A Christmas Visitor

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
sid just wants to have the perfect christmas with his autistic son daniel, after having had the worst year of his life. when he picks him up from his ex-wife's on christmas eve, everything seems to be going well. however, sid has a terrible secret that might just stop him from having that perfect day...

Submitted: December 02, 2016

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Submitted: December 02, 2016

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A Christmas Visitor

If it had not been for the sound of the alarm suddenly blasting through his ears, Sid might not have woken up until after twelve on that cold Christmas Eve. He had been too excited to sleep the night before, and he knew that today was going to be a busy day. He had a lot of preparation to do.

He got out bed, shaved his graying beard, and combed his lengthy hair. He ate two Weetabix for breakfast, and ate in a very rushed manner. There was very little time to spare, or so he believed. He did, however, have time to glance at his special photo, his favorite photo, the one where all three of them were on it.

“I’ll not be long now, son”, he said to the picture. “Only a few more hours to wait”.

He thought about how it all could have been different today. This was the first Christmas since the break-up, and being alone in this prison cell of an apartment and jobless did not help him with coping. Joanne had always insisted that it was his fault, that he had crashed the car which caused so much injury to their son. She said she would never forgive him for having to watch him in that hospital bed, waiting to see if he would live or die. That was the last time he had spoken to Joanne, really, and he hated how things were between them. He still could not forgive her for the affair she had, and he repeatedly told her that it was her fault, that if she had not opened that text message while he was driving that car…

But it was all in the past now. Sid had read the text, got angry, rowed, and crashed. They split up, and there was no way of repairing the marriage. More importantly, however, Daniel was out of hospital and well again. His curly, blond hair had more or less grown back to the way it was – his beautiful blond locks were now practically restored. That was one of the things Sid loved the most about his son, but the main thing, he supposed, was the smile he so rarely made. Daniel was autistic, and most of the time, he was withdrawn. It had always been difficult for Sid and Joanne, and gradually, they started to argue about it so much that they grew apart. Sid always believed that was what pushed her to go with another man, but he could never blame Daniel. His son was the only good thing in his life right now, his only motivation to live. Nobody could take that away from him.

Joanne had promised Sid that she would let Daniel spend the night with him, and that they would be able to open the presents together in his apartment in the morning. Joanne didn’t mind – perhaps it was the guilt talking, Sid later thought – but she asked if it was alright if she could come over, if she could make it. Her mother was in hospital after suffering from some sort of nervous breakdown, or so Sid had heard from his work colleagues, so Joanne was stressed at the moment. Sid would be able to spend Christmas morning with his son, and he would send him home after Christmas dinner. They only lived a ten minute walk away – after Sid left, he knew he had to be living near Daniel.

Over the past few months, since the break-up, Sid had seen very little of Daniel. He had taken his six year-old to the park a couple of times, and saw him a few times in town, but Joanne told him that she wanted her own space for a while, that it would probably be best for Sid to have a break as well, to get his head together after what had happened. At first Sid was enraged at this idea, but he then decided that he was in no position to say no. After all, she was the mother, and she was the one with the most rights. She had even told him herself that she could remove Daniel from his life completely if she wanted to. Joanne could be a bitch at times.

Sid had been dreaming the night before, dreaming about that day, the day when his life changed for the worst. He had dreamt about it many times, but this one had been particularly vivid. He remembered the moment he saw the text lover-boy had sent Joanne.

“Hey beautiful, want to meet up tonight?”

If only he hadn’t accidentally read the thing and snatched it out of her hands, if only he had let the affair go on and he remained ignorant of it. He did not care – that way, he would still have his family.

But things were alright now, he supposed. He was seeing Daniel for the first time in a long while. Things were finally starting to look up after what had been a very long period of depression. He only wanted things to be absolutely perfect for tomorrow. He had waited for this day and thought about it for a long time.

There was a knock at the door. Sid wondered who it could be – people did not usually come out to see each other on Christmas Eve unless it was close family, and the only close family he had was his son.

It was Mary, the old woman who lived next door.

“I’ve got you a little something”, she said.

