7 DAYS TO CHRISTMAS (A SHORT STORY)

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I have always counted days in relation to Christmas, my singular favorite holiday in the year.

 —

Today it is 350 days to Christmas

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 Maryam, I and Ali are taking down Christmas decorations as we play faint Christmas music in the background:
 
‘You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I’m telling you why,
Santa Claus is comin’ to town’
 
This song was the theme of our childhood and it has been our tradition to play it and take turns to sing our ‘allocated’ parts while taking down Christmas decor. Ali is enacting some of the family drama that happened over the break and I am laughing so hard that it feels like the air in my lungs have been emptied.
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 Midway through laughter, I become intensely conscious of how lucky I am to have met some of the mates to my soul in the form of family. I am blessed to always be with people that return me to my being all the times I forget where I have come from.

188 days to Christmas

copy2-2I am looking for flour to make pancakes for our breakfast when I hear the first
‘BOOM!’
It was a faint loud sound in the distance that shook the kitchen windows and door.
I felt it before I heard it.
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From then it became more rampant, more shortly timed:
 
‘BOOM! BOOM!!’
 
I dashed to the floor of my kitchen, heart beating violently against the cold tiles of the floor:
 
Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and the hour of our death’
 
I say this repeatedly until I hear Maryam running into the kitchen
 
Maryam, get down!”
Ali is outside she screams, he went to get the milk. He is outside!”
 
She is shaking, shaking so violently that my hands are shaking as I hold hers.
Or maybe I’m shaking too.
I can’t tell..
Everything is happening too fast, my life is escaping my reach.

160 days to Christmas

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On all the days leading up to today, I have woken up to the first feeling of profound rage.
I am furious at myself, for letting him walk out of the house.
I am furious at Maryam for the same reasons. She is just as furious at me.
 
I am furious at the world for moving on as though my life had not come to an abrupt halt.
A halt with sickening inertia.
The kind that paints the illusion that you are moving on from it before pulling you back to the point where you first hit the wall.
 
How does one recover from losing a soulmate?
Why can’t a force as powerful as love resurrect the dead?

132 days to Christmas

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Tonight, for the first time, I let the anger go,
Fearfully holding on to the last strands of its fabric
Before the pain hit.
It felt like a physical blow, so strong that I fell to the ground.
I knew I had fallen and there wasn’t enough air in the room left for me to breathe.
I knew this, but I never anticipated the inconsolable weeping that arrived after my knees hit the ground.
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80 days to Christmas

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Some days I worry that the pain will never leave me, and it makes me want to end this burden of living
Maryam and I hold an ongoing secret of days we have spent laying on the floor of the kitchen, unable to move.
I think we are trying to return to a time before we knew..
That our world was coming to an end.
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10 days to Christmas

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I wake up to our song playing in the house:
 
‘You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I’m telling you why,
Santa Claus is comin’ to town’
 
And for a second I forget everything.
I run eagerly to his room, then I realize it cannot be coming from there.
And then it hits me that our Christmas tradition will never be the same.
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I arrive at Maryam’s room and her eyes are almost the same shade of red as her Santa Claus hat. So I ask her to take a walk with me.
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With her hand in my palm, we walk into the city.
It is the first time we have held hands since the incident.
We can smell Christmas in the air,
Christmas smells like hope – Like the look in a child’s eyes as she raises her hands up, willing her mother to carry her.
Christmas has returned love into the same eyes I had once seen hold terror.
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And in this moment, walking through the city, I am finally at peace in the warmth of my sister’s palm against mine.
In the buzz of Christmas shopping around me and the delicious smell of Christmas meals being made
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I have become terribly aware that I am still alive
I have walked through the fire but I have come out alive
And I now realize what this means to the people around me
Which is that I hold the light in my sister, parents and friends’ eyes, within me.
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And I am in awe of this resilience of love.
..To stand and regain its strength and the strength of its bearer even in the face of what looked like abysmal pain.
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This project is dedicated to everyone who is going through hardship during this time of the year. Loss is a part of life, and I like most people have experienced my own share of it in different forms. Christmas lost the unadulterated immaculate joy I felt as a child, and the goal of this project is to show that duality of experiencing such a joyful celebration with a hint (or more) of melancholy. For everyone who may have lost loved ones, or have loved ones far from home this Christmas, or are dealing with the holiday blues, please know that you are not alone and this post if for you. <3
It’s okay to feel down, it’s okay to not feel the excitement for Christmas you once did, it only means you’re human. We’re all sending you so much love this season, with plenty of hugs and kisses. Keep fighting, keep being strong, and keep keeping on.
 For me, Christmas over time has evolved to be more than a time to receive presents, but more importantly a time to celebrate love and give to others in a way that brings light and hope to their lives. I’d love to encourage everyone this season to give in their own little way, you never know how much of a difference you’ll be making. Like one of my favorite people (Maya Angelou) once said –
“Be a rainbow, in another person’s cloud”. 
And on that note, on behalf of everyone who was a part of this effort, thank you so much for reading!
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To Shalom, (@mensu_writings), your words always transport me and give me a sense of belonging, thank you.
To Jackie, (@jvllustrations) the message behind all you do with your illustrations and the person you are immensely inspire me, thank you.
To Dillon, it was such an honor working with you, you brought light to my day, and are simply one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. Thank you.
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SHORT STORY WRITTEN BY @MENSU_WRITINGS
ILLUSTRATION BY @JVLLUSTRATIONS 
PHOTOGRAPHER – @DILLON_IVORY
STYLIST/MODEL – THE NERDLY BEAUTIFUL
HAIR/MAKEUP – THE NERDLY BEAUTIFUL
CREATIVE DIRECTOR – THE NERDLY BEAUTIFUL
Dress – JJSHOUSE | Flower Crown – Etsy | Blanket – Pier 1 Imports 

     Happy Holidays!

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