On a Christmas Eve

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The only short story I've ever really completed, and I wrote in June, no less.

I wrote this story to express my views on human nature, why people do things, what they do and why, those sort of things. I wanted this story and its few characters to be represent some of the kinds of people that I've seen and affected my life, and how things influence their decisions.

But, really, the most anyone's said about this is "That's a smart boy.." or "It's interesting how he didn't give the money to the beggar..."

On Christmas Eve, a skinny boy of around ten, wearing shaggy clothes, was seen walking a busy street. He would occasionally stop to peek into the few brightly lit store windows. His hands went into his pants pocket, and felt of the few coins that jingled there. He stopped at a sweets shop, looked inside from the window, and entered carefully.

There were only a few in the shop, and most were hurrying to buy last-minute Christmas presents. The boy walked over to the chocolates section. He picked the least expensive box that seemed to also give him the most value, felt for his coins, and went over to the cashier to check out his item.

It turned out that the cashier was also the shop owner, so it said on her nametag. “Laura Dinsel” was a pudgy middle-aged woman wearing a dirty apron. The boy walked to her, putting the box of chocolates on the counter.

“Ma’am?” The boy said timidly, “I was wondering if you could give a discount. It’s for my sick mother, and all I’ve got is $2.50. She loves and chocolate, and – ”

“Ahhh, a coupla bucks ain’t nothing to me. You know what, I’ll give ya a few box fer free. How ‘bout that? It’s the Christmas spirit. You just hold there for a sec.” Laura walked over to the chocolate aisle, and grabbed a few boxes of the most expensive chocolates. “What’s yer name, boy?”

“Tom, ma’am.” The boy beamed.

“Alright, Tom.” Laura put the pile of boxes in a large plastic bag. “Merry Christmas.” Laura passed the bag to Tom.

“Thank you very much, Mrs. Dinsel.” Tom read from the nametag.

“Don’t mention it.”

Tom nodded a thank you, and turned to leave with his bag of chocolates.

“But do mention a merry Christmas from me to your sick mother.” Laura said after him. Tom turned and waved goodbye.

When Tommy was a block away from the shop at a momentarily deserted intersection, he discarded the bag and carried the boxes of chocolate by hand. Tom turned left.

The streets were once again filled with bustling people and vehicles. Tom slowly jogged to a young couple holding hands, trying not to spill the boxes all over the ground. The couple, seeing the coming boy, stopped.

“Excuse me, sir.” Tom spoke purposefully to the man. “Would you mind buying a couple boxes of chocolate? It’s my mother, you see. She is very sick and needs medicine, but we don’t have the money for the medicine. All I’ve got is chocolate, sir. I promise they weren’t opened or gone bad.” Tom inhaled.

The man looked questioningly to the lady, who said: “Why not, John?” The man named John took out his expensive-looking wallet.

How much do you want for them, kid?” John took out a ten.

“Anything, sir.”

“Alright, I’ll take one – ”

“John…” The lady interrupted. “It’s Christmas.”

John sighed but made an effort trying to hide it. He took out another twenty. “You know what? I’ll buy all of your chocolate for my pretty lady here as a gift.”

“Thank you very much, mister.” Tom and John exchanged the money and chocolate. Tom left hastily without saying a word. Over his back, Tom could hear the pretty lady saying:

“You’re so kind to that poor boy, John.”

Tom took another left turn at an intersection, and added the two paper bills into his pocket. Occasionally, his hand would reach into his pocket to make sure that the money was there.

Tom stopped abruptly at a used-items shop, and looked at the aisles of used, but clean, clothes. He entered quietly.

The store was deserted, and appeared that it was about to close. There was only a sleepy sales lady trying not to doze off at the counter. She observed Tom curiously through vague eyes. Tom did not cast a glance towards the woman.

Tom went over to the children’s clothes section, and picked a set of clothes a size or two smaller than himself, and also a pair of shoes. The shirt was a casual t-shirt with “SPIDERMAN” written across it, while the pants were black. The shoes were sandals and looked very worn. Tom brought these clothes to the counter.

“Miss?” Tom said to the young lady. “I was wondering if you could give me a discount on these clothes. You see, my mother was sick all month and couldn’t make money for us on Christmas. I have a younger brother who loves spiderman. I think he’ll be really happy if he had the clothes. All I have is a few bucks I’ve found in my pocket.”

The lady no longer seemed sleepy. With her eyes opened and alert, Tom only then noticed her timidly beautiful features. Her voice was even sweeter: “You poor boy! You know what, it’s Christmas today, so you don’t have to pay for these. It’s nothing.”

