Carefully, Morticia hung the spider from the bare branch of the tree. It was so much easier now that all the needles had fallen off. The spider looked back at Morticia.
“Off you go now.” The spider raced away and Morticia smiled. The tree was coming together wonderfully. It was so gloomy and dismal, just perfect for this time of the year. The branches were trimmed with various ornaments of the season, ghosts, skulls, scythes, monsters and bats while the very top of the tree held a slightly-worn vulture. It was a treasured heirloom handed down from one Addams generation to the next. Once the spiders got busy, the tree would be covered in lovely webs. Nothing said Christmas to Morticia than spider webs.
Brushing the dust from her hands, Morticia glided across the floor to where her husband was staring out at the wind-driven snow. Trees bent over from the force of the wind and the sky was dark with thick clouds. Morticia hugged herself in anticipation of a complete blizzard.
“They say that once the storm is over, the temperatures will rise slightly and we’ll have some delightful slush, just in time for Christmas.” She settled her hand on his forearm. “Mon amour.” She waited for her arm to be attacked as Gomez, driven mad with passion from her French, kissed his way up from wrist to shoulder. When nothing happen, she looked sharply at her husband. “Gomez, are you ill?”
“What? Oh, I’m sorry, Tish. Maybe I am. It’s just…” He let the words trail off, almost embarrassed to speak them aloud.””
“Just what?” Immediately Morticia’s mind leapt to dozen possibilities. “What have I done, bien-aimé?”
“You, oh, Tish.” Gomez launched himself off the window seat and into her arms, holding her slender form tightly. “It’s me, never you.”
He released her and turned back to the howling snow. “Oh, Tish, I’ve been fighting it for days.”
“I’ve had the most dreadful desire to be merry.”
For a moment, Tish just stopped and then she smiled. “Oh, mon ami, it’s all right. That happens in the best of families. Come, help me burn some cookies. You’ll be your old self in no time! We’ll even start heating the oil for the carolers tonight. This close to Christmas, we will be sure to have some.”
Just then Wednesday came in, slamming the heavy front door behind her. She glanced over at her parents and… smiled. “Hello, Mother. Hello, Father, Merry Christmas.” And she started singing… and skipping.
Morticia’s knees grew weak and if it hadn’t been for Gomez, she would have collapsed completely. Gomez guided her to a fainting couch and grabbed for a nearby bell pull. The gong shook the house and instantly Lurch was there, solid and stoic.
“Lurch, take Mrs. Addams to her room. She’s had a nasty shock.”
Lunch rumbled something and scooped up the languishing woman. Gomez, his previous mood forgotten, jammed his hand into his pocket and pulled out a lit cigarillo. He puffed madly on it, trying to figure a way out of this. His daughter singing… and smiling… and skipping.
Another door slam brought his head up and his son walked in. Pugsley took more after his Uncle Fester in mood. He was devious, cunning, under handed and conniving, all while acting as if he was your best friend. The boy was true Addams, through and through. Today, however, the boy didn’t look, well, right.
“Pugsley, my boy.”
“Father.” The boy paused, as if anticipating something.
“Did something happen in school today? Your sister came home in a very strange mood.”
“She didn’t get picked for the school play. They wanted her to be a donkey, but she said she wouldn’t make an ass of herself on stage. Then she got sent to the principal, lucky dog. I’ve been trying all week. When she came out, she was all weird.”
“You know, happy. Like when the tarantula eggs hatch.”
Gomez nodded. “Go see Grandmamma. I believe she was baking some ginger zombie cookies.”
That cheered the child. “Oh, boy! I hope she didn’t forget the Eye of Newt!”
Gomez watched him race off and made a face. Why weren’t little girls as easy to raise as little boys… or even dead relatives for that matter?
Gomez climbed the stairs and paused by the bedroom door. He pushed it open and looked in. For all the world, his wife appeared as a corpse, pale and unmoving.
”Cara mia…” his voice trailed off as love strangled his heart. Her eyes opened and she smiled faintly.
