A stranger appeared at night ; and asked NAUGHTY or NICE ? * My entry for the Cook Gourmet Day 2 Christmas Week Contest held on Instagram (@cookgourmet.co) Advertisements
Pitter Patter. Pitter Patter
The rain kept pouring down, people kept walking by. Nobody saw me. How could they ? I was lying in the dark corner of the busy alleyway covered in mud, I was ignored and stepped on.
I was waiting. Waiting for someone. Anyone.
Time seemed to crawl and I had begun to lose all hope when a voice startled me out of my depressing thoughts.
“Ooooh shiny ! Look mum” said a young boy dressed in old, tattered clothes. The woman beside him wore a weary expression on her face. She reached out her hand and picked me up. She carefully wiped off the mud using the edge of her frayed shirt and handed me to her son. “It’s a penny darling. You’re lucky to have found one. Use it wisely.” The boy broke into a huge grin. He looked at me as if I was the best thing to ever happen to him, his eyes sparkled as he looked on for what seemed like an eternity. Under his loving gaze, my earlier gloominess vanished and I felt valuable again. He placed me in his shirt pocket with extreme care. It was dark in there but warm nonetheless. It was a welcome relief after the day in the cold rain.
I could hear muted sounds of vehicles, the rain and people bustling by from inside his pocket. He kept patting the pocket from time to time to make sure I was safe. Not long after I found myself drifting off to sleep.
He took me everywhere. To school. To his mum’s workplace. To the park.
He would hold me in his palm while lying in bed after dinner and talk to me about the books he loved to read at school, his mum who was his only family, his poverty, his fears and his ambitions. Then he’d place me under his pillow and doze off. I revelled in the feeling that I was his most prized possession.
“Happy Birthday darling. Let’s skip school today. We’ll celebrate.” said his mother fondly one pleasant morning. He agreed nodding his head enthusiastically. We went to the beach and spent the whole day having fun. When we reached a candy cart, his mum asked him “Would you like to buy candy with your penny ? A special birthday treat.” He pulled me out of his pocket and looked at me in doubt. In his eyes I saw dilemma, to choose between the scrumptious special candy and me wasn’t easy for him. Finally, after what seemed like ages, he handed me over to his mum. His decision was made and my heart felt like it’d been smashed into a hundred pieces. But watching him devour his candy made my broken heart flutter again, it was me who gave him such joy I thought. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I decided to be hopeful for what was in store for me next as the Candy Seller placed me in a pouch jingling with other coins.
Pennies. Pounds. Playing, chattering and dancing away.
They welcomed me affectionately and instantly I felt at ease. Many happy and carefree days I spent with my friends, I had almost forgotten about the young boy. Then the fateful day arrived when the Candy seller decided to give me away.
“Daddy, can I have another one please ?” The little boy beseeched his father. “No ! One is quite enough. Money doesn’t grow on trees you know.” retorted the plump man as he put me in his wallet. Together we walked towards my new home. I was curious to know what it was like but I couldn’t. I was confined in a leather wallet. Later that night, the plump man removed me from his wallet and looked at me with his beady eyes. Was he going to give me to his son ? I hoped he would, maybe I could make a new start.
What he did next, took me by surprise. He took out a small iron box and locked me inside. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I noticed others. A few currency bills and some pennies just like me. They all had a haggard look about them. Hesitantly I introduced myself but all they did was look at me with pity.
“You are imprisoned here forever.” they whispered ominously. “He’s a miser.” Their voices echoed in the small place.
Days, months and years passed by. The miser would occasionally open the box, sometimes to take out a few bills, other times to put some pennies in. That was the only time light entered in. A blinding light filled with dreams of the outside world. Whoever was taken out breathed a sigh of relief, everyone else was waiting for a miracle, a chance to escape this dismal fate. There was nothing to do inside the ferrous prison but resign oneself to destiny.
“What’s in this box ?” said a sweet female voice. I woke up from all the commotion outside and was immediately greeted by light. My eyes shut close due to the discomfort. After a moment I opened them to find a couple peering into the prison. “My old man locked away money in various places. This is probably one of them. He never let us spend any nor told anyone where he kept it.” said the man. I couldn’t be sure as I had seen him only once a long time ago, but I think it was the miser’s son. All grown up and married.
“The bills we can still use but that penny is junk.” the female said pointing to me. I belatedly realised that I was the only coin left in the prison, all the others had gone. “We can give the penny to Anna” the man offered but the female scoffed at him and said “What good is a mere penny these days. Anna wouldn’t even be able to buy a piece of candy with it. Let’s take out the bills and keep the box with the rest of your father’s junk in the attic.” I looked at them in alarm. Don’t leave me here all alone, I screamed. Don’t lock me up again !
My cries fell on deaf ears. My sobs went unheard. My whole body shivered and then I heard it.
The lock of my prison. My purgatory.
Click Clack Click.