‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ — THE REST OF THE STORY??? — # 4

A few years ago, with my sincere apologies to Mr. Charles Dickens, I created a series of futuristic vignettes that take a look at a few of the characters of his heart-warming novel and what their lives may have been like decades beyond the words “The End” at the close of his masterpiece. Recently, I decided it would be fun to dig those stories out of my archives and dust them off. Maybe they will make this Christmas a little more fun. These tales are simply the result of my imagination being given free rein, but I offer them in the spirit of the season, hoping you’ll enjoy them. You can also find them in my Christmas anthology Stocking Full of Stories, available from Amazon.

Today’s story focuses on the Spirit of Christmas Present

THE REST OF THE STORY # 4 — THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT: LIVING IN THE HERE AND NOW

Reggie sat slumped in his chair, his right leg carelessly propped over the chair arm, gloom written all over him. He’d been this way for weeks, and hitting the bottle wasn’t helping him any. It just gave him a horrible headache the next morning. So tonight, he’d left off the booze, but he sat in a stupor anyway.

“Well, what a pretty picture you make tonight, Reginald, old boy!” The voice jolted him upright; he looked around.

“Who’s there?”

The voice took shape: on the sofa to his right, a well-tailored man gradually came into focus, lounging with his feet propped on the coffee table. “I’m generally called Spirit of Christmas Present. That’s what your Uncle Ebeneezer called me.”

“Oh, so you’re the one who supposedly helped him straighten out his life, huh?”

The figure shrugged. “Among others.”

“Well, you can go back where you came from,” Reggie said, at the same time making a shooing motion with his hand. “I don’t need anything you have to say!”

“You need a hammer to your head!” his visitor replied. “It’s just a shame I’m not allowed to give it to you.”

“Hey, where do you get off talking like that to me? Threatening to hit me in the head with a hammer! For what?”

“For constantly trying to live in a time dimension that it’s impossible for you to inhabit. You’re always trying to live either in the past – sucking on your memories the way a baby does his thumb – or in the future – always focusing on next week or next year. It’s stupid. Your memories make you miserable, and your future makes you anxious and edgy because it holds problems you don’t have answers for yet.”

“Oh, I get it. You’re here because you think you’re going to fix me?”

“No … I’m going to tell you how you can fix yourself.”

“Well, just maybe I don’t want to be fixed. What do you think about that?”

“Your uncle didn’t think he wanted to be fixed either – until he saw where his life was leading him. Do we have to give you the same kind of detailed, guided tour of your life that we gave him?”

“Who’s we?”

“You know – the Spirits of Christmas Past and Future, and yours truly.”

Reggie shivered in his chair. He would never consider admitting to this strange visitor that he believed what had happened to his old uncle, but he did have to admit to himself that he’d seen the changes in Ebeneezer first hand. And when his uncle had described his experience, it had sent cold chills down Reggie’s spine. He certainly didn’t want any more of that.

“Okay, okay. Just give me your spiel and let me get back to my contemplation.”

“What you were … contemplating … as you call it … was how sorry you are for yourself. And what I’m going to tell you will set you free from all your self-pity and wasted life if you’ll take heed to it.”

“Okay, okay, get on with it.”

“Well, it’s actually very simple, Reggie. You simply have to make yourself be where you are.”

“Huh?” Reggie shook his head briskly and sat forward in his chair, looking more intently at his visitor. “What the heck does that mean?”

His visitor sighed. “It means, Reg, that you need to live in the present hour — every hour of your life. Live now. You can’t re-do yesterdays, Reggie, and the future is nothing but a long series of ‘now’s’ that you’ll eventually experience one at a time. But when you get to them, you’ll have what it takes to deal with each of them. Trying to worry ahead of time about what might or might not be in those ‘now’s’ is ridiculous because you can’t even begin to know what they’ll be like. So why exhaust yourself worrying about them? And why drive yourself to drink by sitting around pitying yourself for the things that have already happened and can’t be changed?”

Reggie hung his head. “Yeah, I guess I have to admit my life’s a bummer coming and going.”

His visitor jumped up from the sofa, and Reggie looked up at him, a little fearful.

“Then for heaven’s sake, man, quit coming and going – hopping from your sad past to your unreadable future! Start living where you are and when you are. Take one day at a time, and one hour at a time. Look at it, feel it, taste it; let it soak into you; enjoy everything you can about it, and if you can’t enjoy it, then learn something from it. But live it. Start really living each one of those moments in your life, Reggie, and you’ll be surprised at the outcome.”

“But I don’t think I know how.”

