Oilstain. By D.A.
Matt was tired. The day had been long and stressful at the end of a long and stressful week. The Friday-afternoon euphoria which normally overtook him at 5.30 had not materialised and he trudged homewards with a heavy heart. He still hadn't bought any Christmas gifts and it was getting late.
Christmas he thought. Why do we have to go through all this business every year? Its always a hassle. Buying presents for people you dont know, presents for people you dont like, but worst of all buying presents for people you do like, people you love. Thats the hardest part.
The back streets were unusually dark, heavy cloud obscured the sky, a slight mistiness adding to the gloom. Even the brightly lit decorations which he glimpsed through windows as he passed could not lift his spirits. Ive got too much to do.. and I havent even started!
He sat down on a wall, his head in his hands, and stared at the pavement. All life seemed to have drained from his body, he was unsure if he could actually stand up again. He was unsure if he cared.
As his eyes drifted in and out of focus he found himself staring at an oil stain on the road. The meagre light which spilled from a nearby street-lamp was split into rainbow colours by the oil film on the damp surface. It seemed so much more beautiful than the gaudy Christmas lights round the corner in the High Street; so much more genuine than the hollow sentiments pumped out by the loudspeakers in the shops.
So much more Christmassy.
Real stuff. He thought. Real love, real friendship, real hope, thats what I need for Christmas, not baubles and the Ronnettes!.
Too right mate! came a voice.
Matt started. The oil stain had gone. He looked around. Beside him stood a boy, aged maybe 12, in a rainbow scarf and hat, carrying a lantern on a pole.
Come on! he commanded Were gonna get your Christmas sorted out.
Matt would normally have been quite pertubed by a strangely dressed young lad appearing out of nowhere and telling him what to do, but in his exhausted state it somehow seemed to be his best hope. He would go with him and see what happened.
Matt rose from the wall with a little more enthusiasm than he had felt before sitting down. He followed the boy towards the High Street.
They went in and out of shops, the boy pointing out gifts that would suit Matts mum, his dad and his girlfriend.
Matt was amazed. These werent expensive items, just the right things. Stuff they might actually like.
As they walked from place to place Matts energy seemed to return, exactly the opposite of what normally happened when he went Christmas shopping. They talked excitedly about his friends and family, their likes and dislikes, their hopes and dreams. The boy seemed to know them already.
Eventually, with all the shopping done, Matt arrived home in bouyant mood. He rang up some friends: Lets go out for a Christmas drink. Then he thought about the boy. He couldnt take him into a pub, but where was he anyway? Theyd been together when they'd walked up to the front door but now he wasnt anywhere to be seen.
Matt looked out of the window, the street was deserted. Then his eyes settled on an oil stain on the damp road, its rainbow colours seeming too intense to have been generated by the feeble street light.
As he watched, a dejected figure shuffled round the corner, sat on his garden wall and stared blankly into the road.
Looks like another job for you. Thought Matt and smiled to himself. Itll be a great Christmas!
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