Small helper joys

Small helper joys

A Story by Moper

The weather was cold as I walk through the snow-covered pavement, carefully looking at where I am going as I don’t want to trip on the edge of it.

When I was new to this place, I remember tripping a lot of times just because the edge of the pavement was covered by snow. Trust me, it causes little to no physical pain to trip but the embarrassment that comes along with it when somebody sees you is a little hard to bear.

‘Left, right. Left, right.’

I focus more on walking instead of thinking of what I will do when I get to my destination. This will be my last stop for today and unlike the others a while ago, this won’t be as much work. Dare I say, I enjoy going to his house than anybody else’s just because of how enjoyable his company is.

Within a few more minutes of walking, I face a single story bungalow home that has a nice veranda decorated by potted plants with 2 rocking chairs in front, square windows and a sloping roof.

I ring the doorbell in front and wait for an answer.

“Coming.” I hear a distinct voice call out and a certain creak of something wooden sliding on the floor.

“Is that you Margaret?” It asked, the voice louder.

“Yes Nicholas.” I replied.

The doorknob turns and the mahogany door swings open.

“Good evening Margaret!” He said as he sees me.

“Good evening Nicholas. How are you on this,” I look back and see the falling snow piling up in front of the house. “Fine weather” I said, smiling.

He looks past me and smiles.

“I am doing quite swell.” He chuckled, moving to the side. “Come in.”

“Thank you.” I said, moving past him and entering his house.

I remove my winter jacket and hang it on one of the free hooks on the side of the door. Dropping my bag beneath is as well.

The place is the same as always. The varnished floor is clean, save for a couple clothes and trash that litter it which should not be a problem. The living room, which is the first area visible once somebody enters the house, is spacious. On the right side, it has 2 navy blue sofa chairs, a small rectangular table clothed with a white sheet and a small crt television past it. The corners of the room is decorated with a big vase with flowers on it. On the left side, it has an altar and another table with pictures of Nicholas’ wife, daughter and relatives.

“How have you been Nicholas, does your back hurt?” I asked, looking up at him.

He was standing a little hunched, wearing a gray long sleeved sweater and blue jogging pants. His body is particularly healthy for his age.

“A little, yeah. Sorry about the mess. I couldn’t also do the dishes anymore.” He stated, frowning.

“Don’t worry about it. Let me deal with those things.” I said. “Let me help you to the sofa chair.” I offered.

“Thanks.”

I support him by taking hold of his arm and shoulder. Taking care so that we don’t trip and fall down.

He really is a dear. He could have really just told me to come in but instead he opted to stand up from his couch and greet me on the front door.

“Have you eaten Nicholas?” I asked as he takes his sit.

“Yes, have you?” He asked, looking up at me. “There are some leftovers there made by Lisa.” He pointed to the kitchen.

“I already did. Thank you for offering.” I smiled.

“Oh okay. Well feel free to get some food or water if ever you feel hungry or thirsty.” He stated with a nod.

“Sure thing. Let me get the remote for you.” I said, grabbing it on the table.

“Here you go.” I put it in his hands.

“Thank you.” He smiled as he opened the television.

I moved past him and start picking up the clothes and trash on the floor. The clothes go to a basket just outside the door of the bathroom which is just past the living room and the trash goes to a bin just as I enter the kitchen which is across the bathroom.

The dishes on the sink aren’t a lot but some of the utensils might need some scrubbing. I estimate that I would finish this in 10 minutes time. I wear an apron and get to work.

Water it down. Scrub it clean. Rinse with water. Put it on the dish rack.

I repeat the process for every utensil on the sink, humming a particular flamingo-covered song about a girl who died young.

As I finish the dishes, I look towards the dining table just behind me and see that as Nicholas mentioned still has leftovers on it. I placed them in certain tupperwares and put them in the refrigerator. I cleaned up on the extra dishes a little annoyed that I should have cleaned the leftovers first before anything.

