Your Story Dies With You

Your Story Dies With You. It's rather self-explanitory, but anyway, the idea is that every person on this earth (that's right, every last one of us) has a story to tell, and it should be told before it's too late. For thousands of years, storytelling has been a central part of how humans have communicated--stories have been passed down through generations, sharing knowledge, family history, and the odd tale with a moral that was forgotten years ago. Everyone has a story to tell, and you should tell it, now while you have the chance, because your story dies with you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Story: The Christmas Letter

Don’t think about it, she tells herself. Just write.

The computer screen glares out at her, the lights of the Christmas tree reflecting off the surface, their glowing neon colors dancing before her eyes every time she tries to close them to block out the view of the blank white page waiting for her words. The page is waiting for words she doesn’t want to write. The rage boils within her, waiting to be spilled out in black ink that will roll across the page and form words that will spew anger and hate and betray her broken heart. Black letters for a bitter tale on this Christmas Eve, telling a story that she had never thought would be hers.

It had no right to be her story, really. She’d worked so hard all these years, staining her fingers black and leaving wrinkles of stress on her face and dark circles under her eyes from all those sleepless nights working late, writing the stories the newspaper craved. She’d fought her way up the ladder, rung by rung, struggling past the stragglers, determined to reach the top. She’d nursed her daughter, cared for her, brought her up to be the beautiful young woman she was now, caring for her every step of the way until college and giving her all she had. She had worked for her large, beautiful house; had paid hard-earned money for her luxurious car. She’d lived in a dingy apartment for years until she and her husband could afford a house. She’d driven a rusty, worn-down Ford with the red paint chipping until it had bitten the dust. And that wasn’t all she had done.

She had struggled through twenty years of marriage, making the best of it, all for love of her husband. She’d come home to him with fingers aching from late hours at her typewriter, and later her computer, and cooked a late dinner, taking the time to listen to the tale of his day, even when she was so tired she didn’t give a shit. She’d done everything and now she was left, forty-five years old, sitting at her computer beside the Christmas tree on this Christmas Eve, spending it alone. No teenage daughter to sit up late with her, drinking milk and eating cookies; no husband to cuddle up beside on the couch. Just her and the computer screen staring into each other’s faces, waiting for one of them to make the first move.


Her fingers have already begun to ache before they strike the first key. She can’t stop now. Not after everything she has gone through. She’d be damned before she walks away with this story left untold. This is payback, this is protection for her daughter, and this is her right. Her story to tell and she is going to tell it. Satisfaction is sweeter than Christmas cookies. Not that that was hard. This year, to her they tasted like sawdust. And no one else had been here to taste them and tell her different.


My dear family and friends,


I wish you a Merry Christmas this Holiday Season. I hope this letter finds you well and in better spirits than I am. I hope your year was a whole lot better than mine. I know this letter comes a little late this year, but I decided last minute not to break the tradition. That and I had nothing to do this Christmas Eve with Sarah gone off to college and Andrew a worthless sack of shit.


A professional woman should never display her personal troubles to the public. They should be kept just that, personal. No one has a right to know, no one wants to know. That’s the way it should be; the way it has been and always should. I would say “will be” but you’ve probably guessed that I’ve decided to let that part of the phrase go down the drain. As a matter of fact, I really don’t believe the “should be” part, either. But you have to say something, so why not that?

Sarah left for college this fall, finally deciding on her choice of university. Ivy League. I couldn’t be a prouder mother. It is partly for her sake that I am sharing my troubles with you, to protect her by warning you in the only way I can not to give any information of her whereabouts to her scumbag of a father. The other part is for me. He’s not half the man I thought he was when I married him twenty years ago, or even half the man he was for most of our marriage. Last year you are aware that things began to go downhill for us. They reached their all-time low and as for me, I’m starting to climb back up. For him, I hope he stays at the God-forsaken bottom where he belongs.

Early in March, Andrew started a new medicine for his Parkinson’s. I won’t go into the precise side effects, but they were numerous and less than desirable. I pleaded with the doctor to stop prescribing it, but he refused, continuing to put Andrew on a medicine that increased his needs to where I could not meet them and incapacitated him in his decision making, causing him to be prone to making the wrong choices, and unable to exercise any self control.

