Friday, December 26, 2008

Guest Blogger Faith Hunter: The Day After Christmas

It was a wonderful holiday season, despite news of the world’s financial crisis blaring from every nearby television screen or newspaper headline. It’s the day after Christmas, the family is busy cleaning up, putting away gifts, getting their homes back in order and doing fun stuff with their kids (my nieces and nephews). Mom is probably taking down her tree, munching on leftover Christmas breakfast. My hubby is upstairs working, thinking about my proposal that we get a puppy…. Me? I am basking in the post-celebration glow, pondering how my waistline got so big, wondering how long it will take me to drop the extra weight, and wondering if I’ll still fit into my New Year’s party dress.
In a week, it will be time to plan ahead, think ahead, and well, write ahead. Part of that is thinking about the deadline I just finished and the new series to debut in July 2009. My new character Jane Yellowrock is a skinwalker with no past (or at least not one she remembers), and with a dangerous occupation—killing vamps who go rogue and start eating the populace. Hmmm. I wonder how Jane would view the day after Christmas?
Jane Yellowrock’s Day
After I rolled over, kicked the sheets trapping my legs away, and opened my eyes, breaking sleep-sand with tiny cracking sounds. Dust bunnies and dead bugs littered the bottom of the overhead light fixture, the paint was cracking around the ceiling molding and peeling away, and cobwebs draped the corners of the room. I canted my head on the pillow to take in my efficiency apartment, seeing the mess with a bit of dismay. On the chair by the door were a pile of gifts, my clothes were in the corner where I’d kicked them when I came in last night, and the closet door was hanging open, as were the drawers on the wardrobe and the kitchen cabinets. I’m not much of a housekeeper, though my guns and fighting gear are always in great shape. They were neatly arranged on the kitchen table, smelling of machine oil, steel, and spent ammo.
Yesterday was the big day and my tummy was still pleasantly aching from all the baked goods I’d slurped down, not that I’m complaining. Spending Christmas with Molly, my best friend in the world, and her family is a heap better than spending it alone working on my bike or remoting the TV from parade to old movie to football. I don’t miss having a family of my own except at Thanksgiving and Christmas; then it hits kinda hard, the reaction of most kids who grew up in children’s homes or foster care and haven’t yet created little families of their own.
I rolled out of bed, pulled on a tee and zipped up jeans that were only a little tight after the gorging of the day before, and set to work righting my living space. My Beast thought cleaning and neatening up was a waste of time better spent in cat-form, hunting deer or wild boar, but I need some kind of order not provided by the lifestyle of a rogue-vamp hunter. It didn’t take long. The apartment under the eaves of Miz Hinebaugh’s upper room wasn’t much bigger than a hotel room.
When the small space was neat, I dumped the pile of gifts to the bed and sat yogi-style, pawing through them. I had racked up.
Molly had knitted me a huge scarf in tawny brown with black hairs sticking out, the color palette much like my Beast’s pelt. Big Evan, Mol’s hubby, had hand-carved me a knife handle out of elk horn and fitted it to my eighteen inch vamp-killer. Molly’s sisters had gone in together and presented me with a huge gift basket from their shop, filled with cookies, beef jerky, hard cheeses, jelly, crackers, imported teas, and a big pot of catnip, the plant bringing my Beast close to the surface with a rumbling purr. The Everheart sisters hadn’t known why catnip was the perfect gift, as Molly hadn't told them what I was, but they’d been striving to please. I blinked back tears at the care they had shown an outsider who’d crashed their family time.
Lastly, I opened the card from little Angelina. She had drawn me a picture of mountain lion kits, though I knew they were mountain lion kits only because she told me so, as the six-year-old wasn’t a savant artist—a savant witch, yes, but no kind of artist at all. I stepped off the bed and hung the drawing on the refrigerator door with her other drawings and surveyed my domain. Den…rumbled Beast in the deeps of my mind, her emotions sad and full of longing. Good den but needs kits. Miss cries, spotted pelts, claws, good-milky-kit-smell.
“I know. And I agree, it’s kinda cool having a family, even if they aren’t really mine.” I just hoped that the huge Everheart clan invited me to their Christmas bash next year. I liked not being alone, even if, unlike humans, I wasn’t ever really alone inside my head, not with Beast inside here too.
Hunt? Beast asked, perking up. Much deer here!
“Sure,” I said to the empty apartment. “Sundown in the woods. It’s a date.”

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