Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)
TITLE: "Silver Wings"
By Frank Salerni
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I listened to an old fashioned quartet dressed in their traditional clothing, top hats and all, singing my favorite Christmas carols. I was standing next to a tree lavished in Christmas array. The festivities were breathtaking.
My hand trembled as I reached for the silver tree ornament at the “6th Street Community Christmas Art Walk.” I had no money, but I just had to touch it. For whatever reason it personified Christmas to me. Walking the lonely streets was becoming a normal part of my life now after four months of not being able to work. This was my first winter being homeless, and I really didn’t know what to expect.
A street vender watched me as I held a silver-winged angel loosely in my fingertips before she commented.
“Pretty, isn’t it?”
She smiled and held her coat tightly around her cold body.
I answered without ever looking away from the ornament. “Oh, I just think it’s simply beautiful!”
“Would you care to know the price?”
My heart sank as I let the angel slip from my cold fingers. I continued to watch it dance and bounce up and down from the branch of the lightly snow covered tree.
“I’m afraid that all I can do is look, madam.” Her smile caught my eye as I slipped my hand back into my shabby wool coat.
“Would you like some hot cocoa?” she asked, holding a steaming cup.
Not wanting to be a bother I answered, “No, that I was fine,” but she insisted. She then asked me to sit down next to her on the stone bench. Not wanting to be rude I humbly accepted her offer.
I must admit that I was quite uncomfortable knowing I had not bathed in almost a week, and didn’t even have a comb for my matted hair. She didn’t seem to mind as she inquired if I was a local or just visiting the town. My response came with a tear.
“I’ve lived hear most all my life. I wasn’t always in the condition you see me in today. Actually, I once had a wife, now gone, and a child who is with her… somewhere.”
Her response was gentle. “Divorce?”
“No, unfortunately when my business folded, so did she. She took the child, and stated that they deserved better. I haven’t seen them since.”
The woman never said a word. She just dusted her self off from the light snowfall and excused herself. “I’ll be right back, mind the store, if you will.” She moved quickly into the doorway of the shop we were seated in front, and my gaze went back to the tree that was covered in Christmas bobbles for sale.
I prayed for the next two or three minuets as I stared at the silver-winged angel. “God, keep my wife and daughter safe in Your care, please.”
The woman came back smiling and went to the tree. She looked at the angel and commented how striking the detail was. I agreed, and she reached up and removed it. She then walked over to me and placed it in my hand.
“I can’t accept this.” I said.
She laughed and then said, “Your not going to take away a Christmas blessing from me, are you?”
I thanked her, and she continued to smile with kindness.
It was then I heard a most familiar voice… “Daddy?”
I turned and was looking directly into my daughter’s eyes. My heart soared, and warmth filled my body. She was holding my wife’s hand as I hugged her and cried. My wife then said, “I am so sorry, and I have been looking for you to tell you what an idiot I was. I’m just a scarred rabbit, and I guess I just lost hope. Please, forgive me.”
Tears were streaming down her face as we all embraced in a family hug.
I turned to introduce them to the kind woman next to me.
“This is my… she’s, she’s gone!”
Not even a trace of footprints in the new fallen snow. My daughter then asked, “Who’s gone daddy?”
I looked at the ornament in my hand, and thought, “I’ve just been entertained by an angel.”
It was then I realized that the tree was gone as well!
I placed the silver-winged angel into my daughter’s hand and said, “Merry Christmas.”
The carolers sang, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
We sat together on the stone bench thanking God for the Christmas reunion.
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