by Kelleigh Elizabeth Perry
December was a special month for Eve. Having been born on the twenty-fourth, and named for the night before Christmas, she spent the entire month counting down to the two most important days of the year in her young mind. Eve, like many children her age, looked forward to her birthday and Christmas every year; piles of presents, friends and families, cake and ice cream, what could be more exciting for a young girl? For forty-eight hours she would be the center of attention. As an only child, and the youngest grandchild for both sets of grandparents, Eve benefitted from the generosity of her entire family as well as Santa Claus himself.
One night, shortly before the holiday, she watched a Christmas movie with her parents before heading to bed for the night. When she finally did go off to bed, Eve found herself tossing and turning, unable to sleep. After an hour of staring at the ceiling, Eve got up and stumbled over to her desk, switching on the lamp. She pulled out a piece of paper and started furiously scribbling a note. She crept silently down the stairs, took an envelope from her father’s study, and stuffed her note in before sealing it closed. Plastering the front with stamps, writing the recipient’s name and address on the front, she considered waiting until morning to send the letter but decided it was far too important to wait.
Donning her heavy coat and lacing up her boots, Eve disarmed the house alarm system and slipped out the front door. It took a moment for her to catch her breath as the cold air hit her lungs. She shivered and wrapped her scarf tighter around her neck. Head down and eyes trained on the ground, she started her trek through the snow. Her family lived about a mile from the post-office, and the roads were still covered in snow from a late December storm. In some places, the wind had created drifts nearly a foot over Eve’s head. After only a few minutes, her feet began to feel like they were encased in concrete.
The clock read 2:07am when Lily, Eve’s mother, awoke with a start. A terrifying feeling gripped her insides, and she slipped out of bed to check on Eve. As she walked down the hallway toward her daughter’s room, the feeling in her stomach grew more intense. Clutching the doorknob, Lily took a deep breath to calm herself in case she woke the little girl. The hinges creaked as the door swung open and Eve’s mother noticed the empty bed.
The wind and falling snow were disorienting, and Eve had unknowingly veered off course. All of her normal landmarks were covered in snow and ice. She kept walking, hoping she was nearing the post-office. Snow was building up on her hat and mittens. She held onto the letter as if her life depended on it.
Lily was frantic. She grabbed the phone and dialed 9-1-1. The commotion woke her husband, Joseph, who quickly dressed and rushed out the door. He saw Eve’s footprints leading down the driveway, so he jumped in his truck and rushed down the street. The wind and snow worked against him. After a short distance, he lost her trail. The sirens and lights of the police cars, fire trucks, and an ambulance broke through the storm. Flagging them down from the side of the road, Joseph pointed out where Eve’s footsteps disappear into the snow. The K-9 unit combed the area for hours to no avail. By dawn, the emergency workers were cold and exhausted. They retreated to their vehicles and drove a nearly hysterical Joseph back to the house. The crews took a quick break to warm up and regroup, pulling out maps of the area and trying to figure out where she might be. Eve had lived in the same house her entire life, and she knew the small town well. They had to conclude that she may have been grabbed by someone. At this suggestion, Joseph had to catch Lily as she passed out, nearly hitting the counter. Once on the couch, she regained consciousness and wept uncontrollably on her husband’s shoulder.
Three days went by without any sign of Eve. Her mother was incapacitated by grief, and her father was out every day searching with the volunteers who had gathered from the local church. When Joseph arrived home looking forlorn and defeated, Lily started calling family members, preparing them for the worst. An Amber Alert had been flashing over every highway, announced on every news station and radio show in the state, yet there was still no sign of the little girl. Her birthday came and went with no new leads.
A few blocks away, nine-year-old Bryce and his younger brother Ben had gotten brand new pellet guns for Christmas, and after all of the gifts had been opened, and the wrappings cleared away, their mother allowed them to go out and play. The brothers put on all of their winter gear and took off toward the secret treehouse they had built in the woods behind their house. Hoping to see some birds and squirrels from their perch in the trees, the boys slung their guns over their shoulders and climbed the plank ladder. When they pulled back the old sheet which served as a door, they both nearly tripped over each other trying to get away from the intruder. In the back corner of the shack, little Eve was huddled in a ball covered by a second sheet she had taken from the window. The boys yelled out to her, but when they got no answer, they walked over and shook her.
Eve’s skin was cold and solid, her face and neck pale and blue, and frozen tears streaked down her cheeks. The boys ran back to the house to alert their parents. When the Emergency crew arrived, they estimated Eve had been in the tree house for days. Her poor little body was contracted and the paramedics couldn’t unfold her arms and legs in the freezing weather. Her father had been alerted by a neighbor that Eve had been found, and he and Lily came rushing to the house just as she was being removed from the tree.
Joseph begged to see his daughter before they took her away. Lily couldn’t bear to see her only child’s lifeless body, so she remained in the car. The medics did their best to lay her on a gurney, but her frozen limbs had turned to ice. Eve’s father bent down and held his daughter close. His tears splashed on her face and jacket. He sobbed as he thought about her final hours, cold, scared and alone in the tree house. As he stood back up, he noticed a crumpled paper in her clutched hand. As he painstakingly wedged the envelope from her hand, everyone stopped what they were doing to see what he’d found.
To Mr. Santa Claus
Tonight I saw an ad on TV with kids who have no toys, no clothes, and no food. Why don’t you visit those families? Were they naughty? Or do they just not have a chimney for you to slide down?
You might not know this, but my birthday is Christmas Eve, that’s where my name comes from. I usually get two days of parties and presents, lots of new toys and clothes, and cake, too. This year, can you bring all of my presents to those kids on the TV? I don’t need anything new.
It’s really important. They need those presents soon, so maybe you can make an exception and bring them early this year. It’s been a very cold winter, and they could all get very sick. Just don’t tell them I asked, that can be our little secret.
Thank You and Merry Christmas,
P.S. I’ll leave you extra milk and cookies by the fireplace before bed.
The crowd was silent as tears flowed down every cheek for the sweet, generous little girl who gave her life to help those in need.
Kelleigh is a full-time Registered Nurse. Originally from Boston, she started writing in early 2012, and hasn’t been able to stop. Her self-published Fan Fiction novel, “Unique,” won first place in its category at the 2012 Hollywood Book Festival. Her favorite genre’s to read are Fantasy, Horror and Romance. She loves to write stories about the ‘supernatural’, but also pulls a lot from her personal and work life. She currently lives outside of Seattle with her small band of bunnies.