Little Gifts

On Christmas Eve my father gave me bruises as a little gift. He dragged me down the stairs by my long hair and beat me under the tree’s lights.

“You think Jesus never got a whipping for doing something bad?” he yelled.

He wasn’t drunk and he wasn’t out of his mind either. My father just beat me because he was mean. I didn’t even know what I had done wrong.

“You’re a leech,” he told me. “A leech.”

I wasn’t even sure what a leech was but that night I looked it up in the dictionary.

On Christmas morning my father woke up with my teeth in his arm. That was my little gift.

“What are you doing?” he yelled.

“Being a leech,” I said. “I’m a leech.”

My father didn’t call me a leech no more after that but he did knock out my front teeth. They were just baby teeth, though. I didn’t need them anyway.