A Hope for Christmas
In a slow, almost lazy move, he sat on the small green, velvet couch and allowed his head to tilt at the back of the comfy seating. Passed his fingers through his chestnut hair, tangling them a bit and let his hand rest on his forehead. He closed his eyes for a moment, breathing deeply.
He liked these brief moments. Moments of silence; all by himself. He always has been like this; even since he was a small child, never particularly sociable and with a solitude who characterized him in general.
He opened his eyes and with his gaze, looked around the small room; his dressing room. It was his sanctuary. A small and cozy, theater’s dressing room, which over the years had become one with its owner. Posters of the plays that had starred adorned the walls around; a great mirror, the screen that he was using to change the costumes, and a low coffee table, with today's flowers from his fans, which were placed somehow casual. He had no intention to keep these flowers, he never kept them anyway. He had asked the foreman of the theater, taking them after each show and giving them away to the usherettes.
The fact that it was Christmas Eve wasn’t going to change that. As, it wasn’t going changing, anything else. Every Christmas was the same, exactly the same...
He would return home late, after his last performance and after refusing for one more year, an invitation to some Christmas party. Some hour later, he would be passing his apartment door, where he would find Susana waiting for him. He would be saying a typical Merry Christmas to her and then would lock himself in his room until the next day; where he would be having his Christmas meal with Susana and her mother. On one of the rare years, he might have a visit from his mother. Knowing, however, that his mother’s liking for Susana and especially for Mrs. Marlow was much below the average, he didn’t want pressing her with lunches and dinners, although nothing would have pleased him more, to spend his Christmas with her.
After lunch, was following a short exchange of gifts. Actually, he never had the mood to purchase anything for Susana. That is why he always ended up in an easy option that was getting him out, also from the awkward position to be seen rude. He always bought for her some book. Nothing more, nothing less.
Unlike Susana, who always sparkled when she was giving his gift, every year something new and quite expensive. A silk tie, a brand new pen; even a pair of golden cufflinks, one year. None of that, however, he used them or wore them, not once. He simply accepting them with a typical, thank you; after that he buried it in some carton box, deep inside his closet.
The moment he stood up from the couch ready to wear his coat and leave, there was a knock on his door.
- '' Terence?!’’
- '' Come on in, Robert. ''
The small brown door opened and the imposing presence of Robert Hathaway filled the narrow space.
- '' Oh, I see you're ready to leave... ‘’
Terry just nodded affirmatively for the director and producer of Broadway to went on.
- '' Outstanding festive performance Terence! For one more year, New York’s public chose our theater! You were amazing as ever!’’
- '’ Thank you Robert, I ‘m glad that your hard work, was rewarded.’’
- '' The hard work of all of us ... ''
Terry agreed with his eyes.
- '' Well, are you going to fetch Susana or will she meet us at the mayor’s party?’’
- '' No, I don’t think so, Robert ... ''
- '' Terence, don’t tell me that you’ll deny an invitation of the mayor, the whole troupe’s going to be there tonight.’’
- '' I'm sorry, but I have to refuse, '' Terry said taking a short pause and he continued, '' moreover ... Susana’s not feeling very well ... ''
- '' Anything to worry?’’ Robert asked him alarmed.
Terry brought his hand on his forehead and rubbed it in a gesture, which was showing he was tired.
- '' To tell you the truth I don’t know... it has been some time that she doesn’t feel quite well; she’s all the time exhausted and very tired ... ''
- '' Her physician, did he visit her?’’
- '' No... not, yet. ''
- '' Terence, I would advise you to visit by her doctor as soon as possible, but I'm sure that you’ll take care of it. ''
- '' ... She postponed it dew of the holiday season, '' replied the young actor primly, without a hint of apology.
Robert stayed for a while thoughtful. He opened the door and turning to his protagonist said,
-''... it’s time for me to go...so have good rest and a speedy recovery to Susana. Merry Christmas, Terence! ’’
- '' Thank you Robert, Merry Christmas to you, too. ''
The door was closed and Terry was left alone again.
He wore his dark gray coat; he took on his hat and gloves and turned off the light in his dressing room; opened the door and walked in slowly steady steps.
