A Tale of Christmas Past (Part 2)

You can read Part 1 Here


 

Martha starred out the window day after day for weeks, but no sign of this mysterious man. She even traveled to the frozen lake (against her parent’s will) to check it out. She looked and looked but could not find Chris. A little bit of her thought she imagined Chris, but she had the deep, red scarf and the fur coat as proof. He was real.

“Chris! Chris!”

Her voice echoed around the frozen lake.

She waited there and listened, but no voice called back other than her own. Chris was gone.

Martha waited months for Chris to appear. Winter became Spring and then Spring became Summer. The lake thawed and all the villagers enjoyed the fresh water for fishing, drinking, and swimming. Summer became Fall and then Fall became Winter.

The incident on the ice was a distant memory as Martha was a year older. She still wore the fur coat and wrapped the red scarf around her neck. She still wanted to believe that she would meet Chris again, but with every day that passed, she believed that he was gone forever.

Martha laid in her room looking up at her ceiling. She had a long day at school and was ready for bed. She had changed into her nightgown and was beginiing to drift off when she heard a small knocking sound.

She sat up and looked around the room. She didn’t see anyone around her and she couldn’t identify the origin of the sound.

“H…hello?” She asked the darkness.

There was another small thumping sound.

Martha turned towards her window. There was another small thump and she saw something hit her window.

She got out of bed and rushed to the window. Martha used the edge of her nightgown to wipe off the fog on the window. Down in the street was a boy she recognized and…an elk?

Martha pried up the window letting in the cold, winter night air.

“Chris? Is that you?” She asked in a loud whisper.

“Of course it’s me,” He said with a smile.

Martha couldn’t believe it. She was almost convinced she made up this fellow, and here he was standing in front of her.

“What are you doing here? I thought I just made you up!” Martha said.

“Oh, I’m very real,” He said.

“Well, I can see that now,” Martha said.

“Come on, we don’t have much time. I want to show you something,” Chris said.

Martha looked up and down the street.

“Are you crazy? It’s late. I’m supposed to be asleep,” Martha said.

Chris rolled his eyes.

“Or you could come with me. Look, I got this really cool thing I want to show you. It will be worth it,” Chris said.

Martha gave him a glare and then looked to the elk who was chewing on a patch of grass and snow.

“What about him?” Martha asked pointing to the elk.

Chris turned.

“Oh yeah,” Chris said. “Prancer here is a part of that surprise!”

“What did you call it?” Martha asked.

“Just meet me out here. Ok? We don’t have too much time,” Chris said.

Martha popped her head back in the window and closed the window as quietly as she could. Her head was spinning.

She looked around her room for a moment and then started going through her clothes. She put on wool stockings, socks, and her winter boots. Then she threw on the fur coat that belonged to Chris, put on fur mittens, put her hat on her head, and wrapped the red scarf around her neck.

She stood at the doorway of her room for a second.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Martha said to herself.

She took a deep breath and pushed the door of her room open slowly. The door creaked a bit and Martha stopped.

She took a moment to listen. She heard the deep snoring of her father in the other room followed by a softer snoring of her mother. Both still asleep.

Martha closed the door being as quiet as possible and them moved across the floor to her front door. She undid the front latch and opened the door. It may no noise as she opened it and then closed it behind her.

There out front of her house was Chris and his elk.

“You made it!” Chris said with a smile.

“Shhhh!” Martha held up one finger to her lips. “My parents are sleeping inside.”

“My apologizes,” Chris said with a small bow.

“You’re strange,” Martha said with a laugh.

Chris smiled.

“Yeah I get that a lot.”

The elk nudged Chris with his nose and let out a huff.

“Right Prancer, we don’t have a lot of time. We must hurry,” Chris said.

“Your elk’s name is Prancer?” Martha asked.

“Elk? Prancer is no elk? He’s a reindeer.” Chris explained. “And yes, his name is Prancer.”

Martha looked from Chris to Prancer who seemed to give her a quizzical look.

“Right..” Martha said. “And he’s part of the plan?”

“Of course, how else are we going to get to the surprise?” Chris asked.

Martha shook her head.

“Am I dreaming? Is this a dream?” She asked out loud.

Chris grabbed Martha’s hand.

“This is no dream. This is very real,” Chris said with a smile. “Now come on. Time is just slipping away as we speak.”

