What You Get
James just bought some ham from the super market. You know, the one they sell in cans that aren't too big, mostly good for one.
'Nice replacement for holiday ham, James. Really nice.' James thought to himself sarcastically.
This year, Christmas was supposed to be celebrated alone, his Christmas at least. Canned ham would be enough for his Christmas dinner. Oh, and besides the canned ham, he bought apple juice. He doesn't drink, okay. He just can't gulp down beer…, and so…, there was apple juice.
He was on his way home, and home was back to his apartment. It was quite far but he'd be walking. He wasn't rushing to get anywhere like the people around him. They were probably going to parties or some place important. His sister is probably having fun at the party she was attending by now. His brother was probably eating most of the food or his plate is most likely overflowing with it. It was those two options, or he's cleaning up another mess in the kitchen because of trying to get a quick and early taste of mother's cooking. James couldn't help but smile at the thought. 'Maybe I'll give them a call later.' He thought. Maybe walking wouldn't be so bad. Besides, getting some air once in a while might do him some good.
At James's Apartment Door…
"Are you sure you know where the key actually is?"
"Well, the last time I went here, he placed it under the plant." Answered Jenny, James's older sister, to John, James's younger brother. The truth was, Jenny was supposed to attend another party, but said she couldn't attend without her younger brothers, James couldn't come because he didn't have enough money. And John? He's not trusted enough to go to parties yet, probably because he might make a mess and be greedy with all the food, just like last year. Jenny had to beg their parents to let him go just for three days and besides that, he made John swear that he wouldn't do anything funny. She took the plane and went to the old house, took John, and now, they were looking for the key for James's apartment door.
There were four of them at the door. Alex, she was… well, she helped in planning this and Jenny asked her to and she thought it would be fine, so what's wrong with her attending? Dinah, Jenny's childhood friend who she picked up along with John. Of course, there was Jenny and John, James's siblings. They placed the food and other party stuff beside the door.
They've been standing there for almost thirty minutes and Alex was growing impatient, "Are you almost there Jen?" Alex asked. Jenny tried looking the mat, under the door, under the plant, yet, there was nothing. Dinah fixed her hair and took out a hairpin, "Excuse me Jenny, I'm not sure if this will work, but we might as well try." She smiled. Jenny smiled back at her as she moved over. Dinah did a few tweaks with the lock, shaking the knob while doing so. After a few seconds, they heard a click. John looked at her with pure amazement. "How did you do that?" he asked. "I found a treasure box and it makes a rattling sound inside so I tried opening it." Dinah answered.
"And what was inside?"
Dinah smiled "It was the key to the box". She stated.
The four of them went inside. Jenny turned on the light to see the room very tidy. You would most likely be ashamed of setting foot into the room with shoes, not a speck of dust could be seen anywhere. "Wow, he's doing better than I thought." Jenny praised as she remembered her own room, the sheets everywhere, books stacked on top of one another even though there were shelves on the wall, used clothes scattered on the floor because of having second thoughts on what to wear and clothes to bring. She felt ashamed because of that. "Hey, should we get started or not?" asked Alex, Jenny opened her mouth to speak, but before she could answer, Dinah said, "I agree, I think we should start before James comes home." Dinah agreed. And so, they put the things inside and got started.
James felt cold. The cold wind hit his face, making him shiver. He saw an old man with a shaggy beard on the street, seated on the floor. A poor man with dirty clothes, most likely had nothing to eat and no one to celebrate Christmas with as well. James went to the still-open bakery and bought the most expensive pastry he could afford. He had little money left, but who would care, it's not like he needed it for today anyway. He still had enough for the carolers later on. He went back to the man and handed the bread over to the man. "Merry Christmas to you, sir". James smiled at him. The man looked at him and took the bread cautiously, "Thank you, boy." The man said, "and a Merry Christmas to you as well." He continued. James sat beside the man, he placed the plastic bag with the ham and the apple juice inside.
"I hope you don't mind me asking sir, but what are you doing here." Asked James
"Ahhh, I've been here for years, boy. I'm not sure how long exactly, but I've been here for years, maybe even a decade."
"But why sir, don't you have a family?"
"Boy, I do. I do have a family, they're just away." The man answered, taking the plastic off his bread.
"Why don't you go to them then?"
"It's a long story boy, you have to have the time."
"Oh, don't worry sir, I have the time." James answered
The man looked at James, "What about you? May I ask you why you are sitting down and talking with a stranger? Haven't you got something to attend to?" he asked. James smiled, "No sir, everyone in my family had something else in mind." He answered.
"Okay then, since you have got the time and patience, perhaps I could tell you."
And there went the conversation.
