‘TIS THE SEASON

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and not a soul stirred in the house. From the outside, it looked very pretty. Fairy lights had been strung along the eaves of the house and over the leaves of the two trees in the yard. Their cream glow gladdened the hearts of all who passed by. As if that was not enough, a life like Santa figurine stood at the edge of the lawn, with his large belly and jolly green. It would take a heart of stone not to smile back. That was the outside.

It was dark and quiet inside, the two occupants of the house at home with their thoughts for the moment.
They’d had a whole lot to tell each other once, years worth of stories in minutes, but as with a fire that starts too strong, they burned themselves out.

Alone in the bedroom, the woman lay on her side of the bed. Well, there were no sides, but she felt more comfortable sleeping with her back to the wall. In reality, she could have sprawled across the whole bed if she felt like it. The other side of the bed had been colder for longer than it had been warm.

How many years now? She wondered. How many years had they been together in this tragic play of a marriage? Were they still together because of the children? As she took a sip from the cup of cocoa on her nightstand, all the excuses they’d made over the years blurred together, and she couldn’t for the life of her remember the handy one they’d chosen to use this year.

It was the day after Christmas, and all was quiet in the house. Outside the lights still glowed, Santa’s warm smile welcomed you in and appearances were kept. Inside the house a man sat at an armchair,a book in his hands. He shifted one way, then the other. He got up to look outside the window, then sat down again. He was fidgeting, and gave up on the pretense of reading after looking at the same word for five minutes. Had she opened her present yet? Didn’t she have anything at all to say about it? Had our relationship degenerated into this, just a big silent house, after all these years?

He couldn’t take it anymore. He got up with the intention of confronting her and provoking a reaction, any reaction, from her. He was so tired of the cold.

They met at the staircase, both going to the other.

” Is it time?” She asked.
” It’s time. ” He said.

She heaved a sigh of relief and clutched the divorce papers against her chest. A piece of tape and wrapping paper clung to one end of the papers, a testament to how nervous he’d been while wrapping her present. They might not be talking, but he knew she enjoyed the rituals of Christmas, and was always excited about opening her presents. She didn’t seem surprised or particularly sad about his present this year. She knew, as he did, that they hadn’t been a ‘we’ for years.

They both went our separate ways after that. He didn’t know what was on her mind, but he was wondering if there was any starting over for a seventy five year old man, or if he was destined to spend his life alone.

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A MOMENT

The bright blue of the sky is dotted here and there by the yellows and the reds of the kites. The children, my grandchildren, run round and round the compound chasing the wind. They glow; their joy is infectious. To look at them is to remember when I was young,when I would run, like a dog chasing its own tail
,chasing the wind. I can’t help but smile.

The sun feels like a warm caress on my old bones. The grass, a lush sight for my tired eyes. Though still confined to my wheelchair, there is none that feels more blessed to be outside today.

The boy, just turned five last month, stumbles over his untied laces and falls. For a moment, a grimace passes over his face, but as is the way with boys, his tears stay balanced on his eyelashes. After five minutes,when play has resumed, he runs to his mother.

He comes back to me. Maybe his mother sent him. He’s speaking, arms gesticulating and mouth moving animatedly. I nod when he pauses and looks at me expectantly.

He doesn’t know that I can’t hear him. None of them know that growing old came with more than just grey hair, creaky bones and spotty memory.

I won’t tell him yet. Today is not a day for bad news.

The Art Of Begging

I’ll see you walking down the street. You won’t see me. At least, I don’t expect you to see me. How could you? I’m not one of your kind. I don’t talk like you, I don’t walk like you, I don’t dress like you. In a world that pretends to celebrate diversity, we are as alike as oil and water.

 

You’ll come and stand before me, your wide shadow giving me temporary respite from the sun. The rays have been relentlessly beating on my forehead, and my raging headache makes it hard to fully open my eyes. Even so, I risk a glance upwards, wishing to see you closer. You wear a pair of shorts and a stomach- baring top. It’s only an inch or two of skin, but I find myself wondering who is your mother, that would let you walk out of the house looking like that. It’s not safe on these streets. People have been stripped for less.

 

On your head is a kaleidoscope of color. Green, purple, yellow and grey have been braided to your scalp in an intricate design I can’t even wrap my head around. Again, who is your mother? I hope that your eyes are kind, though they be hidden now behind your thick sunglasses. Please let your eyes be kind. I wish for you to take them off, but none of us is telepathic.

 

You’re with him. He holds you really close, both hands barely touching your bottom. You don’t seem to mind. I’m inclined to think that he’s your boyfriend, though these days you cannot be sure. I hear blood relations also hold each other like that now. He’ll be whispering in your ear, and though I’ll strain hard to hear, it will reach my ears as meaningless mumbles. You’re smiling, though, so it must be really good.

You’ll walk away after five minutes; arms still round each other, bind to the rest of the world. None of you will see my outstretched hands, or even notice him stepping on my cup and sending my hard earned coins tumbling all over the sidewalk. I’ll see one going down the drain and just sigh.