And It Came to Pass

The Christmas season is upon us with the new year just around the corner. Another year has bitten the dust. In life nothing is guaranteed, including seeing the next sunrise. Often times we plan, set goals for our lives, only to find all of this work is for naught. Many wonder if our individual futures are already written, and we are only discovering this planned future day by day. All of us are guilty of looking back and thinking, “if only I could have known, or maybe changed this or that, then what I’m experiencing now would be as I had seen my futue, instead of what is actually taking place.” Yet no one can go back, no one can change the past, let alone know what our real future holds.

And the protagonist of this story asks these same questions as he sees his life presently. He wonders if there is a way, even now, to change his direction. For those who haven’t read my Christmas stories, be aware that they do not follow the normal “feel good” story. I try to deal with different lives and directions, and look at situations that are outside of what we see and expect. It is such here. The season doesn’t hold joy and happiness for all. This might give you a chance to see life through different eyes and begin to understand. So please be prepared for a different experience as I present: And It Came to Pass.

Faron sat at the counter of the coffee shop dressed in a ragged suit that was much too large for him. It had been cast off by someone else and he had found it. The suit replaced the clothes he had been wearing, which were not much more than rags, with too many holes, including places that made it almost impossible to hide any part of his body. It had been much too long since his last bath, let alone having a roof over his head. It was cold outside and before entering the coffee shop he had been shivering from the winds that were blowing. And he had looked, with envy, on the brightly lit stores and restaurants, the decorations that proclaimed the holidays, and even the lights that lit the front of homes where families lived.

It was always difficult making these decisions as to whether he wanted to dig into his paltry reserves of money. Generally coins that he had found on the ground, or in the streets, or on the sidewalks – lost by someone, or because of the minor value of the coin, who didn’t feel the need to bend over and pick the coin up. For him it was like gold. But these coins were few and far between, and it took much too long to get enough of them to be of any use. So when misery, or the cold penetrated too deeply, he always had to weigh heavily the cost of doing exactly what he was doing now. Before him was a cup of coffee, heavily sugared and creamed, since it was all he could afford, and meals in such a place as this were well beyond anything he could afford, even though it was a simple coffee shop.

In rare incidences someone would buy him a meal, and he was always thankful for those times. But, for now, times were hard for most, and those times, those gifts had become even rarer, as others who had more than he, didn’t have enough to give or help. They had their own problems, their families, and even now on what would have been a day where this coffee shop would have normally been full of patrons, talking their small talk, speaking of their plans for the future, or even of today, and what had to be accomplished, were not here at all. In fact, other than him, there were only a couple more individuals. Looking up at the waitress behind the counter he could see a bored individual, since there really wasn’t much going on or much for her to do. At the same time he could hear a bit of laughter coming from the kitchen as the cooks idled away their time.

He wondered, for the millionth time, how’d he gotten here, and what did his future really hold? He had no answers, and the passing years hadn’t been kind, or would the future years – judging by his past – appear to offer anything that could help him out of his present dismal life. He could only count on now, and hoped that he could stay awhile, here inside where it was warm, continuing to drink the coffee, with a cost that had wiped out his small cache of coins. He knew tonight would be rough. He’d been kicked out of his last place that at least had kept the winds off of him. And as such was on the move once again. A bad time of year to do this, as fall was just about over, and winter arriving fast, with a chance of snow always on the horizon. In fact it was only the calendar that pointed to the change of seasons. The weather had disagreed and there had been snow on the ground for weeks.

He wondered, once again, why he ended up where he was. If there had been a way to head south, then what was transpiring at this very moment – the snows, the cold – wouldn’t have been an issue. But, for whatever the reason here he was, and most likely, here he would stay. Looking down he could see that his cup was almost empty and he looked over at the waitress signaling a refill. With no look of friendship she came over, grabbed the coffee carafe and refilled his cup. Once done, returned to her place of vigilance to watch for any entering. But it remained quiet, and when he glanced through the glass front, there were few out and about. It was another sign of the bad times.

Christmas was just around the corner, and if he was very lucky he would be able to get a hot meal at the homeless shelter. He wasn’t sure. He had tried to get some room there, to get out of the biting cold, only to find that it was filled to overflowing, with “no room at the inn”. He had been too late. So here he sat, not wanting to face what lay ahead of him, but knowing he had no choice.