“Mary, you shouldn’t have”, Sid replied, taking the gift from her hands.

“It wasn’t much”, Mary said.

“Still…I haven’t got you anything. I’ll have to get you something later on”.

“Don’t bother with it, Sid”, she said. “It’s Christmas Eve. You might have a lot of things to do”.

“I am very busy today”, he said, smiling.

She tried to conceal her surprise. “Your room is looking very snazzy, with that tree and decorations”.

“I’ve got a special someone coming to see me tomorrow”.

Mary seemed to understand what he meant. “Really? That’s great news, Sid”.

“I know”, he replied. “I’ve been stressed just thinking about it”.

“Don’t be, you’ll be fine”, she said, grasping his hand. “I’m glad to see things are starting to move forward for you, and what better time than Christmas for that to happen. I can’t imagine what these last few months have been like for you”.

“My son is my world”, Sid said. “He always has been, and always will be. It’s time I sorted myself out a bit, for his sake as well as mine”.

“I’m glad to hear it”, Mary said. “And Merry Christmas”.

“Merry Christmas, Mary”, he said.

He put the present down on the table, not under the tree where all of Daniel’s were. He did not want Daniel getting confused over whose presents were his. There was a stack of gifts there, probably a few less than most six year-olds would get, but money was tight nowadays, and Sid was lucky to have had this many. They were mostly little things, but Sid had splashed out on a few expensive items as well, things Joanne would never want to pay for.

Not long after, he visited the nearest supermarket for the meat and vegetables for tomorrow. Sid was good at cooking Christmas Dinner – he was always the one to be cooking at Christmas. Joanne never would. In the long run, however, that turned out to be a good thing – he was now able to hold on to his son for that bit longer on Christmas Day because of it. That was maybe one of the reasons Joanne allowed him to stay the night, because she would never have managed to cook that on her own. She had always been one to look for the simplest solution to everything.

After his trip to the supermarket was over, he returned his things to his apartment, and wandered down the street to pick up his son.

 

It was a cold walk back to the apartment, with the winds blowing at excessive speeds, but neither Sid nor Daniel seemed to mind. Daniel was well wrapped up – his mother had done that right at least. All the time, Sid had hold of his hand. He had been waiting to feel the touch of his hand for a long time. He missed that about his son, and it reminded him of the times when he was a toddler and he would take him down the street to the shop, with his hand in his. He sighed as he knew those times were dying away. Time was flying faster than ever, and it would not be long before Daniel was a pre-teen.

“We’re going to have the best Christmas ever, son”, he said.

As ever, Daniel said nothing. He had not actually heard him speak since the accident. He had not seen him smile, either, although deep down, he knew that he was capable of it. He had to be – Daniel could not have gone through all that intensive treatment just to come out unable to smile.

”I’ve got a lot of presents for you, and tonight Santa is going to come and put them under the tree”. There was a thought. The presents were already there – Daniel would surely notice them and deduce that there was no real need for Santa Claus to come. He was an intelligent child, and would know that there was something wrong.

Damn, Sid thought. I knew I’d do something wrong.

If he had the chance later, he thought, he would move them into the cupboard, if they would all fit, but it would have to be when Daniel was not looking.

When they made it into the apartment, Sid realised that Daniel was shivering.

“You still cold?” he asked him. “I’ll put the heating on in my apartment. It’s your first time in my apartment, isn’t it?”

Daniel made no eye contact with him, but then again, Sid did not expect him to.

“I’m going to make big changes, son. I know you haven’t seen me in a while, but soon you’ll be able to see me all the time, whenever you want. I’m going to be there for you from now on, whenever you need me”.

Sid had to move away to stop the child from seeing his crying, and he quickly unlocked the door to his apartment. There was a television across from the sofa, and Sid sat him down on it to watch cartoons while he quickly removed the presents from under the tree and placed them in the cupboard, and then the remaining ones in his room.

“You’re going to have Christmas dinner with me tomorrow, here”, Sid said. “Would you like that?”

Daniel said nothing. He seemed to be more interested in what the story was in Balamory.

