Thursday, December 22, 2011


A Sci-Fi Christmas Story

It was the night before Christmas, and my small studio apartment was very quiet. I didn't have any presents except for the one my mother had sent me and a package from a book publishing company that was almost certainly a galley they were hoping I might mention on the website I work for. But they'd wrapped it, so who knew — maybe they'd sent me a thank-you present for writing about another book they'd published earlier in the year. In any case, two presents looked nicer than one! I didn't have a tree, but I did have a green potted plant, so I put the presents beside it.

All was calm until a noise woke me. And although the apartment was dark, nothing unusual seemed to have happened, so I sat up, took my cell phone from the bedside table, and shone its screen outward. And that's when I saw it.

Under my "tree" was a new present. It was a perfectly square box, immaculately wrapped, and topped with a bow. It was horrifying, the idea of someone being in my apartment while I slept — and who was likely still there — so I sat paralyzed, shining my phone on the box until it dimmed and shut off.

What felt like hours passed, but was probably more like 10 minutes. Nothing happened at all during that time, and I eventually worked up the courage to get up and turn the real lights on. There it still was — a new present. And in the brighter lights, I saw it had a tag. "For Edith," it said. My stomach turned. Who was in my apartment? Why did they want to kill me? Why had someone wrapped a box, snuck it into my home, and placed it on my "kitchen" (studio apartment) table, and where were they now? What were they waiting for? Should I kill myself now, with one of my kitchen knives, to spare myself whatever this person was going to do? Wait — the kitchen knives.

So I grabbed a kitchen knife and held it out in front of me as I walked through the apartment. I have a clear shower curtain, so it was apparent right away (phew) that the person wasn't hiding in the bathroom. He wasn't in the closet, either, and he wasn't under the bed, and ... those were the only places to look. There weren't any other places for a human to hide in my apartment. It's very small.

So, the gift. I stood in front of it, staring. What do I do, I thought. Do I call 911?

Just then, the tag, the "For Edith" tag, turned on its own. Yes. It turned, on its own. And on the reverse side it said, "From Kraanth."

What? WHAT?

It was a magical Christmas miracle that was also, no joke, the worst moment of my life. But what the hell, I thought. So I turned on the Christmas carols (in the preceding weeks I'd made a great playlist) and tried to accept the final hours of my life with a steely sense of humor, so whoever was going to kill me might marvel quietly to themselves in the coming months/years, whenever they thought of me and the night I died, that at least I was interesting. "She was a live one," they might think. "She surprised me." So, while pretending to be cool for my murderer, and blasting "Little Drummer Boy," I opened the present.

Inside the box were a number of rings and bracelets, arranged on a white satin pillow. They were beautiful, too — vintage pieces. Gorgeous. And ... I recognized some of them. No, I recognized ... all of them? But — what? Where was I recognizing them from? I don't really have or wear any jewelry, and I don't really — oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. They were — they were from Erie Basin. They were every piece of jewelry the vintage jewelry store Erie Basin had posted pictures of on Tumblr and that I had clicked the "like" heart for. Oh my god. Oh my god.

At that moment, while I was trying on one of the beautiful rings that were now, somehow, mine (!), the light in the apartment changed. What? I thought, for the ninetieth time in a half-hour. I turned toward the source of the light, and saw that it was coming from outside one of my windows. It was a shifting light, a rising light. And then there was its source. Floating. Outside my window. On the fourth floor.

An alien. There was an alien floating outside my window, and it was bathed in silver light. Something about it — somehow — seemed harmless, and I don't know how I understood this, but ... I nodded, indicating everything was okay. Like a vampire, I guess. "Yes," the nod meant, on a number of levels. So the alien moved forward, and passed through the windowpane into my apartment as if it were nothing.

His light was beautiful. And although I couldn't see myself, it felt like it was one of those lights you come across in particularly fancy restaurant/bar bathrooms, where they've engineered everything so you think you look your absolute best. And I knew I looked really good in this alien's special silver light. I couldn't really describe him to you, other than he was smaller than me, and yet he felt larger. Like how a handful of one substance can be denser/heavier than a handful of another substance. This guy was heavier than me. Bigger somehow. But also tiny. Tidy. As my eyes adjusted to his amazing light, I made out his face. There were two giant black eyes in a sleek silver face that tapered to a point, a tiny, motionless mouth, and not much of a nose. Hairless. He seemed incredibly smart, even without saying anything, and although three minutes earlier I had considered killing myself at the idea of him, he strangely put me at ease.

