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Jane Schildkroete

 

Goodbye

 

I’ve just received bad news. My mother called and told me that Santa Claus has committed suicide.

Old Mr. Schlupf played Santa Claus in our village every year throughout my conscious childhood, which took place somewhere a long way away from here. I can still see my brothers and I sitting in a neat row on the old, worn sofa of our living room, hands tightly clutched in our laps, expressions on our faces aimed to convince that we could not have hurt a fly all year, much less anything bigger than that. It was one of the rare moments where my brothers and I felt a deep solidarity in our shared feelings of terror and apprehension. Santa Claus sees everything-just like Mums. Inevitably he always knew that I had fought with my brothers, been lazy at school, that I still bit my fingernails and was responsible for the bite marks on my little brothers ear. It was all there - written down in his golden magic book. I promised to turn a new leaf for the New Year - and I really did mean this in earnest, recited my poem and was finally rewarded with a big bag of biscuits baked by Mrs. Santa Claus. There must be an endless supply of those, because  I also grew up believing that sunsets were the lights of Mrs. Santa Claus baking cookies in heaven. Just like the steam that rises from the forest in thin spirals on cold mornings comes from the fires over which the foxes are cooking tea.

His 16 year old son found him, slumped over the steering wheel of his car, which was parked in the middle of the wheat field where my brothers and I used to collect and torture grasshoppers. Well - they tortured, while I watched and cried. Can you blame me for taking an ever so small chunk out of an ear in defense? I had always wished for a sister. The autopsy showed that Santa Claus died from drinking a large quantity of weed killer, only recently bought by his wife from the local Spar Mart. The Spar Mart reminds me of shopping errands for my mother, who used to send me there with a mental list, which I repeated loudly over and over again, as I skipped down the road. At the time I had no idea what tampons were used for – in hindsight I’m no longer surprised that the little old ladies of our village, whose major highlight of the day it is to congregate at the market and catch up on village gossip, would direct disapproving glares at me, accompanied by an equally disapproving ‘tutt tutting’ sound. I’m not sure if my mother would have felt comfortable with the entire village knowing the exact details of our weekly shopping list. As a rule I always forgot at least one thing on my list, and the entire process was nothing short of an ordeal. When I was 7years old, I would never have predicted that one day I would actually enjoy shopping-no looove shopping – even use it as a form of therapy.

No one knows what triggered Santa Clauses craving for weed killer, but he will be missed.

 

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