Alex laid on the bed smirking at me as I pulled on a pair of boxers and a plain white tank top. He was still naked in bed after having woken me up with some extra Christmas spirit this morning. “You could make breakfast naked,” Alex chuckled.
He knew my answer, but I gave him the look anyway. He laughed, “I know, I know, you’d burn your purty little body.” As he said the words, he stretched out on the bed, and the sheet fell from his body, giving me the whole show. My mouth watered at the temptation to stay for round two. I hesitated for a moment, then blew my love a kiss and headed out the bedroom door.
Three steps down the hall and into the living space, I froze. I claim I’m not a neat freak. It’s one of the things I point out the differences between. I don’t clean, dirt and dust don’t bother me to extreme cleanliness. But everything has its place.
I stared at the glitter-covered surfaces of the couch and the tables, tinsel hung from the ceiling and curtains. Even the ceiling fan was sporting a new silver glint. And in the middle of the room sat the fucking elven doll the kids named Glitter. Fucking elf on the shelf craze had us moving the mundane non-magic toy around the house. It got into things it shouldn’t. Things like the cookie jar, or the plant my dad had given me.
The kids knew it wasn’t real. How could they believe in the fake magic of Christmas when they had real magic? Even Quinn, who had grown up with her human mother in a human world, knew that Santa wasn’t real. Rider had persuaded us to play along, even if everyone knew it was fake. I regretted that decision now.
My heart sped up, and my breath quickened. Chaos tumbled through my head. The silence of the room echoed in my ears, but people piled out from every direction. Alex pulled on a pair of sweatpants as he hopped out of the bedroom door. He stopped behind me with a hand on the small of my back that wrapped around my waist.
Quinn and Cass rounded up the rest of the kids with a mental shout. They all came from various sides of the apartment, and we all stared at the chaos of the room. Eddie, the stupid gray cat, walked through the middle of a large pile of multi-colored glitter. His tiny feet left footprints on the wood floor, and I lost what little control I had.
Noone stopped me as I turned around and went back to my room. I locked the door and curled up in a corner and tried to hold it together. I focused on the voice in my head. It’s okay, pretty boy, we’ll get this cleaned up.
Other words were shifting in my head, words that only Alex could say to calm me down. Things he didn’t even have to say to help. He went through my litany with me. Five things I can see. Four things I can touch, and that’s usually where we got stuck when Alex helped me. Touching almost always resulted in graphic images of things we’d rather be doing. Things we had done earlier that morning. And while it interrupted the flow of the coping mechanism, it worked better than the rest. Distraction was always a good thing, and Alex was King of Distraction. And I loved him for it.
I don’t know how long I sat on the floor in the corner of the room, wearing only my boxers and tank top. Alex walked into the room and carried a tray of homemade breakfast. “Rider made breakfast,” he said as he sat the tray with food for two on the floor. “No one is claiming the deed. For obvious reasons.”
I shook my head, “Why would anyone do that? It’s not like this,” I waved to myself sitting on the floor, “is a big secret.”
Alex shook his head. “I don’t know. But the doll needs to go.”
No! Don’t let Dad get rid of it. Quinn called out in my head, and Alex’s as well from his wince at the loudness of his daughter’s pathing ability.
We’ll clean up the mess. Santa won’t come if he’s gone. Cass cried out, but her giggles soon echoed in my head. Humans are so silly.
I looked at Alex. He grinned, “Up to you.” In my head, Alex played through various methods of destroying the offending elf.
“Fine,” I said out loud. Both girls sighed with relief. “Now get out of my head.”
Alex shook his head, “You were projecting .”
I sighed, “I’m sorry.”
Alex grinned, “I’m used to it, so are they.” He took a few bites of his pancakes and frowned before he asked, “You okay?”
“I will be,” I said. And I was until the next morning when it happened again. Glitter decorated the kitchen along with paper snowflakes.
I spent the whole morning running as a distraction. Alex and I had lunch at his place. And he promised me that it was safe to come home.