At James's apartment…
There was nothing much to clean up, the room was already tidy after all. Everything went…quite well. But the table was not yet set up, so Jenny successfully placed the long white table cloth on James's rectangular table, not that it was that hard, the only thing hard about it was to put it there evenly and now she's helping Dinah around in the kitchen. Alex was putting Christmas decorations everywhere except the door so that James wouldn't notice it when he stands in front of it. Dinah was currently in the kitchen, like I said, cooking up something warm and homemade with Jenny's help for all five of them for later. John was…just standing around the table
"John!" shouted Jenny, obviously at John.
"Go outside and keep on look-out for James, he might be coming close."
John was filling up a glass of water by the table when Jenny told him to stay on guard. He didn't notice the glass overflowing with water. "Oh shoot! This is Jenny's fault." He muttered. He took a rag and tried to wipe the medium-sized water puddle. There was still some water on the floor but he needed to squeeze the rag because it has absorbed too much water so he went to the sink. When Jenny saw him, Jenny said, "Didn't I tell you to keep watch outside and warn us if you see James coming close!"
"Fine, fine! I'm going!" John shouted back, forgetting about the small amount of water left spilled beside the table.
James was walking again. The man a while ago was named Aaron. James managed to get his story squeezed out of him too. Aaron had a family, like he said. The place where he came from falsely accused him. They accused him of murder that he didn't do. To try to keep him safe, his wife told him to go away for a while. His wife gave him money to be able to come back once the problem was resolved and he was no longer considered guilty. The wife wrote letters to him, many of which were telling him not to come back yet. But one day she stopped. After a few weeks, a letter was sent. It came from one of his closest friends from home. It stated that his wife was sent a threat. If Aaron was not around, his family would have to pay. His wife told their three children to go to a relative for a while, or they will die with her, but those children were stubborn. They didn't leave their mother. They died with her, in that house. They were already dead when Aaron knew about it of course. Oddly, it didn't take much time at all.
"I guess, they really are far away." James said to himself. Suddenly apartment felt as if it wasn't that far after all. Just a few more turns and he'll be there.
His apartment, again…
"There! I'm done." Exclaimed Alex, after putting on last of the decorations. She was very thankful that she was given the gift of height or she would have taken longer. Jenny was finished with the table as well. All the food was already there. Cakes, fruit salad, pasta, truffles, ham, a jar of candy canes… A bit too much for five people, but nobody seemed to care. Dinah was the last one to finish. All she was left to do was wash the dirty utensils though. She made macaroni soup and it was the last dish placed on the table. It was a good thing that John was not around, Dinah would have to do everything again if he was. Now they could rest, so they were seated on the couch of James's apartment, feeling, very much, at home.
John kept watch, feeling bored. The only thing he had to do was keep watch, while they're probably doing something better up there. He was walking in circles, to keep himself warm. That was another reason he wished he was up there instead, it was cold out there. He had a long list of complains that would probably be going on forever. But the list of complaints were cut short when he saw a very familiar face blending in the crowd.
"Oh no. I hope they're done. " he said to himself. He ran up the metal staircase, trying to get there as fast as he can, stumbling once along the way because of his speed, thankfully catching himself before the fall and acted as if it was nothing and kept on going. The table was right in front of the door. John was running in the corridor and almost missed the entrance. He opened it hurriedly… Then he ran in. The three girls heard the door open and looked behind them. John slipped after they looked at him. Everything went slow motion. Of course he slipped because of the puddle he left. 'Oh shoot! This is Jenny's fault.' Was the very first thing that came to his mind. He instinctively grabbed the white table cloth trying to save himself, only causing him more misery. Plates crashed around him. The bowl of fruit salad on his back, the cake was on his face, the macaroni soup, which was still warm, made a new and improved puddle around him.
John groaned because of the pain. Dinah place a hand up her mouth and gasped. While John was still on the floor, Jenny slapped her forehead, "Wow John, that was some awesome entrance". Jenny said sarcastically. John couldn't get up, everywhere was hurting. Thankfully, Alex decided to 'help' him by coming to him and pulling him up by the collar. "What did you do?" Alex hissed at him. She was looking at him directly in the eye, if he had the energy, he would have cowered away. Everyone was so focused on John's incident that they didn't notice that James was already standing in front of the door, staring at the mess along with them. First one to notice him was Alex, since the two ladies were busy looking at the fallen table and the food that took a lot of time arranging, and because her décor were still intact, she really didn't have much of a problem but she cared about the party.
