*Christmas Angel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

It's Christmas Eve, but where is Dad to help the children decorate the waiting Christmas tree?

CHRISTMAS ANGEL

 

They had arranged for two o’clock. It was Christmas Eve. The children were unbearable. They couldn’t decorate the tree until their father arrived. The weather was not for going out in and Ethel had to put up with their screams, fights and complaints in the flat. To avoid accidents and other problems the dining-room door was closed, inside was the tall, naked, dark tree smelling of forest. The tree gave off a mysterious air of unknown worlds for those who live in cities and shut off places hermetically sealed, separated from life. Only a few days ago the tree had its arms spread out; it felt the wind in its needles – but now its roots were in a plant pot, where it couldn’t stretch them and its poor arms touched the walls either side of the corner where Ethel had put it. However, the presence of the tree in the dining-room where everything else was dead, was a promise that something was going to happen.

The DVDs sent out images one after another. Now a cartoon, now a cowboy riding across the desert, now a policeman catching a thief. As soon as one film finished, Ethel put on another one to distract the children. Freddie, the eldest one wasn’t fooled so easily and looked at his mother as if he were in on the secret, too.

At half-past two Ethel served the children’s lunch. While they were eating she rang her husband’s office. The only answer she got from the other end was the persistent ring of the phone as if it were saying, “Pick me up. Answer me.” When the woman realized she wouldn’t get an answer she hung up.

 

At four o’clock, as planned, there was a service for children at the church. Ethel and her well-wrapped children left the flat to face the Christmas cold. The flat was left silent. In the dining-room the tree, still without its disguise of tinsel, brightly coloured balls and tiny lights was quiet, omnipresent, in the shadow of the closed up dining-room.

The note stuck on the fridge informed whoever read it that everyone else was at the church. One of the children had stuck on the wall a drawing of the birth of Jesus.

The church was full of children and adults who had kept up the illusion of Christmas, who believed in the goodness of people and that for a few days perhaps the world would be more human.

Ethel and her children were fascinated by the scene of the Nativity. It was a romantic reproduction of the stable. Above the stable there was a shooting star. Nothing was missing. Everything was there as tradition demands.

The children were enchanted and when they had seen enough they sat down with their mother to listen to carols.

It was five o’clock when they were once again in the street. The stained glass windows lit up from inside the church gave more than a sense of happiness to the street, they were a reminder of the traditional, the safe, and hope. Some beggars in the church doorway greeted those entering, with the security that tonight of all the nights of the year they wouldn’t be hungry and for those who wanted it there would be shelter.

Freddie stared at his mother and took her hand. Ethel looked at him. How was it possible that a child’s hand could be so comforting? Ethel received from that childish hand a strength stronger than the blood tie; it was as if the boy had got inside her to read her deepest thoughts. He knew that his father had let them down but he didn’t want to put his thoughts into words, just in case he wounded the one he adored.

They suspected beforehand that he wouldn’t be at home. That would be too perfect. The children had behaved themselves well, and Ethel gave them permission to decorate the tree, in spite of their father’s absence, who always wanted to organise everything. A few days ago Ethel had got down the box of Christmas ornaments. The broken ones had been replaced by new ones.

With screams of joy mixed with fear of breaking one of the precious and delicate balls, the children all eyes, slowly and one by one took out the balls, uncovered them, and began to decorate the tree.

Seeing that the children were entertaining themselves with the ornaments, Ethel went silently to the kitchen. After ringing the number she didn’t have to wait long. The voice that answered wasn’t a man’s. That her husband wasn’t there and after all it was Christmas, what did she expect, that her husband was going to arrive home punctually on Christmas Eve when there were so many other things to do.

Freddie’s voice made her return to reality. The ornaments were all finished – except the angel. If she could ….

Ethel got onto a chair so as to place the angel on the highest point of the tree. As soon as it was up she got off the chair to see the effect. Everything was in order. The tiny lights in the shape of tiny bells and in all the colours that you could imagine, made the dark and majestic tree something false and shiny.

Now, happy with their work the children went off to another room to play, and Ethel closed the dining-room door.

Tomorrow and the rest of the Christmas holidays the children could enjoy the tree. The tree in its party dress appeared incongruous and uncomfortable.

 

In the small room the leftovers from the children’s dinner on their plates. There was an old film on the television, one of those that are considered suitable for children and Christmas, but nobody believes it.

 

There were two sounds, the phone and something falling. Ethel sent Freddie to see what had happened, and picked up the phone. The message was short and clear; Ethel’s husband and the father of her children had had an accident. He wasn’t dead, but seriously injured. They were about to operate on him. Yes, Ethel was going to the hospital.

 

Freddie was standing in the kitchen doorway. In his hands was the fallen angel, broken.


Submitted: April 04, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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