“Nicholas.” I called out, moving back to the living room. “I’m done with the dishes, is there anything else you need help with?” I asked as I stand beside him.

“Oh. Thank you, Margaret. Sorry about that.” He apologized, looking up at me.

“Don’t worry about it. I actually enjoy doing these mundane household chores.” I smiled at him.

“Spoken like an old woman” He chuckled.

“That’s rude Nicholas. Can’t you see that I am just a beautiful 22 year old?” I said, presenting my blooming face.

We share a laugh.

“Anyways, I’m feeling a little tired, would you help me to bed?” He asked, looking up at me.

“Yes. Sure.” I replied, putting a hand on his shoulder.

He turns off the television and stands up. I again put a hand on his shoulder and arm as support. We walked to the back of the house where the bedroom is.

I open a wooden door and flick the light switch open by the side of it.

The room has a double bed in the middle of it with two small tables on each bedside. On the left side, just beside the doorway of the room is a wardrobe. Across the bed is a table that contains more pictures but now only with his wife Lucy and daughter Lisa. On the right side of the room is a rectangular window which displays the world outside.

“Let me sit upright on the bed.” He asked.

Story time. Whenever he asks me to do this, he’s going to tell me a story and it doesn’t really matter what it is about. I’m just excited to hear one. I know some kids don’t like listening to the stories of the past but it’s actually true that they have a lot of wisdom due to experiences and it’s through story telling that kids would usually pick them up as they see that they somebody they look up to or at least somebody has gone through the experience. I believe just telling kids to do this, do that without example just doesn’t work.

“Sure Nicholas.” I replied, leading him to the bedside and helping him sit upright on it, his back resting on the headboard.

“Margaret, dear. Would you listen to a story from olden times?” he chuckled as he said.

He likes to call stories from his time “olden times”. I asked him before why he calls it that and he just said,

“Whatever your age is Margaret. Multiply it by 2 and you still wouldn’t catch up to mine. With that said, my time is as good as an urban myth at your age.”

I didn’t know if it was a joke or not but I learned not to question it after that day.

“You know I am always up for your stories, Nicholas.” I replied, giving him a smile.

The bed creaking as he shuffles slightly on the bed, trying to find a more comfortable position.

As per usual, I pull the comforter up over until his tummy as he closes his eyes.

He always does this, just closing his eyes and breathing calmly like he is asleep before he begins a story. I like to think of it as him reminiscing the events of the past. Trying to remember them as vividly as possible, including the feelings and emotions that come with it. The other helpers and I call it, “Nicholas’ moment”

I take a sit on a chair just beside his bed as he does this and after a minute or two, he opens his eyes and speak.

“You know Margaret, I’ve always loved this season.” He stated as he looks outside the wooden square window beside his bed. “I really… really… love it.” his voice soft.

I follow suit and gaze at the falling snow outside. The way he let out the words was of true admiration but within it contains a hint of sadness, almost melancholic, that one would probably overlook.

“Why so Nicholas?” I asked, looking back at him.

“In my opinion, snow is a pain to deal with and the winter season is really, really cold. I’d have to put on layers and layers of clothes just to walk outside. Not to mention that commuting is harder and streets are more accident prone.” I said, rolling my eyes and putting a hand over my face.

“Oh Margaret, you’re far too young to understand the joy of winter.” He shakes his head as he looks away.

“I might be so Nicholas.” Shaking my head with his.

A moment after, I chuckle, putting a hand over my mouth as he laughs with me.

We helpers are not supposed to do this, rant, as it is bad for the company image but after spending enough time with Nicholas, I learned that he enjoyed this kind of humor. This is more of a joke for the both of us.

As our laughter dies down, he exhales deeply and put on a smile.

“You know Margaret, It was at around this time I first met Lucy.” He said. His smile tender and warm.

“Oh really?” I replied, moving my chair a little closer.

“Yeah.” He said. “She was shivering on a bench at a bus stop the first time I met her.” Chuckling as he recalls the memory.

