I am so small, an insignificant piece of lint stepped on or wedged into the stairwell and the cement walls. No one sees me and I am fine with that now. ROCK never allows me to come forward during meaningful holidays because I will be sad or insecure and always forgotten. I lie on a step, covered with leaves which have not been swept away. The memory of a party I went to with BaD DaD when he was in town for Christmas is clear. I look up at the light under the door and I can hear laughter from adults who are playing loud Christmas music, smoking weed and drinking heavily. I am in the basement room, it’s huge and there are so many other kids. It’s supposed to be fun but it’s not. I don’t know any of them and now and then someone opens the door and tosses us candy and a television blasts through the pack of wild children’s screaming and running like feral cats, hopping over furniture like hares and all the toys are deafening to me. Firetrucks with sirens, rolling bubble poppers clacking and pillows and stuffed animals are being thrown in every direction. I want to go to my paternal Grandmother’s. It’s Christmas eve and that’s where I feel safest when BaD DaD picks me up from my mother when he visits. Her house smells of cigarettes, cat urine, cat food and is full of antiques, dusty and dark brown. In my room there I have a little elf in striped red and white pajamas and peppermint candy in a drawer. I climb the steps and open the door to the adults who are not paying attention and look for my father. He is stumbling around and half dancing while trying to stay upright. This is my ride back to my grandmother’s. I don’t think how I could use a telephone to call my mother or grandmother to come and get me. I am crying to leave and my father says this is “a fun Christmas party, stop being so whiny, go play with the other kids”. A woman takes my hand and opens the basement door again and after that they lock it so we can’t get out. I sit with a little stuffed puppy and study his fake eyes. I believe he knows how I feel. I rub my fingers over the glossy brown eyes. I fall asleep there, amongst the noise and pull my coat over my head. BaD DaD doesn’t come for me. When I do wake up I am in the car; he must have managed to carry me. It’s blurry and we get safely to my grandmother’s and he can’t get the key to open the door. I am cold and he rings and rings the door bell. My grandfather comes to the door; he has a big tummy and is in a pair of matching flannel pajama pants and shirt and black leather slippers. He opens the door and stares at BaD Dad and I see he is angry. He isn’t BaD Dad’s real father. He is the vice mayor, a state legislature, a respected man and doesn’t drink alcohol. He makes BaD DaD lay on the sofa then walks down the carpeted hallway, lined with photos of my family and to my grandmother who takes me to the bathroom and helps me brush my teeth and change into my pajamas. When I get to my bed, she tucks me in and when she leaves, I quietly open the drawer of my nightstand and pull out my tiny elf, eat some peppermint and I see peeking through the wide metal blinds the sun beginning to rise. Merry Christmas morning is already coming and I fall into a deep sleep with my stuffed puppy and elf wondering if Santa Claus has missed me because I wasn’t home in my bed dreaming of sugar plums or saying my Christmas prayers. The leaves beneath me on this step are mushy and wet from my tears shed on so many “gone wrong” nights with BaD Dad.