The fifth day of the advent calendar and now I’m going to be a little shameless and snag a spot for myself. It started with me telling my son that three rolls were quite enough for his after-school snack, there would be supper in a little while. His response was that maybe he wanted to become as fat as a Santa.
That was all it took for me to run off, delay supper a little, and write A Santa with Frosting – A Rather Horrid Flash.
Snuggle up with your favourite pastry and read…or save it for later when you have something sweet at hand.
A Santa with Frosting– A Rather Horrid Flash
Janet built a pile of doughnuts and brought the platter to the dining room table. Eight. Could he eat eight? Last week she hadn’t been able to get him to eat more than seven. He needed to eat more. Dale, her late husband, had eaten more than thirty doughnuts a week. Doughnuts were good pastry.
“In here, Sweetie!” She glanced at the clock—seven minutes past three, they had less than three hours to get ready for the quarter-finals. “How was school?”
August came into the dining room, his stomach wobbling with each step he took. How could they get it more firm without losing any volume? She pursed her lips. It wasn’t easy to get that old man’s belly when he only was seventeen.
“How much did you have for lunch?”
His sigh filled the spotless room. “Two helpings.”
Janet gasped. “Two helpings? Two helpings! I sure hope there was a mountain of lasagne on each of those plates.”
“I had a salad, and I lied, I only had one plate.”
Dizziness danced around as a red fog overtook her mind. “Salad?” She squeezed her eyes together. Of all the days for him to be difficult. “It was lasagne today, I double checked.” Had she known there would be a salad in the school canteen she would’ve packed him a more filling lunch.
“It was, but I had the salad.”
“How could you? After everything I’ve done to help you, after all the work we’ve put in.” She took a deep breath and plastered a smile on her lips—this was not a day for anger. “Eat up now.” She pushed the doughnuts towards him.
“Mum, I’m not gonna eat.” The look he gave her made her grit her teeth.
“And I’m not going.”
“We’re going. You’re going. We’ve worked too hard to give up now.” She glanced at the picture of Dale on the wall. For three years in a row, he’d won. He’d had the perfect figure, so handsome it almost hurt to look at him when he wore his costume.
She couldn’t give August beer like she’d had him—probably why he was more wobbly than firm. Beer made a good, hard, round form.
In a year they could add beer to the diet, but he was only seventeen. The last years Dale had been on a steady diet of twelve beers a day. The familiar burning in her eyes came when she thought of him. So handsome.
Some days she still brought out his old costume—the red velvet kept her warm on lonely nights. She would fantasise about sitting on his lap.
“I’ll go tonight on one condition.”
She nudged the plate closer to him, but he didn’t reach for a doughnut. “Okay, what’s that?”
“I’ll go put on the suit right now if you let me move out after tonight.”
“Okay.” He shrugged and turned to leave the room.
“Where’re you going? You haven’t eaten.” The doughnuts were still placed in a beautiful pile, some with chocolate some with white frosting.
“I’m on a diet.”
Janet couldn’t breathe, she tried to suck in a breath, but her airways wouldn’t let anything pass. The ground shifted under her feet, and the walls crept in. “Don’t say that. You can’t say that.” She managed to pull out a chair and sink down on it. “Think of your father.”
Janet slapped a hand over her mouth to keep from sobbing. This was most likely some kind of teenage rebellion. If she gave in, he would turn around and see it her way. He didn’t really want to punish her. He’d realise Mummy was right and come back to her. He’d understand she only wanted what was best for him, that all goals could be reached if you only tried hard enough.
“Where would you go, sweetie? Who would feed you?”
“Alex said I could move in.”
Alex? Did she know any Alex? “I don’t think that’s wise.”
“Okay. Then we won’t be going tonight.”
Janet blinked away the tears that wanted to rise in her eyes. If only Dale had been here. This was one of those decisions she needed to discuss with him. “We have to go. They’re expecting us. You’re one of eight. The town will be so disappointed if you don’t honour the tradition.”
“I’ll go if you let me go.”
Her heart ached, there was no better way to describe it. Each beat sent a painful wave through her being. He would be back. He would miss the thrill of the competition. He would want to honour his dad’s memory.
“Okay. We go to the quarter-finals and then I’m letting you go.”
“Thanks, Mum.” He hurried over to her with far too light steps. After a quick kiss on the cheek, he squeezed her shoulder. “I know you love the competition, but it has to come to a stop. It’s not healthy.”
“What?” Dazed she looked at him as she tried to piece his words together. “What do you mean come to a stop?”
“Well, how many men have died in heart attacks since the tradition started?”
“It’s what our town is known for!”
“Of obese men who die too young?”
“Of having the best Santa every year! Without us, there wouldn’t be Christmas.”
“Of course there would. Without this stupid tradition more kids would get to spend Christmas with their fathers, grandfathers, and uncles. The outside world doesn’t see it as a great achievement, they see us as a town of feeders.”
Bile climbed Janet’s throat. How dared he disrespect the tradition?
“I don’t want to hear another word from you, young man! Your dad fought hard for his titles.”
“And died at the age of fifty-three.”
August shook his head. “You need help Mum, can’t you see that? You want to feed me until I explode and for what? So I can wear a red suit once a year?”
“It’s a great honour to be the town Santa.”
“I’d rather see my future kids grow up.”
Janet didn’t know what came over her. One second she was sitting down, the next she’d grabbed August around his throat. She reached for the doughnuts and started cramming them into his mouth. She squeezed his trachea and forced the sweet pastry down his gullet.
He fought her, but an inhuman strength coursed through her body. Her fingernails scraped his pharynx. He gagged, but she kept on pushing. Frosting and saliva coated her fingers; tears streamed down August’s round cheeks.
When three doughnuts had gone down, he started to sound funny. The raspy spluttering came more irregularly, his movements became uncoordinated, and before long he fell to the pristine floor, sullying it with crumbs.
Janet didn’t know why she reached for a fourth doughnut. Later she decided it was motherly love. All she wanted was for her August to perform as well as he possibly could in the town’s Santa contest.
She kept on pushing down doughnuts long after August had stilled. He would’ve been such a lovely Santa if he’d only listened to her.