12 Plays of Christmas: A Letter to Santa

Maurice Weichert never appreciated gifts given to him by strangers as most of them were usually old tat, but once at an office party many moons ago, a forgotten-named someone, as a Secret Santa, heard that he liked to write so she gave him a stationery set which he thought to be quite impressive. It went unused, of course, because he lived in an era where handwritten letters had gone the way of the dinosaur. And how fitting it was that a dinosaur was now on the hunt to retrieve it.

He exhumed the set from the bottom of a box shoved in the back of the bedroom closet, and to his surprise, it was still in pristine condition. Clearing a spot on the dining table, he paired the parchment with two other gifts from long-ago holidays, a Montblanc pen and a glass of Gonzalez Byass Apóstoles Sherry.

Maurice wasn’t much of a drinker, which explained why the sherry remained untouched all these years but he required a bit of liquid courage so he downed the glass in one, poured himself another, uncapped his pen and commenced to write his letter. Having not written for quite a long while, his penmanship wasn’t as crisp as it once was and added to that fact was the tremor in his hand brought on by age and nervousness.

Dear Santa,

It has been ages since I last wrote to you and I realize that I am far too old to start doing it again but I am not requesting anything from you, besides the loan of a moment of your time. As the winner of the unluckiest lottery, meaning that I have somehow managed to outlive my parents, siblings, wife and all my friends, I could not think of another living soul who would care to read this besides yourself.

I am a lonely man.

You have no idea how this desolation of companionship feels, having no one to inquire about what is going on in your life or inside your head, no one to challenge your philosophies in a deep conversation, no one to hold you during the silent hours of the night when the mind buzzes with nihilistic inevitabilities, no one to protect thereby giving your life a sense of purpose, no one to hand control over to on the days when you are not quite strong enough, no one to occupy the dead spots and the void inside of you that books, music, television and movies are not capable of filling.

And then there are the visitations from memory ghosts of loved ones and special people and people who could have been special if only you had not gotten in your own way and run them off, ghosts of better times and better days that you would gladly give anything, even your immortal soul, to step back into and relive just one more time, ghosts of conversations when you said the wrong things to people who did not deserve it and were too stubborn to apologize for.

You have no idea how much it hurts to be isolated from the world at large, to know that you still have love to give but not a single solitary soul to offer it to, still have jokes to tell but no one to laugh at them, experiences to share and knowledge to impart that no one cares to hear.

What is a man to do when his life no longer has direction, and his spark has been doused a decade ago? What happens when he can no longer compartmentalize all the sadness, anger, guilt, heartache, hopelessness, and worthlessness? How does he stop his mundane existence from draining and crippling his soul as it makes his world grow smaller by the day and it gets harder to breathe and he can’t clear the fog from his head—

The pen dropped from Maurice’s hand almost as if in protest. This wasn’t the letter he intended to write. The plan was to create a magnum opus, the letter to Santa to end all letters, a missive that succinctly encapsulated his existence, but this…this was soppy cringe-worthy drivel. He would have to start it all over again, perhaps creating an outline this time to better organize his thoughts.

Crumpling the letter into a ball, he tossed it absently in the direction of the wire mesh waste bin…when a hand snatched it out of the air.

Standing behind him in full regalia was Father Christmas himself, jolly old Saint Nicholas, who said, “I’ll take that. It was meant for me anyway, wasn’t it?”

“Santa?” Maurice felt like he was having a hypnagogic hallucination, the kind that occurred during the transition between REM sleep and wakefulness.

“In the flesh, Reese,” Santa said. “Do you mind if I call you Reese? I’ve watched you all your life and calling you Maurice just seems so formal. You can call me Nick if you like, or Kris. Either one is fine.”

 “What are you doing here?”

“You wrote me a letter.”

“And you personally visit everyone who writes to you?”

“Not usually, no, but I had a little downtime and thought, what the heck?”

“But how did you get here?”

“The usual way.”

“No, I mean how did you get here so fast? The letter isn’t even written yet.”

“The final version hasn’t been completed, but I know when someone is writing me a letter.”

“That’s impossible.”

Santa patted his belly and said, “I can fit this bulk through any chimney without getting stuck or catching fire, can levitate back up said chimney by touching my nose and nodding, I know the names of every person on the planet and if they’ve been naughty or nice, among other things…and my instantly knowing when someone writes a letter addressed to me is the thing you’re questioning?”

“I guess you’re right. Well, I think you wasted a trip because I wasn’t asking for anything, I just needed to air a few things out.”

