Chapter 8:

Smiling Through Tears


Christmas was always an awkward time of year. Miss Airy gave some stupid homework at this time of year. We had to write a letter to Santa Claus. What fun it is to beg a fictional character for shiny gadgets that their parents can't afford.

"ROBERT!" There Miss Airy goes again, picking on me. I never liked her sunken face and bones sticking out of her. She looked revolting and she sounded revolting. I guess that's the reason she's still a miss. She glares at me as if I'm a criminal. "Read out your letter to Santa."

"I didn't write one."

"Why not?"

"Because Santa isn't real."

Some of the kids behind me started crying. Miss Airy hushed, but she never kept her eyes off me. "Robert Fishman. You're going to fail in life with this stinking attitude of yours. I bet your mother and father don't get you a lot of presents."


"Good, you don't deserve them."

"My parents are dead."

She throws her pen against the board and her high heels clank. "Don't talk back to me. Now go outside."

I was meant to stay behind after school, but Grandpa kicked off. He took me a small chapel in the middle of nowhere. My cousin, Annie was in a white dress.

The ceremony was pleasant as one would expect it to be. Next to me was Grandpa, smiling through his tears.

The joy was destined not to last.