Some readers may find this story disturbing
Each year, I watch you sleep.
I like that you are still, and breathing, and quiet, and it’s a game to keep you that way. Sometimes I’ll move closer—carefully, carefully—running a finger across your sleeve. Touching my tongue to your hair. Letting my beard brush your forehead.
If I can, if I think you won’t wake, I’ll open a drawer. I’ll press a thumb into the contents and smile that you will wear my touch, unknowing, on your bare skin. Maybe I’ll open a closet. Maybe I’ll move something on the dresser, just a little. Maybe you’ll notice; I like that you might not.
The cookies I’ll eat, because why not? I’ll think about you, slumbering in the other room, and lick the crumbs from my fingers. I’ll hold the plate on my lap. Let it rest there.
Eventually, I’ll fill your stocking. Each gift I’ll handle carefully, tenderly, before slipping it inside. I’ll picture you, in the morning, finding what I’ve left, and sometimes I’ll have to pause and catch my breath. I’ll think about this time last year, and the year before. Each year is better than the last.
Before I leave, I’ll take a last look at you. I might whisper to you. I might lean close to your face and breathe, hot, into your ear: “Merry Christmas.”
See you next year.