Sloth's Pit Christmas Façade
rating: +22+x

"You know, Ronnie, we should really get a real Christmas tree sometime," Catlin commented, watching her husband finish stringing red tinsel across their festive — yet fake — evergreen. "There's the scent, gosh, the whole experience of it all!"

"Having to throw it away and buy a new one each year doesn't sound like a good experience to me," he retorted, turning to see her disappointed frown. "Come on, you can't tell me it's not more convenient!"

"I know." Catlin crossed her arms, leaning further into their cushy leather couch. "But… I dunno. It's not about convenience, it's about feeling."

"Well I am feeling quite lovely. And whatever happened to the Catlin who'd always say 'family is more important than anything'?" Ronnie thought for a second before gasping. "What if you don't love me anymore!? That explains it!"

The two of them made eye contact for a moment before bursting into laughter. Catlin could barely react when Ronnie came diving onto the couch, hugging her. "Heyyy, lemme go!" She exclaimed playfully, brushing her hair out of her eyes. "I can't see my favorite decoration."

Robbie backed away, taking a seat next to her. "And what decoration is that?"

"Well, its- uh…" Catlin froze, finally actually thinking through what she was going to say before saying it, which rarely ever happened. "You know, I was going to say 'you,' but—"

"You really just like me for my looks?" Ronnie fell back onto the couch with a feigned sadness, lying the back of his hand on his forehead. "What a cruel woman you are!"

"Shut up!" Catlin giggled. "You know I love your dorkiness too."

Ronnie smiled and lurched up, grabbing Catlin's waist before pulling her down atop of him. They stared into each other's eyes for a moment. "I'm not the only dork in this room."

"You got me there."

Laughing, Ronnie kissed her on the cheek. "Mwah," he said, pulling away.

"Mwah," Catlin replied, adjusting her position. "You know, this is pretty comfy. You're very warm."

"Probably because I'm blushing so much, eh?"

"In that case, it might be just me."

The two Larsons cuddled closer together, slowly drifting into the clutch of a warm Sloth's Pit winter's slumber.


Waking up had always been a strange activity for Ronnie, and this day was no exception.

First, his sense of touch came back as he felt Catlin's warm body laid across him, her shallow breath against his neck.

Then taste. Nothing special there.

However, as his hearing slowly came back, he could hear sobbing, at which his senses all suddenly rushed back to him. He opened his eyes to see their Christmas tree hunched right over their couch, crying plastic pine needles.

As anyone would do if their Christmas tree suddenly gained sentience, Ronnie screamed in fear until Catlin suddenly woke up, slapping him across the face before noticing the tree. She proceeded to shriek as well, and Ronnie, despite a sore cheek being the least of his worries, was tempted to smack her back in retaliation.

After a good few seconds, the two Larsons finally managed to calm down, at which their tree spoke. "Do you guys… not love me?" It choked out.

"N-no!" Catlin blurted. "We, uh, love trees!"

"But I'm not a tree! I'm plastic! I'm a fake! A fraud!"

Catlin opened her mouth to say more, only for Ronnie to cover it. "You are… uh, perfect. And you're just as much of a Christmas tree as the other trees."

"But…" The plastic evergreen pointed over at Catlin. "She said real trees smell good!"

Finally free from Ronnie's hand, Catlin blurted out again, "but we have to throw away real trees, so clearly you're better!"

It stared at them for a moment before skulking over to their patio door, sliding it open, stepping outside, and wordlessly closing it. The Larsons watched as it suddenly fell over in the foot-high snow.

"Maybe we should have gotten a real Christmas tree after all."


"We could, uh, call the plastics guys? They'll know what to do! Right?"

Ronnie rolled his eyes. "Probably. But also… the blizzard? There's no way they'd be able to get here."

"Well…" Catlin's brain pounded as she scrambled for a solution. "We could just wait it out. We don't have to deal with it right now."

"And let out tree get buried under all that snow? You know how much I hate shoveling."

"Fucking— do you want to just go out there and give it a pep talk or something?"

"…yeah."

"I mean…" Sighing, Catlin looked outside at the tree, where she could see a stream of pine needle tears being blown around in the violent blizzard wind. "I guess it could work. We need something good, though…"

Ronnie grinned. "I think I have an idea."


After slipping on his heavy winter coat, ski mask, gloves, boots, snow pants, and God knows what else, Ronnie trudged outside and instantly realized why he was thinking of moving to somewhere on the south coast. "Hey, tree! You, uh, doing alright?" He shouted. "Wanna come back inside?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"You said it yourself, I'm not real."

"You're… you're just as real as me, buddy."

The tree raised a branch, pointing over to the evergreen forest surrounding the Larson's house. "They're real, I'm not."

"So you want to be like them, huh?"

"Yes. I do. I just want to know what it's like to… to live."

Ronnie went over to the plastic tree and picked it up, marching to the forest.

"W- what are you doing?" It stuttered, wriggling in his hands.

"You're gonna know what it's like to live," he said, kicking away the snow before thrusting the tree into the frozen ground.

"I…"

"Do you like it?" Ronnie asked, stripping it of all its tinsel and ornaments. "This is what being a tree is like."

"Simple. I… I do enjoy this." A single pine needle fell to the ground. "I love it."

"Good. So… want to come back in now that you've had your experience being a tree?"

It didn't respond.

"Uh… hello?"

Suddenly, wood began to crawl up from the snow-covered ground, engulfing the plastic tree in a coat of bark. "This is my new home," it said. "I'm finally here. I can be real…"

"But, uh, I kinda need a tree, it's a pretty important part of our c—"

"I will grant you a gift!" It shouted, dropping a newly grown branch atop Ronnie's head. "I give this to you for allowing me to truly live."

Then the tree creaked, shaking in the strong wind, and all was over.

Ronnie looked down at the branch on the ground, rubbing his head. It didn't go according to plan, but… well, nothing ever does in Sloth's Pit, eh?


tree.jpg

Catlin took a sip of her hot chocolate, letting out a blissful sigh. "You know… I kind of like it."

"What? That Charlie Brown Christmas-lookin' thing?" Ronnie chuckled, pointing to the branch that had been gifted to him. Catlin had decorated it with a single red ornament, the most it could hold without collapsing. "It's tiny."

"It's charming. And it's not going to come to life. It's real, just what the tree wanted."

"Well, if it makes you happy…" Ronnie put an arm around her shoulder. "Then I am too."

"Hey, Ronnie?"

"Yes?"

Catlin pecked him on the lips. "Mwah."

He grinned. "Mwah."

"Mwah?"

The Larsons froze, turning their heads slowly to the little branch, which waved its body at them happily.

Robbie let out a groan of defeat. Maybe next year they'd forego the whole holiday…

|Hub|

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