“It isn’t rocket science, Reggie. As I said at the beginning of our conversation: it’s simple. You just have to decide to do it. And I’m not telling you everything will be the way you want it. Your life – like anyone else’s – will have its ups and downs. It may not always be great – but at least it will be real.”

Reggie hung his head again, trying to get a better handle on the fact that he was listening to some vision that had just suddenly appeared in his living room. He had to admit that what his visitor said gave him the first inkling of hope that he could actually have a better life. He looked back up to the visitor to say so — then blinked. The room was empty.    ♦

 


Tomorrow, our final story featuring The Spirit of Christmas Future

Leonard Takes Life by the Antlers

 

ARNOLD HEARING BIRDS - WHITE SPOTLIGHT
“Nicholas, is something troubling you this evening?” asked Lydia Claus, pausing in her embroidery work.

“Hmmmm?” Nick made the sound without shifting his gaze from the flames in the fireplace.

“I asked what’s wrong, Dear. You haven’t been your jolly self for almost two days.”

Nick sighed, finally looking across at his wife in her chair. “It’s Leonard, Mama.”

“Leonard? Leonard, the elder deer?”

“Yes.” Nick sighed again, but didn’t continue. He seemed lost in his own thoughts again.

“Nick,” Lydia said, putting down her embroidery and sitting up straighter in her chair. “Is Leonard sick?”

“Hmm? Oh … oh, no, he’s not sick … not exactly.”

“Well, what on earth does that mean?”

Nick reached to a little table beside his chair and picked up his pipe. He lit it, and the sweet-scented smoke curled off into the air. “Leonard isn’t sick, Mama. He’s just old … very old. And I’m afraid he can’t do any real work around here any longer. He just sort of stands around watching the younger deer – or worse – sometimes he just lies in his stall and doesn’t even get out for exercise. He feels useless I think.”

“But his son Rudolph is still your lead reindeer, and I know that’s always made Leonard so proud. He’s the one who trained Rudolph to fly and to maneuver so beautifully. In fact, he trained almost all of your teams, didn’t he?”

“Oh, yes. He’s been more valuable to me than almost any other deer in our herd, but he doesn’t feel up to training the younger deer any longer. I’ve had to turn that job over to his younger cousin Archibald.”

“Oh, dear. I wish there were something I could do.”

“Me too,” Nick said, rising and heading toward the kitchen. “But perhaps I’ll think of something soon.”

(Next day. In the stable.)

“Leonard,” said Gladys Reindeer, “I wish you wouldn’t feel so sad. After all, look at all the teams of reindeer you’ve trained for Santa over the years. You should feel proud and just enjoy your time of rest.”

“Rest! Bah! I have to sit by and watch that whippersnapper Archy take my place as Santa’s right-hand. It’s degrading … humiliating … and worse … it’s terribly depressing.”

“But you can still give the elves rides and help with hauling the smaller toys from the toyshop to the warehouse for storage. It’s not as if you don’t do anything.”

“It’s not the same, Gladys. There are scores of other reindeer on the place who can do all that. And they do. In fact, they can do it all faster, and most days they’re already on the job before I can get my old bones and muscles moving. I just wish there were something I could do again that was special.”

“Well, my dear” – Gladys nuzzled his nose – “you will always be very special to me – and to Rudolph. And just think of our son. He’s become so famous, and he’s so good at what he does … and he gives you all the credit – rightly so, I might add.”

“Oh, he’s a source of pride, all right. It’s gratifying to see how well he’s done. But it doesn’t change my feeling of uselessness now.” Leonard plodded out of the stable, his head hanging low.

“Where are you going, dear?”

He sighed. “I don’t know. I think I’ll go for a walk in the forest. I do always feel a little better when I listen to the Redbirds sing for a while.”

Leonard walked slowly through the forest, stopping now and then to rest and listen to the sounds of all the other creatures he’d come to know and love. He hadn’t heard any Redbirds in song today, but as he moved farther into the woods, he heard a cacophony of bird voices that troubled him.

He followed the sounds to a huge Spruce tree where one of his favorite Redbird friends had her home. But something strange was happening today. Several men in hard hats were surrounding the tree, examining it. Off to the side sat a huge truck with a long flatbed on the back. Suddenly, one of the men pulled a lever on the machine he held in his hands, and the machine started groaning loudly enough to hear it on the other side of the forest.

At that moment, Leonard’s Redbird friend swooped down toward the man, screeching and acting as though she would attack him. A couple of her friends did the same. One of the other men picked up a large stick and started swinging at the birds.

Leonard couldn’t believe his eyes. He hurried over to the scene and called out to his friend. “What’s wrong?” He asked. “Can I help?”

