Opening his office window Gibson peered down at the teeming mass below. Bedlam! Cars jockeyed for places, taxis honked impatiently, and multitudes thronged the pavements surging home.
Some might think he had it good. At least he had a job, a good income. He knew better. There was nothing left, nothing to strive for, since Leslie left he’d been hitting the bottle but that had just made it worse. His investments had failed; his life as he saw it was on the rocks. Everything he’d strived for all these years had turned to ashes. He hated himself, what he had become. He didn’t blame Leslie, not really, she’d had enough.
He took another swig of the whiskey concealed in his desk draw, mounted the chair and straddled the window frame. He was oddly cautious as he lowered himself onto the ledge. Far below no one noticed the lone figure standing aloft. Wind swept by, oddly refreshing. A bird flew in graceful arcs. he was reminded of his boyhood, where had it all gone so wrong? He’d had so many dreams back then, now all was shattered by the reality of existence.
He was startled by a rattle of the window pane, a lined old face looking up at him. The cleaner had seen the window left open…
What caused Lem to glance out before closing the window he didn’t know, perhaps it was the sunlit clouds, perhaps the bird song, but what he saw there froze his breath. Mr. Gibson stood pressed to the wall his face waxen. Was he about to jump?
“Mr. Gibsen, what are you doing? Come in. Please come in!” The face looked up in confusion and Gibson felt a pang of remorse that Lem should witness this. His voice lashed out angrily.
“You don’t know. You don’t know just how much I hate my life. It hurts too much! I don’t want it any more!”
Lem stood gawking; a birth defect had left him simpleminded. He didn’t have the skills for this kind of stuff.
“If I has something I don’t want no more, I gives it away sir, maybe someone else wants it.” Lem looked on incredulously as Mr. Gibson gazed at him in astonishment.
“If I don’t want something I give it away,” somehow the empty void around him, the bird careering through the sky lent meaning to the statement. Slowly he began to edge his was back through the window helped by the puzzled Lem.
“You ain’t gonna jump then Mr. Gibson?”
A strange smile lit Gibson’s face, “ No Lem you’re right. If you don’t want something you give it away.”
Rebooting his computer he began a search, there must be a volunteer organisation that could use his engineering skills…
Christmas approaches, its warm fuzzy feeling felt afar off, first presents have been bought and boxed decorations stand really for commission. Yet along with this dawns a slight apprehension. I know food, decor, and Christmas presents alone are not enough. Not even family gatherings and parties, pleasant though they are, are enough to satisfy the ache for Christmas that surfaces in my heart at this time of year.
I recall an incident with my youngest daughter the Christmas we returned from the Far East. In spite of finally having a Christmas in England where it was celebrated (and there was at least the possibility of snow) we all felt something missing. We were pretty hard up and knew presents would be small but that didn’t worry us at all we were a happy thankful crowd. We were invited to my eldest daughter’s house where Christmas would be celebrated in style with perfect decor, and expert cooking, nothing missing to welcome her family back to London, yet still something didn’t feel right.
We were by the shopping mall when it happened. We saw a homeless guy looking dejected, his cardboard sign showing signs of much use.
“Can we give him some money mum?” she asked. I hesitated wondering if he might just spend it on drink or drugs (the UK has a good welfare system so the homeless often tend to have some problem). Then I had an idea. Going to a nearby snack shop I helped her choose a sandwich and hot drink which she gave with an encouraging smile, telling him.
“We thought you must be cold so we bought you a present.”
The man beamed and thanked us profusely. I guess the food showed more concern and was more personal than a dropped coin.
As she walked away she whispered, “Now it feels like Christmas.”
Last year I donated to “Crisis” to sponser a homeless person to spend Christmas at one of their centers and to get help and advice. My check is once more in the post but this year I want to do something more. What? I’m not sure but I’m looking out for it.