“I’ve a Story to Tell…”

By Bill Borel


Crown Center Gingerbread Village, Kansas City, Mo. (Picture by C. Hedge)

(Headed off to a Christmas party?  Need a poignant story to share midst eggnog and presents, when we seem smothered in affluence?  Here’s a sweet reminder of the bigger picture.)

A story to be told to a small gathering of friends at Christmas.

It was turning dark as the little girl left the school.  She had stayed in the library until Mrs. Shuster had to lock up.  Then she spent the rest of the time helping Karl, the janitor empty trash cans.  When it was time for him to lock up and go home, he gave the girl his paper lunch bag that still contained a peanut butter sandwich, an apple, and a chocolate Santa.

She had a long way to walk to her home and the night was getting colder.  She wrapped her thin jacket around her and walked on the sidewalk under the lamp posts.  As she walked, she looked at the brightly lit houses with Christmas trees showing in many of the windows.  She thought of the people who lived there, but not about the parties or the presents they would be having. At the next corner she saw some of her classmates coming towards her a couple of blocks away.  She crossed the street and walked in the dark so they wouldn’t see her. But Billy did. He left his friends to cross the street and to wish her a happy Christmas and to say, “I’ll see you next year when school starts.”

Now the sidewalks had stopped so she walked along the side of the road until she came to the house where she and her dad lived.  She hoped he would not be there.  The house had belonged to her mother but she had passed away several years ago and her father had let the house go.  They had running water but the electricity had been turned off.  She entered through the door and realized she was alone in the house.  She found her favorite blanket, folded herself into the sofa and ate the lunch Karl had given her.  Soon the cold was too much so the girl found her way in the dark to her bedroom.  She tried to sleep but was unable.  Her cough and the cold kept her awake.  She didn’t know how long she waited until she heard her father stagger in the front door.  He looked in to see she was there but she pretended to be asleep.  He went into the bathroom and then disappeared into his bedroom where he passed out.  She cried, shivered, and let out a deep breath.

It was only a little time later that she was awakened by someone coming into her bedroom.  The person seemed to be carrying a soft light but she couldn’t see any lantern.  He came to her, told her not to be afraid, and she wasn’t.  He touched her and her body turned warm.  He said,” I want you to come with me. I want to show you a happier world.”  He took her hand and they seemed to fly without flying until they were high above the town.  She could see the lights and hear the music.  The angel showed her happy families and warm fireplaces.  He took her to see a sleeping Karl and he gave him a dream so he wouldn’t be sad.

And now, he has brought her here, to our party.  She sees how happy we are and she tells the angel, “They should tell each other how they feel.  They should shake the hand of the person next to them and say to that person, “Thank you for being my friend.”

The angel said, “I hope they will do that. I hope they will do that now.” (Do so! Ed. )

But the angel wasn’t there to take her to heaven.  He was there to show her what her life will be.  The next day her mother’s sister came to take her away to her home in San Diego.  Her father had asked the girl’s  aunt to come for her; and he even managed to put himself together once  a year  to visit his daughter.  She remained friends with Karl and eventually married Billy.

The End.

This entry was posted in Family, Nostalgia, Short Story, Slice of life, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “I’ve a Story to Tell…”

  1. Jane Pelletier says:

    They should shake the hand of the person next to them and say to that person, Thank you for being my friend.

    Thanks for this nice story, and thank you for being my friend, Cathy!


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