the sun is hidden
behind the clouds
the sun goes down
i see it fall
i write your name
at the grocery store
i want to see
what it's like to be you
i'm lying down
it's raining now
when things are gone
you can't have them back
i close my eyes
it's late at night
i hope i won't
have that dream again
Tori Spring, 25th December
I wake up two hours after I fall asleep. The amount of sleep I get on Christmas Eve seems to be steadily decreasing each year, probably because each year my average falling-asleep time gets steadily later, probably because I’m an internet-addicted idiot. Maybe eventually I’ll just stop sleeping altogether and become a vampire. I’d be good at that.
Not gonna bother complaining about my sleeping pattern right now because it’s Christmas and this is the one day of the year when I should at least try not to complain about something. This is hard when your seven year old brother is hitting you in the face with a pillow at six o’clock in the morning.
I say something along the lines of, “Nooooo,” and retreat under my duvet, but this doesn’t stop Oliver from following, tearing back the covers and crawling onto my bed.
“Tori,” he whispers. “It’s Christmas.”
“Are you awake?”
“Oliver... go wake Charlie up.”
“Mum said I wasn’t allowed because he’s ill.” He starts ruffling my hair. “Toriiiiiiii-”
“Ugh.” I roll over and open my eyes. Oliver is completely under the covers, looking at me, wriggling with excitement, his hair sticking up on end like a dandelion. Charlie and I have discussed at length how it is possible that Oliver can be at all related to us, since he’s the literal embodiment of joy and we’re both miserable fucks. We concluded that he must have got all of the happy genes.
Oliver has a Christmas card in his hands.
“Why do you have a-”
He opens the card and a disgustingly cheerful version of ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ begins to play right into my ear.
I groan and shove Oliver off the bed with one hand. He rolls onto the floor and bursts into giggles.
“So annoying,” I mutter, before sitting up and turning on my bedside lamp, resulting in a shriek of “YAY!” from Oliver. He begins to wander around my room, opening and closing the card, repeating the first two notes over and over again, and my eyes are opening and closing like they do in my early morning English lessons, the realisation that it’s Christmas day creeping over me and I guess I feel kind of... I don’t know. It’s not exactly a normal Christmas day this year.
Christmas is okay at our house. It’s chilled. Quiet. Dad calls it a Spring Christmas, which he thinks is hilarious, for some reason. We open presents when we wake up, then family come over for Christmas dinner and stay until late, and that’s it. I play multiple video games with my brothers and cousins, Dad always gets drunk, my Spanish grandfather (Dad’s Dad) has an argument with my English grandfather (Mum’s Dad) – truly wonderful stuff.
It’s a bit different this year because Charlie’s been ill and he only came back from the hospital two weeks ago. Everything’s been pretty stressful because Charlie’s got this food regime that he has to follow and he hates it and Mum and Charlie aren’t really getting along and Charlie doesn’t want to join in Christmas dinner and to cut a long story short, nobody has been feeling very Christmassy at all.
I sometimes feel Christmassy because everything is pretty and not boring for once, but at the same time, the amount of Christmas couples kissing under the mistletoe on my Tumblr dashboard really needs to calm down. And this winter, I haven’t been feeling very cheerful or anything. I thought maybe it was because of the Charlie stuff but I think it might just be me. Just being another self-pitying sixteen-year-old girl for newspapers to criticise, I suppose. I’m sure I’ll get over myself eventually.
I pick up my phone, ignore the notifications, and text Becky, my best friend.
(06:16) Tori Spring
HAPPY CHRISTMAS. Be thankful you don’t have siblings. I am tired. Oliver threw a pillow at me. Enjoy sleep. Bye. xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Mum and Dad said we can’t wake them up until at least 7:30. It’s 6:17 now. No. 6:29. I get up and open my curtains to find the world still dark, tinged yellow from the street lamps. I fall back into bed and put the radio on. It’s playing a quiet hymn instead of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ for once. It’s nice. Oliver is spinning around in my desk chair and a choir is singing ‘Silent Night’, my eyes are closing again and Oliver’s sitting in my bed with me, the musical card on a pile of clothes on the floor, it’s 6:42, 6:55, Oliver’s pulling my hair gently, he’s talking about what presents he wants and whether Father Christmas ate the biscuits we left him and I’m mumbling something, I don’t know what, I’m drifting off-
And then my bedroom door opens again.
