19 December 2012

Short Story number 3

Short Story number 3:  Inspired by the song « O Holy Night» by Markéta Irglová.

Hundreds of people swarm the busy street resembling trails of ants, moving up and down the geometrically predetermined paths, which lead them in and out the shops. Among that multitude of frenetic and highly efficient beings, he slowly dragged his feet along the pavement and hesitantly slid his frail body through the crowd, in a silent and unfair fight against the stream of rushing people, which formed the ultimate barrier that was keeping him from reaching his final destination. If only he was a bit younger, he would be able to move easily around the obstacles and avoid the bumps and pushes that might be disastrous to his quest, which was getting home, just around the corner of the street.
Slightly out of breath and bearing a sweaty and tired face, he finally opened the door of his refuge and initiated, the always painful task, of climbing the only flight of stairs that would give him access to his sanctuary. His trembling hands plunged into his large pockets, anxiously looking for the keys to his small apartment. Yet, while he was immersed in that apparently simple action, he was not aware that he was being attentively observed by a pair of two curious eyes. When, at last, he found the keys, among an infinity of tokens that he diligently kept in his pockets, like small treasures, his old and hesitant fingers failed him, and the keys fell on the floor. As he was preparing his mind and body for this unexpected effort, a little girl, with curly hair and rosy cheeks, emerged from behind his neighbor’s half-opened door, picked up the keys from the floor, cautiously placing them in his hand again. Taken by surprise, by this sudden appearance and by the kind gesture, his lips paralyzed and he was not capable of muttering any word of gratitude before she quickly disappeared behind the door again.
He entered his apartment, removed his oversized winter coat, sat down on his old armchair and felt the silence taking over his mind and appease his soul. Contrary to his old habits, he did not turn the television on, for this automatic gesture that always kept him away from the claws of loneliness, by providing him with the comfort of an illusory company, was now the reminder of the specificity of that particular day.  It was Christmas Eve and everywhere he looked, he was bombarded with information, commercials, carols, shopping lists, films, appeals, speeches and testimonies that were meticulously designed to impose an hollow and shallow image of what that special date is or should be. Feeling a bit restless, he got up from the armchair and approached the window. What he saw outside was a blatant confirmation of what he already knew. Apart from the illuminated streets and the excessive number of bags and wrapped gifts, that each passerby was carrying, no other indicator suggested that it was the time for love, goodwill and generosity. People would pass by each other, wearing the suit of indifference, smiling with their faces, but not with their eyes, for they still revealed the same distrustfulness and selfishness, as any other day.  
A gentle and soft knock on the door made him turn his eyes away from the window. He cautiously moved towards the door, looked through the peephole and saw nothing.  My old head must be playing tricks on me, he thought.
As he was slowly stepping away from the door, he heard the gentle knock again. He looked one more time through the peephole and saw nothing. Yet, his curiosity was stronger than his sense of preservation, so he cracked open the door to peek out. And there she was again, the little girl with the curly hair and rosy cheeks, standing in front of him and handing him a card. He reached for it, and frowned, while trying to focus his once sharp eyes on the colorful content. After struggling for a few seconds, his old and tired eyes finally allowed him to understand the purpose of that unexpected visit. On that card he distinguished, painted with the brightest colors, the most magnificent star he had ever seen, along with two carefully crafted handwritten words: Merry Christmas.
As he stood there, immobilized, on the doorway, trying to find the exact words to express his appreciation for this comforting surprise, she stretched her small arms towards him, pulled him closer and kissed his aged face.
With a small giggle she vanished as quickly as she appeared and left him standing, with a smile on his face. He closed the door behind him, while a stubborn tear rolled down his face. The Christmas spirit is still alive after all, he thought, holding tight, very close to his heart, the most magnificent star he had ever seen.

                                                                             By Raquel R.

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