The little boy lay curled on the floor. Amidst the clutter, he appeared to be sleeping, soft and steady his back rose and fell with each breath. His hair is messy.
Dirty really, and closer inspection reveals that his clothing is tattered and ill fitting.
The smell of week old cigarettes and too many empty bottles of cheap whiskey permeate the room like the fragrance of piety clings to a priest. A passing car briefly shines its lights through the lone window, making odd shadows as it flows through the
grime. The light shows the rest of the room in detail. The boy appears to be about six years old and small for his age. He lays on his stomach, slightly turned with one arm clutched tightly around the neck of a stuffed tiger. The tiger is obviously very old
and careful hand sewn stitching around one ear indicate that this possession is prized indeed. One end of the room has an old mattress with a large soiled spot showing. A single tangled sheet lays crumpled at the end of it next to a small three legged stool.
Upon the stool is one half of an Oreo and a half full bottle of Dr.Pepper. Under the soda, is a note. The passing of the car rouses the boy slightly, and he wakens for a second. His eyes, two black pools in the darkness take in his surroundings and he closes
them once again, clenching them tightly. Moments later, his chest falls into a steady rhythm again and he sleeps.
Outside, the moon has risen high in the night, full of foreboding and promise, as usual. A cold north wind blows against the side of the house bringing the cleansing smell of winter but doesn’t breech
the dormancy inside of the boys room. The house appears abandoned. The lower windows are boarded up and the front door is a piece of plywood nailed over whatever existed there originally. Paint is a face the house once knew and laughter a game it used to play
To those who knew this house, it seems inevitable that it has fallen into such a state of decay since Mary Ann Wilson went away. Hart Wilson, her husband, remained there with their little boy and
a two pack, two quart habit. Among those who knew of the little boy, no one really had any more concern for him than they would, say, a friendly stray dog. Hart was always good for a drink and a night of cards and his little boy wasn’t too much trouble. He’d
been pretty quiet since Mary had run off, always sitting on his little stool clutching that ratty tiger. No one actually knew where Mary went except for Hart, who not only knew where she’d gone, but had helped her there. There, being four feet under an old
culvert laying in the back corner of the yard. The whiskey helped Hart forget how she’d pleaded and screamed as he’d beaten her to death, and more whiskey helped him forget he’d ever cared.
Hart lay sleeping in his room at the rear of the house, dead to the world and powered by a fifth of Jim Beam. Not one, single solitary clue about the house or its occupants would have told you that
this night was Christmas Eve. Upstairs, alone in his fitful sleep, Noel dreamed the dreams of the deprived, and the deserved.
As the moon reached the pinnacle of the mid sky, a flash of color leapt onto the roof of the old house. So fast, with whispers of intent and delay, the color hit hard, and dissappeared as quickly,
leaving a flutter of newly minted snowflakes to spiral down from the gutters. Inside, the hallway glowed briefly as the color found its way in. It paused at the end of the hallway and made itself known. Every clock in the house stopped in honor as the color
took shape. It rose up and gradually became slightly human in shape, exploding great frost blown breaths.
Dressed in a red cloak the face wore the expression of every gallant soldier who died knowing death was a certainty. Moving on the lines that divide seconds, the wraith moved down the hallway and stopped before the little boys door. It was hungry, as
hungry as it had ever been and it could smell the bounty within the room. Sharp teeth glistened in the moonlight and an eager smile creased the lips of the wraith as it slowly reached out and grasped the door handle.
The door creaked open and the wraith immediately saw young Noel Wilson, sleeping on the floor, clutching his prized and torn stuffed tiger. With a faint moan and unable to resist the temptations
of appetite no longer, the wraith leapt again. With great relish, the half Oreo disappeared followed by a splash and a soft “urp” as the wraith downed the Dr. Pepper. A grizzled hand reached out a picked up the note that lay there, and the wraith read: “Deer
Santa clas, i saived you part my cookee and sum pop for krismas. I wood lik sumthing from my mum, that was hers. I miss my mum lov Noel”.
In the silence that prevails on the lines that divide seconds, a cascading laugh emerged from the room and filled the house with its thunderous boom. A mere fraction of existence later, the
wraiths work was done and the roof exploded in a flurry of color. Odd sounds escaped in tiny garbles, a whip cracking, the scree of hard hooves on slate, then the color was gone. In that last fraction of a instant, all that remained was the lingering echo
of a voice laughing a great booming laugh.
The morning sun crept slowly over the horizon and as soon as those first rays crept onto young Noels face, his eyes sprang open. For an instant, his eyes conveyed the pain and despair that
had been his everyday for two long years, then realization dawned. He looked about him at the room, which bore no resemblance to where he’d fallen asleep at all. He was in a bed shaped like a racing car, buried under a
thick down comforter adorned with some long toothed cartoon character. A small dresser sat against the wall next to a wooden chest filled to the brim with toys. An airplane hung from the
ceiling and the room smelled crisp and new. Noel, however noticed it in passing only, for his little mind raced forward with the knowledge that dreams do come true.
Outside the lights that adorned the small house with the pretty white paint, faded in the new sun. Inside, Noel rushed into the surprised arms of Mary Ann Wilson and held her as long as he
could. He told his mama how he loved her, loved her and loved her. He cried and that is how his Daddy found them when he came down the stairs, smiling as he passed the giant pile of parcels beneath the tree. The day revealed much in the way of change from
the new car in the driveway to the skates in the garage, to the shiny pots and pans in the kitchen to the pile of bills and paystubs lodged under the phone. Hart Wilson basked in the glory of his tiny family with never a thought about nightmares or whiskey.
The many wrongs of a life that never existed, carted away in a red sack during the night. For Noel, memories of bad times faded quickly. By mid morning, an old memory, by the time the turkey emerged from the oven, completely forgotten. Thusly, the day passed
with grace, beauty and the power of dreams… and once again, the little house amused itself with laughter.