‘Huh? She should be wearing winter clothes… right? Why would she be shivering?’ a question that popped in my mind.

The confusion must have been visible on my face as he continues before I even asked the question.

“So picture it with me.” he put his index finger up.

“It was the middle of December and around 5 or 6pm in the afternoon. Folks would call it a snow day this time and because of it, the snow has piled up around…” He stopped and looked up, making gestures of measurements using his hand. Putting 1 finger or hand over the other. The gesture making me smile. “Up above the ankles, maybe?” He concluded, albeit a little unsure.

I put my index finger under my chin, picturing it.

“That’s kind of bad already.” I concluded.

“Yes!” He pointed at me.

“So by the side of a road, there’s a bus stop without a roof. It was just a wooden bench and on that very bench, sitting there is a girl with black hair that goes down to only her neck, wearing only a t-shirt and jogging pants. She didn’t even have gloves or earmuffs on.” He described, making gestures for the t-shirt and earmuffs.

“What? That’s crazy. Why did her parents let her go out like that?” I asked, knitting my eyebrows.

“My thoughts exactly. She was freaking mental but to her credit she was wearing winter boots.” He said, laughing.

Nobody in their right mind would go out in that outfit on winter season. Winter boots is not enough for that. Nicholas must be right. She was mental.

“So what did you do when you saw her there?” I asked, eager to know the outcome of this meeting.

“Oh I was a smooth pickle. You see she was rubbing her hands together at that time and I thought it’d be creepy just to say, ‘here’s my gloves, use it’�"”

“True! I would have thrown your gloves or something if you did that” I cut him off, chuckling a bit.

He nods.

“There really wasn’t any time to think. I rummaged through my bag to get something and I just went in.” He said. “The conversation went something like…”

‘Hey!’ I called out to her, waving a hand. ‘I feel like we’ve met before.’

She looks up at me.

‘That’s a sorry a*s pickup line. Leave me alone, creep.’ She coldly stated.

I inappropriately laugh at that statement.

“Wasn’t that too harsh?” I asked him in-between laughs.

“It was. You can’t imagine how discouraging that was at the time.” he said with a frown, nodding his head.

“Whatever your plan was probably disintegrated with that line of hers.” I said as I try and stop my laughter.

“True enough, it did.” He chuckled.

‘uhmm…’ I stammered.

‘What? What do you want?’ She asked me, her eyebrows knitted.

She was more annoyed really than mad from the looks of it.

‘….’

You can imagine that I don’t really know what the hell is happening, like why is she so mad at me. I only really wanted to help her.

“Ah that was probably your opener, Nicholas.” I chipped in.

“What do you mean?” he said. The way his face crumples makes me realize how perplexed he actually is.

“Did she never tell you how bad your opener was?” I asked, wide-eyed.

“No. She always told me that it was the best conversation opener she heard.” He said, sitting upright.

“Oh. I might have been wrong then. Sorry Nicholas.” I said, bowing my head fast.

So she said it was the best conversation opener, huh?

She never specified if it was best good or best bad though.

“Margaret, I don’t understand you sometimes.” I chuckled as he said it.

“Continue. Continue.” I prompted him, waving my hand in front of me as I use the other to stifle my laughter.

He raises an eyebrow but decides to continue.

 ‘What?’ She asked again, raising an eyebrow and standing up.

I’m still in a daze at how strong and fiery her personality is at this point really but it did make me want to try harder.

‘You’re freezing, aren’t you?’ I managed to ask her.

‘No. I’m actually having a great time sunbathing at this time of the year.’ She retorted, crossing her arms.

Dumb question but at least she’s talking to me, right? If looks could kill, I probably have died there though.

‘Hey! I’m not here to pick you up, you see. You might be misunderstanding my intentions here’ I started.

‘A person who says that always is there to pick somebody up.’ Tapping her index finger.