"Edith," he said. I think he said it, at least. It was more like a deep (and handsome!) voice was saying something in my head. I'm not sure he was talking out loud at all. "Merry Christmas," he said.

"... Kraanth?"

"Yes," he "said."

"Who ... are you?" I asked. But he said nothing, although he projected a benign-to-positive essence. "I — how did you — do you — " I started. Then I paused. Did he follow me on Tumblr? I wanted to ask. Was *he* on Tumblr? Did he read The Hairpin? But what was the point? Would he even answer? Probably not. Instead I just said, "Thank you. This is the most insane night of my life, obviously," and laughed nervously while making a flustered hand gesture. He mimicked it. Making his own hand gesture, exactly the same as mine, except it was so forced, but also adorable, like he was trying to put me at ease by doing the things I was comfortable with. Which was what he was doing. Ah! Kraanth. He was still levitating in the center of my apartment. I tentatively held out my hand, the one I'd put a ring on. "It fits perfectly," I said with another nervous laugh.

"I know," Kraanth essenced to me. "I scanned your brain and hands, and based on which fingers I knew you'd want to put which rings on, I changed their sizes so you'd like them best."

I stared at him in silence. Kraanth was not kidding.

"Thank you," I said. "This is the most insane — " blah, and here I was repeating myself, saying "the most insane" again, when I had wanted to seem like such a cool human ... ambassador? Representative? Anyway — "present I have ever gotten."

"Will you marry me, Edith?" he essenced to me.

My mouth dropped open a little. What was happening. Oh. Oh! Of course, I was dreaming. I was dreaming that an alien flew in my window and gave me every piece of jewelry I'd "liked" on Tumblr. Okay. That makes sense, I thought. So, in the meantime, I'd just try to have fun. To make it one of those lucid dreams, where I ... have sex with everything. That's what people do in lucid dreams, right? Fly and have sex? But, did I want to have sex with Kraanth? He wasn't my "type," but he did have a really hot voice, and who even knows what aliens would be like to have sex with. Except I would know, because I'd be making it all up, because I was dreaming and dreams are all within your own head! So maybe sex with Kraanth would be really hot. Screw it! Or, literally, screw Kraanth. Make love to Kraanth. Whichever would come most naturally to Kraanth. This was an exciting night!

"Yes," I said, confidently. And then I lay back down on my bed, waiting for whatever came next to ... come next.

But Kraanth just hovered close to me. He stared into my face for a while — his eyes were so intense, I don't know how to explain it, it was like flies' eyes where they have a bunch of facets (in the close-up nature pictures), but somehow also liquid and iridescent, and flat, and completely black? I don't know, they were gorgeous. Spooky, too, I guess, but incredible. And staring into his eyes made me again lose track of time, but he ultimately broke the trance by caressing my forehead with his hand. It wasn't really a hand in the way that you or I would think about hands, but more of a nimble silver ending to a long, thin arm. But his touch — it wasn't warm or cool, it was ... electrifying, maybe. Stimulating? But not erotic. Just — if there were a sixth sense (or seventh sense, or a new color, maybe?), it was like that.

"Which ring do you want to be our wedding band?" he asked/essenced. "Is it the one you're wearing?"

So I looked down at my hand, and although I did love that ring, I wasn't sure I wanted it to be our forever wedding ring, so I sat back up and went over to the box of jewelry, and tried on all the rings. They were all so pretty! It was amazing. I knew I "liked" all those pictures of vintage jewelry on the internet for a reason, I thought to myself.

I picked out my favorite ring, put it on, and showed it to Kraanth. "What do you think?" I asked, smiling.

"I love it," he essenced to me. "And I love you."

I blushed. This was seriously so insane.

"Now we're going back to my planet," he essenced. "Forever. I know that's startling to you, so I will give you 10 seconds to process that." He paused for ... what must have been 10 seconds exactly (Kraanth!). "And now that you've processed it," he essenced, "you understand what lies in store. I know this is all very new to you, but I also know that you realize this is real, and that there will be a lot of unanswered questions among the people who know you. About why you 'disappeared.' And I think the best answer is a blog post, that multiple people can read. Your family, your friends, whomever. So I will give you 20 minutes to write a blog post, explaining why you disappeared forever."

ANYWAY. So that's the story. Merry Christmas!

Illustration by John Urquhart.

70 Comments / Post A Comment


Just the right amount of knives, today!


