I can’t let them see me as I peep from where I am. The beautiful Christmas tree in the corner. All those presents…I wonder what’s in them.
More people are starting to arrive and gather near the tree. If I step out any further, they’ll know I’m here.
Someone is inching toward the gifts. She opens hers, it’s something small. I can’t see what it is. Looks like a letter. No one else takes much notice. It’s probably insignificant anyway.
Someone else goes for theirs. Yes, this is bigger…much much bigger. They’ve all gathered around to see…I also want to see. If I edge a little closer? No, musn’t risk it.
“ooohh, it’s beautiful.”
They said it’s beautiful…what is it? WHAT IS IT?
“A new house” (SHRIEK)
A new house they say? That’s not bad…that’s not bad at all. What have the others got?…A car, their mortgage paid off, a trip around the world, new love. (gasp)
They laugh and dance their way out of this room and into the next. I can now make my way in, stepping over the wrapping paper strewn around, some gifs carelessly tossed aside – hmm, a large inheritance sum.
The cold wind blows into this room from the open window; the satin white curtain drifts effortlessly in the air.
I slump down with my back to the wall – one of these days, I’ll open a gift that makes my heart sing.
A paper rustles close by. I look to the side and the girl with the letter is sat next to me. Her head rests on my shoulder, something I did not feel until now. The piece of paper, her present, is crumpled in her hand. She opens it out, I take it. It reads:
Your gift: You will not be alone
on this journey that scares you
I look at the girl, her body seems riddled with disease and pain, something I hadn’t noticed before. She contorts herself to try and stand.
Now it is my turn to crumple the paper in my hands. I squeeze it tight. I am angry. How can this gift be satisfactory? Is it not just a cruel joke? Surely perfect health would be more apt. Something that would cause her to dance with the others…but this…this is unacceptable.
But even as I think these things, she continues to move her body until she stands fully upright.
She stretches out her hand, which I accept and stand with her.
Looking into her eyes, I see gratitude there for my presence and then I know. This gift is all she needs, and I’m here for her.
She takes my hand as we walk together, neither of us alone, on this journey that scares.