“She’s right.” I cut him off. “Always!” I emphasized.

“Can’t guys have good intentions?!” He asked, wide-eyed.

“They can but I feel like the way you’ve gone about it was wrong.” I stated, nodding.

“You say that Margaret but wait until you hear the rest of the story.” He said, smiling.

‘No. I’m telling you. I’m not.’ I replied, chuckling.

‘Heh. Good looks, arrogance in his eyes, an easy-going smile, a coat only rich smugs can afford. You can’t fool me.’ She criticized, putting both her hands on her side.

I sigh and scratch my head as I hear this.

It hurts to be criticized but I really just want to help, you know so I might as well just get this over with. At this short conversation, I already decided that I want to help her even if she’s like this.

‘Here!’ I place it on the bench.

‘I don’t need your thanks but at least wear that or just go home already. You’d freeze to death there.’

I left as I said that. Not bothering to wait for her reaction.

I walked away and took a turn at the nearest block. As it was a sloping road, I could still see her on the bench. Sometime as I was walking, she decided to seat again.

I spied on her a little, waiting for her decision on the item I left for her.

“Creepy.” I let out, looking at him through narrowed eyes.

“That wasn’t the intention!” He quickly blurted out, hitting his comforter with his hand as if he’s mad.

I laugh at his reaction.

So there I was for a couple of minutes, just ‘looking out’ for her.

“Stalking” I whispered.

‘Looking out!’ for her as she sit rubbing her hands together again.

I stifle a chuckle as he emphasized on looking out.

And about 5 minutes in I think, she looked at it.

A minute after, she looked around.

And not long after, she reached out for it.

She looked around again before opening it up and wearing it on her hands.

That was probably the cutest 10 minutes I watched in my life. I remember pumping a fist at the sight and leaving her then. I remember sleeping really happy at that time as well.

“You just left her there?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah. My job there was done.” He replied. “I told you. I wasn’t there to pick her up.” Wearing a triumphant smile.

“Nicholas. I think it would have been better for you to ask somebody with authority to have helped her there. What if she was a lost girl then?” I pointed out to him.

“errrr…” He stammered. “But she wasn’t!”

“And how would you have known that?” I asked him, looking straight at his blue eyes.

“Well…” He looks away. A loss for words.

I shake my head.

“Don’t lecture me Margaret. I knew what I was doing then.” He stated, crossing his arms.

‘He can really be a stubborn lad.’ I chuckle at the thought.

“Don’t laugh. The story is not over yet. Here’s the best part of it.” He lifted his index finger to our level.

I passed by the area again after a week.

I may have never said this but the only reason I go through that area is because I needed to go to a library to study or find reference books. I was at university at this time, you see. And what do you know, somebody was on that bench again the next time I passed by.

I ignored the person because she was wearing full blown winter clothing but she stood up as I passed by the bench.

‘h-hey.’ She called out.

The voice was definitely a girl so she.

I stop in my tracks and look around, maybe she was calling somebody else, you see.

“You’re smiling really weird right now Nicholas.” I pointed out.

“Pardon me. This is probably the reason I fell for her.” His smile not leaving his face as he recalls the events.

It wasn’t really weird. It was really gentle, kind and tender. An ear-to-ear smile. It was of genuine happiness.

‘Me?’ I asked, pointing at myself.

‘Yes. You don’t recognize me do you?’ She asked, looking down.

True enough, I couldn’t but there was something that was distinct in her outfit. Something I recognized as she let her hands out of her pockets.

“The gloves!?” I exclaim, moving a little closer.

He didn’t seem to notice what I said as he continued on.

‘The gloves.’ I said, my hands receiving a jolt.

I can’t help but notice the hand-knitted, kitty-themed gloves my mother has sent me for Christmas that year.

Wide-eyed, I looked at her.

‘You’re annoying girl!’ I stated, almost shouting and pointing at her.

She looks at me with narrowed eyes. She didn’t really look like the kind of person you want to call annoying.

