Hello, and we’re getting into the Christmas spirit! And with that, how about a Christmas tale reminiscent of A Christmas Carol? We’re going right in with dealing with the ghosts of your past – thanks Tim for providing our final prompt for our challenge, and what a ride it’s been!
I didn’t know if I’d make it through this Christmas, although my kind grandchildren decorated for me, so they had hope concerning my longevity. I never thought I’d have the attention of my loved ones – most of the people I knew from bingo had not seen their families in years.
Sometimes I wondered how I deserved to have such a caring family.
My daughter, Eloise, had stepped up since the death of my husband, Lewis. I hadn’t asked for the help, I’d been independent before I’d met him, and even after marrying him.
My grandchildren were making their own families, but they still had time for me. They had just left, having cooked a grand Christmas Eve dinner, with the promise of visiting and doing the same tomorrow. I was humbled by the attention.
I walked towards my bed, and spoke a small prayer of thanks, before tucking myself in. I was happy to sleep, it had been a long day.
Except there was a mad draft coming in through the bedroom window. Even though I was sure I’d left the window shut this morning, I went over to shut it again, before, once again, tucking myself into bed.
Except…I felt pressure on my feet. I sat up and turned the light back on, and I could see a toddler playing on my feet. I recognised her from the photos, but before I could voice my surprise, another child came running up to the side of the bed. She was the same as the toddler, but slightly older, in her school uniform.
‘Fancy a glass of chartreuse?’ a woman’s voice stood out. I turned to her, and I pieced the pieces of the puzzle together.
These apparitions were all of my younger self.
‘Did you?’ she asked again, and I realised that she was asking me.
‘Oh, no thanks, dear. But…can I ask something?’ I was confused as to why my past selves were gathering around me on this evening, of all times, so close to when I would no longer live on this Earth.
‘Oh go on,’ she replied, putting down the glass. I straightened up and looked at her properly.
‘Why are you here?’ Upon hearing my question, she delved into a huge belly-laugh that I always used to be paranoid about.
‘It’s simple, really. You’ve been questioning your worth. By being here, I’m sure we’ll help you,’ she spoke, holding my hand. Behind her, I saw another younger version, this time in a graduation cap and gown. I remembered the slightly bulbous nose that I’d had fixed after that day.
‘You graduated with honours, something your parents would never accomplish. You were accused of being mental patient material. You wanted to make sure you never did that to your children.’
‘Of course! What sort of parent would hurt their child?’ I almost shouted, but my voice caught in my throat, and silent tears fell. I remembered the haunting times of my childhood, teen years and even adulthood. It made me sure that I would never allow my children to feel that pain, and so I showered them with love, no matter how much they felt smothered. Eloise and Matthew turned out for the best, as happy adults with their own happy children.
‘It wasn’t just your children,’ my past self spoke, ‘you were kind to everyone, charitable. You would give free bread from your merchant store to the homeless. You were the one rallying for your friends when they needed help, and damn you did a good job.’
‘Do you think I’ve been too kind? As in, I could have been taken advantage of.’
‘Oh of course not. You could never be too kind. I would say you were the kindest soul, and I’m sure everyone else would say just as much.’
As if on command, my life started to flash before my eyes – my first memory of getting an injection, followed by my parents’ cruel punishments as a child, kids bullying me at school, then my teen years of rebellion, followed by a college education where I met Lewis through a friend. The memories continued, including my graduation ceremony from university, the sudden death of my father, negating all contact from my mother, the birth of Matthew, followed by Eloise three years later, their lives being enriched and nourished as I took care of them while Lewis worked. Then I opened up a merchant’s stall and meeting the locals and engaging with the community. Then my children grew up and had children of their own. And then where I was now, being embraced and loved by my family, who had grown with me as their loving matriarch. I shed tears, accepting who I was and that my kindness had influenced the lives of countless people around me.
The ghosts disappeared through the window, that I now had to close again in order to keep warm. I went back to bed, and went to sleep, sound in the knowledge that I was appreciated and loved, as long as I was appreciative and loving.
As if someone heard my prayer, I spent Christmas and New Year surrounded by family.
Born February 20th 1987
Died January 2nd 2073
The kindest soul
Finally reunited with Lewis Watson