• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 02
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She arrives just in time for advent, my Christmas Companion. I place her on the sofa and we count down the days on the calendar. I eat the chocolate, she stares at the pictures with icy eyes twinkling. A star. A king. The Baby Jesus. She doesn’t give a shit.

On the third day her nudity unnerves me, and I dress her head to toe in festive woolens. I, meanwhile, throw off my bra, slip into my snowflake onesie and swear not to take it off ‘till Boxing day.

On the fifth day I drink brandy and tell her about my estranged kids. My husband snuck them off in summer, and I’ve been alone here ever since. I can’t say I miss them though. Theirs will be a Christmas of wallabies on the lawn and white wine in the sun. Santa hats and barbies on the beach.

“It’ll be bloody awful,” I say, sipping my brandy and slipping an arm around her. “I’m not convinced they ever really liked their old ma, you know. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I ever really liked them either. Such noisy little fuckers. Always yapping. Always talking back.”

I take her cold hand in mine and slur.

“N-Not like you. You’re a lot less to handle. You’re a whole lot sweeter.”

On the eighth day I decide to name her Humbug, on account of her sweetness.

Humbug jumped out at me. The app, of course, was overrun by choice. ‘Christmas Companions’ in every shape and size. Fat, ruddy uncle-types, kind-eyed grandmas with advanced wrinkle technology, cutesy kids with pigtails and fixed grins. I hated them all, until I found Humbug.

Humbug, well, she was simple. Adaptable. No frills. No bells and whistles. She could be what I wanted her to be. I had a sense she’d be good company.



On the 18th day we’re bothered by carol singers. Upon a mischievous impulse, I have Humbug open the door. ‘Silent Night’ becomes a chorus of screams. The singers run. We collapse on the carpet and laugh until we cry.

Christmas morning I overdo it on the Bucks Fizz and burn the turkey. Humbug doesn’t mind. We sit together on the kitchen table, drinking Baileys and eating Pop Tarts. I place one end of a Christmas cracker in her empty hand and pull until it pops.

“Humbug!” I laugh. “You won the bigger half.”

I pull out the contents. A kaleidoscope. A paper crown. A joke.

Why did the mannequin lose the Christmas pageant?

She had stiff competition!

I howl with laughter and coronate her with the golden paper crown.

“My Christmas Queen!” I say aloud, and wait until silence settles in.

I lean back in my chair and listen.

Sweet nothing.

I breathe. Relieved. Clink her Bailey’s glass with mine.

“Ha! Humbug, my sweet. This, is fucking bliss.”