“We’re going to have the best Christmas ever”, Sid called. He knew that he was repeating himself, but he remembered one consultant telling him that repetition was sometimes important to a child with autism, because it allowed them to be reassured. He was also told that routine was also important to many autistic children, and any small change in their routine could cause them distress. This could count as a change in routine, Sid thought, but Daniel did not look distressed yet. Sid would know if he really was distressed. Daniel would always kick and scream, and put his hands over his ears if the noise was too loud. Yes, Sid thought, things were going alright so far, but he still had a long way to go.

He remembered the first time Daniel had spoken to him. That was one of the most special moments of his life and it was something Sid would never forget, even if it was more of a mumble than an actual word.

They had been sat in the living room, three years before, and Sid was playing with Daniel’s toys, trying to encourage him to play with him. Joanne had told him to give up, that the doctors and specialists said he might never talk in his life, but Sid did not have that attitude.

“Daniel will talk eventually, Joanne”, he said to her that day. “You just have to believe. Things always turn out to be alright in the end. Trust me”.

So he continued to play, trying to help him count on the abacus.

“Look, Daniel”, he said. “One, two, three. What comes next?”

Daniel said nothing, but Sid was surprised to see that he actually looked at him, if only for a split second. He felt his heart race at that moment, and Sid was starting to believe he had actually gotten through to him.

“Come on, Daniel. You know this one. You see it on the telly a lot. One, two, three…”

There was still nothing, so Sid moved on to another toy. He picked up a toy dog, something Daniel seemed to have a close attraction to.

“Now, I can’t remember his name”, Sid said. “I want to shout him over to me, but I can’t for the life of me remember his name”.

“Spot!” Daniel suddenly cried out. It was not completely clear, but Sid knew what he had meant. Joanne had been in the kitchen, but she had heard what he said, and she came darting through into the living room.

“Did I just imagine that?” she said.

“No, you didn’t!” Sid cried with tears in his eyes. “He actually said it! He talked!”

“Say it again, Daniel!” Joanne said. “Come on, say it for Mammy!”

Daniel did not speak. He did not even look at them. Instead, he grabbed hold of Spot and bashed it off the floor.

“If he can say it once, he can say it again”, Joanne said, more hopeful than she had ever been before.

“He won’t talk again, not today anyway”, Sid said, “but at least we know he can do it. At least we have that”.

That memory was perhaps the most favourite he had of Daniel. Today, however, would be another one of those great memories. He did not know if it could ever match up to the day Daniel talked, Sid thought, but he would make damned sure that it was the second most memorable day of his life.

Daniel was still sat watching the cartoons. It was getting late in the evening, and Sid assumed that he had not eaten. He would make him a sandwich, he thought, and if he did not eat it, he could not force him. Daniel usually ate at least some of what he was given, anyway.

Daniel did eat most of the sandwich, to Sid’s relief. He had biscuits that he would give him later. For now, however, it was time to chill out with his son. He flicked through the channels on the television, and he found that It’s a Wonderful Life had just started. It was on every Christmas Eve, and Sid was reminded of his own childhood. Every Christmas Eve, he would watch this very film with his own parents, both of whom were now dead, and he would cry at the end every time. Things always turned out alright for George Bailey at Christmas, and Sid had the attitude that things would turn out alright for him, and nobody, and nothing, was going to get in the way of that. He was with his favourite person, watching his favourite film at his favourite time of the year. Life could not get any better right now.

After Jimmy Stewart and his on-screen friends and family finished singing Auld Lang Syne, Sid was surprised to see that his son had sat through the whole film. He was pleased, because sometimes Daniel got irritated when asked to remain in one place for a long time, but for the full two hours of the film, he seemed totally engrossed by it. Sid was glad that he was – he was definitely his son alright. He stroked the boy’s hair, for the first time in months feeling that silkiness that he missed so much.

“I’m proud of you, son”, he said. “And we’re going to have a wonderful time together”.