"Hello James!" she exclaimed at the shocked boy. Alex had a change of mood all of a sudden. She stood up straight, her hands at her side, a full smile on her face, her face tilted slightly as well. Let's just say, she's different with James and with John (probably because John was so..., let's just say he's so immature). Oh, and since she had both hands on her side, she obviously let go of John who was currently back to the macaroni soup puddle. He was gripping his wrist which was twisted because of his weight when he tried to save himself from the fall. Unfortunately, just like the tablecloth incident, that didn't work either. His hand slipped and he was just in more pain than before.
"James, I could explain." Jenny said in a worried tone, worried that she might have made a worse Christmas for James than she had planned. Not that she planned to turn this to that kind of disaster, but it ended up that way any way.
"No need." he answered calmly. Jenny was already looking for possible answers to James's possible questions. She was imagining the worse possible outcomes. James shouting at them to get out, James not letting them in his life for the rest of theirs, after that, she could never face James again because they- no, John- messed up his spotless floor, but since she planned the party in the beginning... Jenny started crying.
"I'm sorry, I-I just thought th-that maybe you c-could have someone to celebrate th-this day with." She cried. Dinah started sobbing with her. John was still on the floor, unable to get up, muttering small cries of pain until Alex looked at him and said to him, "Quiet down, this is all your fault."
"No, no! Don't cry! It's okay, honestly. Thank you for coming." James announced sincerely with a smile on his face.
"R-really?" asked Jenny, wiping away her tears using the back of her hands.
"Yeah, I just need some help in the cleaning up."
"John can do that." Suggested Alex with a grin stretched across her face as she stared at John.
"Um, maybe…we shouldn't let him do that. Based on recent happenings, that might not be the best of ideas." Said Dinah which made them all laugh, except for John who just glared at her.
"Well, he has to clean himself up obviously." James stated. "He could borrow some of my clothes in the meantime." He stepped into the apartment and tried to help John up only to be stopped by Alex.
"Let him do that, he can stand. He just needs a head start on it." She said as she pulled up the back of John's shirt. He stumbled a bit at first because of the way Alex pulled her up but he successfully got to his feet after that. Finally, there was success for him. "See?" she said to James. James could almost see the terror in John's eyes because of Alex. "Just take a bath, I'll prepare your clothes." James assured him and John went to the bathroom to clean himself. Once John was gone, "Don't you think you're being too kind?" asked Alex while Jenny and Dinah waited for an answer just like Alex was. "No, not really." He answered.
I guess he really is kind by nature. But still, he's too kind.
While, John was still in the bath, Jenny and James were cleaning up the spilled macaroni soup.
"You owe us for this John!" Jenny shouted yet again a little while later. "Financially! Don't you know how much the cake cost!" This made James chuckle. Everything that was happening right now was so much like home. Alex muttered something like 'they're both so immature' or something. Dinah was cooking again. It's just plain soup this time, well, not-so-plain soup to be correct. They ran out of macaroni so this was mostly just soup and ham and some other stuff from James's cabinet.
About fifteen minutes after that, John came out of the bath wearing James's clothes. "Well, it's about time." Alex rolled her eyes.
"What took you so long?" asked Dinah while stirring the soup.
"I couldn't move my wrist much. It hurts if I do." John said
"That must be from the fall. Let me-" James started.
"Let me look at it." Alex commanded, cutting James off. This made John hesitant to follow but, since something told him that it would get worse if he didn't…he did. Alex pulled it a bit forward, making John wince. She was twisting it slightly, looking for the fault. Alex stopped but held John's hand firmly, leaving everyone in the room expectant.
Then, she twisted it. As in really. Twisted it. Jenny gasped, James looked away, Dinah kept on cooking, as if she saw nothing. As if.
"How's that?" Alex asked John.
"Actually…, it feels quite better…" John slowly replied.
'Alex…is scaring me a bit.' James thought to himself.
"Don't you think it's about time we eat?" asked Alex, turning to James. James looked at Dinah and looked at her questioningly rather than answering Alex himself. Dinah turned off the stove and took the bowls.
"I'll help you with that." James said.
After that, they ate of course. Seating arrangement would be James sitting beside Dinah. Dina sitting across Alex. Alex sitting beside Jenny, who is also across James. And John sitting beside Jenny.
They said 'Merry Christmas' to each other, then drank the apple juice. Thankfully, not one of them complained about the choice in beverage.
Anyway, after they ate, has anyone got any idea who washed the plates?
And so, this Christmas story wasn't so cold. It was…harsh at the beginning, simply because of what was thought. This may not be the best Christmas that there is. Especially for one certain character. But it sure was fun. This would be what you get for Christmas. If you have a kind older sister, her nice and quiet childhood friend, her brave and strong, scary friend, and a brother who makes a lot of trouble.
Merry Christmas to all in advance!