THE FOUR CANDLES
A Christmas Anthology by Wangew_Wick
The Second Candle: A “Soon-Mummah Specials” Christmas
It was Christmas Eve in the Richardson household. All the shopping was done, the decorations were up, and the kids had gone to bed. Pete and Hannah sat on the living room couch in front of the roaring fire waiting for the kids to drift off to sleep.
Because they knew their night was just beginning.
Hannah finished her third glass of Beaujolais and nuzzled against her husband’s neck. “Mmmm…do you think we’re in the clear now? They’ve been down for an hour.”
“Probably so. I’ll go put my ear to their doors just to make sure.” Pete stood up and set his pint glass on the coffee table, while his wife slumped over on the couch and giggled.
“Hey! Use a coaster, dumbass!”
Pete chuckled and shook his head as he reached for a coaster for the glass. As he turned to walk down the hall to the kids’ bedrooms, he could hear her talking (just a little too loudly).
“Aww, baby, I didn’t mean it! You’re not a dumbass. You’re actually a really smart ass. Heh heh…‘ass’,” she said, rolling herself over on the couch and slapped her ass. “Whaddya say, sweetie? You up for a round or two before we get started?”
The man sighed. Guess I’m gonna be putting all this shit together by myself tonight, he thought. His wife always got like this a few drinks in. He realized it was time to leave the office Christmas party last week after she whispered in his ear the suggestion that they invite Sara, his intern, to come home with them.
Since the kids were asleep, Pete decided it was safe to pull the “Santa gifts” down from the attic. He cringed as he remembered all the shit they’d decided to buy the kids this year: a new game system for Mark, his nine year old, a train set for Robbie, who had just turned seven, and (the mother-of-all-pain-in-the-ass-Christmas-Eve-projects) a Barbie Dream House for five year old Rebecca.
Hannah, who had started drooling on the arm of the couch, started awake. “Huh, what?”
“There’s one more present out in the garage.” And I forgot to feed the damn thing this afternoon.
Pete ran out to the garage and quickly returned with the last gift. His wife was absent-mindedly fondling a box when she looked up and realized what he had in his arms.
“I swear to god, I don’t know why they make these things so hard to op—oh my god, you found one!”
“Hewwo, nice wady! Be fwuffy’s nyu mummah? Wook! Fwuffy am mummah soon!”
The man quickly clamped a hand over the mare’s mouth. “Shhhhh! Don’t wake the kids up!”
The purple dam’s eyes shone as she looked around her new home. The tree was lit up with all sorts of pretty colors, and the fire burning in the fireplace gave the living room a nice, ambient glow. Even her babies seemed to leap for joy in her enormous tummy at the thought of living in a place so wonderful.
“But…how did you get one? Marcia said every store she went to was sold out!”
Pete smiled proudly as he stroked the pregnant mare. “Lenox Square got some in today. They only had one left.”
“Oh, baby, they’re gonna be so excited!”
The mare struggled against Pete’s hand until the man relented. “Fwuffy am su ‘cited fow meet nyu daddehs an’ nyu mummah, tuu!”
“Mmhmmm, I’m sure you are,” Pete said to the exuberant creature, “but you’re gonna have to be reeeally quiet for a while. They’re all sleeping right now, and you need to get some sleep, too! Here, let me fold up a blanket you can use as a bed. I’ll put it right here under the edge of the tree.”
“Fankoo, nice mistah!” the pregnant dam whispered. “Soon-Mummah get wotsa sweepies befowe see nyu daddehs an nyu mummah!”
“Good girl,” he said, stroking the soft purple fluffy and giving her another “sketti treat”.
“You know,” Hannah said in the most sultry voice she could manage while drunk, “Daddy’s been awfully good this year. Would he like to…open his present now?” She slipped her arms over his shoulders from behind and nuzzled his neck.
Pete shook his head. “That’s gonna have to wait, baby. Last thing we need is to pass out back there and have the kids wake up before all the presents are out.”
“Aww, you’re no fun.”
It took a while for the dam to go to sleep. All of the excitement of getting a new family and a new home were so overwhelming that she couldn’t control herself!
She dreamed happy dreams: she ran through green fields, happily chasing after balls and stacking blockies. She ate mountains of spaghetti, and hugged her now long gone special friend from the Georgia farm on which she had grown up.
But there was another presence in the dreams. A warm, loving sentience that had been getting stronger over the past few weeks. And then came the song:
“Mummah wuv babbehs…
Babbehs wuv mummah…
Dwink wots of miwkies…
Gwow up an be stwong… ”
She could almost make out the shapes of her babies in the dream. How she longed to give them huggies, and to sing to them, and to run and play with them all day long!
She would be a mummah…soon.
The thought filled her with so much joy that she audibly hummed her “mummah song” in her sleep loudly enough for Pete to hear as he struggled to assemble the Barbie Dream House.
He could also hear her stomach burbling, but shrugged it off as her system trying to right itself from being out of routine all day. By the time he realized what was actually happening, it was too late.
