Sunday, December 19, 2010

'Tis the Season to be Jolly

“It’s the Christmas season and I’m fat, I should be jolly,” Anna muttered. But she wasn’t. In fact, the 32 year old was deeply depressed.

She was jobless, which wasn’t so horrible as she’d hated her job. The reason for being fired, however, was the bigger contributor to her misery. Her boss had fired her a week ago for accidentally causing two of her co-worker to go to the hospital for multiple broken bones. She had landed on them when she fell off the ladder she was using to hang up Christmas decorations. As it turned out, that was against company policy.

The co-workers had contacted their lawyers the next day and filed a suit against her. Anna had gotten the paperwork from the court the next day. With no job and no savings to pay for a lawyer, she had requested a public defender. Anna was told there would be none available until February and the case was to be heard before then.

She thought about defending herself but there was no point—everything she knew about law would fit in her plump pinky. Anna plead guilty and the judge ordered her to pay each of them $250,000 for their pain and suffering in addition to all their medical bills.

A representative of the court had been to her apartment the day before to assess her belongings and valued her worth at $1,203.48. Anna had been allowed to keep her old beat up car as she was still making payments on it. Everything else of value was packed into boxes and marked for public auction. The rest of the money would be garnished from future wages. She would forever be in debt to her former co-workers. The future was bleak.

Anna turned on the cold water and watched it fill to the water line that circled the inside of the tub. It was one of the deep old porcelain tubs and most of her 439-pound body was covered with water when she soaked in it. She’d chosen the apartment because of the tub.

She turned on the radio and found a station playing all Christmas music. Normally songs like “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas” would fill her heart with warmth, but this year it served to bolster her resolve. Anna turned off the heat in the small apartment then wrote out a Christmas tag. It read, “Merry Christmas! Love, Anna.”

When Anna returned to the small bathroom, she discovered it was filled with steam as the cold water clashed with the warmer air. The mirror was covered with steam and she wasn’t able to look into her eyes. Anna knew if she did, all her resolve would wash away.

She taped the tag to the side of the tub and picked up the phone. She quickly dialed her landlord’s number. “Hi, it’s Anna,” she said. “I was wondering if you could stop by tomorrow. I need you to look at the bathroom.”

“I can come by around 2,” he replied.

“Great!” she said happily then hung up the phone. Everything was sorted.

Anna quickly undressed, dropping the clothes on the floor. Her pale white skin was instantly covered with goose bumps. The heat was rapidly seeping out around the poorly fit windows and the temperature in the room had already dropped at least five degrees.

Her body shivered as it attempted to adjust to the rapid shift in temperatures as she lowered herself into the ice-cold water. As Anna laid there, she could feel her fingers and toes growing numb. She nearly climbed out but she stayed resolute. She was going to do this. It was her small gift to the world.

Anna smiled as she sang along with the songs that filled her apartment with sounds of holiday cheer. She’d always read those who attempted suicide were happier after they made the final decision.

It didn’t take long for the cold water to force her body to shut down, and she found herself unable to remember the words to songs she had heard her whole life as amnesia set in. Anna closed her eyes and she drifted into unconsciousness, still smiling.

When the landlord got to her place the next day, he let himself in when she didn’t answer. He blanched when he walked into the bathroom and saw her there. Anna’s body looked like a frozen prune and was pale blue. The water she had been soaking in had frozen overnight and encased her body in ice. He ran from the room called the cops from his cell phone. They said they would send someone over shortly.

He had turned the heat on, which caused the ice to melt and he had to pull out the plug so the water wouldn’t overflow onto the floor. He covered her with heavy blankets so he didn’t have to look at her body while he waited for the police.

Anna’s neighbors spilled out into the hall to see what the commotion was about when the police and ambulance arrived. They clucked to each other about what a sweet girl Anna was and hoped she would be okay. They all scurried back into their apartments when they finally rolled Anna’s dead body out.

Anna was taken to the city morgue while they searched for a next of kin. A week had passed and no one came forward to claim her body. The city coroner’s office ordered for Anna to be unceremoniously cremated, then two contractors were hired to bury her ashes in an unmarked grave in the potter’s field on the outskirt of town on Christmas Eve.

They left the back door of the van open so they could listen to the Christmas music playing on the radio. The sound “Silent Night” filled the air around them as they dug the hole then casually dropped the canister in then covered it with dirt. They closed up the back and headed home for an early Christmas Eve with their families.

© December 17, 2010

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