mouths gaping in silent screams. Some had their eyes
closed while others were still open, staring sightlessly at the crowd
He'd had to freeze them, of course, while he was still collecting them.
But now he watched them turn and twist in the breeze. A sight to behold!
All the magnificently wrapped gift boxes under the tree held some of the
body parts, manicured hands and feet painted with matching nail polish.
He smiled gleefully as he heard a wayward child start to rip the paper
off one of the presents.
"Merry Christmas, everyone!" he called out happily.