Santa uncrumpled the letter and read it to himself. When he finished, he said, “Your feelings are valid and even though you think I don’t understand what you’re going through, believe me, I do. And you’re not alone in feeling this way, especially at this time of year. You’re also not dead yet, and what I mean by that is stop acting like you are. If you take good care of yourself, barring any accidents, you’ve got, at the bare minimum, twenty good years ahead of you. Years that you can make count for something instead of rotting away in a mausoleum of the past.”

Maurice was about to speak when Santa raised a hand to stop him. “Can we discuss what you didn’t get around to including in the letter, Reese? I’ve been at this a long time and have received millions of letters similar to this…”

There was a knock at the apartment door.

“I thought we’d have more time,” Santa said with a sigh. “You should get that, it’s for you.”

“Why did you sigh?” fear struck Maurice’s heart like a match. “I don’t like the way you said that. Who’s at the door?”

“Only one way to find out.”

Maurice approached his apartment door the way a hazardous devices technician approached a suspicious package. His hand hovered above the knob until he could muster the courage to open the door, and there he saw…

A frazzled woman, roughly his age, maybe a little younger, with shoulder-length silver hair, wearing a red and white Santa cap with the words Merry Christmas emblazoned on it.

“Hi, my name is Davina, and don’t worry, I’m not a crazy person, well, maybe a little, but fun-crazy not scary-crazy, I even wore the Santa hat to prove that I’m basically harmless, see?” Davina offered a toothy grin and pointed at the hat. “Anyway, I’m new to the building, your next-door neighbor, actually, and I hate to be a bother, especially so close to Christmas because you’re probably wrapping expensive presents or preparing some fantastic meal or binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix, or something important like that, but I really need to use your phone. It’s not a long-distance call or a phone scam to steal your identity or a call to some expensive sex chatline or anything weird like that, I just moved in today and I’ve got no electricity, gas or phone. It was all supposed to be on when I got here, but you know how these utility companies are, they get around to it when they get around to it because you’re always on their time and not vice-versa. So, would that be okay? Using your phone?”

Davina’s introduction was as rapid as machine-gun fire and Maurice stood in stunned silence for a long moment attempting to process it all. When his brain finally caught up, he said, “Um, sure. The phone’s just this way.”

He let her into the apartment and his brain began working overtime trying to invent a reason for Santa Claus to be sitting in his home, but when they entered the living room, Saint Nicholas was nowhere to be found.

“I’m so glad you’re home and you’re nice, you are nice, aren’t you? I think you’re nice and I’m usually a good judge of character, except when it comes to boyfriends, but why would you need to know that? I’m sorry, I tend to be a chatterbox when I’m nervous which is practically all the time, anyway, what was I saying, oh yeah, I’m so glad that you’re home and you’re letting me use your phone. I would have used my cell but the battery died while I was on hold with the electric company and I couldn’t recharge it because, you know, no electricity. Speaking of which, would it be okay if I charged my phone here?”

“Sure, the socket’s right by the phone.”

“You are a lifesaver, and I promise I’ll be out of your hair in no time.”

“It’s fine, take your time, no rush,” Maurice said still in a haze but he was present enough to remember his manners. “I’m not a coffee drinker but if you don’t mind tea, I can put the kettle on, or can I offer you a glass of water or juice, perhaps?”

“Oh, no, I don’t want to put you through any additional trouble.”

“If it was trouble, I wouldn’t have offered.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

“Then tea would be lovely, but nothing with caffeine, please. You wouldn’t want to see me all jittery, trust me.”

He had absolutely no doubt about that. “The phone’s all yours, pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable.”

In the kitchen, Maurice found a note taped to the tea kettle, written in perfect cursive on his stationery, which read:

Much like yourself, Davina has always remained on my nice list, but she’s gone through a bit of a rough patch recently and could use a friend who specializes in kid glove treatment. I know it’s a huge imposition and I wouldn’t dream of asking if I had any other options available to me, but I was wondering if you could help me out on this one as I simply don’t have the time or resources to handle this matter in the manner which it deserves. I would owe you big time and you never know when calling in a Santa favor could come in handy.

Oh, her utilities will be turned on in two hours, which should give you plenty of time to make her acquaintance.

Thanks for the assist, Reese, and Merry Christmas!

Love,

– Santa

PS. If you decide to write me a letter next year, please put out some cookies and milk. The Missus has me on a strict diet and the only time I get to snack is when I’m out on business.

The Isle of Winston

John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself,” but this was not true, not in Winston Brooke’s case, at least. He spent the majority of his days chipping away at the connection, until he was not “a piece of the continent, a part of the main,” as the poem suggested. He was born alone, lived his life apart from others, and would surely die in the same manner.