A couple months ago I would be loath to inform you that in late August, Andrew took his car and left without a backward glance. I found out two weeks later that he had driven all the way to Oregon and shacked up with a former prostitute. Now, I am glad to tell you of it, in the hopes that you will see him for what he is:  a worthless son-of-a-bitch.

The damn idiot met her in bar and they hit it off oh so nicely. Two weeks later they were shopping with the credit card from our SHARED account. Andrew bought her a Mercedes Benz. Bright red. My favorite color, how ironic. I like to think that it’s in reference to her being a “scarlet woman” but he’s too stupid to see the irony, I’m quite sure.

They bought a house, too. A beautiful house, all brick with hardwood floors and over-the-top furnishings. A paved driveway leading up to the place, a gardener-tended garden, patio with a fountain, backyard complete with a pool. And for him, I’m sure he requested a pool boy. Bastard.

I drove all the way to Oregon. All the two thousand miles to find him sitting on his patio smoking a cigar, the God-damned prostitute on his lap. They were all surprise to see me there. They got up and she made a big to-do, but you could see the shock  in her face with her plucked brows and make-up covered face. She wore so much of it that the skin on her face was an entirely different color than the rest of her. It certainly didn’t make her any more beautiful, I can tell you. She was ugly as a dog’s ass.

Andrew never said a word to explain his actions. I drove home without him, leaving him to his slut and fancy house, bought with MY money. I sued him for all he was worth. As you might have figured out, I got nothing. Last I checked they were fighting for the house and car, but I couldn’t care less. If he comes knocking at my door asking for handouts I’ll send him packing with the M9 9mm semiautomatic pistol I bought myself for Christmas.


The real reason for this Christmas letter with bad tidings is to request that none of you give my good-for-nothing ex (I am requesting a divorce) any information on my whereabouts or those of my daughter. I have a restraining order after the incident this past October.

Andrew came to my house after I filed the lawsuit. I opened the door to find him standing on the doorstep, his eyes wild. I thought he was still on the drugs, perhaps coming to beg my forgiveness, but I was wrong. The instant I opened the door he lunged at me with an eight-inch kitchen knife I’m sure he procured from the fully stocked kitchen he shared with his whore.

He was so disoriented he stabbed the air about a foot to my right. I screamed and ran for the phone. Andrew stumbled after me, unable to walk or see straight. I grabbed the phone and locked myself in my bedroom while he proceeded to stab the door. By the time help arrived I could see the knife jutting through the wood. The police took him away. When I opened the door the outside of it was scarred as if a bear had broken into the house and mauled it.

Andrew is now forbidden by law to come anywhere near me or my daughter. I hope you will realize the danger he poses to us and give him no information about us. He walked away and I’ll be damned if he doesn’t stay away from now on.


Thank you for your time. I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. In the hopes that I will see you soon,



                                                                        Lillian James


She presses print and sits back to watch the words come spilling out of the printer on the festive Christmas paper; page after page of her hurt and anger typed out for the world to see. The glaring Christmas lights are giving her a headache, throbbing behind her eyes. She closes them for a minute, but the lights still dance in front of her.

The letters finish printing and she picks up the stack of warm paper and begins to slip them into the envelopes she had addressed earlier. After an hour she has sealed them all and stuck the stamps on with satisfaction. She stands, then freezes. Recovering herself, she reaches for a blank envelope and slips a letter into it, addressing it to Andrew and giving no return address. She seals it and grabs a stamp, placing it squarely on the envelope. Lillian walks out into the snow in her pajamas, padding down the frosted sidewalk in her penguin slippers, reaching the mailbox and opening it, fingers blue with cold. Slipping the stack of letters inside and closing it, she shuffles back to the house, chaffing her hands to warm them. She closes the front door and bolts it after stepping into the warmth of her own home.

Glancing at the clock she hears it strike twelve. Midnight. Time for Santa Claus to pay a visit. She is as much a child at heart as anyone, she decides grimly, and begins to set the brightly wrapped gifts under the tree. Sarah would be home tomorrow to celebrate Christmas. She can’t be found falling down on the job.

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