Unexpected encounter

Genre Holiday Humour

Author – Ailsa Abraham

eBook Yes

DedicationThis story is dedicated to all the children big and small who still believe in the magic of Christmas

This tale is my second contribution to the “A Merry Minion Christmas – Assorted Tales From the Realm of the Dark Fairy Queen”

Oxford Street, London, December 18th.

They always got together to see the world-famous Christmas Lights in town. It was an excuse to forget that they were in their 50s and old enough to know better. They bought sweeties and ate them walking along, necks craned upwards and the woman pointing and squeaking like a little girl. The man gave her indulgent smiles and hugged her close to his side. Wrapped in her warm coat with hand knitted woolly hat pulled down nearly to her eyes and matching scarf hiding all but her chin, she turned her face up to smile at him, radiant in the cold.

They were so enthralled with the lights above their heads that she didn’t look where she was going and tripped over the legs of the old man, sprawled against the shop window.

“Oh I’m so sorry!” She hunkered down immediately to make sure he was all right. “I wasn’t looking. Are you OK?”

“No damage done, lady. Own fault. Should never have sat down to rest. I find I may not get up again.” The old man mumbled into his beard. He was dressed shabbily but didn’t smell of booze and was clean. Glancing up at her partner, there was a plea in her eyes. It was obvious he was used to this sort of thing, as he also crouched down and spoke gently to the elderly gent on the pavement.

“I’m sure you must be getting cold down there. Shall we try to help you up?”

“Thankee, Sir. That would be most gracious of you.” The old man had a strange way of speaking, as if not a native speaker who had learned English from a very old language book. “I should be most obliged to you.”

Between them the man and woman helped him to his feet, holding onto his arms to steady him for a moment or two.

“Please let us buy you a coffee or something. Have you been sat there for long? You must be freezing.” The woman was all concern.

“That would also be most congenial of you, Lady. I should prefer a large mug of cocoa if that were possible…and perhaps a mince pie?”

Bursting out laughing they agreed and said that it was, after all, nearly Christmas as they led him across the road to the nearest café.

“Were you Christmas shopping?” The woman propped her elbows on the table and fixed the old man with her sparkling eyes.

“In a manner of speaking. I was looking for inspiration, seeing what is popular this year.”

“Do you have a lot of children to buy for then?”

“One might say that, Lady, one might. And you? May I make so bold as to ask?”

The couple exchanged a look and the man took the woman’s hand under the table.

“No. We don’t have any children. Circumstances, you know…” His voice trailed off and she smiled sadly at him, shaking his clasped hand gently.

Over their mugs of cocoa they chatted and the old man learned that they were planning to live together when the man could retire from his job in management. The old man agreed that he, too, wanted to retire, causing them to gasp in amazement that he was still working at his great age.

“Here, this is my house. It goes with the job. I want to give it all up and retire somewhere warm, somewhere to sit in the sun with an iced drink.” On his cell phone he showed them a picture of the original Gingerbread Cottage, covered in snow, decorated with lights.

“Oh how perfect.” The woman whispered. “Snow and robins, polar bears, reindeer, sleigh bells, presents, laughter, spiced cookies… Sorry, I …” she wiped her eye. “I love Christmas.”

“I think you do, Lady. You have an air of the right kind of magic about you. And you, kind Sir? Are you ready to retire if you found a more convenient post?”

The man nodded dumbly.

“This is my home.” The woman offered her phone showing the small villa with a swimming pool. “It’s in the south of France.”

The old man’s eyes held them both steadily.

“And you love children? You would like to exchange?”

“We’re dreaming!” The woman’s partner chuckled.

“No, Sir. I came to look for a replacement. My wife and I are too old for this job. Congratulations. You have the position. Mr and Mrs. Christmas. My very hearty good wishes to you both.”

Dipping in his pocket he produced two red hats which he handed over solemnly.

“Just one final thing. May I hear you both say “Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas” please?”

santa hats

9 thoughts on “Unexpected encounter

  1. Lovely story Ailsa. I like how he refused coffee for something different and how you describe him as having an accent as though he had learned English ffrom an old book. Wonderful imagery as usual.

  2. If I would have read this anywhere I would have said “That sounds like an Otter story” Thank you for another special read.

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