Friday, 5 December 2008

Christmas footsteps

Thomas Hardy's cottage at Higher Bockhampton.

Sometimes I am in a writing mood. I wrote this just before last Christmas - some of you may have read it elsewhere. Anyway, I've been decorating and not walking today, and so I'll share this with you instead, to put you in the mood for Christmas.

Icicles hang from a Christmas window, reflecting the dancing light inside. A tendril of ivy skitters on the wall, tapping on the swirling glass of the window pane, and rocked by a keen wind. Heads nod as the children bob for apples, shaking wet hair from their eyes as they laugh: "Mine's rotten - I just got a worm!" The old lady in the chimney nook smiles a gappy smile and her fingers tap in time to the sound of the fiddle and the tenor voices approaching along the stoney lane. His father and uncles burst in with a blast of cold air and swirling leaves, and the boy's sister leaps up from the floor to fling herself into her father's outstretched arms.

"Snapdragon! Snapdragon!" The small boy's voice demands attention, his eyes intense and bright in his pale face. His mother's sharp glance and pursed lips quell him but a moment, before she gives a nod of her dark head and smiles, "Later lad, later, calm you down now. Let's have a song."

The boy picks up his accordian, fingers running gently on the keys as he begins to follow his father's merry tune.

The old lady mumbles her jaw and watches sparks fly up the chimney as the ivy taps ever harder against the glass and a robin presses himself deeper inside his chink in the thatch.

The log falls, sparks shooting up the chimney and waking the old man from his dream. He gazes around him at the velvet curtains hanging where bare windows should have been; the plush upholstery where should have been the stick-back chairs his father made, and the carpet beneath his slippered feet.

He sighs, and rises stiffly, walking to the table on old man's legs. Staring for a moment at the blotting paper, carrying all these thoughts in reverse, he picks up his pen and begins to write:

"Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock,
'Now they are all on their knees' . . ."

1 comment:

Mam said...

Wonderful, Jennie!