Content Warning: Violence

There was a house up ahead on the left. Amidst the gloom of what was a cool winter’s night, it appeared tall and grand in what seemed like an abyss of nothingness for miles on end. There I remained, confined to its interior with very few visitors. It made sense to pass it– surely there were signs further down the road; why stop for help? Hence why I was thrilled to see the lost couple quickly pulling into the driveway. 

The two-storey house, further away from the others down the road, appeared rather large with a decently sized front yard. I watched out of the living room window, while the two stared in awe, hoping the decorations would entice them to knock on the door. As snow continued to fall, the couple noticed several snowmen standing as silent sentinels on the front porch, all scattered and of varying sizes. I observed them as they approached the doorstep, the flash of Christmas lights illuminating their path in a myriad of colours. 

“Just ask for directions,” I heard the husband reassure his wife, “then back down the highway we go!” 

It was easy to assume the house would’ve belonged to a large family: seven in total, excluding the dog. So it would’ve been much to their surprise to find that, after knocking, the couple only found me on the other side of the door. 

But oh! how exciting it was seeing them there! I had new guests! Never mind their concerned expressions, they had arrived just in time for supper. How cold they must’ve been; they should at least come inside for a nice warm drink? 

While seeming insistent to continue their journey, the couple obliged, taking off their coats, which I hung up with delight. The house reeked of old wood, the floorboards creaking with every step down the narrow, dark hallway. Every room appeared abandoned, not a sign of life in sight. The only source of light emanated from a room further down on the left, and the smell of freshly cooked potatoes wafted into our nostrils. 

However, that wasn’t the only thing evident on the dining table. An assortment of different foods, all freshly cooked, had been laid down neatly, steam emanating off each dish as if yearning to be consumed. This dinner certainly seemed prepared for more than one. It would’ve appeared as though I’d been expecting them all along.

Observing the food with disbelief, the couple weren’t sure how they’d been enticed so easily. They’d almost forgotten why they’d knocked in the first place. How silly! – wandering into a stranger’s home without a second thought. But never mind that; the turkey is almost ready!

The two glanced with pitiful looks, what a shame to let all that good food go to waste. After all, they had been welcomed in quite generously, I’d say. 

One bite wouldn’t hurt. Maybe a few would seem polite. Then they could continue their drive with perfectly full stomachs, considering they had already missed Christmas dinner back home. 

So there they were, splendidly eating across from each other, while I remained at the head of the table observing the couple’s ravenous appetites. The two were naïve to notice how I didn’t have a single bite of food from my full plate. Neither could they see that my food was stone cold, how it had been sitting there for days. Why would the couple notice with so much fresh food in front of them? How lucky they were to receive such hospitality while I sacrificed my appetite for the sake of their homestead. Piece by piece, bite by bite. Fatten them up enough so they could never leave. Then their company would remain foreve–…

That was when the clinking sound of cutlery faded, and I noticed the two had stopped eating. From the looks on their faces, it appeared they’d quickly grown full. All that remained on both their plates was a slice of blueberry pie – ooo my favourite. Yet, they refused to touch it, insisting they were grateful but ready to head out. 

“Grateful… but you didn’t finish your dessert.”

The couple smiled sympathetically; my smile slowly faded.

“But you must stay! Haven’t I made you feel so welcome?”

The couple nodded in agreement, so why they were in such a hurry I couldn’t understand. Abruptly, they asked for directions, but I had completely blanked. So suddenly had things fallen apart, the illusion fading swiftly like the snow flying past the kitchen window.

You see I had been a very welcoming host; all this food, this generosity, and yet neither wished to stay a minute longer. The snowmen outside were laughing at me; I had been the naïve one after all.

You haven’t been very welcoming now, have you?”

Their smiles quickly dropped, yet mine was now brighter than ever. One bite wouldn’t hurt. Maybe a few would seem polite. Then I would let them go; it wasn’t like they would make it home in time for dessert anyway. 

The woman was first to oblige. From the look on her face, following her first mouthful, I could tell the pie was bitter. Just the way I liked it! Her husband grew concerned as his wife slowly turned pale. He watched in horror while she choked, too tense to notice the knife I’d been holding under the table now appearing in front of me – the same one I’d used to carve the turkey earlier. 

You see, if I must feel unwelcomed every year why shouldn’t everyone else? If this was to be the most wondrous time of the year, why must I be the only one who suffers alone? Now that just wouldn’t be fair, after all, I have been a wonderful host, haven’t I? 

Thankfully, the couple ended up staying. They’re outside in my front yard right now, with all the others. I’m sure they won’t mind the snow too much, nor the carrots for noses, sticks for hands and buttons for eyes. They make a great addition to my collection.

My yard is getting pretty full now; it won’t be long before someone new spots them. Oh, look!– there comes a car now! I hope they don’t mind the dessert I made – apple pie! I’ve made sure it’s extra bitter this time!

Mary Elizabeth

The author Mary Elizabeth

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