“But Miss…you aren’t the owner…”

“I know, I know, but I will take these out of my own pay. Don’t worry about it, boy. It’s Christmas, it’s about time someone did something nice.”

Now Tom looked guilt-ridden. The lady noticed.

“Don’t worry about it. Just take it. Say hi for me to your brother and sick mother.”

Tom nodded gratefully. “Thank you very much, miss.”

“No prob.” The lady was dozing off again. “It’s about time someone did something nice on Christmas…” The lady mumbled.

The clothes were in one bad, and the shoes were in another. Tom carried the bags out of the store, and gave a wave back to the dozing saleslady, who didn’t respond.

Tom’s hands again went into his pockets to check that his money was there. When he was sure, Tom scanned the streets. He found what he was looking for, smiled, and began walking towards a family including what appears to be a single child a few years younger than Tom.

“Excuse me, mister.” Tom spoke to the male of the group, hopefully the father.

“What do you want?” The man spoke. The lady gathered the child closer to herself.

“I was wondering if you would like to buy a set of clothes. They were mine. I have to sell them because of my – ”

“I would love to, but I don’t have my wallet with me today.” The man smiled insincerely. “Let’s go.” He spoke to the rest of the family. As he spoke, Tom took the clothes out from the bag. The boy saw, pointed, and said excitedly:

“Mommy, mommy! It says SPIDERMAN!”

“Do you want it, honey?” The lady said.

“Yes! Yes!” The boy practically jumped. The father sighed, and made no effort to conceal it.

“How much you want for that?”

“Anything, sir. It’s for my sick mother. She needs medicine. I’ve found this in my room, and it’s clean, not torn or anything, sir.”

“Alright.” The man took out a twenty. The clothes and money exchanged hands. Tom kept the pair of shoes, however, and relatively out of view from the family.

When Tom received the money, and was out of view from the family, he went into a dark alley, and counted his money. Tom smiled. He left the alley, took a few turns, and went into “Al’s Medical Supplies.”

“Hiya, Tommy boy, you got the money this time?”

“Yessir, Mr. Caprune.” Tom said with a glee.

“In just a few hours? Alright, son. You know I can’t give you any more discounts than I gave you already?”


Al Caprune went and got several expensive-looking boxes of medicine. He punched some numbers into the cashier machine, and the numbers “45.58” appeared on the display. Tom handed Al all of his paper bills, and received a change of $4.42 back. Tom put these in his pockets. Tom carefully handled the bag of medicine. Al said:

“Wish your mother good luck, Tommy. She’ll be up and running in no time with these.”

“I will, Mr. Caprune.”

Tom left the store in a hurry and ran all the way into a dark alley, where he stopped.

This part of the city was as old as the city itself. Decrepit apartments rose unsteadily from the ground, and garbage, like butterflies, danced on the ground. Several lights were on, and shouting can be heard from the 3rd floor of an apartment building on Tom’s left. Tom was facing an apartment building of probably the best condition in this area, though several cracks can be seen on the surface of the structure. Tom took a deep breath, felt the change in his pockets, and started walking to the main entrance.

There was a sitting beggar at the door, in the worst condition Tom has ever seen a man be in. As Tom approached, his hand automatically grabbed for the change in pockets, but he kept walking, not sparing the beggar a glance.

Tom arrived at home. He went over to his mother lying on an old mattress.


The thin woman, who looked like her body couldn’t support even her own body weight, opened her eyes with effort.

“I got the drugs you need, Mom. You’ll get better.”

The woman drew a pale smile. It seemed to take all the energy she had.

“Take these, OK?” The woman nodded.

Seeing that her mother understood, Tom went into a concealed room, to a boy a few years younger than himself, whose features closely resembled his own, Tom gave the pair of sneakers to the boy. The boy’s shoes were patched over and over again, and on the right foot, a bloody and dirty big toe can be seen.

“Tim?” Tom spoke.

The boy looked up from his wooden blocks.

“I got you new shoes.”

Submitted: June 10, 2008

© Copyright 2022 controverse. All rights reserved.

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Aislin Kane

For a while there, I didn't think Tom would have a mother at all, but I'm glad I thought wrong. I really enjoyed this. From person to person, the charity does lend itself to, or so I feel, the true essence of human nature, it's ability to overcome societal hypocrisies. There were some commas missing, so you might want to go back and check that out. I think you could've characterized Tom a bit more, but as it is now, the message is clear. Great job!

Sat, June 21st, 2008 12:55am


I'm really glad you enjoyed this :) Thanks for your suggestions as well!

Fri, June 20th, 2008 5:57pm

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