Dear Eddie,

You don’t mind if I call you by your real name, do you? After everything we’ve been through, I get pretty tired of the “Mr. Claus” stuff.

How are you? I have to ask because, well, you didn’t come last night.

I waited up all night. Til 5 or 6 this morning to be exact, and then I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and passed out. Every single time the wind whipped the trees against the windows or there was the slightest sound by the front door, I thought I’d see you popping down through the chimney.

Eddie, baby, it’s been a long time. Far too long. The nights are cold and lonely, and I can’t think of anything but you.

Do you remember our first year together? I was only eight. God, that was a magical year. I finally learned the true meaning of Christmas; I finally got what everyone was always going on about when they brought up holiday cheer and good tidings to all men and god loves us, every one.

I still remember the way your beard smelled; a mix of sweet peppermint and candycanes and just a tiny dash of alcohol, like the kind my daddy puts on his face after he shaves. The way your teeth all sparkled with a sugary glaze and your eyes glinted hard like the black black coal you give out to the naughty children.

But I wasn’t naughty, was I? You said I was such a good girl, such a sweet girl, at the very tip top of your Nice list. You said only the nicest of children get to show Santa how nice they really are.

That was my first white christmas. After you helped me wash the snowflakes from my hair and we sat by the fire warming our toes – I fondly recall the deep tenor of your voice as you quietly sang “Silent Night” to me under your breath – you helped me get dressed for bed. After that, all I can remember is your sweet, sweet smells and then, darkness.

Every year, Eddie. Every year, you’ve come to bring me my favorite present of all and tell me how I always grace the top of your Nice list, how I’m your Nicest Princess. Every year, except this one; why?

Is it because Tommy Nievens kissed me at the school dance? It didn’t mean anything to me, and I was so, so embarrassed afterwards. I promise.

It’s not because of that time I swore at my math teacher, right? God, he’s such a jerk! You know it was just a slip.

Or is it because of the $30 I took from mom’s purse? I just wanted to be careful. I just wanted to make sure nothing would happen. I was just preparing.

Last year, on Christmas eve, when you finally left the presents under my tree, something special and different happened. The pills didn’t work. I got so sick, Eddie. Fevers, cold sweats; you wouldn’t believe the terrible nightmares, awash with colors and needle-sharp teeth and fingers coming at me from the darkest corners of my mind.

As the months progressed and the weather grew warmer – you know how I hate the heat – my body got sicker and sicker. My belly used to be so flat, so flush with my hips. I used to be so soft and delicate, just the way you liked me. Now, I’m fat and gross.

My stomach bulges over my hips, distended and misshapen. Dark, spidering cracks have started forming in my skin like little fleshy fissures, and my special place leaks hot green liquid nonstop. I always have to change my pants and use extra pads and sometimes the smell is so bad it makes me sick.

My parents don’t know the truth. I’d never tell them about you. I swear. I’ve kept my promise from the first time you visited, and I’ll never break it. They used to think some neighborhood boy knocked me up until they took me to the doctor for a checkup. Now they’re talking about sending me away somewhere. Somewhere I don’t think has a chimney. I can’t bear the thought of never seeing you again. I just can’t.

So now, I’m working on our plan. The one we talked about; the “Exit Strategy”, as you put it. If this ever happened. If I ever got sick. The thought of seeing myself strung up next to the rest of the stockings kinda makes me giggle, but I know how important this is to you.

In the night, as I fall asleep with dreams of your sweet peppermint breath coming down on me all hot and heavy, I can sometimes hear a sound, from somewhere deep in my belly. It’s a rustling noise, like something stirring. And after a while, I can feel tiny scratches coming from the inside, pressing against my stomach and other internal bits.

Eddie, I’m begging you. Just come back to me. There’s still time. It’s still Christmas, and this is my only wish. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, and I know I can’t have that without you.

Always and Forever,
Your Nicest Princess