Jordan was watching the little rabbit hop across the snow-covered ground toward the fir tree in the dark corner of the fenced-in area. He had come here with his dad to get their family Christmas tree, and his old man would surely be mad because he had wandered off, but at this moment Jordan didn’t care; he was mesmerized by the cute little animal, just a few steps in front of him. The rabbit – or maybe it was a bunny, Jordan didn’t really know the difference – stopped and wiggled its nose, sniffing the air for a few seconds before hopping on, closer and closer to the tree. It sniffed again at a low hanging branch, its soft little nose barely touching the dark green needles.

Suddenly the bunny-rabbit let out an eerie shriek and hopped backwards – or at least it tried to. Somehow its nose was stuck to the branch. Jordan supposed it must be because of the sticky sap, even though it was hard to believe that tree sap could hold anything bigger than a fly. The little animal was thrashing around wildly now, clearly panicking, but it just couldn’t get away. On the contrary, as its flailing body came in contact with other branches, they too seemed to stick to its fur.

Jordan stared open mouthed at what was happening right in front of him. More and more branches were sticking to the animal; it almost appeared as if they were reaching out to grab the poor little thing. The white fur of the bunny-rabbit was turning pink in some places where the fir needles were breaking the skin. Jordan wanted to turn around and run, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the struggle, let alone move away. It was almost as if he were hypnotized and rooted to the ground.

Eventually the exhausted animal was slowing down. It was almost completely wrapped in fir branches now, with only its twitching ears sticking out. Then it was slowly pulled into the tree until Jordan couldn’t see it anymore. But he could still hear the noises; sharp cracks followed by slurping sounds. Just like the noises his dad made when he was breaking chicken bones apart to suck out the marrow. A few moments later, a small gray ball came flying out of the tree and landed right in front of Jordan’s feet. The boy looked down, and when he saw the small pile of fur and broken bones, the spell holding him finally broke and he turned around and ran.

He didn’t get very far though. After just a few feet, he bumped into a guy and fell hard onto his butt, bruising his tailbone. Jordan looked up, tears welling in his eyes, and saw his dad looking down on him.

“There you are, you useless little shit!” Jordan’s dad said, taking a swig from the bottle he was carrying in a brown paper bag. “What do you think you’re doing, wandering off like that? Now get up and let’s get a stupid fucking tree, so we can get back home. If I’m going to miss the start of the game because of you, you’re going to be sorry!”

Jordan quickly stood up, sniffling a little, trying to hold back the tears. He took a deep breath, pointed at the fir tree in the corner and said, “I think that one is just perfect for us. It’s nice and straight.”

“What do you know about straight, you bent little sissy boy?” his dad muttered under his breath, but he walked over to the tree anyway. “Fucking trees all look the same anyway. Should have gotten a fake tree years ago, then I wouldn’t have to spend more money every year and could get myself a good bottle of Bourbon instead. Now let’s get this thing and … what the hell?”

Jordan calmly watched as the fir tree embraced his father in its long green arms. When the screams started, he just smiled and slowly walked away. This was going to be the best Christmas ever!

Published January 2, 2016

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