Sid then thought about the time he was stood on top of a deserted bridge, looking over the water that seemed to be miles below, contemplating ending his own life there and then. It had been about six months since that had happened, and Sid did not for one second regret stepping down from those railings. At the time he thought about his son, how his son was the only person in his life that mattered, and if he couldn’t have him (Joanne had taken him away at that point), then there was nothing left to live for. At that moment, however, he had heard the sound of Daniel’s voice in his mind.

Don’t do it, Daddy. I need you, the voice seemed to call out to him. He had wondered if his suicide would have affected Daniel in any way – with an autistic child, you could never really tell – but Sid thought it might, and if jumping over that bridge now would have caused harm to his son in any way, he would not do it. What mattered was what Daniel would have wanted, not him.

So Sid was still alive, and glad to be, because things were finally looking up, and with a little effort, things would stay up. He did not want to let his son go again in the morning, but he might be able to see him again in the future, if he was careful enough with Joanne, that was.

It was late at night now, and Sid could see that Daniel was tired.

“Ready for bed, son?” he asked him. Of course he received no response, but he always believed that it was important to keep talking to him, because he might, just might, be listening.

He took Daniel’s hand walked him into the bedroom he had prepared just for tonight. There were Christmas lights above the bed, because Daniel never liked to sleep in the dark.

“Oh, I almost forgot”, Sid said, going into the kitchen. He returned with a glass of milk and some biscuits.

“I’ll put these out the door so Santa knows to come here”, he said, almost whispering.

He pretended to put the glass and biscuits outside his apartment, but in reality, put them next to the door on the inside. Things were more convenient that way.

“I know I don’t have a chimney, but Santa is still happy enough to come through the door”, Sid said, and then added, “but only when you’re asleep.

Sid then believed that he heard Daniel mumble something. He listened intently for a few more seconds, but nothing else came out of Daniel’s mouth. Sid decided that it was wishful thinking.

“I think I can hear the sleigh bells”, Sid whispered, and then, “goodnight, son. I’ll see you in the morning”.

He closed the door and returned to the living room. Soon it would be time to put out the presents, he thought, but for now, he wanted to chill out. He had done everything right so far, thank God, but it was still only Christmas Eve. The big day was yet to come.

He switched the channel on the television to Smooth Radio, a station he would always listen to with Joanne on calm nights like this. God, how he missed those days. He would have given everything he could to have those days back, but he supposed it was too late for all that now. The song, Stay another day was playing. Perfect for the situation he was in, Sid thought. The time had flown over, and what Sid would not have given to spend the entire day with him tomorrow.

He had a sudden thought: should he do the vegetables now, or in the morning? He thought that now might be best, so that he could spend more time tomorrow playing with Daniel, and not messing around with the food. He would just leave the vegetables on top of the oven overnight, and they would be fine in the morning. It was only a few hours, after all.

He started to cut the carrots, and while he was doing it, he was lost away in his thoughts again. This time, they were about the time Daniel was diagnosed. Joanne had not taken it well at all, but Sid tried to stay positive. He always looked on the bright side of things. Eventually, he learned to embrace his autism, and not grieve over it. Daniel was a special child – his intelligent, special child. He always believed that his son would get there eventually, and as like many of the specialists had told him, some of the world’s most successful people were suggested to have had some form of autism. But Daniel had it bad, and always would. Sid wondered if he would ever talk properly, but there was also the story that Alert Einstein did not talk until he was nine. He turned out alright, so why couldn’t Daniel?

Sid had missed Daniel’s sixth birthday. It had not been long after the accident, and Joanne was nowhere near ready to talk to him yet. He pushed a birthday card through the door with money in it, but there was no indication that he had ever received it, not even a thank you from his mother.

As Sid was thinking these things, he accidentally cut his finger on the knife. It was not a deep cut, and one which could easily be treated with a plaster, but the sight of blood knocked him. He had not actually seen blood of any kind since the accident. He never wanted to see blood again after that day.

