The next morning, I showered again just because I could and pulled on some jeans and a crimson mohair top, the colour of which would no doubt be matched by my cheeks any second now. But Santa impersonations were okay, because it was Christmas after all. I decided to let my hair dry naturally even though there was nothing natural about it and, absurdly, felt better than I had for days.
The unmistakable strains of Highway to Hell from the living room managed to extract a smile from me. It got even better when the mouth-watering aroma of coffee and toast wafted through the house. I didn’t have any fresh food (the bread was frozen) as I hadn’t been expecting to be home. Given that not only was it the festive season but also that the dead had decided to join in the celebrations by roaming the streets, it was perhaps a tad unrealistic to expect much in the way of food options. What I really hadn’t expected though was a thug from the Were-kin hard at work in a kitchen unused to such hard core activity making my breakfast and the best of things.
I sauntered through to the living room where the thug in question had neatly set out breakfast on the coffee table. A wan sun shone in the window that was just enough to give the room a warm glow with it’s copper coloured suite and scarlet and black Persian rug softening the effect of the floorboards.
“Nice place you have here,” said Jack gesturing with his arm to include the panoramic view.
“Thanks. I didn’t get to see yours.” I said pointedly, selecting a piece of warm toast from the teetering pile he’d put on a dinner plate and got on with smothering it in Marmite.
“So, do you celebrate Christmas?” he asked as I fought with the Marmite. It felt both surreal and ironic that here I was spending the most family oriented day of the year with something that proudly proclaimed its lack of humanity. No fighting yet though which was probably more than could be said for most households on this day.
“Do you?” I asked mouth full of toast and beef flavouring.
“Not in the Christian sense, if that’s what you mean,” he replied, eyebrow arching sardonically. “You? Do you have any folks that you should be with right now?”
My terse reply clearly didn’t phase him because he carried on: “Why not? Where are they?”
“I’ve no idea.”
He wasn’t even vaguely embarrassed which most people were when discussing this particular topic; in fact if anything he appeared too interested. Well, I wasn’t going to indulge him and that was that. I didn’t know who my parents were, or even if they were alive. I’d been brought up by a combination of foster family and children’s home and no one, including social services confessed to having the slightest clue who my parents were. All that was known was that I was found in an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of the city when I was three years old. Apparently it was my screaming that alerted a security guard patrolling the grounds of a neighbouring factory near the end of his shift. He found me covered in blood, none of it mine as it turned out, sitting half naked and bawling my eyes out.
Come to think of it, that just about neatly summed up my life so far.