I cough, a fake one, to remove the awkwardness a little.

‘I mean… A-annoyed girl.’ I rephrase, looking away and scratching my cheek.

It didn’t work so I looked away.

A minute after I looked back at her.

She seems unsteady, playing with her fingers and looking away and all you know. She was fidgeting I guess is the best description.

‘What?’ I asked her.

My voice must have sounded authoritative which wasn’t my intention. Her shoulders jerk up at the sound of it.

She looks up at me.

I remember how tamed and docile she looked as her gray eyes looked straight into mine. 

It was just magical. I can’t really explain it much with words. It was like fireworks in my mind or, or you know how when you make coffee and you just put the right amount of sugar on it or, or when a perfect snowflake lands on your windshield. It felt like that.

It felt right.

As we face eye to eye, she uttered the words,

‘Thank you’

Soft and beautiful. It was music to my ears you know. Milk to my cereal. Ink to my pen.

Those words.

That scene.

That moment.

It is completely engraved in my mind.

He finished the story, a smile on his face.

I can’t help but think that this is the perfect picture, portrait of sadness. A genuine smile that hides true melancholy.

I frowned at the thought but quickly shake my head and replaced it with a smile.

“Nicholas. That was a wonderful story. Thank you for telling me about it.” I said, smiling as I put a hand on his arm.

“It was my pleasure. Thank you for listening.” He said, returning the smile.

At the same time, my watch rings signaling that my time is up and my work is done for the day.

“It seems my time’s up. Just in time, huh?” He chuckles, looking up at me.

“Yes Nicholas. Your story was really engaging that I lost track of time myself. I didn’t think that your first meeting was…” I look up, putting my index finger under my chin trying to think of a good word for it. “Extraordinary.” I concluded with a smile.

“Couldn’t have said it better.” He said, a hearty laugh coming from him.

“Let me tuck you in.” I offered, standing up.

He nods, shuffling a little as he let me support him by the shoulder and back, placing him gently on the bed.

“Thank you.” He breathes out as he relaxes on bed.

“You’re welcome.” I replied.

“It’s Christmas tomorrow, right?” He suddenly asked.

“Yes it is.” I replied, sitting back down.

“Ah. I can’t wait.” He said, closing his eyes.

“Why so Nicholas?” I asked. “Do you have any plans?”

He smiles.

“My grandchildren will be here tomorrow. I can’t wait to see them both.” He said, the smile not leaving his face.

“That’s wonderful. When are they coming?” I inquire.

“Lisa told me that I’ll be woken up by the 2, specifically, tomorrow.” He chuckled, his excitement evident.

“That’s great! I hope you enjoy tomorrow Nicholas!” I stated, smiling at him. “Take lots of pictures, alright? I want to see them too.” I asked.

“I will Margaret. Thank you for today. Tell your folks I said ‘Merry Christmas’” He opened his eyes to look at me.

“Will do. Merry Chirstmas Nicholas.” I smiled at him, the most gentle and tender I can.

He nods and closes his eyes again.

I place the chair in front of the table and leave the room.

I walk towards the living room, take my bag, put on my winter jacket and opened the door.

The snow wasn’t falling anymore and behold me was a world blanketed by white.

“A white Christmas” I breathe out.

As much as it is a pain to deal with to clean snow up, I can’t help but be in awe at the beauty of it once it stops falling.

I take a step.

I take another one

I do this three or four more times until I was skipping through the snow like a little child again towards our house which was just a few blocks away from here.

‘This must be what Nicholas was talking about when he said I might be too young to enjoy the winter season.’

I think I’m starting to understand it.


© 2017 Moper



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Added on December 27, 2017
Last Updated on December 27, 2017
Tags: story, life, happy

Author

Moper
Moper

Philippines



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Just trying my best to write decent short stories... May suddenly just go on hiatus. Life tends to be busy. Can be depressing... more..

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A Story by Moper