Death, both physical and mental, had taken up residence in the Van Man Family. She was on an extended stay. And she had worn out her welcome. Rooms that used to be full of southern gossip and slow-drawl anecdotes had been replaced by sad games of five-person Dirty Santa and sullen conversations that faded out without ending.
An old cousin spoke to Van Man about things that disentegrated as the words fell out of his mouth. The Old Cousin was once a funny intellectual. A man who could speak about the government and rewire an outlet while telling a dirty joke, all at the same time. And it would make sense. Now, not so much. Only ramblings about his dead wife. Van Man clicked on his gift from the Saddest Dirty Santa Game In History, a pocket flashlight. The Old Cousin smiled at the glowing fake fire and walked away.
Van Man scanned over the remnants of family. How does one make sense of the suffering? Just life. Shit happens. Now, eat up, he thought. Then a light came on for Van Man. His face was illuminated, his eyes nearly blinded. He looked across the room at the source of the shining. The Old Cousin pointed a flashlight at him, showing it off. Van Man smirked and flashed his light back. With a wide smile, the Old Cousin disappeared into some other room. The two had communicated, it seemed.
The tragedy of Christmas. A yearly reminder of death and destruction. A moment of time to look back on what was once good and which can never be again. For Van Man, it had never been. Then, the Old Cousin was standing next to him.
"Lemme show you my flashlight", he said with a gleam in his eye. The Old Cousin held a flashlight in each hand, posing with them as he clicked the lights on and off. He pretended to search for things that were not there, then some thing that was not there caught his attention. The Old Cousin stared at the imaginary object. Van Man watched. And he was saddened by the spectacle.