I sat and waited.
But nobody came.
We used to keep the door open on New Year’s Eve.
Every year Mother would walk up to the door, at about ten, nudge it open gently, and walk back to the table where the rest of us would be smiling happily, laughing, probably playing a board game.
Mother would bring some juice, while Father would show us card tricks or teach us card games. Sister would sit, adoring the way Father explained the game, afterwards doing a little card trick, making her bounce up and down from amazement. Brother sat opposite to them, playing chess with me.
Mother would send snarky comments at us sometimes, teasing about either of us having lost the game, or bugged my father while he attempted to teach the smaller one a card trick.
That lasted till about, half an hour until midnight-
Then Stranger came.
They were usually wearing baggy clothes, grey, stained.
They just appear half an hour before midnight, and leave half an hour after.
Spending an hour with us all in all.
An hour exactly every year; at the beginning and at the end.
They'd always tell stories, about fluttering fairies, singing suns, dancing snowman, gigantic fireflies.
They said, that where they lived, the sky was always grey; but a pretty grey.
It's the kind of grey, that's just calming to the eye, the relaxing kind.
They said the trees sang the civilians to sleep, while the birds carried warmth from soul to soul, making sure it never freezes- while the butterflies always flew around followed by strings of refreshing air.
The first day they came, we were a bit surprised- but interested.
They told us stories, they gave us jokes they asked us to continue telling, so their words never die.
My mother always made sure to leave the door open from then on, resulting in Stranger coming every year.
Everything was like normal, until one year, it was different.
After some time, of course some things changed in the household-
Like the golden flowers that usually stood in the corner where now replaced with white daisies and a single sunflower, or how some of the chairs were replaced by other ones, due to a few of them breaking or screws going loose.
Stranger always commented on them, about how pretty our new flowers were- about how we finally sewed up the patch or ripped material on the couch.
Four years ago, something else changed, though.
Yes, the flowers died a bit- and we had a stool now, instead of one of our old wooden chairs, which was way too hard to sit on.
We also lacked new card games.
We lacked someone to show us card tricks.
We had juice, chess, smiles, but not card games.
Sister said she'll try learning them, so she'll be able to do them next year.
"It's slightly quieter, isn't it. Seemingly, the house has lost a bit of it's magic, didn't it? Card tricks always made everything more magical, didn't they? Just like the fairies in my little town."
Three years ago, I tried taking upon responsibility for the card tricks- it worked for a while. Though, Sister still smiled just as much, she didn't laugh at all. She couldn't really bring herself to.
Mother still made the best of drinks, though. Stranger seamed to really enjoy them. So, did we.
Stranger told his usual stories, of fairy dust and fluttering butterflies.
So, three years ago the flowers changed to tulips- they were pretty. We also exchanged all the chairs for stools. Those with the comfy cushions on top, you know.
I managed to show off a few card tricks, managed to remember how to play a few games, too.
Of course, we still played the usual game of chess.
Sister kept asking for Stranger to tell her stories, and he'd always agree, explaining how fairies would always fly around his hometown, how the butterflies would always bring gifts for everyone, while the bees would cook food for the villagers.
He told us jokes, gave us a few hugs here and there.
"It's slightly duller, now. Nobody is bringing us drinks anymore. Everyone is forgetting how to play card games. But at least the stools are comfortable. The flowers seem to be wilting- I'll be sure to bring new ones’ next year. I'll ask the bees to make cookies, and I'll be sure to share them with you"
Two years ago-
The flowers have all wilted, haven't be replaced. The dried leaves of a rose were scattered on the ground. The stools, which cushions have already worn of, stood all alone by the table.
As always, the door was open.
We'd sit on a chair, as he'd tell me stories.
He'd tell me about how the fairies in his town continued to make cookies for the villagers, how the bees flew around and supplied everyone with sweets, how the mice would bake cheesy goods.
I'd share a joke or two.
I'd try doing card tricks-
I'd make them a drink (it wasn't as good as mother made them).
I'd try playing chess- but in the end, tears would just spill.
That was the only time Stranger managed to win a game of chess.
One year ago, was a horrible year.
Problem after problem. Every day, it would be the same. Every sunrise would just add pain to the wound.
I was looking forward to the Christmas.
I'd see Stranger again- someone who'd talk to me.
Someone I could trust, someone I could talk to without worrying about tears.
I was so utterly, completely lonely.
My mind has already turned to water.
I was starting to forget words-
I was starting to forget faces.
Not any faces-
How could I, forget their faces.
I felt so much shame.
I felt it in my blood.
I was ashamed I couldn't collect myself.
I was ashamed I couldn't remember anyone.
I was so, so utterly ashamed that I was losing myself in this labyrinth of feelings.
So, I waited for Stranger to come.
...where is the nock at the door?
I'll fix up the flowers. Their a bundle of pretty roses.
I'll make myself a drink- I'll make two, one for me, one for stranger.
I'll drink this cup earlier- what difference does it have?
...I'll also drink Stranger's cup- I'll make them another when they come.
...Okay, maybe... maybe I could use a glass of water now.
...Happy Holidays.... to dad...?
...Happy Holidays to mother...?
...Happy Holidays to sister?
...Happy Holidays to me.
Happy Holidays to Stranger.
Thank you for coming here, every Christmas.
I sat and waited.
But no body came.
That was a year ago.
Now is a new year.
New year, new house, new changes.
Whose death will it be if I'm the only one left-