I wake up for the tenth time. It’s Charlie, my other brother, who’s fifteen, just visible through the dim light standing at the door in a navy Adidas sweatshirt and checked pyjama bottoms. He looks tired but he’s smiling. “You awake?”
“No,” I say. “I’m having an out-of-body experience. I’m just my ghost.”
Charlie snorts and enters my room, shutting the door softly behind him. I turn to Oliver, who has fallen asleep against my shoulder, and give him a little nudge with my elbow. He snaps awake and sees Charlie.
“CHARLIE’S HERE!” he yells and charges from the bed towards him, slamming into his legs and almost causing him to fall over. Charlie laughs and picks Oliver up like he’s a baby, which he does at least once a day, causing him to giggle. “Wow, you’re very awake, aren’t you?”
“Can we go downstairs yet?”
Charlie carries Oliver towards my bed. “Nope, Mum said 7:30.”
“Arrghhhh.” Oliver wriggles in Charlie’s arms and drops down next to me, immediately snuggling under the covers, and then Charlie sits down next to him against the headboard.
“Ugh. Younger brothers are annoying,” I say, but I’m sort of grinning too. I curl up under the duvet. “Couldn’t you stay in your own beds?”
“Just doing our job.” Charlie smiles. “Are you listening to Radio 4? What’s with the church music?”
“I don’t even know. I don’t think I can deal with Mariah Carey at this time of the morning anyway.”
Charlie laughs. “Me neither.” Like Oliver, his hair is sticking up from his forehead, though it’s not as manically curly. He’s got purple circles under his eyes and I can’t remember what he looks like without them anymore. Aside from that, he looks almost his normal self, all long-limbed and gentle and healthy. Like he was early this year before he stopped eating.
“I only slept for like two hours,” I say.
“Same,” he says, but I think his lack of sleep might be from different reasons to mine.
“How many presents does Father Christmas give you when you’re seven?” asks Oliver, who’s now standing up on my bed and trampling over the duvet. Charlie and I laugh.
“Seven,” says Charlie, decidedly. “The same as the number of years you’ve been alive.”
“So... when I’m eighty, I’ll get eighty presents?”
Charlie prods Oliver in the chest and he falls over with a laugh. “Only if you’ve been good!”
“I can’t wait till I’m eighty.”
It’s good that we’re all back together now. It felt weird, just me and Oliver and Mum and Dad. I’m glad it doesn’t have to be like that forever.
“Can you imagine being a really old man with a walking stick?” Charlie says, putting on an old man voice, and Oliver giggles, shuffling up to join us against the headboard. Charlie’s smile is contagious.
They start playing I Spy. Today’s going to be difficult for everyone, but everyone has difficult days, I guess. I used to think that difficult was better than boring, but I know better now. There have been a lot of difficult days in the past few months. There have been too many difficult days.
“Happy Christmas,” says Charlie, without any warning. He leans over Oliver and rests his head on mine. I lean a little too, my head on his shoulder. The radio plays. I think the sun is rising, or it might just be the streetlamps. I’m not going to think about the past few months, about Charlie and me, about all of the sad. I’m going to block it all out. Just for today.
“Happy Christmas,” I say.
I try not to fall asleep again but I still do, Oliver’s laugh ringing in my ears.
aaaaand it's day 5! THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME ON THIS MAGICAL CHRISTMAS SOLITAIRE ADVENTURE! i hope you're all having a joyous day today. i hope you enjoyed the 5 Days of Solitaire. if you don't, well, too bad, because i LOVED writing it. there may even be a bonus New Year's story waiting around the corner.
thank you for reading! <3 <3 <3