TITLE: The Village
By Tammy Parker-Thornton
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The events I am about to describe seem rather fantastic and unbelievable and you may choose to ignore them as the ramblings of an old man, I would very likely do the same if it weren’t for the fact I was an eyewitness to the events of which I speak.
I was a small boy myself very near you in age when it happened. The youngest of the family, I had caught myself a Christmas cold and so while the rest of the family went Christmas Caroling and on to the church Christmas party. I was left home alone with Aunt Jane. Feeling very sorry for myself I had fallen asleep on the coach watching holiday movies and Aunt Jane had gone to the guest bedroom for a nap herself.
I’m not sure what it was that woke me up.., but I could hear voices talking very softly.
I stayed very still thinking it was my parent’s home from the party and hoped they might talk of some Christmas surprises.
“Son I don’t want to discuss this. You are too young.”
“Father, I really, really want to go and visit the baby this year. You were younger than I the year that you went.”
“Well…, yes.., but you are so small.., and you have…, well you know very well that it will be difficult when you are missing that arm.”
Now friend, I have to jump in and tell you no one in my family was missing an arm or a leg. I decided to practice my undercover spy skills and kept listening.
“Yes father, I know I only have one arm, it was very careless of that boy to leave me on the floor where I could get stepped on, and the glue just never seemed to hold.”
“Son the trip is very dangerous wait until you are older.”
“Father, I am going, I am made of glass and I am not going to grow bigger. The stable is very near this year. When I go to the edge of the village I can see it, by the giant Christmas tree where they always put it. I would like you to go with me but Ethan, Edward and Sarah have agreed to make the trip and mother gave her permission.”
A female voice had joined in the conversation, and with the tiniest movements you could imagine I began slowly turning my head to the left not wanting to startle the people I now knew were speaking from atop the corner table. Daniel was the farmer petting the sheep, and Rebecca was his wife who was forever feeding the chickens and their son was Thomas the school boy whose arm had broken off three years ago when I took him for a ride on my new remote control corvette. He fell out and my mother stepped on him.
“You gave permission for Thomas to make the journey.”
“Yes I did, and I do think it would be a good idea for you to go along. You have made the trip and know the way.”
“I don’t know the way, when I went the village was on the mantle. Now we have grown so large with all the buildings brought in from Chicago we live on this corner table.”
“Daniel, this is your entire fault. You have told the story so many times of your adventure and you make it sound so exciting everyone in the village wants to go.”
“Of course I will take Thomas when he is stronger and bigger. It is a long journey with many dangers, and it’s certainly not a good idea to take so many children. What if one of the Smith’s or their friends walks in to the room and sees half a dozen village people on the floor.., or worse yet.
The mans voice grew weak.
“Or worse yet what if they come back and don’t see us. All the children of the village could be crushed. Thomas was lucky.”
“Daniel, please listen to me. Thomas is very much your son. He is an adventurer.”
“He is going to go. Much better for this first journey to be with you.”
“Good evening Daniel” a booming voice interrupted.
“Yes, good evening Pastor Bill. What brings you out to the country this evening?”
“Well, Daniel I was over at the new skating pond watching the children make their figure eights when I overhead the children talking that you were taking them on the journey to the stable.”
“Let me finish Daniel. When ever I hear your story of the trip to see the baby I feel the spirit stirring my soul. I have wanted to make that trip myself, but it just didn’t feel like I could leave the church on Christmas.”
“That’s a good point pastor…”
“Daniel.., please forgive my interruptions but I am so excited. What I want to ask is will you consider letting me join you on your pilgrimage. This is the perfect year. With all the new brick church that was brought in everyone has a place to go on Christmas Eve. Not to mention you will need more chaperones with such a big group.”
“Well yes, it does sound like a rather large group. The group I overheard had four kids in it and several other names were mentioned.
“Father, I promise I only spoke with Ethan, Edward and Sarah”
“Then why does Pastor Bill seem to think the whole village is going.”
“Daniel I think I can speak to that,” Pastor Bill said. “When the spirit takes a hold of a village great things happen. We are supposed to do this Daniel I can feel it.” The reverend pounded his chest. He was a very active jolly man, unlike Daniel who barely paused from petting his lamb.
“Well, what can I say but.., Pastor Bill of course you are welcome to join us on the journey, yours is exactly the kind of expertise we need.”
“What do you mean, father?” Thomas said.
“I think some prayers might be in order. We need a way to get down from this table, and prayers for safety of our group would also be a good idea pastor.” Daniel then turned to Thomas “Son, you go find out how many more are planning to join us, and don’t encourage them. The more of us there are the harder it will be.”
That’s all I heard that night, Aunt Joan came in and made me go to the dining room to eat soup. I thought about my friends and wondered if how I could help them while I ate my soup and prepared for bed. Before I brushed my teeth that night I left a small roll of Christmas ribbon on the table, right beside the country church door and hoped my mother wouldn’t miss it.
I was feeling better the next morning, but I didn’t tell anyone. I wanted to find out what was happening on the corner table and to see if they were able to make use of my ribbon.
It seemed as though I had waited all day doing my best not to move under that blanket on the couch.
Finally I heard, it “clop, clop, clickety clop.” I peeked out of my blanket and saw that my ribbon was indeed being put to use, as a short piece had been cut off and treaded through the roll like an axle on a wheel and the ends of it were tied to the back of the cider wagon.
Daniel was unrolling the ribbon and dropping it over the side of the table, and beside him Thomas and several other children were kicking the fake snow off over the edge.