“Mon cher,” she whispered and Gomez was in her arms, kissing her wildly.
“Tish, that’s French.”
Then Gomez pulled back and smiled at the love of his life, the reason his heart beat and his joints ached. “You are better?”
“I am. It was just the shock.”
“She was sent to the office. Pugsley hinted that not all is well.”
“We can only hope.”
“Are you strong enough to come with me?” She caressed his face with an ice cold hand and he gasped. He brought the hand to his mouth to kiss the palm. “Morticia, your hands are like ice. Just like our honeymoon.”
There was a happy sigh. “The Douglas Proving Grounds. I will never forget our time there with the explosions and the debris falling around us.”
“We have had a very fortunate life, Cara.”
“Yes, but now our children need us.” She stood, her back ramrod straight. “Shall we?”
He guided her to the door and out into the hall. There were muffled grunts and groans coming from Fester’s room and Morticia smiled. “It sounds like Fester is busy wrapping.”
“Well, Santa will be here soon.” Gomez stopped before Wednesday’s room and tapped on the door. “Wednesday?”
“Yes, Father?” Wednesday was sitting on her bed, surrounded by headless dolls.
“What are you doing?”
“There is dissention in the ranks. A spy and I’m interrogating them.”
That was music to Gomez’s ears. At least she hadn’t been permanently scarred. “Wednesday, your brother said that you were sent to the principal’s office. Is that correct?”
“Yes, Father.” The girl’s face brightened. “I have a note.”
“Indeed.” Morticia held her hand out and Wednesday took the envelope from a pocket. “This is opened.”
“Good girl.” Morticia cleared her throat and read aloud,
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Addams:
I regret to inform you that your daughter, Wednesday Addams, has been expelled from school for three days. Her teacher has been placed upon medical leave pending a nervous breakdown. Three substitutes have quit due to Wednesday’s actions.
Monday she gave a report that was so violent and distressing in nature that three children had to be taken to the nurse.”
“Wednesday, is this true?” Gomez had retrieved a cigarillo from his pocket.
“No, it was four, but Tommy Brown hid in the cloak room until school let out.”
“What book were you discussing?”
“Floppy the Happy Bunny Hops Again.” She barely repressed a shudder at it.
“There was violence and distress in it?” Morticia tried to imagine such a thing.
“If you read between the lines.”
Morticia nodded and resumed reading:
On Tuesday, the children were asked to draw seasonal images. While most children drew Christmas trees or Santa Claus, your daughter chose to depict a Christmas feast, featuring Rudolph as the main course. It took the substitute an hour to regain calm in the classroom.
“He’s the youngest. He’d be the tenderest of the herd.”
“She has a point, Tish.”
On Wednesday she refused to sing carols saying that they prescribed to an idyllic and impossible lifestyle that no one could hope to achieve following their current paths. She then produced brochures on funeral homes and cemeteries, saying that they’d better start planning now for their deaths. Another substitute left.
Finally, today she attempted to drown a second grader in the classroom aquarium. When asked what she was doing, she said she was illustrating a point from “Moby Dick” a book well advanced and not in her reading assignment. She then subsequently set fire to her desk in an attempt to dry the child’s clothes. Unfortunately, he was still in them. When she mentioned, “The Crucible” I felt it was best to intervene.
Her behavior is maniacal, dangerous, and vicious. She shows no regard for her classmates, or victims, as she refers to them. I have no options left but to deny her entrance back to our school until these matters are discussed and corrected.”
“I have a feeling that there will be extra coal in someone’s stocking tonight.”
“Really?” Wednesday’s eyes were wide.
“I have never been more proud of you, Wednesday Addams. You bear your name well.” She hugged her father hard, nearly strangling him. “You are going to make some man very uncomfortable.”
“We can only hope,” Morticia said, a dreamy look in her eyes.
All was, again, calm in the house. Tonight they would build a roaring fire in the fireplace, just for Santa, and tomorrow would be a day of gloom and despair with her loved ones close at hand. What more could a woman ask for?