Author: phantomry PM
On the corner of the street, too far past the main square to garner much attention, sat a lonely little shop; its decorations were sparse, and its owner was an old, old man, who was nearing what might well be his last holiday.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance - Words: 765 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 06-09-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2529505
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Snow danced across the clouds, settling on the cobbled streets of the market square. It was the last straw for the townspeople, already shivering with cold and complaining of wet boots. The holidays were approaching, but no one seemed to notice. Years ago, the holidays had been truly merry; people had danced in the streets and had sung with friends and strangers alike. But as time had gone on, the dark days of winter had clouded the delight of the holidays, and the people simply didn't have the heart.
The shopkeepers, warm inside their stores, watched as the market square emptied. They, too, prepared to go home, taking a last glance at the decorations spread gaily about their stores. Holly berries and fragrant boughs of fir adorned the brightly lit shop windows, intertwined with strings of colorful beads. The holidays, while forgotten outside in the bleak weather, were still somewhat remembered in the decorated shops – yet it seemed more of a formality. Each year as the holidays approached, the shopkeepers bedecked their stores, but as a force of habit; to extend what they hoped was a warm welcome to would-be customers. Something was missing, yet no one knew – or seemed to care – what it was.
On the corner of the street, too far past the main square to garner much attention, sat a lonely little shop; its decorations were sparse, and its owner was an old, old man, who was nearing what might well be his last holiday. He was not rich, and no longer had any family; but he was very likely the last person in the town to truly appreciate the holidays for what they once were. The man picked up his stick as he rose stiffly from his seat behind the counter, like a tree bending in the wind. With slow, shuffling steps, he approached the front door of the shop, key in hand – but stopped when he noticed a small button nose pressed flat against the window, the eyes perched above it wide and innocent.
A smile found its way across the old man's face, parting the sea of wrinkles that interlaced his skin. He opened the door and stepped out to greet the owner of the nose; a small boy of seven, his cheeks rosy red from the cold, a broad smile on his face to match the old man's. The shopkeeper bent onto one knee very slowly and peered at the boy through thick spectacles. "Hello, young sir," the shopkeeper said quietly. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
The little boy nodded eagerly. He pulled one hand from deep in his pocket and pointed at the displays behind the shop window. Levering himself upright once more, the old man said, "Come inside, then, dear chap. It's frightfully cold tonight." The child followed wordlessly as the shopkeeper retreated into the shop, shutting the door against a sudden waft of cold air. Without further ado, the child tottered over to the window displays and picked up his desired item, then handed the shopkeeper a few coins. The old man chuckled at the boy's determination. "Ah, a wise choice, my friend. Is that for someone special?" The child merely nodded, clutching his purchase to his chest as if it were a precious treasure. "Well, then, may it bring you luck this holiday. Good night." The boy accepted a pat on the head from the old shopkeeper then exited the store, tromping delightedly through the snowy streets.
Streetlamps wearing hats of snow lit the little boy's path as he tottered down the road, humming a joyful, if unrecognizable, tune. He passed several houses, each brimming with light and talk, as the people inside celebrated the special night. Finally, he came to a tiny home that looked, in comparison to the large, bright houses to either side, like a piece of coal among precious jewels. But the little boy, skipping down the front path, would have traded all the precious jewels in the world to be where he was. He grinned broadly and knocked on the gnarled door, the sound echoing within. Slowly, the door inched open. The thin passage revealed a young girl his age; she stared at him with wide open eyes, hunching her shoulders against the cold from the open door. The little boy stepped over the threshold and held out a hand to the girl, then, rather shyly, kissed her gently on the cheek. The girl's face turned a deep red – to match the single poinsettia in her hands.