A Silent Christmas

A Silent Christmas

A Story by Aaron D Gam

                The old man sat alone next to the hearth, a fire crackling, the only light in the room.  The firelight danced around the walls, glistening off of cabinets, a chandelier, and silverware.  The ancient grandfather clock in the corner gonged, bringing the man back from his daze.  He took a sip from the whiskey he held in his hand as he counted the gongs.  Eleven. Only one hour until Christmas, he thought.  He chuckled quietly to himself, thinking back on all of his past Yules.

He remembered to his younger days, the days of carefree days in the sun.  He had grown up in Cambridge.  His mother had died when he was young and his father was an English professor at the university and did not have time for the young child.  He spent much of his days playing in the sun, but he always looked forward to Christmas.  His father, trying to breed the young man into a literary scholar like himself, would give the child books that, he believed, would stretch the boys mind.

But, the child’s fascination with Christmas was not in books, or even gifts, but it was in the interactions of people.  After his father entered the recluse of his study the boy would go into the city.  People milled about the streets carrying packages and parcels of all sizes and colors to their various destinations.  Their voices would crash together in a hectic symphony of rush and joy.  The time was hectic, but somehow organized, the boy’s wise mind noticed.  Too many people with too little space would normally create chaos but, for one day and just one day every year, the people would find peace in the confusion.  The young man would find a bench in the city square and watch the people.  Everyone always seemed to be saying something, but no one ever listening.  He would sit on that bench for hours, observing.

Normally, he would think that these meaningless interactions of words being spoken and none being heard were strange, for nothing was accomplished, but on Christmas he found no issue.  The pure joy of the date, now losing its meaning but none of its happiness, allowed for meaningless conversations and joy.  Christmas was a time for joy and for no worry or tension, the observant boy realized.  The old man enjoyed remembering those days, but he allowed the flashback to pass as he remembered a single Holiday that his elderly mind remembered clearly.

He was only 19 years old and was attending Oxford University, under the watchful eyes of his father, and a cold winter had set in.  Snow lined the paths at the school through which he dreaded walking every day.  The boy was much smarter than even he, his professors, and especially his father realized.  His intelligence was in people and their interactions and their behaviors, while his father and instructors looked for other signs of brilliance, the kind that he could not show.  There was one person, however, who could see his talents.  Her name was Anna.

Anna was a fellow student of the young man’s.  Her skills far surpassed her observant classmate’s and her teachers.  The young boy had fallen in love with her the first time he looked upon her.  She noticed his gaze after some time, and she began to open herself up to him.  She liked his awkward quietness, while all he wanted was to be with her.  That one winter was the first after he had met Anna.  There was to be a gathering at the college to celebrate the upcoming holiday, but the young man’s father forbade him from going.  When the boy found that Anna would be attending he resolved inside himself that he would go.  He told himself that he would talk to her, even though the thought brought great fear to him at the time.

The snow fell lightly that night as he plodded down the path towards the hall where the party was being held.  He looked in through an outside window at the people inside.  Firelight lit the room and warmed all of the people inside.  He looked in until he saw Anna standing inside.  She was talking to another man.  The other student was in several classes with the young man, and this particular student was a favorite of the young man’s father’s.  Anna laughed, the young man saw as his breath clouded up the window.  He saw her laughter, and all of the others inside and their happiness.  The young boy looked in for another moment, and then turned around and headed home.

The old man still sat alone in front of the hearth, and sobbed.

© 2012 Aaron D Gam


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Added on December 21, 2012
Last Updated on December 21, 2012
Tags: Christmas Holiday Oxford Man Wat