Saint Cancer at Christmas

Andrea Marcusa

Tinsel swings from my teeth like spaghetti.  I’m sparkling, brazen, and stuffing myself with Christmas. The Salvation Army Santa doesn’t believe his bushy white-browed eyes. He’s a tad glazed after one too many sips from that silver flask on his hip. He pivots to ring his bell as sensible wool coats crowd past. Heads down, scarved and hatted, arms so heavy with acquisitions they barely notice my feasting. No problem! I stretch my arm across the night, pluck a shining gold-striped package from one of their bags and pop it into my mouth. They recoil at the sight, then rush away into the night. The Santa stares, rubs his eyes, unsure of what he’s seen. I shriek with glee, then start on a darkened storefront’s holiday wreath, stuffing first the giant red ribbon into my mouth, then feel the Fraser Fur branches snap in my jaw. Soon the wreath, its red and gold balls, are all cracked and swallowed. The Santa glares and ring-rings his bell harder and louder.  He glances about and notices all the other red and white suits have left for the night. The evening is late, more storefronts close and still I feast. A string of colored lights, some tingling silver bells on a satin cord. Revelers crowding bars for a few before last calls, haven’t even noticed my gorging. But look! See them press their faces to the windows as I swallow this advent candle whole. 

The Santa frowns, shakes his bell, and curses feebly. He doesn’t understand.

I cannot know human suffering, or pain, or fear, or ruin. I’m alive tonight to make my mark. No malice or malfeasance meant. I’m simply driven to gobble and grow.

I hover right above the Santa’s red-capped skull. He flaps his arms and rings the bell high above his head. I reach down and seize a handful of coins from his pot and drop them one by one down my throat. 

I wink at Santa, bow to the revelers, let out a hoot, “I’ll be back!” Then take off on a winter gust and fly away in the festive dark.

ANDREA MARCUSA'S literary fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Booth, Citron Review,  River Styx, River Teeth and others. She’s received recognition from the writing competitions Glimmer Train, New Letters, Raleigh Review and Southampton Review. Andrea divides her time between creating literary works and photographs and writing articles on medicine, technology, and education.  Twitter @d_marcusa