Until we meet again

Submitted into Contest #51 in response to: Write a story about someone who's haunted by their past.... view prompt



The dormitory is smouldering, the heat engulfing the air. All I can see is smoke, as I hide under the bed. But I have to save him. I can hear the screams of my infant brother from the attic downstairs. “Jack!!!” I holler. Images whirr in my head, horror dancing in front of my eyes. The other children and the mistress. Gone. I want to believe that this is a dream. But the taste of death is too real to be unreal.

 I dodge white-hot flames that dance on the banister of the stairs. I quicken my speed, descending to my brother’s room. I crash through the ashen hole: licking tongues surrounds my brother’s crib. He cries out, shouting for Ma and Pa. I reach through the devilishly hot flames, like spears of bloody metal. My hands suffering, I lay in a excluded his shivering body out. He’s pale, cool to the touch, and his eyes are glassy. He snivels, clutching me. Relaxing, he exhales his last breath. “Dolo.”

It’s been two months since that cursed night. It’s Christmas Eve tonight, and that means closed stores, people whisked away from the streets to their homes, a roast sizzling with a garnish of potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic in the hot oven. Every year, tonight is the time of gifts and family inside their homes.

I am homeless, an orphan now.

Sometimes, I go hungry, and can only gnaw on an old bone (from a chicken wing I’d stolen from the butcher) for a month. I haven’t seen anyone else who is homeless, apart from a one-legged, wizened beggar. He doesn’t notice me if I sit next to him.

“Tuppence is all I need,” he would mumble, his starch breath turning into foul mist.

 I settle down in my cardboard box, somewhere near a heat escape, where the hot air goes as it pumps through the house, exiting so that there would be no steam strangling the merry folks as they pulled apart Christmas crackers. There, I would have the hot air engulf my numb hands.

I shiver uncontrollably, my damp, snow covered cardboard box rotting away around my shivering body. My lips crack, blood slivering halfway down my chin, and freezing under the cold temperature. The new technology inside houses has improved the heating system, I remember, the advert stuck to a sign with Christmas lights glittering on loops of forest green wire. I glance quickly up, my heart sinking deeper in the crystallized ice, the cold enveloping me. No more heat escapes. Chimneys.

                                               *                     *                     *

My feet can’t feel anything. The cardboard box under me is a blurry background of murky brown, as if I were standing in a bog and something was lurking in the cloudy waters. My hands are dreadfully black and blue, my nails a contrast of pale white to the darkening colours. My head aches, my ears ringing.. Atrocious weather.

I tighten a ragged rug I had found in an alley, and snuggled down in my cardboard box. Soon, like the beautiful tale of an unknown author, Father Christmas, a man who delivers presents to children who have been the most faithful to their parents, while a lump of coal was deposited in a falsely-acting child’s stocking. I smiled at the preposterous belief that he might pass to my home, a filthy cardboard box not even big enough for a table with carrots, milk and cookies on a plate. If I did have those, I would have eaten them, and not have left a single crumb spare. Suddenly, the alley fills with a radiant light, the kind a fire crackles to keep you warm, and a figure strides out. He looks like an angel, hair of glistening gold, a white robe sweeping the snow, the only difference from the pictures I have seen are that he isn’t holding a trumpet or scriptures. He holds a basket woven with reeds, its top covering goodies that invited me to eat till it was empty. He smiles, gently shaking me awake. I pinch myself. I’m not dreaming. “Here,” he says, “Take this.” My hands became clean, unbruised. He pushes the basket into my trembling arms. “Who are you?” I ask, my lips parting briefly to speak. He grins, and replied, “My name is Angelos.” I feel a soft material cover me. He pulled me close, a big brother who protected me. When had I felt this kindness before?

I smile faintly back, my heart seems to beat again:“My name is Dolo, which means Gift. " Angelos starts guiding me gently by my shoulders to a set of stairs I hadn't seen appear. The steps are a pearl grey, glistening like the scales of a trout. "Come with me," says Angelos. He smiles, placing his left foot on the first step. The area around his foot glowed iridescent blue. "Where does this lead?" I try to see the end of the staircase, but a fog, thickening around the next few steps made it impossible to see any further. I take in a deep, shuddering breath and put both feet on the first step. We start climbing, the fog enveloping us. I look behind me, and see a girl lying in a cardboard box, a peaceful smile fixed on her sleeping form. I hear voices, laughing and singing. Then a figure running down the stairway, emerging from the fog, barreled into me. "Dolo!" I beam, hugging him close. "Jack!" His laugh, like silver bells tinkling happily, rings merrily. Angelos laughs with him, a harp and a silver bell playing together on the staircase. We start to skip up the stairs, the fog dissipating. We're running now, sprinting, swimming almost... then I feel the steps disappear. The ground vanishes. I'm flying. I'm flying.

I look up, stars twinkling next to me. Angelos soars ahead, towards a small star that glowed differently to the others. The star shone blue, then red, then pink, then green... a never ending kaleidoscope of colors. Jack's tousled head bobs up and down as he loops the loop. Floating in the sky (if it is the sky that I am in)...was exhilarating. I didn't feel fear.

I felt love. I felt strength. I felt safe.

July 19, 2020 03:53

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Spirited Wings
18:57 Jul 23, 2020

Thank you very much T.M Kay!


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T.M. Kay
12:25 Jul 23, 2020

I really enjoyed reading your story. I particularly loved you how eluded to a sad ending without making it sad. You have a special gift with words.


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