It was all coming back to him now. The smashing sound the other car made as Sid collided directly into it. The glass flying through the air at unimaginable speeds. The screams his wife made as the shards of glass smacked against her face, dozens at a time. The screams his son made as the phone Sid had hold of flew out of his hands and hit him on the head. The crunching sound the metal on each of the cars made as they made contact. It was not the sounds that Sid could remember the most, however. It was the sights, the traumatic sights. The sight of his wife’s mortified face, the sight of the car radio darting out of its place and smashing against Daniel’s skull. Most of all, however, after everything else, the thing that Sid remembered most about that day was the sight of the seventeen year-old passenger in the other car, flying through Sid’s windscreen, flying directly past them and right into Daniel’s body. Daniel had taken three separate shots to the head from three separate things – the phone, the radio, and finally the person, not to mention the numerous shards of glass that had split his head open in several places. All this happened because he was in the middle. Joanne later blamed Sid for putting him in the middle, but it was clear to them both that Daniel liked being in the middle, that being at the window made him slightly anxious. They did not know why, but that was the way it was with him, and Sid was happy to accept that if that was what Daniel wanted, then that was what Daniel would get. There was no harm in being in the middle, anyway, Sid had told his wife. Not until today, at least.

Flashbacks of the hospital then entered Sid’s mind. The tubes that were inserted into him. The number of doctors, surgeons and nurses that had to attend to him. The hours of waiting in complete anticipation to see if he would survive the operations or not. The constant hysterical screams his wife made. The shouts and cries he himself had made. The ticking of that godforsaken clock in the waiting room. The bright lights that shone through the entire length of the long corridor. The rush of the nurses who would ignore Sid and Joanne, as they were not involved in Daniel’s case at all but gave them false hope that they might be. The countless number of arguments they had in the waiting room. The feeling of indescribable stomach aches and sickness. The trips to the toilet every five minutes, but not wanting to go because they might miss something. The pulling of hair because they were that frustrated with the length of time they had to wait. The exhaustion they both had suffered, having remained in the waiting room for over a day with no sleep. The feeling of despair and horror when they did finally get to see him. The realisation that, although he had come through the operation so far and he was more or less out of the danger zone, he might never be the same again, that he might actually be less functioning than he already was. The feeling of Sid’s hand touching Daniel’s motionless one. The lifeless look Daniel had when he came out of theater. The blankness he experienced while looking down at him, while the doctors talked at him from the background. All that came back in the space of a few seconds.

But everything was alright now. That was what mattered. He kept reminding himself of this over and over, but that was in the past. That dark period was over, and Sid was starting afresh. There was no need to taunt himself with those depressing thoughts ever again, especially not now.

After finishing preparing the vegetables for the next morning, Sid went to bed. It took him ages to get to sleep, but when he did, he did not sleep well at all, because he had another nightmare.

 

This time, it was of his encounter with Joanne that day. He had knocked on the door, his heart racing. He hoped that lover boy was not there, that he would be able to take Daniel with no trouble, but Sid believed that there was not much chance of that happening. He was worried that Joanne would change her mind.

She answered the door with hesitation, and when she saw him, she shut the door instantly.

“Go away!” she cried.

Sid’s heart sank at those words, but he was not going to just turn away, not after all the build-up and preparation. It was Christmas, and he was going to spend it with his son, like they agreed. She would not turn back on the agreement now.

“Let me see my son!” Sid cried, banging on the door.

“I said go away, or I’ll phone the police!” Joanne cried on the other side of the door.

“You’re upsetting Daniel, Joanne!” Sid yelled.

He pushed the door, using all of the force he could gather together. Eventually, he made it into the house. Joanne was looking terrified now, and she picked up a picture frame on the wall and held it up against Sid’s face.

“Keep away, or I swear to God I’ll bash your head with it!”

“Just give me Daniel, and everything will be alright”.

“Stay away from my son!” Joanne cried.

“He’s my son as well!” Sid replied, raising his voice even more.

She screamed and went for him. In retaliation, Sid hit the picture, knocking it out of her hands. He then launched himself on to her, pushing her all the way back to the stairs, where she hit her head off the wooden banister. He stood there for a moment, waiting to see if she was dead or alive. He knew that he could not stick around for long, however, and he saw Daniel in the living room, staring at him. Sid ran over to him, grabbed him and ran out the house, shutting the door behind him. Part of him hoped that Joanne was dead, because she knew where he lived, and if she regained consciousness, she would no doubt telephone the police.

