BY ALYSON FAYE
Copyright is held by the author.
THE ANGEL Gabriel was crying her eyes out, whilst Joseph fought over her with one of the Shepherds. Mary, who never had a good word for anyone, was moaning to Melchior, and baby Jesus was being kicked around as a football by several angels using the crib as goal. It was the usual denouement to the Oakley Amateur Dramatics Post-Nativity Party.
“There’s no respect,” Melanie whispered to a drunken shepherd, “this is supposed to be the season of good will.”
She left the pub in disgust, her head busy with plans for the festive season. At home Melanie brought out her trade kit — her needles and thread. She sewed several dolls from cloth scraps. She dripped a few drops of murky belladonna tea and frogs’ blood onto their faces with a tiny pipette, before retiring to her bed; sober and at peace.
Christmas Eve dawned the next morning in Oakley, and “Mary”, also the pub’s landlady, woke up, stretched and tried to yawn; her fist-pounding fetched her husband up the stairs, where, to his horror, he discovered his wife with her lips bloody, and sewn together with perfect little stitches in silver thread and her wrists tied up in tinsel.
“Joseph”, also the village butcher, stumbled out of his front door, screaming, “The devil’s been in the night!” His hands tinkled merrily when he shook them because of the 10 pretty silver bells neatly stitched to his digits.
“No more throwing your right hook about for you, Joe,” laughed his neighbour. “It’s a pacifist Christmas for you.”
In various junior angels’ homes, screams ricocheted, as bedclothes were thrown back to reveal toes stitched into pyjamas — flesh to fabric.
The macabre discoveries were happening all round the village for each Nativity cast member had been, overnight, stitched up, wrapped up and decked out like Christmas gifts.
A fleet of ambulances descended on Oakley and carted the patients off to hospital. The medical staff commented on the fine detail of the stitch work and even took photographs on their iPhones to share on social media. The images started trending on twitter with hash tags such as #creativeChristmasembroidery and #Santaselvesatwork.
The atmosphere in The Oakley Arms that evening was however subdued. For a start only half the regulars were present and there was much discussion as to whom the “Christmas Embroiderer” might be.
Melanie perched alone, in the nook by the fire, with a glass of mulled wine reading her book. Halloween was usually her preferred time of year for working, but she was happy to be flexible and include Christmas, especially as the results were so bewitching.