I wrote a few days ago about encountering all the sadness in the world. My plan was to follow that post with a cheery Christmas story of mine that was recently published on MicroHorror. Then I reread the actual story (and remembered that it was published on a horror blog) and it isn’t cheery at all. It’s the opposite of cheery. It’s depressing and creepy and a little disturbing, to tell you the truth. But so’s the inside of my head. And I like living inside my head and I like this story, too.
So here it is, my flash piece, Christmas Wreath!
The story has two major influences, which is pretty impressive since it’s only a little over 500 words long. The first is a hair wreath that resides at a local historic house in my town. Creating hair wreaths from deceased family and friends was a Victorian funereal custom, a keepsake to remember those who had died. (Read more about hair wreaths and other hair customs at Victorian Gothic.) While I think this is a lovely practice in theory, coming face to face with the actual hair wreath creeped me out. (It was dark, almost Halloween, there were shadows, creaky floorboards…and then my face was pressed against the glass of the hair wreath. Creepy.)
I can’t explain the depth of my discomfort except to say that I appear to have hair issues. I first saw the hair wreath years ago and it’s stuck with me, so I stuck it in a story.
If you’ve ever read Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein, you might recognize another influence in the story that grows out of the tragic events that ended Woody’s sister Clara’s life. I read the book after a friend recommended it and because Bruce Springsteen talks about it on his Live: 1975-1985 album. And I will do just about anything on account of Bruce.