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Graphic by Modern Times Magazine. Images by Bryan Ochalla and Emily Walker and used under the terms of Creative Commons licenses.
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The airy feeling in my chest transformed into a buzzing, beating engine and the idea and my new-found hope launched me off of the bed without the use of the ladder. Screw pragmatism.

I landed on my side on the carpeted floor and my head bounced off of the ground and I felt a sharp jabbing pain in my ribs but I didn't care because I had the perfect Christmas surprise for my Dad and I had finally grown and oh my God this is going to be great.

I rolled onto my knees and sprung my legs upwards and flaky black speckles dotted my vision for a moment and disappeared.

I scrambled towards the door, kicking action figures out of the way. I hit the door with my shoulder and the hollow cheap wood let out a dull noise and I heard my brother wheeze in his bed.

I grabbed the bronze-colored door handle with one hand and turned my head back to the bed.

My brother turned over under his blue comforter, his eyes just slits and his angular face pushed against the pillow. He reached out from under the comforter and scratched his wavy long hair.

“Is she here already?” he said. “Damn, it is getting earlier every year.”

“No, she is still asleep,” I said. “Should be any minute now though.”

I loosened my grip on the knob and tapped my fingers against it.

Well, then what the hell are you doing, he asked, his voice rough. He swallowed.

“I am going to make a freaken’ memory for Dad for Christmas, well for everyone, you're welcome.”

“Jesus Christ,” he said. He pulled the comforter up to his chin and turned over in the bed.

I turned back to the door and tightened my grip and twisted the nob.

I felt a liquid unsettled wave rolling in my gut and lines of pain ran through my head.

I stepped into the hallway and turned right towards my sister's room and followed the narrow passage around the corner towards the laundry room.

I needed to grab some duct tape and a few tools out of the garage. As I turned the corner in the hallway, I felt my socks slide on shiny wood floor. I regained my balance by sliding into the wall and straightening up.

Blue light poured into the hallway from the skylight in the bathroom opposite the laundry room. The light shone off of the wood and I had to shield my face and I felt the streaks of pain in the back of my eyes.

When I tried to turn on my heel to move into the laundry room, my socks gave way beneath me. I struggled to grab onto the wood molding of the laundry room door frame and I felt nauseous and my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth.

Black dots spotted my vision.

The frame and the room and everything in it blurred out of focus and turned into a hazy mass of pixelated objects.

Then everything went dark.

I woke up in what felt like a few seconds to mechanical beeping sounds and white hot artificial light. I opened up my eyes and the blur of light and noise focused into a hospital room. I felt the scratchy dry sheets of the hospital bed on my knees and the stinging pain of the IV sticking in my forearm.

I turned to the square beeping machine to my right and then looked to my left.

My father looked back at me, his round blue eyes opened partially. He lifted his wide thick hands and rubbed his wrinkled forehead.

He straightened his slouched back in the blue pleather hospital chair and let out a sigh. He rubbed his other hand through his thinning curly black hair.

Merry Christmas, buddy.

I stared into his face and let my eyes hang open.

“What happened?” I asked.

He let out a short, gruff burst of breath.

“You tell me.”

“Well, I was just trying to get your Christmas present ready and I kind of hit my head and I fell in the hallway I think,” I said.

“Well I heard you fall. It woke me up. And then I found you on the ground in the hall. You scared me,” he said.

I wriggled my neck from side to side and opened my mouth wide into a yawn.

“I just wanted to get you the best present because I am an adult now and I have to get good gifts and I didn't want to screw it up and I didn't know what the hell to get you,” I said.

“Watch your mouth,” he said. “And I don't know what you're talking about. You aren't making any sense. You hit your head pretty hard and they said you have a concussion.”

All of the words I wanted to say turned around in my head. But the lights and the pounding in my temples wouldn't let me say them. They came out scrambled and my head felt hot, and heavy wet tears welled up behind my eyes.

“I just wanted to make a memory,” I said.

I sat slouched in the middle of the bed and the tears rolled down my eyes. I didn't make any noise as the tears rolled down onto my chest and soaked the top of my gown.

“A memory for you because you don't wear ties and we don't make cards at school and I just wanted to,” I said.

My Dad stood up out of his chair and his chest elevated with one large breath underneath his blue sweater. He took a few steps towards my bed and sat down on the edge. He reached his arms out and scooped me into them.

“What are you saying?” he asked. “A memory? Well this was definitely something I am not going to forget.”

I pressed my head into his warm chest and the sweater soaked in my tears. The thoughts slowed down in my head and I sucked in long draws of breath.

“I just wanted to get you a great present.”

“You don't have to get me anything. I've always told you that. Where'd you get the idea to try and make me a memory anyways?” he asked.

I arched my neck back from his chest and looked up into his eyes.

“Well,” I said, “People love A Christmas Story, right?”

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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