* * *

He was back on the streets with the icy winds blowing the loose snow into small clouds of white that stung when it struck his bare skin. He shivered. The clothing was too little to keep his body warm, and the lack of anything that could be called food had left him with too little reserves to be warm. He needed to find shelter and it had to be now. Otherwise he would become another nameless victim of the cold unforgiving winter. Even though it’s not yet winter, he thought bitterly. Once again he looked around, with envy, at the cheerful lights and decorations, but it brought no joy to his heart. How could it? They spoke of hope, of survival, of warmth, of happiness, of family, and he knew none of these at this time in his life.

Eventually he found a place out of the winds – an old broken building that had once been a business. But fire had destroyed most of it, leaving a skeleton – a shell. And since it had never been rebuilt, or torn down, it was as forgotten as he. In one of the corners, this was close to another building, providing a partial wind block, he set up for the night. Faron shivered, and leaned against a shaky wall, and tried to get comfortable. It would be a long night, one with little sleep. Still, with the partially burned scrap that was here, he had built a small fire in a container, and reveled in the small bit of warmth it gave him. Fortunately his location and his fire were hidden so no one could come in to roust him or admonish him about his small fire. It would be the only reason he would survive the night.

He itched from being dirty, and his dirty beard showed heavy streaks of gray, giving away his age – showing that he wasn’t a young man. And he laughed a bitter laugh when he thought about his past and the fact that this was the very last place he thought he would ever end up. Yet, here he was, and that past seemed more a dream than reality. For now this reality dominated, and controlled his life, as miserable as it was. All he could do was shake his head and ask, why had it gone so bad, why had things changed for the worst, and why was he here? Again, questions he asked himself all the time, but he could never find the answers. And eventually, even though he had blamed others, he knew deep inside he was here because of his own actions.

Knowing didn’t mean that one could change the results, or go back and move in a different direction. If only there was a way to go back and correct those horrible mistakes, the angry retorts, the direction that all of this led, then, just maybe, he wouldn’t be here now. But, there really wasn’t a way to know, to find out. For all he knew what he lived now was what he was destined to live. As he put his bare hands to his small fire, it felt so good, all he could do was shake his head. He would have laughed back then at such a thought, such a thing as this small fire being the most important thing in his life, in the world. He had personally looked down on those homeless, those bums, those in that shabby underworld that was a different place, a different culture, a different way of life and of survival. He was on his way up, and these many forgotten people meant nothing to him at all.

How many years had he lived this life? How long had he been part of this culture? The very one he had turned his nose up and away from so many years in the past. Well, it didn’t matter now, he was part of the homeless, part of their world, and the other life was so far in the past it no longer mattered. He wondered, again for the “nth” time why, and if there was a way out. Again, he had no answers.

He knew that the change of direction had happened when he had been drafted, and had gone to war. Before this he was advancing quickly, with a bright future. He spent a couple of years in that war zone, learning about the fears, stress, and depression that was part of such a life. It was there he had begun to drink, and while he no longer did, the alcohol became a means to an end. He became, as so many others, an alcoholic, which led to a dishonorable discharge, and the loss of any chance of returning to his place of work. Soon after that his wife left with their one and only daughter, and he continued to blame everybody for his personal failures. But now, these so many years later, he truly knew where the blame lay. Was it too late to make a fresh start? Would any trust him? He had no answers, and nothing to offer. So at this moment he stared beyond his small fire into the ink black darkness where the only light that penetrated was the light from his small fire.

At least he had the hot coffee earlier so his stomach wasn’t complaining too much. Taking a deep breath he covered up with a couple of threadbare blankets that he had rescued from a dumpster. It had been close to where a family had been moving away to who knew where, and they were throwing away, as far as he was concerned, treasures. Yes most were well-worn, but when you had nothing, then you looked at such things differently. He remembered watching, hoping that others were not doing the same thing. And when night fell he rummaged through the dumpster recovering things he could either use or barter with to get something he really needed. Had that been a year ago? Yes, it had because it was coming on to winter at the time he picked this stuff up.

Shivering when the cold winds found a way into his makeshift shelter he fell into an uneasy sleep and hoped to see the morning.