But Joanne hadn’t phoned for the police yet, Sid thought. It had been hours and hours, and still nobody had called at his door. If she was ever going to come round, she would have done so by now. From that, Sid came to one conclusion: that there was a strong likelihood that he had killed the mother of his child.

 

He woke up from this nightmare soon afterwards. He looked at his mobile phone to check the time – it had gone past five. It was a bit too early to wake Daniel up yet, so he would lie in bed for a while. He did not want to wait for much longer, however, because the longer time went on, the more likely it was that the police would arrive. Someone would have discovered her by now, whether it would have been lover boy, or the neighbours hearing the aggressive confrontation. Sid knew that the game would be up soon, because they would trace it back to him. They would put Daniel as a top priority – they would treat him as a psychopath on the loose, and Daniel in extreme danger. Everyone would be on the lookout for him, and sooner or later, witnesses would come forward, and they would tell all. Plenty of people had seen him in the street, after all. But as long as he could spend those few hours with his son, he did not care what happened to him next. All he wanted was one last Christmas with him.

Sid found himself thinking of the Christmas before, the last one he would ever spend with his family, he supposed. That was a fantastic day. Daniel had actually smiled several times when he was opening his presents, and Joanne was happy as well. That was probably her last Christmas on this planet, he thought. At least Daniel still had his dad. No matter how things would turn out after this, at least he still had his dad in the world. Sid would never leave him orphaned.

Not long after, Sid decided that he would not wait for much longer. It was time to wake Daniel up.

He went into his room and saw him sleeping soundly. He hated to wake him out of it, but there was a great risk that he would not be able to see him open his presents, and that would be much worse. It would be the worst thing of all.

He tapped Daniel gently on the shoulder, and whispered into his ear, “it’s Christmas, son”.

Daniel woke up, although he was only half-asleep. It took him a minute to wake up fully.

“Santa’s been!” Sid said, with tears in his eyes. “He’s left you loads of presents to open!”

He observed the excited look in Daniel’s eyes. He did not express his emotions much, but there was excitement there. Sid was sure of it.

Sid was crying with joy right now. This was the moment he had been waiting for, the moment any parents wait for. As a child he thought that opening your presents on Christmas morning was just about the best thing ever, but it turned out he was wrong. Watching your kids open their presents was.

Daniel saw the presents and his mouth opened widely. He looked at the Christmas tree, which was shining brightly on them both. It was a beautiful sight, and for a moment, Sid forgot all about what he had done to Joanne.

“Where’s Mam?” he asked.

That broke Sid’s heart. It felt like someone had just shot an arrow right through it. It was not very often Daniel spoke, so he must have been really concerned now. Sid did not think that he had saw what happened the day before, but Daniel could probably tell that there was something wrong.

“I don’t know if she can make it today”, Sid said, “but we can check on her later. For now, why don’t you start opening your presents?”

“Okay”, Daniel replied. He approached his first present, the biggest one, and started to tear away at it. Sid could still not get over the fact that Daniel was talking – could this be a new development? Was it the start of something new?

Suddenly, there was a tapping on the door. It was obvious who it was, and Sid knew it – nobody else would knock on the door at that time of the day.

“Quick, go into your room. You can open your presents in a minute!” Sid said, picking Daniel up. “I just need to have a grown-up talk for a minute!”

When Daniel was well hidden, Sid opened the door, trying to look as if he had just been woken up.

“Simon Matthews?” one of the officers said. Sid counted four in total, although there could have been more, judging by the voices at the bottom end of the corridor.

“Yes?” Sid said. He realised that it was over, that he would never be able to see Daniel open his presents, but he had to try and fend them off. There was still a small chance that he would be able to persuade the police that the attack on Joanne the night before had nothing to do with him.

“Can we come in? We’ve got some questions we’d like to ask you?”

