Monday, 16 December 2013

The Spirit of Christmas

Once upon a terribly cold and lonely town, it was the eve of Christmas and it was nearly dark as the snow lightly fell upon the snow-covered streets and roofs. In the cold and dim light, a poor little boy with no more than a blanket to keep him warm was lying on the roof of a shop which was closed for Christmas, so as to avoid the dangerous thugs of the streets. The poor boy was shivering and his each breath was quiet and quivering as he struggled to hide under his blanket which was too small to cover his bare feet; poor little child, he looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on his face and short, brown hair, but he regarded them not.
With a wisp of wind, the boy snuggled tighter into the blanket, his frozen fingers red and numb from the cold. Upon the wind, an odd figure began to appear. Wearing a dark red cloak trimmed with dirty, white fur that hid his face in a hood and holding a large, farmer’s scythe in one hand, the figure faded into view like a man wandering out of a fog. The figure seemed slightly hunched and very old, yet its feet had no trouble wandering the roof tiles, in fact it seemed to stand up tall even as the red cloak draped over the slanted rooftop.
The boy was shivering with the cold and fear as the thing stood over him, and digging the butt of its scythe into the ground for support it leaned towards the poor, young boy. In a ghastly, scratchy voice like a lifelong pipe smoker, the creature said,
  “ . . . What is it you desire . . . ?”
The boy was so frightened, and could barely think to process the creature’s words. The cold was getting to the boy and he closed his eyes, huddling even deeper into his blanket even though it only pulled the blanket further off his feet. The creature leaned in closer,
“ . . . What would you like for Christmas . . . ?”
The boy wasn’t thinking anymore, he wasn’t thinking about how scared he was or how strange this thing was, he was too cold to know anything else, all his body knew was shivering and all his mind knew was the cold.
  “I-I . . . I d-d-don’t w-want t-t-t-to be c-c-cold any-m-m-more . . .” stammered the little boy, “I d-don’t want t-to h-h-hurt.”
  “ . . . This is what you desire?” asks the creature again. The poor boy was so cold, his only response was a painful whimper.
“ . . . As you wish . . .” says the creature, and with another wisp of wind, the creature disappears from sight.
  “N-no . . .” cried the little one, “O t-take me with you . . .” but the boy was growing too weak to speak, even too weak to shiver. The poor boy was dying, passing on to a place where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain. As the boy stopped moving, his body began slowly sliding off the slanted roof. It was not too far to fall, but as the boy slipped off the roof, his body landed limply on a pile of snow on the street below.
As the boy lay there, a handsome couple came wandering the street.
  “O God!” cried the woman at the sight of the child, “Look, my dear, a child in the snow. Is he alright?”
The man ran to the child, and held the boy’s face in his hands.
  “He’s alright, but he’s half frozen to death. We must warm him quickly.”
The woman ran forth and took the little boy in her arms.
  “Don’t worry now,” she said, holding the boy and his blanket tightly against her “We will take care of you now. You won’t be cold much longer.”
So the boy and his new family went quickly home.