* * *

He awoke with a start. It seemed strange, and considering the cold, it felt warm and comfortable. How could this be? He slowly opened his eyes to find that he was in a big bed, and he was on his side turned towards the wall with a curtained window. At this moment in the twilight between asleep and awake, it felt right. At this very moment thoughts came unbidden into his mind telling him no, this can’t be right. Wasn’t it last night that he lay shivering in an abandoned burned out building? Yet, at this moment he didn’t care what his mind told him. He looked at his hands and they were the same ones he had seen the night before. Not young, showing the years of labor, of being outdoors, not a life of offices.

It was at this moment that he heard someone turn over and sigh. He froze for a moment. There was a woman in this bed with him. How long had it been since such had been the case, let alone being in such a bed? He was afraid to turn over and see who it might be. Then he heard as well as felt her shifting in the bed and coming closer to him, snuggling up to him and putting her arms over him. She asked him a question, “So why is it that once a weekend comes around that we can’t sleep in?”

Sleep in? What’s she talking about? Weekend? He hadn’t considered days as any more than days for years. It was then he realized that the body that was up against him was naked, and that was another shock. Again, this was something that hadn’t happened, well, since he and his wife had divorced too many years in the past. Yes, there had been brief encounters over the years since that time, but none of them were in such settings.

Again she sighed, kissed the back of his neck, stretched and said, “Why don’t you go push the button on the coffee. I need to take a quick shower. Then we can talk a little before the day really begins and the kids show up with all their chaos and demands.” She hugged him and wrapped her legs around him in a teasing way slid away from him to her side of the bed and he could hear her get out of bed.

With all that had been happening he had been afraid to move, afraid that what he was feeling, what he was experiencing, it had to be a dream. But it felt too real. He slowly turned over and watched as she retreated from the bed, naked as a jay bird, as the saying went, and disappeared into the bathroom. He could feel his body reacting to the situation, and yet he was incredulous to all that he was feeling, witnessing. He looked around this room, and while it seemed strange, at the same time, not. Letting out a slow breath he slipped out of bed only to realize that he was naked also. So that meant they probably had made love the night before. Was this her house, her home?

He found his clothes beside the bed, on a chair, got dressed, headed out the door into a hallway that extended in both directions. He automatically turned right, which said to him that he knew this place, and sure enough he found himself at the top of a set of stairs, headed down through a living room into the kitchen, found the coffee pot, and pushed the button. Through the kitchen window he looked out on a different scene than he expected. When he had fallen asleep it was coming onto winter. Yet, looking out of this window spoke of spring. Why did this house, this home, feel right, feel comfortable? And why, for all things, did you know which way to go and where the kitchen was located? And what happened to winter? Time doesn’t shift like this.

The scene before him was a backyard. It had a grass lawn, with a few trees that moved in the wind. Towards one corner was a swing set, speaking of the children she had mentioned. He noticed and to his surprise, expected a door to be to the left, and it was there. He unlocked it and stepped out on to a deck, a beautiful morning, with the perfume of the flowering plants wafting through the air. It was a little cool, but there was a promise of heat in that coolness. Again, what he was seeing, what he was feeling, seemed right, seemed comfortable, appeared to be familiar. He heard the coffee maker finishing its job and turned to go back in and fill a couple of cups only to hear the woman say, “I’ve got it. I’ll join you in a moment.”

He heard the cupboard being opened, followed by the refrigerator, and then the cups being filled. He turned as she came out with her hands full and saw a beautiful young woman smiling at him and offering him one of the coffees. He didn’t understand. He had to be at least twice her age. Yet, there was a look of love, of closeness that only is there with strongly committed couples in a healthy, Godly relationship. He stared, not sure, only to see her shy look, looking down briefly and asking, “What?”

He smiled, and shrugged. “Oh it’s not you, it’s me. Must have had a nightmare last night, and I think I’m still living part of it.” He laughed when he saw her reaction, and he put out his arms in denial stating, “No, no not you, but what I’m remembering. And for some reason this seems out-of-place, out of time, and I feel that I’m still asleep and dreaming. Looking down at his cup he found that it was fixed just the way he liked it, which spoke volumes. So was he dreaming, or what he thought he had been living a dream, and this was the real world? At this moment he had no answers. Suddenly her name came to his mind, she’s Kate, and he would tease her, calling her Katie, knowing that she hated that name. How’d he know this?