The bloated purple earthie awoke with a groan and a grunt, and then a stream of runny shit splattered the wall and a few of the low hanging Christmas tree branches.
“SCREEEEEEEEEEE!!! BIGGEST POOPIES!”
What followed next was unmitigated disaster. Pete attempted to re-hide the Christmas gifts that were supposed to be from Santa in the nearest closet, but Hannah was not in a position to help—she was too busy lying sprawled out on the sofa and snoring like a diesel truck.
“Shit, shit, shit, shit!” Several of the gifts were still in the boxes, so they were easy enough to manage. The biggest problems were the video game console, which Hannah (in her drunken stupor) had dumped all over the floor, and the Barbie Dream House, which seemed to have a thousand more little pieces that needed assembled. He had almost succeeded in getting all the little pieces swept up into a box when he looked up and saw his three kids standing before him.
And then silence, save for a still-groaning and shitting fluffy pony underneath the tree. But despite the fluffy’s obvious distress, no one seemed to notice her. The family were all too busy awkwardly staring at each other. Finally, it was nine year old Mark who spoke first.
“See?” he said, looking at his younger brother, “I told you. Didn’t I tell you Santa was really just mom and dad?”
Pete, sighed and looked at the floor, trying to think of some convoluted reason for his and their mother’s being in the living room with all the presents they had requested of the mall Santa. He thought he’d come up with half an answer by the time he looked up, only to catch five year old Rebecca’s tear-filled eyes.
“Oh, Becks, let me tell you–”
He never got to the end of that sentence. Most little girls have two vocal ranges: one they use for talking, singing, and fighting with their brothers, and a second range which starts at ear-splitting and reaches notes only audible to dogs, and which is used for truly egregious wrongs. Rebecca found this second range once Pete got to the word “you”.
The godawful sound was enough to awaken the elderly neighbors, startle Hannah awake (at which time she quickly moved to her daughter’s side), and to drown out the mare in labor. The household descended into total chaos.
“HNNNNNNNNNNNGHHH! Huu huu, someone pwease hewp fwuffy! Haf wowsest tummeh-owwies!”
The purple earthie struggled to be heard over the cacaphony in the room. Big mummah was trying to comfort little mummah, and big daddeh was trying to break up a fistfight between the two little daddehs. No one seemed to notice her pain—it was as if something inside her was trying to get out.
And then she realized that’s exactly what it was. “Mummahs! Daddehs! Babbehs am comin’!”
All of a sudden, she had the attention of every person in the room. The three kids all rushed to her side and started petting and poking her. Daddeh ran for the kitchen to get towels and water. Mummah just stood there and wrinkled her nose.
“Ewww…she got shit all over the wall! And the tree and the presents, too!”
“Hannah, just…just go to bed. I’m sure I can handle this. You need to get some rest.”
The fluffy watched as Mummah rolled her eyes and plodded off to the bedroom. “Oh, right, because the kids’ll be up early wondering what Santa brought them…oh, wait–that cat’s out of the bag!”
Then, another round of hurties started. “HNNNNNNNNGH! Owwies! Big huwties! Pwease be gud tu mummah!”
“Kids!” Daddeh shouted from the kitchen, “See if you can get her to calm down. It’ll help her get the foals out easier.”
“Ok, Dad,” the older of the little Daddehs said. All three kids started making over her and talking gently to her, trying to calm her nerves.
“Whoooo’s a good fluffy?”
“Aww, your fluff is so pretty!”
“Are you excited to have babies?”
“Yus, wittwe daddeh! Fwuffy su ‘cited tu be mummah! Babbehs am da bestes’ fing in da—HNNNNNNNNNNGHHHHH!”
“What else can we do to help her?” Robbie asked.
“Pwease gif mummah-soon—HNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGH—bestes’ huggies! Huggies make evewyfing bettew!”
“Hugs? Ok, we’ll give you lots of good hugs. Right, guys?” Mark looked at his little brother and sister, who both nodded in the affirmative. The kids hugged the dam and stroked her fluff, and even scratched behind her ears a few times.
“HNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGHHHHH! Owwies! Huu huu…”
The pain continued to get more intense and more frequent. “Biggest owwies need biggest huggies! Pwease gif mummah biggest huggies!”
All at the same time, the kids squeezed their new fluffy with all their might. Now, while the tightest hug a child can give will warm a parent’s heart, that same hug can have a completely different impact on a fragile, fuzzy balloon.
Shit. Just a minute too late. Pete had spent more time than he expected hunting down the rubbing alcohol, and so he had missed the big finish. He started back as soon as he heard the fluffy scream, and walked into the living room to find his kids standing over five perfectly-formed fluffy pony foals, each of which was chirping and writhing around on the soiled carpet.
“They’re so little!”
“Hey, look! This one has a little horn!”
“And this one has wings like a little angel,” Rebecca said, picking up a sticky pegasus foal with the same purple fluff as its mother. “I think that’s what I’ll call it.”
