Originally published Apr 21, 2009.

As I lay me down to sleep,
I pray to god my soul to keep.
And if I die before I wake,
I pray to god my soul to take.

Pretty messed up, isn’t it? A thousand children have been scared to go to sleep because of that one. I wasn’t raised in a Christian household, so I didn’t have to worry about god taking my soul in my sleep. I was just lucky that way, I guess. This one time, though, I did have a problem with someone coming ’round in my sleep and taking something of mine.

It was two days before Christmas, the eve of Christmas eve, which just happened to be my birthday as well. Snow on Christmas didn’t always happen at my house, and that year it decided to snow on my birthday and clear up by Christmas time. I didn’t know the snow was going to clear up, though, and I was thrilled to bits by it. I went to bed on the evening of the 23rd happy as a clam (as some of my friends have called me), eager to experience the next leg of my three-day holiday.

When I’m woken up in the middle of the night, I don’t start awake with grand declarations like ‘who’s there!’ or even ‘ghnmmgah?’ Oh no, my idea of waking up is a long silence punctuated by ‘nngh,’ after which I go back to bed and let whoever it was deal with it. Whatever it was.

Still, I do have some skill for waking up under exceedingly strange circumstance. So when I woke up for the second time, the first time being when I first heard someone entering my room, it was to the very strange sensation of someone unzipping my skin. Right down the back, with a little zipper made of metal. It made my back muscles feel all cold and drafty, and if you haven’t felt that you can’t even imagine it.

“Oy!” I shouted, mumbled, whichever. “Stop that.”

I rolled over, to be confronted by Mrs. Claus. You know, Santa’s wife? She looked just like I always pictured her, and while I’d never believed in god as a child as such, I’d always believed in Santa.

She frowned down at me in the dim light of my room, illuminated only by the burning torch held by her elf henchmen.

“Dear, hush. This won’t take but a moment.”

“You can’t have my skin.” It was obvious, in that moment, what she wanted. And I just wasn’t having it.

“You shouldn’t be unreasonable about this,” she told me, muttering to a henchman, “Did we bring the chloroform?”

“No, ma’am. We left it in the sledge like you said.”


“I can hear you.”

“Oh. Sorry, dear.”

I lay back against my two very comfy pillows and sighed. “Get out.”

“Why should I? Santa needs good new skin to look his best on Christmas day.”

Opening one brown eye, I glanced at my clock, which happened to be decorated with pictures of roses.

“Because it’s still my birthday for another twenty-five minutes,” I informed Mrs. Claus. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I was just tired, and it was my birthday, and I wanted to go back to bed.

“Oh,” was her reply. “Well, I suppose that is a bit different, then.”

“We really didn’t bring the chloroform?” She asked her henchmen.

“No, ma’am. We didn’t.”

I could still hear them, but I chose to ignore it.

“Well,” Mrs. Claus said to me, “I suppose you’ve got a good point there. We’ll just be going, unless you want me to zip you back up?”

“I’ll do it myself.”

I could tell they left when the light went away, and I rolled back over, pulled the blankets right up to my chin, and fell back asleep.