It was at this point that he noticed that both of them were wearing wedding bands, and they were not new. Now he wondered if this reflected the two of them, or they were actually married to someone else, and were having an affair. Again, this didn’t fit. No, they were a couple, they were husband and wife – they were a family. But how was this possible? In that other life – he was calling it that now – it was the time of Christmas, which was only a few days away. He was quite alone, had been for years, was poor to the point of having literally nothing, and had fallen off the grid too many years in the past to even remember when it first happened. So which was real? The one he remembered vividly or this one that had a familiarity, but at the same time seemed out-of-place, and out of time.

Saying nothing, as she came up beside him, he found that he put his arm around her, and it seemed natural, felt right. Was this how it was supposed to be? It seemed as the breakup had gotten close that all the two of them – his ex-wife from his previous relationship and he – did was fight. And after all this time, he had to admit that he was probably the cause, and most likely the instigator of those fights. Is this how it is supposed to be, he wondered again. He only remembered the pain, the anger, the fear when she thought he was going to strike her. And then the time came when he returned home to find it empty – he was alone. This was followed by the divorce papers and the final spiral into the worthless life that led up until this very moment. Again which one was a dream and which one was real?

The two of them heard some stirring within the house and Kate sighed, shook her head and said, “I guess our quiet respite is over. Sounds like at least one of the kids is up, which means the rest will follow shortly.”

The rest? He only remembered the one daughter. He watched as she pulled away from him, and with a reluctance headed back into the house. He remained trying to understand. It was at this moment a stranger stood in front of him – where he came from or how he got here was an unknown. He felt no fear, and knew that whoever this was, there was no harm here. At first there was only silence – then the stranger spoke. “I’m your guardian angel who has followed you throughout your life. I was told that I could show you this. What you are seeing, what you are feeling, what you are experiencing, this is what God had planned for you. A loving companion throughout your life with a strong faith in God, raising Godly children, and while not an easy life, one that would help your love and faith grow. Instead the enemy found a way in and destroyed all that was there, all that was to be. Yet, through the years, you still mentored to others, talked of your faith, and unknowingly brought lost souls back to God and Christ.” He smiled once again, finally saying after a long silence, “It’s time to come home.”

* * *

The lights flashed on the police cruiser, and the loud speakers were spouting road conditions, and situations that the dispatcher sent out. The ambulance sat silent with the engine idling, but the lights were not flashing as there was no one to save. The two officers returned to the cruiser with one of them picking up the mic and contacting dispatch stating, “Looks like the weather has taken another one. No, I’d say he’s been dead for at least half the night. Stranger, no one has recognized him, and he has no ID of any kind. The ambulance will take the body to the morgue, and, oh yeah, Merry Christmas.”

Slowly the scene returned to normal, as the vacant burned out business became empty once again. The ambulance left to deliver the stranger to the morgue, and the police cruiser returned to its patrol. For the one who had come here to seek shelter – a shelter he would no longer need – has left, only to return home.

 

* * *

I hope you enjoyed this year’s Christmas story, and it touched you, immersed you, in this fictional world. Allowed you to see into places you’ve never been. If I succeeded, then I’ve done my job as a writer. If you would like to read others, again they are available in the sidebar under Short Stories. Next week we are heading into the new year – 2015. For a while I will be leaving short stories and heading into a 2 part series on relationships. I hope that 2014 has been a good year, and the new one will be better. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Reblogged this on Stk2010.

  2. I really loved your blog post! I am a missionary for my Church and I love spreading the good love of Christ! If you are ever interested please email me!

    Hope you had a great holiday season!

    • Virginia, if you enjoyed this short story, I suggest you go back to the side panel and read these additional short stories. I believe you will enjoy them. And yes I am a Christian, but do my work through writing, and the stories I create. Please go to December 2011, A Christmas Story, and A Christmas Story Part 2. December 2012 – A Darkness Incomplete. November 2013 – Returning Home. December 2013 – Storms, and finally January 2014, Storms – The Rest of the Story. God Bless.

  3. […] the right under December 2015. Each link is presented at the beginning of the post for that week: https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/and-it-came-to-pass/ , […]

  4. […] For this week’s link back to a past Christmas story we have to go back to 2014. The short story is Titled, And it Came to Pass. In a way it’s one of my personal favorites, and yes like the past ones linked so far it is an alternate view of the season. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/and-it-came-to-pass/ […]


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