This did not mean that he hadn’t had encounters. He found love once and he fell completely head over heels. But she hadn’t fallen, neither head nor heel, so she departed, leaving him oh so utterly alone, thus cementing his decision to cut ties with anything remotely resembling society.

But even as an island, he still received reminders, things that washed up on the shore from the life he left behind; old love letters rolled tight in bottles, forgotten memories carved onto driftwood, secrets whispered into conch shells, and so many pieces of his broken heart that arrived every single day.

As he had no further need for these keepsakes, no need for companions, no need for rescue, Winston tossed the flotsam of his former existence back into the sea, and kept his island deserted and camouflaged from the notice of humankind.

Many years later, the infamous she, the breaker of his heart, rowed her boat ashore, after realizing her mistake and returning to make amends, found Winston’s desiccated remains. His independent island had become his silent grave, and now the acre upon acre of desolation and loneliness belonged solely to her, as the certificate of ownership changed hands.

Text and Audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

This Simple Truth

It was a dark and stormy night, the type of night I had grown all too familiar with of late—when all my estranged family and distant friends slept but I couldn’t because all the regrets of my life raged in my mind with an unbearable intensity along with the enduring question—

Why am I alone?

Religion had given me assurances that I was never truly alone and family swore up and down that someone would always be there for me, yet despite all this, one dreary day I slipped on a patch of sadness and plunged into a depression so deep, so far out of human reach that not one single person, a collective of people, or even an all-powerful, all-knowing deity was able to catch my fall.

There was a saying along the lines of “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” which was true I suppose but it wasn’t always in a positive way. I adapted to my loneliness and was now quite capable of being alone in a crowded room. I could not find camaraderie or companionship with the people around me, and as a writer, not even with the people in my mind, the ones that I had breathed life into.

Even my own reflection couldn’t be bothered to be in my company. Instead, it turned its back on me, facing the mirror-image room behind itself and whispered, “You have been lonely your entire life and now you will be all alone until the day you eventually die.”

And with this simple truth, slick sheets of tears poured from the storm clouds of azure eyes, streaking black and violet lightning across the alabaster plain of the loneliest face on the planet.

Text and Audio ©2016 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Who were you?

While her mind was idle one Wednesday morning, Marnie came to the realization that she was completely alone in the world. Not lonely, that was a different creature entirely, and she enjoyed her own company a little too much to ever feel lonely for long. She was alone. Despite her ability to effectively communicate with people and mingle socially when the occasion called for such a thing, despite the friends she had that would have come to her aid if asked, and sometimes unasked, no other person occupied space within her personal bubble.

But what was the cause? Who was to blame? Her parents? Her environment? A quick-to-judge society built on the foundation of superficial glamor? No, none of these. If truth be known, and why shouldn’t it be, the culprit was herself. It all came down to her unwillingness to assimilate. She just refused to do it.

Some long forgotten hurt in her past made her create a world where family and friends were strangers and strangers were stranger still. She was a distant friend to a select few and kin to no one, and could easily manage to be alone in a crowded room, untouched in an embrace, and unloved in a relationship. Nothing penetrated, nothing permeated,  nothing ever touched her. Nothing real, that is. She knew she could feel. This was made evident by her ability to empathize with television and movie characters, which made her wonder if perhaps life would have seemed a little more real if it came equipped with a soundtrack and the occasional laugh track.

And she would have continued on her isolated path if not for her grandmother who, on her deathbed and oblivious to the surrounding family, recounted random stories from her childhood. She stopped abruptly in mid-sentence and in a moment of seeming clarity, locked eyes with Marnie and asked, “Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?”

Marnie hadn’t known the words belonged to Charles Bukowski, and with all due respect to the author, it hadn’t mattered. The only thing that was of any importance was the fact that her need for separation from the world was a lie.

Before the opinions of others mattered, she loved to play games without caring about winning or losing, to sing without worrying about being in key, dance without knowing the moves, and love wholeheartedly without fear of rejection. After being away so long, was it too late to return to those humble and innocent beginnings? Marnie had no idea, but she was determined to give it a try.

Space Case

Everyone I knew wrote me off as a space case, as if I was insane or some sad eccentric with little grip on reality but none of them, not a single solitary person, bothered to get to know me, to peer beyond this veil of all too fragile flesh in order to witness the infinitude that lay within.

©2020 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

This Simple Truth

It was a dark and stormy night, the type of night I had grown all too familiar with of late—when all my estranged family and distant friends slept but I couldn’t because all the regrets of my life raged in my mind with an unbearable intensity along with the enduring question—

Why am I alone?

Religion had given me assurances that I was never truly alone and family swore up and down that someone would always be there for me, yet despite all this, one dreary day I slipped on a patch of sadness and plunged into a depression so deep, so far out of human reach that not one single person, a collective of people, or even an all-powerful, all-knowing deity was able to catch my fall.