A little boy was pushing his way through the market square and bumping into people through the crowds. As he bumped past a gentleman in a fine coat and hat, he slipped his hand into his pocket. Quickly pulling back through the crowd, he looked to see what the man had. The boy had a useless piece of paper with words he had never learned to read.
  “Bah,” said the boy, throwing the paper to the ground as he continued down the road. He chose a very large group of people by a shop stand and pushed deliberately through them. The first pocket he could find, he slipped his fingers in and grabbed what he could. As he exited the crowd, he held a little pouch of coins. It wasn’t much, but it was more than the boy could earn with a day of honest work, so he slipped it into his own pocket.
“That’ll do nicely . . .” he said to himself, wandering down the road. As he walked, he saw a pair of gentlemen who were coming his way. They wore very fine shoes indeed, the sort who’d probably carry the heavy coins. Not able to resist such a chance, the boy walked straight towards the two, pushing his way through the men, he grabbed what he could out of a pocket. He stopped and turned to look at the fine gold pocket watch, when he felt a sharp tug. Dangling from the watch was a chain that ran back into the man’s jacket. The man felt the tug and turned around to see the boy holding his watch.
  “Hey you!” cried out the man, “Pickpocket!” as both men turned to grab the child, he dropped the watch and ducked beyond their grasp. He turned and ran as fast as he could, hearing the men yell behind him, “Police! Police!”
The boy ran up the street as he heard people running behind him.
  “Oi! You boy, stop!” yelled an authoritative voice. The boy quickly dodges through the labyrinthine streets before pushing his way through a small opening in an enclosed little alley and suddenly stopping, pressing himself tightly against the wall. The boy waited for the rush of feet to pass before he relaxed.
Looking around the little alleyway the boy saw that there wasn’t much to it, but it wasn’t as cold as sleeping on the street so he sits down to look at the things he’d gotten.
As he looked through his pockets at the shiny jewels and things he’d gotten. Sitting quietly in the corner, he didn’t notice as a wisp of wind flew in through the enclosed space. A dark creature in a red cloak trimmed with dirty white fur wanders out of nothingness, holding on a large scythe.
The boy suddenly looks up to the creature and jumps up, bracing himself against the wall, the boy was frozen with fear as the creature walks closer and closer. The creature looks straight at the boy’s face. Its own face was hidden in darkness, behind large, ancient eyebrows, its eyes seemed like hollow sockets, and its mouth was hidden behind a long, trailing beard.
  “ . . . What is it you desire?” asks the creature, its cold breath washing over the boy’s face. the boy mumbled and stammered as he stared at the creature,
  “ . . . I offer you a Christmas wish . . . anything you desire . . .”
The boy stopped shivering as he saw the creature offered no harm,
  “Anything?” he asks tentatively. The creature slowly nods as it stands up straight. The little thief thinks for a moment on what he could possibly want, when his stomach suddenly grumbles loudly. Looking down and patting his belly, the boy giggles,
  “Alright then . . . I’m hungry.” He says “I want some food.”
  “ . . . Is this what you truly desire?” asks the creature,
  “Yeah.” Says the boy, “Feed me.”
  “ . . . As you wish . . .” it says. The creature, leaning heavily on the scythe, reaches down to the snow, its cloak seeming to bundle up, empty, as it bends down. It reaches a mitt-covered hand deep into the snow. It pulls its hand back holding a large bowl, which was full of snow.
The creature hands it to the boy who takes it with both hands, a little confused. Closing and opening the fingers of its mitt-covered hand, it suddenly held a spoon which he stirs the snow with. Quite suddenly, the snow melts and changes to a creamy, yellow colour. As the bowl started to steam and little pieces of vegetables bobbed to the surface of the liquid, the boy noticed that he was holding a large bowl of soup. Dropping the spoon into the soup ready for the boy, the creature turned and walked away into nothingness.
  “Thanks.” Said the boy with a smile. He crouches against the wall and rests the bowl on his lap as he begins to eat. It was amazing soup, and he could barely believe that it was his and his alone. The boy looked around at the alleyway and saw how dark and empty it was. He looks out of the little space he’d entered through, and saw across the street at a house. Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savoury smell of roast goose, for it was nearing New-year’s eve and there was a family inside enjoying their feast. The boy saw how happily the people were, laughing and eating their dinner, and also saw how lonely he was, eating his soup on his own. It was then he realized that he hadn’t desired something to eat, but rather someone to eat it with. And then, the poor little pickpocket with his large bowl of soup, began to cry.

A little girl was sitting in the corner of her room, cowering in fear. The door to her room was banging loudly as a fist pounded against it,
The slurry, drunken voice of her father yells out angrily and incomprehensible. The girl didn’t know what to do, she couldn’t run away and could only wait for him to break through the door. She didn’t want him to hit her again, she didn’t want him to hurt her or her mother again, but she was just a little girl and could do nothing about it.
The girl is so scared she doesn’t notice as the room suddenly flutters with a wisp of a breeze that rustles the light sheets of her bed. From the other corner of the room, a figure in a red cloak with a large scythe wanders in from shadow. Already cowering, afraid, the girl merely stares fixedly at the creature as it approaches her hunched, quivering form.
The creature doesn’t even notice as door is pounded against loudly, making the girl jump each time.
  “ . . . What is it you desire . . .?” asks the creature, its voice just able to be heard over the girl’s shouting father.
  “Don’t hurt me, please . . .” says the girl,
  “ . . . I do not wish to harm you . . . I wish to help you . . .” says the creature as it leans heavily on its menacing scythe, “ . . . what do you most desire . . .?
The girl looks at the creature for a moment, then blinks her eyes as she begins to cry,
  “I wish . . . I wish my father loved me . . .” she whimpers quietly, looking at the door as it shudders violently with each blow.
  “ . . . As you wish . . .” says the creature. The creature turns towards the door and drifts towards it. Standing before the door, the creature passes its scythe to its mitt-covered hand, and places its other hand on the door. The hand was skinny, with knobbly knuckles and was a dark, dead black as though it had succumbed to frost bite.
As the creature stands with its hand on the door, it suddenly fades into nothingness.
The girl stares at the door and notices that it is completely silent.
She continues to stare, waiting and hears a strange sound coming from behind the door. Her father was crying quietly to himself.
And then the sound faded. The girl, ever so slowly and quietly stands and heads towards the door.
She stands just a few paces from the door and listens. Her father wasn’t there anymore.
She didn’t know what to do, and stood there for a moment when so suddenly it made her jump, she heard the resounding BANG! Of a gunshot from downstairs.
The girl, not knowing what to do, stood silently, a tear rolling down her cheek as she tried to smile for once.

