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Christmas Bedtime Creative Nonfiction


It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling and it was almost dark. A little girl sat shivering as near as she could get to the front of the grocer’s shop. The grocer sometimes gave her hot chocolate to drink; but not today as his wife was helping tend to the many last minute shoppers at the store. She believed the little match girl lowered the tone of their shop and so did not encourage her to linger.


Hana could not help her appearance as she only had the one set of clothes. They were well and truly threadbare and offered no insulation against freezing snow and ice. They had been patched so many times that the patches needed patching and no one would want them except as rags to wash floors. Her hands were turning blue and she could not feel her feet. The holes in the soles of her shoes had allowed water to gather and turn to ice. Once, when her grandmother was alive, she always had a warm coat, stout boots and knitted gloves to ward off the cold.


Trying to be brave she sent a plea to her grandmother “Why did you leave me? I know you would help me if you were here.” She was trying hard not to cry as her tears would turn to ice and she would be even more uncomfortable. The smell of roasting goose sauerkraut and boiled potatoes wafted around in the air and the growling in her stomach reminded Hana that she had not eaten that day. What was waiting for her at home? If she was lucky some stale bread and the end of a sausage would have been left if it was too unpalatable for her drunken father. He didn’t have many teeth left and so hard food was her usual fare.


Shoppers were hurrying past and no one took any notice of her. She was used to that and she knew she made a pitiful sight and that made more well to do persons feel guilt. Some of them thought that if they had more time they might stop and talk to her but they consoled themselves that there would be more time tomorrow and tomorrow they might try to help. Unfortunately there was little anyone could do as most of the townsfolk were aware of her father’s bad temper and knew it was only sensible to steer clear of him and his daughter.


Meanwhile in a far distant place something was astir.

“Let me see the Boss” pleaded an elderly lady.

“No” said St Peter “He’s too busy. Can’t I help?”

“I don’t think so” she replied “I need to go to earth to fetch my granddaughter. She is having a hard time and needs rescuing.”

“You know the rules as well as I do” he replied. “You cannot interfere with a person’s earthly stay. People who have elected to be born must stay for their allotted time. We cannot change their destiny.”

“That’s not true” she said “Jesus healed the sick, made the blind see and helped the crippled walk again.”

“Yes but he did not help them to die and come upstairs with us. Did he?”

“But her life isn’t worth living. She cannot survive for long and in the meantime she is cold and starving and being abused by that wretched man who is her father.”

“Well” St Peter replied “I can see that you really care for her and so I will take your case to the Boss. I don’t think he will say anything contrary to what I have said.”


Sometime later St Peter called her name “Eva” he said “I have news for you from above. You cannot fetch your granddaughter until she dies but you have the word of God that you will be her escort when she’s ready to come. Between you and me it will be soon. So stay close and when the time comes you will go and bring little Hana home to us.”


Well the Almighty had spoken and had to be obeyed. He didn’t say she couldn’t go down and keep an eye on Hana. However, she could not cut short her stay on earth. The kindly lady only went to observe; but the sight of her granddaughter’s plight was indescribable. You cannot imagine the sad state she was in. It was New Year’s Eve and she was starving. She hadn’t been able to sell any matches and all around her she could smell the feasts that the wealthy townspeople were preparing for this night’s special feast. Her stomach was growling so much it would have made Eva weep if St Peter hadn’t foretold there would soon be an end to Hana’s misery. She spoke to Hana’s Guardian Angel who was hovering by and asked her what could be done. The angel said that nothing could help at this point but she had suggested to Hana that as she hadn’t sold the matches she could light one or two to brighten her surroundings.


Unfortunately, or fortunately Hana couldn’t stop lighting the matches and when they were all gone she was too frightened to go home to admit to her father that she had no matches and no money. Instead of facing him she curled up in a corner and went to sleep. For a while she was shivering with the cold but soon lethargy overtook her and it wasn’t long before she was ready for the trip up to her new home. Everyone (grandmother, her guardian angel and even St Peter) rejoiced because now her father had lost his source of income and would have to look after himself.


Hana received a warm reception in heaven. Both Eva and Hana celebrated the fact that there would be no more suffering for now. They made a vow to choose more wisely when they were offered a chance to return to earth. Both of them were determined that in future they would be warm and never hungry. They hoped they would meet up again in better circumstances. They also promised each other to never walk past a match girl without purchasing her wares.


March 15, 2023 07:41

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2 comments

15:18 Mar 23, 2023

A timeless story retold for a modern audience. Well done, Carol. My heart was broken, not only for the little girl, but also for her grandmother who wanted so badly to help her. Glad for the happy ending.

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Rebecca Miles
07:09 Mar 19, 2023

Welcome to Reedsy Carol. This version of the little match girl was well told. I enjoyed how you developed her characterisation as we learn so much more of her sorry family life and hardship. Her longing for her grandmother is very plausible, given this.

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