Please don't disappear.


@atipofthehat Given that there was no 4:30pm post, I'm wondering if this is how Edith is going out for the holiday? No long goodbyes, just a dash of mystery...



OMG, so THAT's where she went!


Two of Forbes's three livestock judges were Nick Denton and a CNN producer ... No wonder Edith was not higher than #30.


Kraanth. Kraanth! KRAAAAAAAANTH!!!! Kraanth.



Is she really talking about Rich Santos?


@atipofthehat Kraanthos?

Vera Knoop

Congratulations. How wonderful.

HRH Your Cuntness

Congratulations, Edith! I'm sure you and Kraanth will be exceedingly happy together. Where are you guys registered?


@HRH Your Cuntness No, no. Why register when you can procure your heart's desire simply by "liking" it on Tumblr?? Things work differently when you're with Kraanth.


@HRH Your Cuntness Honeymoon plans? How's the weather on his planet this time of... um, the galactic orbit of their star? Or whatever? Anyway, I'm sure you two make a great couple.

one cow.

Well, this is perfect.


wow. this was amazing and oddly sexual.


@samafaye I think you mean "sexily sexual."


@figwiggin I like that his voice was handsome.



But then he essenced all over her! Kind of premature, wasn't it, Kraanth?


@samafaye When she got to the "...sexy? Sexy." part I was like THANK GOD, I was afraid I'd have to be the one to bring up how potentially porny this whole thing was and it would be terrible and weird. Way to validate, Kraanth/Edith. (Kradith? Edaanth?)




@figwiggin cooooome baaaaack


Does this mean that Balk and Choire are going to come over to babysit? Because it's really hard to sleep when Balk sobs that loudly.


Edith, I know you may never see this, but remember the Ask a Dude post re: dibs? Well, I had dibs on Kraanth. I'm hoping this matter will be settled shortly and I will receive, in time for Christmas, all of the fabulous jewelry gifts that are rightfully mine.


@melmuu Edith is like Santa. She sees everything.

Katie Heaney

Dreams in which you realize they're dreams and then get to choose how the rest of the dream proceeds ARE THE BEST.


@Katie Heaney Ahh I wish this happened to me. I always wake up from bad dreams right when the really bad shit starts to happen and I frantically try to "write" a good ending in that fuzzy state between asleep and fully awake.


@iceberg The closest I get is starting to wake up and being all, "Nooo! That was interesting!" and then trying to both concentrate on whatever was just going on and be relaxed enough to fall asleep again. Other than that, I control nothing ever.


So.... did this really happen?



Mibst. MIBST!

The Lady of Shalott

Are we invited to the wedding? Are you going to serve Qream?


@The Lady of Shalott Qraanth!


@The Lady of Shalott The Qream is a lie!


It's embarassing, but a large majority of my dreams involve awkward sexual relations with icky famous people, boring book characters, talking animals, or mysterious alien beings. And by awkward sexual relations I mean getting fingerbanged by like, a secondary harry potter character or something. Once I had a dream that I had a shark boyfriend and he bought me all kinds of pirate treasure. What I'm saying is that, if Kraanth showed up and bought me some sweet jewelry, I probably would have let him get to alien third base too.

Bon Vivant

@christonacracker I've had awful sex dreams about Harrison Ford and James Earle Jones which were...awful.


@Bon Vivant Right? it's like my brain goes out of its way to shame me.

Bon Vivant

@christonacracker seriously. the harrison ford dream involved learning that because he is so old, he gets an erection via a series of wooden cogs and pulleys, and apparently JEJ had all of his reproductive and excretory organs replaced with pvc piping. luckily, i have no recollection of consummation.
I don't fucking know, guys.

elysian fields

@Bon Vivant I'm sorry for your pain, but I have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. WOODEN COGS AND PVC PIPING ahahahahahahaha


@Bon Vivant and the best part is, in the dream it's always like, "well, I'd better just figure out a way to make love to all three of john malkovich's weiners" and it's not until you wake up that you are horrified by the concept.

Bon Vivant

@christonacracker nothing like a dream to put a silver lining on that triple dick shaped cloud, right?


@Bon Vivant HAAAAAAAAAAAA I am laughing the silent laughter that one only laughs when they are dangerously close to getting caught doing non-worky things at work. I am shaking. Holy shit. Thank you for that.


@Bon Vivant I want you to publish your dream diary on the Hairpin. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard at a comment.