“What’s this about?” Sid asked. His breathing was rapid. He tried to conceal it, but hiding how out of breath he was turned out to be an impossible task.

“Please, we’ll explain when we come in”.

The four officers let themselves in, and quickly saw the presents that were under the tree, including the partially ripped open one.

“They all yours?” the officer asked.

“No”, Sid replied. “My nephew is coming over later”.

“Right”, the officer replied, opening his notebook.

Another officer started to speak. “This is the thing, Mr. Matthews. Last night a woman was attacked and her child disappeared. Obviously, we put that at the top of our priorities list, because the person who took him is clearly dangerous, considering the damage he’d done to the woman”.

“What’s this got to do with me?” Sid said, trying not to sound too nervous.

“The woman who was attacked managed to phone the police shortly after it happened. We then eventually found several witnesses who said they saw someone fitting your description with a child about six years of age, with blond and curly hair. This happens to be the same description of the child we are looking for. Three witnesses also informed us that they saw a man fitting your description enter this block of flats yesterday afternoon. We’ve focussed our search on this block of flats. Now, we know your history…”

“What history?” Sid protested. “That he’s my son?”

The officers gave each other confused looks, and then Sid heard an enraged voice in the background.

“Let me go in there!” a woman screamed. Before he knew it, Sid saw Joanne dart into the room. So he had not killed her.

“That’s him!” she cried, grabbing him. “Where is my son?”

“Mammy!” Daniel said, coming out of the bedroom.

“Oh, Oliver. Thank God!” she said, cuddling her child.

“He’s not called Oliver”, Sid said through his teeth.

“You fucking lunatic! How can you do such a thing at Christmas?”

“He’s my son as well, Joanne!” Sid cried.

“You need help, you sick, sick man!” the woman replied.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you!” Sid said. “I haven’t hurt Daniel. I didn’t hurt him. You can’t stop me from seeing my son!”

“I don’t know you from Adam!” the woman said, leaving the room.

Handcuffs were being placed on Sid’s wrists, and that was when Mary from next door came into the room. She had heard the drama from next door.

“What’s happened?” she asked.

“Mary, tell them. That’s my son. You’ve seen the pictures!”

“That’s not your son, Sid”, Mary said. She was as confused as everyone else was.

“It is! You’re all liars! You’re all out to get me! Why can’t you just leave us alone?!”

“You need to calm down”, his arresting officer said.

“Oh, God”, Mary said, with tears in her eyes. “I think I see what’s happened”.

“Tell them, Mary. Tell them that this is all a big mistake!” Sid desperately cried.

“You’re the one who’s mistaken, Sid”, she said. “Daniel died. You told me when you first moved in here”.

“No! He didn’t die! He’s alive! He’s right outside!”

“I know it’s hard for you to cope with, but he died. Joanne did as well – she killed herself not long after the accident. You told me all this”.

Sid’s face was streaming tears. “No! Why can’t you just leave me alone with my son?!”

He was taken away. The woman who looked like Joanne held the child who looked exactly like Daniel, and when Sid was put into the car, the child waved at him. He wanted to wave back so much, but he couldn’t because of the handcuffs. The woman looked at him in disgust, but she would soon calm down and learn to pity him. She was just the unfortunate one who happened to look like his ex-wife, and have a blond-haired autistic son of the same age as his blond-haired autistic son.

Sid was charged with Grievous Bodily Harm and kidnapping, and was later informed that he was facing many years in prison, if he did not plead insanity.

That night, that peaceful, Christmas night, Sid laid in his bed, having finally faced the truth about the whole situation. He had been confused, yes, but when he first saw that boy in the park all those months ago, he believed that it was him. Even though the woman had spotted him on several occasions and asked him to leave them alone, he still persisted in following them. He believed that the bitch Joanne had played a massive trick on him by faking their deaths so that they could start a new life. He believed that his son was alive, but now, he knew the truth. He stared at the ceiling, and it was not long before he felt sleepy.

His final words before going to sleep that night were, “Merry Christmas, son”.


© Copyright 2018 declan smith. All rights reserved.

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