A Christmas Tale


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Hey Artsy Teens,

You might not know this, but one of my biggest passions is actually reading and writing. Unfortunately, though I have started writing dozens of novels, I never make it past the first few chapters. That being said, I have managed to write a few short stories.

Here’s a short Christmas story called ‘The Harmonica Man’ that I wrote last year.It’s a bit sad, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it!

The Harmonica Man

Mr. Jones walked along the old path through the park, past the cemetery, as he did every evening. The path was his old friend; the tarmac was wet from the melted frost and worn by the hundreds of shoes that had stepped on it over years. An occasional piece of chewed gum or a crushed soda can littered it. But it was still there, it was dependable – old, dirty and slippery – but dependable. Not like most things in his life, Mr. Jones thought as he kicked a frozen can of ginger beer with his old shoe.

After a bitter childhood, Mr. Jones had been all too eager to leave home. At a young age he married a lovely girl named Isabel, with whom he had three children. They had little money and lived in a modest home, but they were happy. Of course, that was before the recession hit and his salary got smaller and smaller. Though both him and his wife struggled with several part-time jobs and late-night shifts, more often than not the family went hungry at night and slept wrapped up in layers of second-hand clothes which did little to keep out the winter chill.

Mr. Jones glanced at the tacky Christmas lights that had been lazily draped over the park trees. He sighed, remembering the look on little Lilly’s face when Paula had told her that they wouldn’t be getting a Christmas tree this year. The children were very good about it most of the time, Lily and Tom were old enough to understand. He worried most about Rosie, who had just turned four a month ago.

“But Santa will still be coming, right Daddy?” Rosie had asked. “Of course.” he had said. What else could he say? But tonight was Christmas Eve and he knew that Santa wouldn’t be coming. A small tear trickled down his cheek as he kicked the old soda can. He was no better than his own father, who had abandoned the family on Christmas Eve, thirty years ago.

He continued to walk for some time, wrapped up in his worn winter coat, haunted by his thoughts and kicking the frozen fizzy drink.

Suddenly, the can hit something that was lying a few feet away. Mr. Jones bent down to pick it up. It was a little teddy bear. It looked pretty cheap – but new, all the same. No doubt an insignificant stocking stuffer that had fallen out from someone’s shopping bag. With a sad smile, he put it in his pocket – a little gift for Rosie.

Mr. Jones exited the park, and continued walking along the path, passing the local cemetery. As he did so, he heard beautiful music coming from down the road. It was a Christmas song – he couldn’t remember the name, but it was a joyful tune he knew well. As he approached the sound, he saw it was coming from an old brass harmonica, played by a man sitting on the bench outside the graveyard. The man wore an old coat and a dusty cap. His eyes were tired but friendly. As he played, Mr. Jones stood by the bench listening. The notes from the harmonica were full of life. As the familiar melody danced around him, Mr. Jones smiled, reminded for a few moments of the magic of Christmas.

When the man finished his tune, Mr. Jones sat down beside him.

“You’ve got a real talent.” he said.

“I’ve been playing this old thing for years.” replied the man with a grin. “Are you on your way home for Christmas?”

“I am.” Mr. Jones nodded.

The two strangers chatted for awhile. Mr. Jones told the harmonica man about his job, his wife and three children, and his companion listened quietly with a smile. Every time he spoke, the man would comment on how lovely it was to have such a nice family. He would say how lucky he was to have such responsible children. He would congratulate him on managing to have a home though times were hard. He told Jones that his wife sounded lovely. And the more he said, the more Mr. Jones started to see things differently. He started to see past all the things that had gone wrong in his life, and he saw the one thing he did have, and would always have; love. The true spirit of Christmas.

“Do you have any children yourself?” Jones asked the man, as he stood.

“I have a daughter named Holly. She’s a bright girl, very pretty too. Loves Christmas, she does.” the harmonica player replied.

Mr. Jones smiled and looked his companion up and down. Raggedy clothes, eyes creased by fatigue and work, and a plate with a few coins tossed in it lying by his feet. Really, he was probably worse off than Mr. Jones.

Now, had he had a penny to spare, Mr. Jones would have given it to this man whose music had brightened his day and who’s insight had reminded him of his own fortune. But he didn’t. So instead, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the teddy bear he had so valued a few minutes ago, and handed it to the man.

“A Christmas present for Holly.” he said simply.

The harmonica man held Mr. Jones’ gaze for a moment, showing how much he understood the value of the gift.

“You’re very kind.” he said gratefully, taking the bear.

“Have a merry Christmas” Mr. Jones said, with a genuine smile, as he started to walk down the path.

“Merry Christmas,” the other replied.

As Mr. Jones turned the corner, when he glanced back at his friend. The harmonica man was still there, but he wasn’t sitting on the bench. He was kneeling down, crying softly, next to a small gravestone on which he had placed the teddy bear.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.