A Wish for Christmas Past - a Short Story
'What I would give to go and see an old fashioned Christmas.' Brenda put down her mug and sighed.
'Well, we can always go to the old Odeon, they are having a Christmas bizaar, and maybe if we are lucky we will get to sit on Santa's knee!' Sophie laughed, and stood up.
'I gotta go, maybe catch you down there tomorrow night?' Brows lifting, she grabbed her bag, waved and was out the door of the coffee shop in ten seconds.
Looking around and taking a sip of coffee, Brenda realized that she was the only one in there without a smile on her face.
'Bah humbug!' she thought, then laughed. 'Its Christmas, cheer up for goodness sake!'
giving herself a pep talk, she finished the coffee and headed out the door.
Outside was cold and drizzly. The weather had an icy chill that made her realize that snow was on the way.
Hunching down into her padded jacket, she turned right and began walking towards the car park.
Losing her best friend....
She missed her mother and father, who lived miles away from her. She sometimes regretted the distance, all because she had left to start a new job.
Friendless, well, nearly friendless apart from Sophie, she knew that this Christmas was going to be lonely. She could have gone home, but her time off didn't allow for long journeys. So a phone call would have to do.
But above all this she missed her best friend who had died the year before. She didn't really know what had happened to her apart from the fact that drink had been involved. Such a shame as she had been such a lovely person. Kind, funny and generous.
The smell of petrol and dust assailed her nostrils and she pulled her scarf up over her nose.
Not far to go now.
'Why did I park so far away from the coffee shop? Its freezing!' Brenda mumbled under her breath and kept her head down, trying to ignore the ice that had started to drip down her neck.
After a while she suddenly realized that the road seemed far to long.
She felt herself falling.....
'Strange,' she thought. Looking up she was struck by how dark it had suddenly become. The rain was coming down harder now, striking her head and face, leaving small needle sharp points on her skin.
She could see the road. It looked normal to her. 'I haven't took a wrong turn, thank goodness!' she thought.
Trudging on, her mind turned to Christmas, She had never had a traditional Christmas. Tree, presents and warm laughter mixed with mulled wine and singing.
Her parents weren't religious and just saw it as another day with a chicken thrown in, just to make it 'festive'! Ha!
Oh to hear Carols and children in the snow!
Suddenly a loud bang brought her to the present. 'What on earth was that?' Looking up she saw on the overpass above, a lorry skidding towards the edge!
To her horror she stared as it began to topple over, and with a sickening feeling of panic, Brenda realized that it was falling towards her!
In the second it took to realize what was happening, she managed to dive towards the wall to her right. Hoping to find a doorway in the bridge wall.
Instead, she found herself falling and falling.....
The magic of Christmas Past
She could hear children's laughter. And the second thing she knew was that she was lying on something soft and cold.
Opening her eyes she looked around. It was still dark, but the moon was in the sky and the silver beam was shining down on the snow making it sparkle with tiny fairy lights.
'Snow? when did that happen?' Brenda struggled to her feet and looked around.
She had no idea where she was! She did remember the lorry and the gigantic leap that led her to fall into....where? But where was, well where, here?
She began to walk towards the sound. Soon the darkness began to get lighter. A warm glow was emanating from a spot directly in front of her. She walked towards it, and the glow turned into a red glowing brazier. Children were standing around it, singing.
'Oh Holy Night....'
Above them, and behind, were houses. But not like the road where she had just come from. These were cottages. And they had small hanging lanterns outside, glowing with warmth.
She looked to her left, and her mouth formed into a soundless 'O'.
There, just over there...were rows and rows of shops, with lantern lights blazing, and snow cascading down. In front of one of the shops was Father Christmas surrounded by red, pink blue and yellow parcels shining in the light.
'Come on children, ho ho ho....' laughing he turned and saw Brenda.
'Brenda!' There you are!' Patting the seat on his right, he said, 'Well come on then! don't be shy! we've been waiting for you!'
Brenda couldn't believe her eyes. Squinting, she could see his big white beard, and red hat. But he didn't look quite like the traditional Father Christmas we all know and love.
He was....different. Old. Somehow... ancient.
His red costume was slighter dimmer, his face not so round but wise. There was magic, that was it, magic! in the atmosphere. And it made her legs walk towards him, before she was ready to go.
'I have no idea what the hell is going on, but I'll go along with it, unless it really freaks me out!' Brenda mumbled and walked on.
As she reached him, Father Christmas leaned forward, 'You don't have to be frightened you know, we are all friends here.' Leaning down he picked up a parcel. 'This is for you, but don't open it till you get home will you?' Leaning back, he smiled, and the smile turned to laughter.
'Now...go over there and enjoy the singing, you have all night before you, there's no rush...no rush at all.' Shooing her away, she quickly looked up to see Carol singers smiling at her.
Time seemed to flow backwards and forwards. One minute she was singing. Another she was sitting with a small child on her lap opening a big box of toys.
But soon the light started to turn to grey. And she began to feel really tired.
Yawning, she rubbed her eyes. And in that second, or half second between wake and sleep she heard....
'Have a wonderful Christmas my best friend in the world.' A sigh, a touch on the shoulder, then it was gone.
'Whaa.....t? Brenda's eyes shot open and she found herself out on the street. Her street. The dawn was breaking and looking up, she could see the lorry had gone, not even a scratch on the pavement. In her hand was a deep blue wrapped present.
'How...?' She got up from the ground where she found herself sitting with her back to the wall.
Staggering home in a daze, she eventually fell in the door, too late realizing that she had left the car behind.
She sat down on her couch and with shaking fingers, she took off her gloves.
Then....she picked up the parcel that she found in her hands.
Quickly opening it, she felt a sob catch in her throat.
It was a picture of her and Lesley. Her best friend who had died the year before. Suddenly she remembered the whispered words just before she fell asleep.
Her friend had given her the best Christmas present ever.
Smiling through her tears, she kissed the picture and stood up. Walking slowly over to the fireplace, she placed the photo on top of the ledge.
'Happy Christmas to you my friend, wherever you are.'