There was a saying along the lines of “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” which was true I suppose but it wasn’t always in a positive way. I adapted to my loneliness and was now quite capable of being alone in a crowded room. I could not find camaraderie or companionship with the people around me, and as a writer, not even with the people in my mind, the ones that I had breathed life into.

Even my own reflection couldn’t be bothered to be in my company. Instead, it turned its back on me, facing the mirror-image room behind itself and whispered, “You have been lonely your entire life and now you will be all alone until the day you eventually die.”

And with this simple truth, slick sheets of tears poured from the storm clouds of azure eyes, streaking black and violet lightning across the alabaster plain of the loneliest face on the planet.

©2016 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

The Ennui of This Moment

He really did try his damnedest to live his life in a productive manner, the only bit of advice he retained from his absentee father before he faded like the memory of a dream upon waking, but despite his efforts, it seemed as though he hadn’t made one definitive move in the right direction. There had been baby steps, to be sure, all down the vaunted paths less traveled, but for every baby step forward, life managed to push him two adult paces back, which racked up a ton of negative miles on his life odometer pushing his right direction destination so far forward it blinked out of existence on the horizon.

He heard that knowledge was power and he was very knowledgeable in the fact that life was what happened to you when you made other plans but of what use was that now? What was the answer? To grin and bear it? To roll with the punches? To play the hand he was dealt? Not exactly proactive, was it? And when he discovered knowledge did not necessarily mean answers, he was left with another riddle to heap upon the compost mound of riddles he accumulated over the course of his misbegotten life: When did the real answers come? Answers that counted for something?

Did they come in the middle of the night, when the pillow whispered his dreams back to him, or was the house creaking an Aramaic Morse code about his destiny as it settled each night? Or was everything realized the moment he awoke from a nightmare, in that flash second when you didn’t know where he was or what was real from what was illusion and the fear gripped him like a tangled, sweat-soaked bed sheet?

Then he began to suspect the answer didn’t exist within us, not singularly, anyway. What if each and every human being contained some small piece of a larger puzzle and all it took was the connection of communication to fit the pieces together? There was a saying acquired from a passing acquaintance that went, “You were never more than five minutes driving distance from an absolute stranger that had the ability to care for you, perhaps they could not offer love unconditionally, but they honestly cared about what happened to you.”

But he destroyed that somewhere along the way. He made strangers out of relatives and friends and instead of concentrating on what made people alike, he focused on what makes them different. And there really wasn’t a great love for people who were different from our visions of ourselves, was there?

He wasn’t what anyone would call a spiritual being, nor did he reside anywhere in that neighborhood, but he knew that there was a tremendous energy that existed in this moment. Right here. Right now. He just couldn’t seem to tap into it. He was far too busy shrugging off the past and contemplating the future to focus on how he was feeling in the moment, or alarmed at the lack of what he was feeling at present. And perhaps that was the real issue. Perhaps he overthought his existence instead of simply existing.

But who wanted to merely exist? To live life on cruise control? He wanted to be consumed in a fiery passion of–of…well, therein lie the problem. He didn’t know what he should have been passionate about anymore. It was like someone or something blew out the pilot light of his passion so that even the things that used to fascinate him barely held his interest anymore. It was like he outgrew his old life and emerged into a void. Waves of ennui assaulted him daily and though he realized that he must accept thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations as they came (accept, surrender, observe, and then, let go)…this didn’t change the fact that this existence, in this incarnation, has grown tiresome.

The ennui of this moment was overwhelming. He had the urge to deaden his senses with the mindless distraction of television, but instead, sat silently and surrendered. He submitted to what was. He allowed himself to feel himself; to truly experience the exactness of this infinite moment without judgment or ridicule. The difficulty of this task reminded him of a college professor’s eloquent analogy of The Tao:

“The current in a river carries you. If you try to swim upstream, you break the flow, you struggle. If you see a rock and you attempt to hold tightly onto it, the water will shove, thrust, push against you until your arms weaken and your body aches. Work with the current and the current works with you; work against the current and the current works against you. The only way to avoid the struggle is to simply flow; allow the river to carry you, surrender to all that is, and your course – even when rough – will be tranquil.”

He needed to learn to give up the struggle. Or rather, he knew to give up the struggle, now he needed to practice doing so. Upset by what was, angered by what wasn’t, worried about what would be, and anxious of what strife may come, he couldn’t even see the now, let alone feel it, taste it, touch it and live in it.

He couldn’t just flow. I couldn’t stop swimming upstream, or clutching to all that was inconsequential.

No matter how hard he tried.

©2019 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys