I would like to wish all the readers of this blog (yeah ... all six of you!) A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Share the joy with your loved ones and have a safe celebration.
A little something that I wrote a few years back that I like to share around this time of year.
Jamie woke up with a start in the soft glow of moonlight that slipped through the glass doors of the balcony. “Must have nodded off for a while” he softly thought to himself. He didn’t realise how tired he was after the unaccustomed task of cleaning the flat from top to bottom. Turning on the light next to the sofa, he surveyed the results with pride and a wide smile. He had done his best to get the flat spruced up as a surprise for Sandra who was still toiling away at work. “Hope you’ll like it, Mum.” Jamie playfully whispered to himself. Slowly, Jamie stood up and stretched out all the kinks out of his tired frame. He looked at his watch and realised that Sandra won’t be back for another hour which would give him more than enough time to boil some water for a fresh cup of tea for the two of them.
Slowly, Jamie walked towards the balcony to get some fresh air to clear the sleep from his eyes. Waiting for Sandra on Christmas Eve has always been a tradition for Jamie as far as he can remember. It was only recently that he started to make sure that Sandra always had a cup of freshly brewed tea waiting for her when she came back late from work. They may not always see eye to eye about things that happen around them but Jamie never tire of seeing how Sandra’s face glowed when she saw him waiting at the kitchen table with a steaming cup of tea made especially for her. Sometimes they would talk about their plans for Christmas as they sipped their tea. Other times they would just sit there silently across each other while the tea warmed their bodies. Both occasions were enough to convey the meaning that doesn’t get spoken enough by the two of them. The message of gratitude and love for each other.
Looking out over the balcony, Jamie saw the twinkling lights that started to crowd the skies at this time of night. It was surprisingly a clear night tonight and although it was more than a bit nippy, the silence that seemed to shroud Thamesmead tonight beckoned him to stand alone outside in the cold. All around him, most flats were dark as their occupants were outside going about their last minute business before Christmas. Jamie began to rub his arms in an attempt to be warm as a sudden gust of cold breeze descended on the balcony. “It’s too cold to be out here for long tonight. Should be starting tea soon anyway.” Jamie thought as he decided to come back in.
“Santa won’t come if you don’t get to bed, Jamie”
Jamie whipped around to the general direction where the voice came. He was trying to catch a hold of his pounding heart as the moment of surprise passed him by. The voice was unmistakably Ste’s but the balcony next to his was covered in pitch darkness. Jamie thought that he was alone out here and never expected to be taken by surprise.
“Ste? Is that you?”
“Yeah. You’re alright, Jamie?”
“I will be after I push down my heart from my throat. Jeez... Ste. You scared the daylights out of me.” Jamie said as he tried to collect his thoughts after the fright. Peering into the darkness that enveloped Ste’s balcony, Jamie tried to see where Ste was but it was too dark to see.
“Sorry.” Ste sounded guilty as he stayed in the dark.
After unsuccessfully trying to pick Ste out from the darkness, Jamie finally gave up. “What are you doing sitting in the dark, Ste? I thought that nobody was home.”
“Just wanted to get some fresh air. Nobody’s home.” Ste quietly said still covered by the darkness.
“Well … I wouldn’t exactly call you nobody. Came into the light so we can properly talk for god’s sake, Ste.” Jamie said impatiently. He had not see Ste the whole day today and was waiting for a chance to wish him a Merry Christmas before turning in for the night. Jamie actually wanted to say more but as usual some things were best left unsaid for the time being.
Silence greeted Jamie from the direction of Ste’s balcony.
“Ste?” Jamie began to get more worried.
“I ... I can’t, Jamie.” Ste finally stammered.
“Early Christmas present.” Ste said dejectedly.
“Oh.” Jamie began to feel the tips of his ears burn. The bastards that Ste was living with must have gone over him earlier today. The fact that it would be Christmas tomorrow didn’t even mattered to those heartless monsters. The thought of Ste standing there hurt in the dark caused Jamie’s heart to weep silently. He wished that he could get Ste in his arms to console and tell him that everything will be alright but it wouldn’t be proper for two boys to be seen hugging. How he wish that it wouldn’t matter but things were the way they were.
Sighing slightly, Jamie turned looked up to look at the stars that were shining brightly above the dreary flats. “Come closer then. No use shouting to each other. Watch the stars with me for a bit.”
As Jamie heard the sounds of Ste walking closer to where he stood, he tried his best to peek to see the extent of the damage done. Jamie had learned very early on that the last thing that Ste wanted in times like this was sympathy. Although it always broke his heart that he could not make them stop beating Ste, he was at least able to give Ste some measure of dignity back by showing as brave a face as Ste was when he was suffering in silence. They may be able to break Ste but they would never be able to take his pride away. Ste will always have that and Jamie uttered a silent prayer that it would be so forever.
“You’re not still looking for Santa, are you?” Ste’s voice suddenly jolted Jamie from his thoughts.
“I’ve gotten over that phase long ago, you twat” Jamie smiled as he slowly turned to face Ste. It was only after seeing the bruise on Ste’s face that he realised that he wasn’t supposed to see it. Jamie quickly whipped his head to look up at the starts again. “Sorry. Shouldn’t have done that.”
A soft sigh drifted from Ste’s balcony. “It’s OK, Jamie. You can turn around now. You wouldn't even notice it was there after a while.”
Hesitantly Jamie looked down and turned toward Ste. Ste was looking up at the night sky hiding his eyes but Jamie knew that it was still reflecting the hurt that he felt inside. From where he stood, Jamie could see the fresh bruise that began to turn purple in the cold air. Will power and the wall that divided the two balconies were all that was stopping Jamie from trying to caress the bruise, to make it go away and erase the hurt that came with it. Although with all his heart Jamie wanted to do so, he knew that being here and sharing Ste’s hurt like this was all he could do.
“I remembered a time that you would always come here on Christmas Eve to see if you can spot Santa coming over the buildings.” Ste’s soft voice shook Jamie out of his thoughts. Ste had not moved from his position as he looked up at the stars and Jamie was thankful that he did not see the expression on his face when he saw the bruise. Turning around he looked that the sky and tried to sound normal although inside he was raging against what had happened.
“That was before I found out that Santa’s not real, silly. As I recall, you were right there with me all the time. In fact I remember quite distinctly you almost falling down the edge one year when you actually thought that you saw Santa coming. Turns out it was just some silly bird returning to roost.” Jamie softly chuckled at the memory.
Ste laughed softly. “At least I stopped believing in Santa before you did. I will never forget the look on your face when you finally accepted that Santa wasn’t real. Seeing your expression then was like watching a train wreak. You know you should be sorry for it but you just can’t take your eyes off it.” Ste started to smile.
When Jamie saw Ste began to smile, he immediately felt relieved and victorious as he had now managed to make Ste feel better. Although it may not be much but in away he can now walk away with the assurance that Ste would be alright at least for tonight. The smile that might as well have dispelled the darkness around them had returned to grace Ste’s lips and beamed brightly for Jamie.
“Remember the time that we used to make wishes on Christmas Eve?” Jamie smiled back.
“You still do that?” Ste softly chuckled.
“Just because I don’t believe in Santa doesn’t mean I never stopped wishing on Christmas Eve.” Jamie raised an eyebrow as he smiled even wider. “Make a wish with me?” Jamie said as he held out his hand to Ste.
Hesitantly, Ste took Jamie’s hand into his and turned to look for the brightest star in the sky tonight. Once he found it, he turned to Jamie and winked an eye. “That one?”
Jamie looked up at the area that Ste was looking at and immediately saw the same bright star that Ste was looking at. “Yeah”. Jamie smiled and nodded eagerly.
Hand in hand, standing in silence in the dark, the two made their silent wish known to the vigilant star in hopes that someday it will come through. As they stood there braving the cold that surround them, Jamie felt a tinge of guilt overwhelmed him as he knew that he never needed to wish on any stars any more as he already had what he always wished for. To be close to Ste and be able to hold his hand to make his hurts fade away. Someday Jamie might even do more than that but tonight, this was good enough.
Jamie’s guilt was quickly banished when he suddenly realise that Ste’s grip on his hand had become firmer and that he was looking directly at Jamie. There was something in Ste’s eyes that Jamie had never seen before. For a moment, Jamie thought that Ste was about to say something but as sudden as the glint in Ste’s eyes appeared, it was now gone. The firm warm hand was still there though for Jamie.
“Made your wish?” Jamie finally said after over coming the initial moment of puzzlement.
“Yeah” Ste smiled. His hand was still grasping Jamie’s firmly.
“Tell me what you wished for.” Jamie said as a similar smile crossed his lips.
“You know the rules. If I tell you, it won’t come through, silly.” Ste laughed. Ste was still holding Jamie’s hand firmly in his.
For a moment that felt like an eternity, Jamie felt the warmth that was flowing through their joined hands start to push away the cold that was invading every fibre of his body. As he looked down at their hands, Jamie silently wondered how such a simple act of their skins touching could elicit such a reaction that moved his very core. Jamie stood silently transfixed by the sight of his hand in Ste. It was only when Ste suddenly cleared his throat that Jamie looked up and saw that Ste was looking intently at him staring at their joined hands. Flustered that he was caught, Jamie felt a hot blush began to warm his cheeks. Looking across the wall that separated their balconies, Jamie could clearly see that the same blush was colouring Ste’s cheeks. Reluctantly, their hands become unjoined and slowly parted. Finger tips traced the palms softly before touching for a brief moment. A gust of cold air rushed to fill the gap between them.
“Thank you, Jamie. Thank you for letting me share your Christmas eve moment.” Ste softly said.
Jamie immediately recovered from his daze at the sound of Ste’s voice. “I’m about to make tea for Mum. Come join us.”
“I know. You do that every year. But I can’t join you.” Ste sighed.
“Why? I’m sure that Mum won’t mind.” Jamie realised that the invitation was sounding a little bit more desperate that it should have.
“Maybe next time, Jamie. This tea thing you have with your Mum, it’s a family thing. I don’t want to intrude.” Ste turned to look into Jamie’s eyes.
“Rubbish! You won’t be intruding. Mum would be glad to have you join us. You’re alone in the place anyway.” Jamie blurted out before realising that reminding that Ste was alone in was the last thing that he should have done.
“I’m not alone now, Jamie.” Ste smiled at Jamie. From his face, Jamie could see that things would get better now for Ste. At least it would be for the remainder of the night. “Next year. I promise you next year.”
“I’ll hold you to that promise.” Jamie finally resigned to the fact that he would not be able to change Ste’s mind about the invitation.
With a smile and a nod, the two boys started to walk towards the doors into their respective flats.
“Merry Christmas, Jamie”
“Merry Christmas, Ste.”