“Try and get it all in one spot, it’s a long way down if anyone slips they will need all the help they can get.”
“Is it long enough?”
“Are you sure it will work, it seems to be rather slippery. How will anyone one be able to grip it.”
Everyone was there and seemed to be talking at once.
Daniel finished unrolling the ribbon and held up his hand. “Enough.” He said. “Enough talking, I need a count of everyone who is going with us. Please form a line if you are going, Pastor Bill you will go first, once you are down see if you can push the snow up into a bigger pile under the rope.
A line was quickly formed, and Daniel took count.
“Pastor Bill, as you help a kid off send them under the table for protection until the entire group is down. I will come down last with Thomas, there is just no way he can get down alone.”
Slowly one by one the first six came down the rope.
Finally it was Thomas’s turn.
“Son, there is no way you can climb down a rope hand over hand with only one hand. The rope that is tied around your waist will also be tied to mine”
“Father, but I think you are going to be surprised. I have been training.”
Thomas kicked out his leg, and wrapped in once in the ribbon, then dove head first over the side of the table. He didn’t fall though he just hung their by one foot. As he caught his other leg by wraping it in the ribbon and began to release his first.
Daniel who was peering over the side of the table, suddenly yelled.., “Noooooo.” As he fell face first of the edge of the table.
The only thing keeping both of them from crashing headfirst into the snow was Thomas’s left leg.
“Swing me over to the rope if you can son and I’ll grab hold.”
Inch by inch Thomas lowered them down the rope one leg at a time. Both of them descending head first.
“That was awesome, dude! Wish I had the nerve to try it.” Was the greeting that Daniel got as Pastor Bill greeted him at the end of the rope.
Together they watched Thomas finish his journey down.
Thomas was very tired and so his father sent him under the table with the others while he climbed back up the snow hill.
“Well, Bill now that we are down I can see that we are going to have to circle around the room, we can’t walk through the middle it’s far to dangerous.”
“We could go that way, (pointing towards myself) and walk under the couch but then have to make it across the doorway, or we can go that way (pointing towards the fireplace) where we have to avoid the sleeping dog.”
“I’ve always wanted to see a real dog up close, and who know what lives under that couch.”
“The fireplace it is then.”
At the hearth, a new discussion ensued about how to get onto the ledge.
“Let’s lift Ethan on our shoulders and see if he can reach the ledge. Quietly now everyone don’t wake the dog.”
To be honest, I’m not sure how everyone made it up onto the hearth. Mom came into the room, and told me it was time to come eat lunch. Everyone else had gone to finish the Christmas shopping, so it was just the two of us. She wanted to chat about how I was feeling. I knew I didn’t have much more time left on the couch before she would want to haul me to the doctor.
I told her I was starting to feel better, my ears didn’t hurt anymore, I was just tired. She gave me that “look” but let me go back to my couch and lie down under my blanket. Before I went back under that blanket I tried to think of what Daniel and Pastor Bill might need for the rest of their trip. I could have just picked them up and set them over by the tree. However I knew that it wouldn’t be the same for Thomas. The journey was as important as the destination for him.
The only thing I had to give them was the fork and some cheese cubes mom had given me for a snack. I hadn’t seen them stop to eat, so I put three cheese cubes on the fork and put it under the chair before I went back to my couch.
I didn’t have to wait long before Daniel and the gang were up and moving again. I guess they were getting used to me laying there.
Pretty soon they were walking single file along the cement ledge of the hearth. Apparently very concerned about waking the dog, they were creeping along that ledge next to the wall like they were on top of a twenty story building.
“I love that dog. He is so friendly looking” said Pastor Bill. “He turned to Thomas, what do you say boy shall we pet him when we get down there? I would like to see what that hair feels like.”
Thomas cocked his head and said three words. “I dare you.”
“Oh famous last words boy, famous last words, this will be so awesome” said Pastor Bill.
They got down from the hearth, by hanging from the ledge with their hands and then jumping. Daniel tried it first and decided it wasn’t too far to drop safely.
As they dropped off the hearth they ran under the upholstered chair in the corner.
Everyone that is except Pastor Bill, who ran the other direction to the dog. He sprinted over to the dog, and patted him on the head.
Benji woke up and at first looked startled then started barking, Pastor Bill turned and began sprinting to the chair. He wasn’t fast enough for Benji though, who stuck out a paw and squashed him, then picked him up in his mouth and carried him back to his bed to chew on.
I started to get up and help when I noticed movement from the corner.
“Okay you six take the fork and point the fat part at the dog.”
I watched while they turned the fork into a catapult and began launching cheese cubes at Benji.
Benji is a sucker for anything with cheese and went racing around the room to get his snack. Pastor Bill was unbroken and ran back under the chair with the rest of the group. Benji found the last of the cheese and went to get the fork to lick clean, carrying it back to his bed, Pastor Bill was quickly forgotten.
“Phew, another gift I see. Just tells you that we were supposed to make this trip.”
Daniel looks at the Pastor and you could tell he wanted to yell at him for being so stupid but instead says “Dude, that was awesome, I wish I had nerve to do that.” Both men double over laughing and all the kids with them just looked at them like they had lost their minds.
“Well, Pastor we’re almost there. Shall we finish this trip now?”
Pastor Bill turned to Thomas and said “What do you think? This was your idea.”
Thomas thought for a moment and said. “It’s so pretty when they put turn all the light on, on the tree and the barn. Let’s wait for the light. We’ll be safe here under the chair for awhile.”
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