“Oh, Leonard,” the Redbird cried, flying over to him, “I don’t know what to do! These men are going to cut down my tree and use it for the Christmas tree in the center of town. But my nest is there, and my little babies are just about to hatch. I can’t let them cut down my home and kill my babies. But I can’t get them moved to a safe place without building another nest, and that will take too long. What can I do? What can I do?’

The chainsaw had stopped momentarily, while the men talked together, but now it started up again. Leonard thought quickly. “I know!” he said. “I will come and lift your nest onto my antlers and carry it away safely.”

“That’s very kind of you, and it would get my babies out of the tree, but where can I put them? It will take me at least three days to build a new nest anywhere – and that’s if I can find the materials. Wild animals will find my babies and eat them before I can get it done.”

“No they won’t. I will keep the nest in my antlers until you build another nest. You can sit on your eggs in your nest, and when your babies are hatched, you can feed them and take care of them just the way you always do. I have nothing else I have to do these days, and I will enjoy being useful.

“Oh my, what a great friend you are. How can I ever thank you?”

“There’s no need. In fact, I’m the one who’s grateful. I was feeling rather useless lately, and it’s a wonderful thing to know that I am not useless after all. I can be a help to my friends. And, in fact, when you have your new nest built and have moved into it, I think I’ll go walking through the forest every day looking for other friends to help. There must be many things I can do for them if I just set my mind to it.” He grinned at Redbird. “You’ve helped me see that I have a future with unlimited possibilities.”

The chainsaw had stopped again, and the men were measuring something. “Come on,” said Leonard, “let’s hurry and go around to the other side where your nest is. I’ll burrow my way between the branches and lift off the nest, and you can make sure it’s settled safely. Then we’ll go back to Santa’s stable, and you and your babies can enjoy Christmas with Gladys and me. She will be so pleased to have guests for Christmas Day.”


If you enjoyed this story, think about checking out my Christmas anthology: Stocking Full Of Stories.  It includes this story as well as 10 other stories for the season. It’s available from Amazon in digital or paperback.

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BlogFestivus 2013 – Day 5 — ‘Tiny Tim?’

We’ver reached the final day of BlogFestivus 2013.  Our Hostess is Blogdromedy, and she is also the creator of the lovely artwork that accompanies this challenge.

Today we offer our stories about Tiny Tim. You’ll find my story below the picture — and a list of other fascinating story tellers below the story itself. It’s been great fun, and we all hope you have enjoyed our own personal detours from Mr. Dickens’ original tale. (I also hope he does not mind what we’ve done to it.)

Happy BlogFestivus 2013

TINY TIM?

Excuse me, Mr. Alexander. You wanted to see me?”

Oh, yes, Christmas Past. I’ve called for Present and Future as well. Oh … here they are. Come in, gentlemen.”

Is there a problem, sir?”

(Heavy sigh.) “Indeed! Look here, through my Earthglass. Listen to this businessman dealing with a poor couple.”

Don’t blabber to me about Christmas! I’m foreclosing on your home today! And I’ll have your neighbor’s home by tomorrow morning!”

Please, Mr. Cratchit —”

“Silence! Enough begging. Go and pack!”

On Christmas Eve?”

Christmas! Bah! Humbug!”

Mr. Alexander … is that ….?”

Recognize him, Christmas Past?”

Not Tim Cratchit?”

Yes. Tiny Tim – 300 pounds past tiny now. Eats only fats and sugars. Too stingy to buy decent food.”

Is he why you’ve called us, sir?”

Yes, Future. Scrooge changed his ways; left the business to Cratchit, who left it to Tim. But human nature being what it is, greed always manages to seep back in. Now Tim’s become another Scrooge.”

You want us to visit him, Sir?”

Yes.  It will take all three of you again.  But greed has become so much worse in the world this century that I doubt you will succeed this time.  We can only hope.”

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Check Out These Stories As Well:

Theodore from This Blog Needs A Title
Linda penning at linda vernon humor

Tom over at Shouts from the Abyss
Steve from Stevil
Maria-Christina blogging at MCWhispers
Dylan of Treatment of Visions
Sarah from Parent Your Business
Dawn blogging at Lingering  Visions
K8edid from k8edid
Dave bringing it at 1pointperspective
Eileen from Not The Sword But The Pen
Lindsey at RewindRevise
Kandy of Kandy Talk
Natalie from So I Went Undercover
Jen at Blog It or Lose It
Amelie from In the Barberry
Cee Cee blogging at Cee Cee’s Blog
Ashley from LittleWonder2
BD writing Blogdramedy 

 

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