Bon Vivant

@pterodactgirl I wish!! My dreams are always, always fucking bonkers. And epic and weirdly detailed. And bonkers.


@Bon Vivant Mine too, but not in sexily mechanical ways like yours seem to be. Recently, I have:

Been chased by killers who wanted my eggnog,
Walked a scary dirt road littered with dead dodos and been all pissed off because the sword they gave me for the obviously impending quest was HELLA DULL, Y'ALL, I CANNOT WORK WITH THIS,
And been taken to a concert by Iggy Pop and then sent to Sweden on a humanitarian mission to...move a big rock? with T-Pain in a helicopter.


@miwome Most recently: playing hockey, but none of us had our skates on - we were just sliding around in shoes. And the puck was the size of a bottle cap. And someone had put figure skating costumes on the hangers with our pads, etc. Still not as weird as Bon Vivant, though.

Bon Vivant

@Sean_P so, last night contained: living as a ranger at the top of a mountain with beautiful views and rolling around naked in the snow. It was warm and felt like cotton batting. I then rejoined the improv festival after riding on my snowmobile. I got there just in time to see a tiny woman with no legs sing christina aguilara's "you are beautiful" to her morbidly obese mother, as the wee one was wheeled around on a tea cart and sang in a reedy voice. I also think the venue was haunted (ghosts are a common dream element for me). Who else remembers dreams from last night?


@christonacracker Last night I had what I think was a recurring dream--as in, I'm pretty sure I had this dream once before--and it was a dream of REVOLUTION. There was all kinds of supernatural will-of-the-gods succession shit going on (stones crumbling, earthquakes), and a tiny white dog--I woke up before it unexpectedly turned the tide of battle, but I know it was going to because of the last time I had the dream.

This version was slightly different from the last time. There was more time spent with the underclass, there was also a pony that was really important, and in this version, I was a killer archer. And I remember at some point being really concerned about finding a flatiron because otherwise my bangs would be wonk for the revolution.




@highfivesforall Someone is going to buy me jewelry and marry me or I am going to disappear asomething isomething???

one cow.

@highfivesforall Someone is going to buy me jewelry and marry me or I am going to date/do an alien?


@one cow. I was going for dream about aliens, but yours works too!


Last night I had a dream that a coworker who kind of gets of my nerves came over to my house and let my cat out, and I spent a good portion of the dream screaming myself hoarse at her. Woke up to the kitty cuddling up to me in bed. I still can't quite look at my coworker. And I can't even tell her what she did, because she'd just laugh!


@figwiggin I had a dream screaming match with my mom last night and I think cut her out of my dream life? It was strange, and I get to go home tomorrow for Christmas!


@figwiggin When this happens in my family, we demand an apology from the person who misbehaved in the dream, and the apology is sincerely given.


@Ping See, that's the kind of response to dream-wrongings that we just need as a culture.


@Ping the way this goes down at my house is that my wife blames me for something "I" did in her dream, and I look perplexed.

Bon Vivant

Dearest Edith,
I'd quite like to drink with you.


I'll be expecting baby pictures!


@MalPal Oh noooooooo, please no more Hairpin Baby Debate until after the holidays, I can't handle it!


I had a dream last night where I was being pressured to do some kind of important but unnecessary medical screening that involved getting a needle put into ones eyeball. (Like it was supposed to be for an incredibly horrible disease and everyone was telling me how Vitally Important it was to get this done, but it turned out not not actually be all that useful?) I promptly got pissed off and righteous and told them what a horrible thing they were all doing, which was cool but not worth having a dream where I was threatened with NEEDLES IN THE EYE. Kraanth and his vintage jewelry = much better.


Congrats, Edith! Christmas engagements are so romantic.


I really hope this was a real dream. I have a dream blog, if you ever want to read it. You know, just let me know. It does NOT involve James Earl Jones and PVC piping penises, though. What a shame. Maybe tonight!

Bon Vivant

@cocokins We live to dream once more!!

Kate Bolick@facebook

This is the best thing I've read all week. All month!

Edith Zimmerman

@Kate Bolick@facebook KATE! I'll let you know if he has any hot friends.

You'll be sorry Jo March

Does Kraanth have a tiny silver brother?


Silly Edith. (Edith!) Real Christmas dreams are not about alien elopement and wish-fulfillment jewelry. Real Christmas dreams are about wandering the streets all night with constantly recombining groups of other drunk people you don't really know.

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