Mustache - creative non-fiction
By Christi R. Suzanne
His mustache hid a lot of things—mostly his upper lip. My friends didn’t think so, a lot of them were afraid of him because of his quiet nature and solemn stare. I’ll admit it; my Dad could scare the shit out of me at times too. He would yell—loudly. It was that red-in-the-face-I’m-gonna-burst kind of yelling. Half the time I couldn’t even understand what he said. I focused on how scary it would be if his head actually did burst. What a mess. I knew he would never hurt me or make me feel terrible without reason. I mean, I’ll admit, I did go through a lying phase, plus, I often left the house without telling anyone so that I could go play with our next-door neighbor, which caused my mother bouts of worry. Above all else—my father had a mustache—and could I really trust him to tell me the truth about Santa Claus?
I woke up early on Christmas morning, anticipation festering in my limbs. I went into the living room and checked on the toys that Santa had left for me and for my sister. Everything looked in order. At this point my age was starting to show, I was nine. I had started asking more and more questions about the logistics of Santa and his flying reindeer. I wanted to believe so badly, that I let my mother’s answers seep into my brain, I accepted with a hint of doubt, everything she said.
My sister was older, wiser—a good secret keeper. She never once let it show in her eyes or let her voice waiver to betray her words. Santa existed, that was the message I got from her. We even pretended to be elves in Santa’s toyshop and as we worked in his shop, we speculated on all those magical things like: I wonder if the elves get to fly in Santa’s sleigh? Or I wonder how Santa fits down a chimney? Or I wonder how Rudolph’s nose got so bright? Questions, that I should have, long ago, stopped asking.
After checking out the gifts Santa had left, I went out into the backyard to see if there was any trace of old Mr. Claus. First I checked the pool, thinking that maybe Santa or one of his reindeer dropped something there on the flight out. Then I checked the porch, no glass of milk or cookie crumbs. Then I went to the side yard and that’s when I fond it… a half eaten carrot. This was the proof I was looking for. We always left carrots out for Santa’s reindeer. This meant there really were flying reindeer, a sleigh, and a Santa Claus. My parents and my sister weren’t lying to me!
Overjoyed I picked up the half-eaten carrot and studied the teeth marks. The grooves from the teeth left a nice ring of ridges around the edge of the carrot. Yep, reindeer. No other animal could have taken a bite from that carrot. I ran inside and found my Dad wearing his favorite blue and tan flannel, pouring him-self a cup of coffee. Snoozer, the family dog was standing next to him.
“Dad, Dad! Look,” I said, “ one of Santa’s reindeer ate our carrots. This must have fallen off the roof while he was eating it!”
“Well, look at that,” he said and smiled.
My mom walked into the room and I held up the carrot and thrust it into her face, “Look! One of Santa’s reindeer ate our carrots!”
“Oh my stars!” My mom said. I noticed her eyes shifting over to my dad with a questioning look.
As my sister walked into the room she gasped and said, “It must have fallen off the roof.”
I told her that I had thought the same thing and then I said, ”Santa does exist.”
Satisfied with the explanation of the carrot we all went into the living room where the Christmas tree was and opened our gifts. My mom then made cinnamon rolls and we sat around discussing what gifts we liked best. Snoozer liked cinnamon rolls too.
My sister and me were entertaining ourselves by putting together a puzzle when my Dad came out from his room to fill up his coffee cup.
“Dad, your face looks weird,” my sister said.
“Thanks a lot,” he said.
“You got rid of your mustache!” I said.
We all laughed and talked about how weird he looked without it, how it made his upper lip look really long.
A few months later, after a morning at church, I cornered my mother.
“Mom, is there really a Santa Claus?”
“No,” she said.
I felt my face grow red. “What?”
“No, there is no Santa Claus. No one can fly, you know that,” she said.
“Why didn’t you tell me when I asked you weeks ago?”
“Come on, you knew,” she said.
“What about the carrot?”
“Your dad went outside and fed it to Snoozer. He didn’t know it was left outside.”
“Why did you lie to me! And Dad too!” I felt so betrayed.
I ran back to my Dad’s study to get some kind of confirmation.
“Dad?” I said.
“What Chris? What’s wrong?”
“Is there really a Santa Claus?” I asked.
His eyes looked to the tan carpeted floor and then back at my face. “Do you want the truth?” he asked.
“I think so,” I said.
“Are you sure?”
“There isn’t one, is there?”
He looked at me without his mustache and sighed. His face looked younger without a mustache. I could tell what he must have looked like as a boy, or at least I could see some boyish features in his face. His eyes looked sad and then he hugged me as I began to cry.