Chris let go of Martha’s hand and turned towards Prancer.

“Do you need help to get up on Prancer?” Chris asked.

“We’re going to ride him?” Martha asked.

Chris turned back to her and smiled.

“Of course!”

Martha was unsure, but Chris seemed very enthusiastic about it.

“Oh…alright,” Martha said.

Chris climbed up on Prancer’s back and then he helped Martha up. Prancer didn’t seem to mind having two children up on his back.

“Now hold on tight,” Chris said grabbing Prancer’s reins.

Martha threw her arms around Chris’s waist and held tight. Since Chris was a few inches taller than her, Martha buried her face into the top of Chris’s back.

“Ready?” Chris asked.

“Sure,” Martha said shutting her eyes tight.

Chris snapped Prancer’s reins.

“On Prancer!” Chris shouted.

Prancer began running forward on the uneven stone street. Martha and Chris felt every bump of the stones. Then the bumps stopped. It felt like they were floating.

Martha opened her eyes.

They were floating.

Prancer was about two feet off the ground and was running on air. They flew by houses, stores, street signs. Higher and higher into the air they went.

“Chris? Chris!” Martha yelled.

The wind whipped past they blowing Martha’s stray locks of hair that weren’t under the hat as well as the red scarf around Martha’s neck. Martha could barely hear her own screams over the wind.

“Chris!” Martha yelled louder.

Prancer gained height as he flew. They were over tree tops and eventually Martha couldn’t even see the buildings of her village. They flew over the evergreen trees of the forest, the frozen lake, and then beyond any area Martha had been before.

“CHRIS!” Martha yelled again.

“Yes, Martha?” Chris asked in a calm tone.

“You’re a madman!”

Chris let out a hearty laugh.

Martha looked down. They were over a desert of snow and ice. No trees in sight.

“Where are we?” Martha asked.

“I’m not sure the exact location, but I find it quite beautiful,” Chris said.

Martha looked around. She liked winter as much as the next person, but even she got tired of just seeing white snow and ice all the time. At least the green pine trees helped break up all the white.

“You really like snow, huh?” Martha asked.

Chris laughed again, “That’s not what makes it beautiful. Don’t worry. I’ll show you.”

Chris tapped on Prancer’s neck.

“Let’s go down, Prancer,” Chris said.

Prancer slowed his speed and eventually started his descent towards the snow and ice. They slowly drifted downwards until Prancer put his hooves on the snow. This was soft, fluffy snow which blanketed the ground.

Chris disembarked from Prancer and then helped Martha to the ground.

She almost felt bad stepping in the snow and leaving boot imprints. The rest of the ground was completely undisturbed. No prints from humans or animals.

Martha pulled the coat around her even tighter. Her village was cold in the winter, but this was a whole new level of cold.

“I’m glad to see that you kept the coat and scarf,” Chris said.

“Oh. Did you want them back? My mom said I had to give them back if she asked,” Martha said.

“No! No! They are yours,” Chris said. “I already got them replaced.”

Martha did notice that Chris was wrapped in a heavy, fur coat which was similar to Martha’s coat. His was black while while Martha’s was a variety of browns. He also had a deep red scarf around his neck like the one he gave to Martha.

“So you told your mother about me?” Chris asked.

Martha hung her head a bit.

“I told a bunch of people about you, but no one believed me. Even Richard and Demetry denied seeing you,” Martha said. “They said I imagined you due to my hypothermia.”

Chris shrugged his shoulders.

“Yeah I guess that makes sense.”

“But you are real!” Martha said.

Chris smiled.

“Very real.”

Martha shook her head.

“Look I have more proof of my ‘realness,'” Chris said.

He reached into a small bag on the inside of his coat. He then proceeded to pull out a stuffed bear too big for the bag it was just in. It had black fur and had a red scarf around its neck.

“See it matches,” He said holding it up to himself.

“How did you…?” Martha pointed at the small bag on Chris’s waist.

“Magic,” He said with a smile.

“Of course,” Martha said sharing Chris’s smile.

Chris handed it to Martha who accepted the gift.

“Thank you, Chris,” Martha said. “Is…is this the surprise?”

“No. No. Of course not. I wouldn’t drag you up here just for a bear. The surprise is much bigger than that,” Chris said glancing over his shoulder.