There was a homeless, bitter, old man, lying in the corner of an empty street, staring at the sky which was now dark. In a few short hours it would be Christmas, and the man was grumbling to himself about how terrible it was, keeping warm under a lot of mouldy blankets as he sat on top of a pile of newspapers, cardboard boxes and paper bags.
As he sat alone in the corner, a figure in a red cloak suddenly appears at the end of the street and begins wandering towards him, using a large scythe to pull its way through the snow.
  “Hey, mister, can you spare us a dollar or somethin’?” asks the poor, homeless man.
  “ . . . What is it you desire . . .?” asks the creature. The man eyes the thing suspiciously before asking,
  “What’cha mean?”
  “ . . . I offer you a Christmas wish . . .” says the creature.
The man sits up straight and looks at the thing,
  “Why? What are you?” the creature takes a few steps closer,
  “ . . . I am the Spirit of Christmas . . .
The man studies the thing deeply up and down, looking over its beard, red cloak, scythe, frost-bitten hand and mitted hand and deep sunken eyes.
  “You don’t look much jolly . . .” he mutters with a chuckle,
  “ . . . I bring gifts to those who need them . . .” says the creature, “ . . . this brings me joy . . .
the man looks at the creature,
  “ . . . so, you’re saying you’ll give me whatever I want?”
  “ . . . if it is what you desire . . . yes . . .” then the man chuckles a little to himself,
  “What if I want something bad?” he asks, “I thought Santa didn’t help naughty boys and girls . . .”
  “ . . . Naughty children often need help the most . . .” says the creature.
  “But will you grant my wish? No matter what it is?”
The Spirit of Christmas leans menacingly over the man,
  “ . . . What is it you desire . . .?
The man is a little unsettled, but he clears his throat and looks up at the creature.
  “I lost my job in the blacksmiths because I hurt my leg in the king’s bloody war . . . then I lost my house because I couldn’t pay the king’s taxes, and now I live on the streets . . .” the man looks straight at the empty eyes of the creature, “I want you to kill the King.”
The creature pauses a moment before continuing,
  “ . . . Is this what you desire . . .?
  “ . . . It was his blasted war, his bloody taxes. It’s all his fault that I’m on the streets, he deserves it. Yes, I want you to kill the King.” The creature nods its head,
  “ . . . As you wish . . .
And with that, the creature disappears into the night.

The royal bedchambers were covered with fancy tapestries and portraits, and all around there were priceless vases, huge rugs and in the middle an enormous bed with satin sheets. From the darkness of the corner of the room, the Spirit of Christmas appears from nothingness and wanders slowly toward the King. The creature was pure silence as it grasps the scythe in both hands, so quiet that you could hear the king’s quiet breath over the creature’s approach.
The creature stopped beside the large bed and loomed over the sleeping king. The creature raises its scythe, the blade glinting in the moonlight from the far window.
With a quick swipe, the creature brings the scythe down quickly. The creature bangs the butt of the scythe against the hard, stone floor with a BANG! Waking the king with a start.
The king looks up to see the creature leaning over him and stammers quietly as he struggles to understand what he sees,
  “ . . . Dear king . . .” says the creature, “ . . . I have come to offer you a Christmas wish . . .
as the king sits up and looks at the creature, the creature continues to speak,
. . . I offer gifts to those that need them the most . . . you are going to die, and this means that you deserve a gift . . . a final Christmas wish . . .
The king thinks over what the creature is saying,
  “I don’t understand,” says the king, “I am going to die?”
  “ . . . Someone has wished you dead . . .” says the Spirit of Christmas, “ . . . you will die.
The king gets out of his bed and as he wakens begins to pace his bedchambers, thinking,
  “If I am going to die . . . can you tell me who the man is that wishes me dead?” he asks,
  “ . . . If that is what you desire . . .
  “No!” says the king suddenly, “No . . . I would merely take it to my grave . . .”
The king thinks to himself some more, “ . . . Could I wish him dead?” he asks,
  “ . . . You may have whatever you desire . . .  if you wish the man dead . . . he will be dead . . .
  “No . . .” mutters the king, “No, that helps no one . . .”
the king goes to the open window of his bedchambers and stares out at the town, up and down the twisting streets and houses, all the children probably now sleeping, awaiting for Christmas that next morning.
“If I am going to die, then I can’t help me . . . I would wish for the people of my kingdom . . .” he says
“I wish that everyone has a merry Christmas.” He says
  “ . . . Is this what you desire . . .?” asks the Spirit of Christmas,
  “Every man woman and child deserves at least one day of happiness. Yes, I wish that everyone could have a happy and merry Christmas.”
  “ . . .Admirable,” says the creature as the king turns around, “that is the true spirit of Christmas . . .
And with a one swift motion of its scythe, the king fell down, dead.

In the dawn of morning, all awoke to the promise of a merry Christmas. It would soon be daylight, but atop the roof of the church stood a strange creature in a red cloak. The thing stood, with a stiffness like death, holding the scythe in his hand, which was black and frost-bitten.
as daylight creeped steadily closer, and the sun began to rise and shine upon a Christmas day, the creature looked at the many people houses, each with sleeping children waiting for the day,
No one imagined that what was watching over them was the true spirit of Christmas, a spirit of giving, of spreading joy and helping others. Before retiring into the night, it looks over the town and says to itself in its harsh voice,
  “ . . . Merry Christmas to all . . . and to all a good night . . .

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