“Then since this one’s got a horn, I’ll name him Horny!” yelled Robbie.
Mark, being a fourth grader and, therefore, more worldly-wise, shook his head. “No, you can’t call him that! Name him something cool, like Spike!
Pete brought the towels over and started cleaning the foals, one by one. He gave Rebecca another clean towel for her hands, since she had picked up one of them without first realizing it would be sticky. The kids all chattered loudly, but their father could just barely hear a dull moan coming from beside them. Lying there, neglected and forgotten, was the spent mare. She lay on her side, her tongue lolling out of her mouth, with short, uneven breaths that barely caused her chest to rise.
“Huuuuuuuuu…tuu hawd huggies…huuuuuuuukaff**kaff”
The man started to clean the fluffy’s hindquarters, disgusted by the large amount of afterbirth she had. He grabbed it (through the towel) and gently tugged on it to get it out of the way. Only…it didn’t want to come off.
He wiped away more of the shit and blood that was starting to harden on the fluffy’s posterior and found a gash that seemed at once to be out of place. That was when Pete realized…
Oh, shit. She completely ripped her perineum.
Where the mare should have had two holes, she only had one. And that wasn’t afterbirth attached to her rear. Her anus had badly prolapsed.
There was no fixing her.
He turned to make sure the kids were still occupied by the chirping foals, and then quickly tiptoed back to the kitchen.
The dam could hear her new babies chirping behind her. The ones she had carried for weeks. The ones she had felt kicking with their tiny marshmallow hooves while they were still in her growing tummy. The ones she had dreamed about frolicking with in a wide grassy meadow, and to which she would sing songs, and teach to use a litter box and stack blockies.
She could also hear the children—her little mummah and little daddehs—giggling and cooing over her babies. Obviously they were coming to love her foals as she did. And why not? Babies are the best thing in the whole world!
Big Daddeh soon came back, but he had something white in his hand. He mumbled something under his breath about “can’t believe we didn’t get any more kitchen-size ones” and how “this’ll have to do”. As she felt his hands move the white thing under her back legs, she wanted to ask what he was doing, but it didn’t all come out.
“Shhhh,” he whispered, as he worked the grocery bag up to her front legs. He picked her up and carried her under his arm, not entirely unlike the way he had when he first brought her in and set her under the tree, and then he clamped his other hand over her mouth. Not that it made a difference, because she was too exhausted and in too much pain to make any sounds the kids could hear over their play.
“Mmmmph, mmmmkph, bffffff?” Whewe takin’, daddeh?
She had her answer in short order. A brief creeeeeak of the front door and she knew she was going outside. The cold blast of December air confirmed it.
“Mmmmkph, blphhhh!” Tuu cowdies, daddeh!
Daddeh tromped through the grass, straight into the dense fog that had set in. Neither man nor fluffy could see to the other side of the street, but it was no matter. They stopped at the curb in front of the Richardson’s house.
He opened the trash can lid and peered inside. “Shit. The rest of the bags’ll have to get set on the curb. Oh, well.”
His strong hand let go of the fluffy’s jaw as he set her down into the trash can. She weakly protested, but he ignored her. It was no use, anyway. She was beyond his help.
“Pwease, daddeh! Nu weave fwuffy in cowd, dawk pwace! Babbehs need mummah!”
But “Daddeh” didn’t listen. The fluffy lay facing the house—her eyes barely able to peer between the rim and the lid of the can—and so she watched him close the door behind him, leaving her all alone.
Trash in Atlanta got pushed back two days because of the holiday, and so the broken dam spent three whole days bemoaning her fate before she was finally hauled off to the landfill. That she could see the kids bottle-feeding her foals—their foals, now—was like salt in an open wound.
The kids were kind and gentle with the foals, and apart from one incident in which Rebecca tried to carry too many at one time, they didn’t come to any harm. But a fluffy mare doesn’t see things that way. Every time she saw one of the kids cradling a foal with a bottle, she could feel her milkie-places ache. And every time she saw Big Mummah giving one of them a big hug against her soft angora sweater, it was like a dagger in her heart. Those were huggies that she should be giving!
Didn’t her babies…need her at all?
Finally, the garbage truck came. Two men hopped out, grabbing bags that had piled around the green can. Then one of them grabbed the handle on the mare’s plastic prison and started rolling it to the chute.
He lifted up the lid and saw the purple fluffy pony—its engorged teats rubbed red, its face caked with tears, and its ribs starting to show from having eaten nothing in days.
“Hey, Jimmy! Got another fluffy pony!”
“Damn. What’s that, twenty-three today?”
“Maybe more’n that. It’s not like we actually counted all them foals strung out on the garland.”
“Weird-ass people. Worst we ever did to 'em was shove a firecracker up their ass,” Jimmy said, shaking his head. “Ah, well. Better dump it so we can get on.”
The fluffy pony closed her eyes as the truck’s metal arm lifted the can into the air and tipped its contents into the chute. Then, she tumbled into a darkness from which she never emerged.