Matt was tired. The day had been long and
stressful at the end of a long and stressful week. The Friday-afternoon
euphoria which normally overtook him at 5.30 had not materialised and he
trudged homewards with a heavy heart.
Christmas he thought. Why do we have to go
through all this business every year? Its always a hassle. Buying
presents for people you dont know, presents for people you dont
like, but worst of all buying presents for people you do like, people you love.
Thats the hardest part.
The back streets were unusually dark, heavy cloud obscured the
sky, a slight mistiness adding to the gloom. Even the brightly lit decorations
which he glimpsed through windows as he passed could not lift his spirits.
So much to do.. Ive got too much to do, and I havent
He sat down on a wall, his head in his hands, and stared at the
pavement. All life seemed to have drained from his body, he was unsure if he
could actually stand up again. He was unsure if he cared.
As his eyes drifted in and out of focus he found himself
starting at an oil stain on the road. The meagre light which spilled from a
nearby street-lamp was split into rainbow colours by the oil film on the damp
tar. It seemed so much more beautiful than the gaudy Christmas lights round the
corner in the high street; so much more genuine than the hollow sentiments
pumped out by the PA systems in the shops.
So much more Christmassy.
Real stuff. He thought. Real love, real
friendship, real hope, thats what I need for Christmas, not baubles and
Too right mate! came a voice.
Matt started. The oil stain had gone. He looked around. Beside
him stood a boy, aged maybe 12, in a rainbow scarf and hat, carrying a lantern
on a pole.
Come on! he commanded Were gonna get
your Christmas sorted out.
The pair strolled down the road. They went to the shops, the boy
pointed out gifts that would suit Matts mum, his dad and his girl.
Matt was amazed. These werent expensive items, just the
right things. Stuff they might actually like.
As they walked from shop to shop Matts energy seemed to
return, exactly the opposite of what normally happened when he went Christmas
shopping. They talked excitedly about his friends and family, their likes and
dislikes, their hopes and dreams. The boy seemed to know them already
Matt arrived home in bouyant mood, he rang up some friends.
Lets go out for a Christmas drink. Then he thought about the
boy. He couldnt take him into a pub, but where was he anyway? Theyd
been together when they'd walked up to the front door but now he wasnt
anywhere to be seen.
Matt looked out of the window, the street was deserted. Then his
eyes settled on an oil stain on the damp road, its rainbow colours seeming too
intense to have been generated by the feeble street light.
As he watched, a dejected figure shuffled round the corner, sat
on his garden wall and stared blankly into the road.
Go to it fellah! thought Matt and smiled to himself.
Itll be a great Christmas!