Prancer was ignoring all of this and was nibbling at the snow. Martha wasn’t sure that anything even grew that, but Prancer didn’t seem to care.

Chris looked up into the sky.

“Should be any minute now,” Chris said.

And almost like it was on cue, the sky began to shimmer a bit. Then all of a sudden there was a burst of light.

“There!” Chris said pointing up towards the lights.

There before them was waves of greens and purples. It seemed to stretch across the entire sky.

“Woah!” Martha said with her mouth hanging open.

“That’s the surprise,” Chris said while grinning from ear to ear.

“It’s incredible,” Martha said.

“Agreed,” Chris nodded.

Martha then reached out and grabbed Chris’s hand. Chris looked down for a second, but did not protest. Martha was just taken away by the lights and did not avert her eyes. Chris grinned and then turned back towards the lights.

They stood there watching the lights dance across the sky in silence for quite a while. Neither really knew how much time had passed. Eventually the lights stopped and faded returning the night sky to black with tons of white pinpricks.

“Amazing,” Martha said.

“I knew you’d like it,” Chris said turning towards Martha.

Martha threw her arms around Chris and hugged him tightly.

“Thank you Chris, I loved it!”

Chris returned the hug.

“I’m glad, Martha,” Chris said.

They embraced for a moment, until Martha finally released Chris from her hug.

“Well we better get you back home,” Chris said.

 

Chris and Martha got back on Prancer’s back and flew back to Martha’s village. She still wasn’t used to riding on the back of a flying reindeer, but holding on to Chris and the Black Bear made her feel better. Prancer started his decent and finally landed on the stone street outside of Martha’s house.

Neither Chris or Martha had any idea what time it was.

Chris hopped off the back of Prancer and then helped Martha down onto the ground.

“I had a great time tonight,” Martha whispered.

“I’m really glad that you trusted me and went with me on that adventure,” Chris said.

“Me too,” Martha smiled. “I’m glad I got to see you again.”

“Likewise,” Chris said with a small bow.

They stood there for a moment. Neither of them talking. Neither or them wanting to end the conversation.

“Well I better go and you probably need some sleep,” Chris said breaking the silence.

“Will I see you again? Tomorrow?” Martha asked.

Chris hung his head.

“Unfortunately, I must return home,” Chris said.

“Where…where to you live?” Martha asked.

“It’s…it’s complicated,” Chris said. “I don’t have a lot of time to explain. Just know that I live far away and I can only come back one day a year to your world.”

“My…world?” Martha shook her head. “Chris, I don’t understand.”

Chris grabbed Martha’s hands.

“I wish I could explain more. I’ll be back in exactly one year, ok? And then I’ll explain everything to you,” Chris said.

“Chris,” Martha let out a small sob.

Chris did his best to wipe away Martha’s tear.

“Hey, don’t cry. I’m not important enough to cry over,” Chris said.

Martha looked up at Chris and pulled him close. She stood on her tiptoes to give him a kiss on the cheek. And then she gave him the biggest hug she could manage.

This time it was Chris who was blushing, but lucky for him, Martha couldn’t see it. Her face was buried in his chest.

“I’m going to miss you,” Martha said.

“I’m going to miss you too,” Chris said.

Martha dropped her arms and took a step back from Chris.

“Well you better get inside,” Chris said with a small smile.

“Yeah,” Martha said still looking at him.

“Take care of the bear, ok?”

Martha nodded.

“Of course.”

“See you next year,” Chris said.

“You better,” Martha said with a slight smile.

“Goodbye Martha.”

“Goodbye Chris.”

Chris turned and got up on Prancer’s back. He snapped Prancer’s reign and he was gone in a flash. First Prancer ran across the stones and then he was into the air. Higher and higher he went until Martha could not see Chris or Prancer.

Martha just looked up into the sky hoping that Chris would come back. She stood there holding the bear a few minutes hoping Chris would change his mind. But he didn’t. He was gone.

Martha let out a sigh and then turned towards her house. She hugged the bear and wished that a year would fly by so she could see Chris again.

 


Header Photo Credit to Nordic Visitor Iceland
https://iceland.nordicvisitor.com/travel-deals/partially-guided-tours/northern-lights-city-break/160/

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