He went through the rear exit of the theater, as he always did every single day all those years. The snowy night cold of New York’s, struck him on his face. He received it though, with pleasure. Near the narrow alley’s corner, behind the theater, his car and driver were waiting for him stoically. Today, however, he had no mood returning to the apartment by his car, he wanted to walk. It wasn’t only to buy himself time of the "Merry Christmas" with Susana; he also wanted to clear his mind, from an irresistible urge which was eating his guts ... for alcohol. Thus, he said goodnight to his driver, wishing him a Merry Christmas and giving him two days of leave, which the chauffeur accepted with joy.
He saw his Ford coupe, '25 model, turning the corner street and lifting up the collar of his coat, Terry started walking slowly on the icy streets of this enchanting city, that lived the last years.
It was almost a decade. A decade, that if someone asked him why passed so fast, he would simply answering, because it was ... empty. Ten empty, blank years of his life. Ten years of a life filled only with roles and performances. Ten years not celebrating Christmas ....the ten years that… she had gone from his life.
At twenty-seven, Terence Graham Grandchester, was feeling that he had lived the triple years from what actually he was carrying on him. His body in those ten years had acquired a complete masculine form. Tall with strong muscles and full of energy in order to cope with the requirements of each role. It was long since he cut his hair shorter, leaving behind him the last traces of adolescence on that day; but from time to time he was leaving them grow a little longer than the allowed fashion trends ... in memory of a bygone era. An era that he dreamed of two small white hands passing between his chestnut bangs...
Yes, Terence Graham Grandchester had become a very handsome man, who even without his celebrity, he certainly would never pass unnoticed from the opposite sex. Yes, of course, from the outside he looked as a bright and shining twenty seven year old man, but inside... He, himself only knew that his soul ... his soul was so tired that ironically in his mind, many times resembled himself to Dorian Gray...Outside all alluring, and inside… disgusting ugly and sad.
Leaving behind him, the decorated Broadway theaters, and thinking all those things, Terry couldn’t fail noticing the festively illuminated windows in the houses. The families that were within their warm homes, celebrating with joy the evening tonight.
Even when he was a child, he wasn’t very fond of Christmas. Whenever he remembered himself at those times, he couldn’t remember to genuinely enjoyed about a certain Christmas. All of his memories of about, were the nagging of his stepmother, Duchess of Grandchester; that he was going to his bed early to sleep, even though it was a festive evening, and that the next morning he simply was finding some present from his father under the tree. But never something he had requested or something himself wished for. Later on, the years that started attending at St. Paul’s college; Terry preferred spending the holiday season there, alone in his room. Even the presence of nuns, was less annoying than his stepmother and step-siblings. He wasn’t returning home for Christmas; he had come to the conclusion that there wouldn’t be any change, and most importantly, he understood that he would never feel the warmth of a family Christmas, as many other children had.
The first time in his life, that Terry actually thought he would be spending nicely Christmas, was after that summer in Scotland. At the beginning of the new school year and after spending the most beautiful summer of his life with Candy, his only thought was next Christmas, that he would celebrating them for the first time, with her. How many hours he had spent, making those dreams about their Christmas, in his young and in love mind; that never crossed him, that Candy might returning to America for the holidays. Within his dreams and plans, he had found up to what present he would buy for her, and Terry kept on fantasizing her bright smile the moment he would be giving her.
But…none of those things ever happened, because they were deceived and fell victims of a conspiracy, from that rich wretched girl. And then, it was the first time he lost her.
When he found her again, of course the hope reborn within him and so his soul shone for the coming of the next Christmas. He had thought of everything. Up to the smallest detail. His role on Romeo had ensured him financial comfort, not only to send her the one way ticket, but also the purchase of her Christmas gift.
Because, it might have been in November the premiere, but Terry had no intention to let Candy, leave him again. Those coming Christmas were theirs. Those Christmas, he would be giving her the small ring, which would make her, forever his. A small ring adorned with a small golden daffodil and in its center had a tiny emerald. So much green and bright, as her two bright emeralds, eyes. But those Christmas never came, either... Nothing of what he had planned and dreamed happened, because of the accident.... and at that time, he lost her forever. And Christmas, vanished forever with her…making Terry year after year suffocating on the very same idea of Christmas.
Tonight, however, as he was walking along and was thinking of all those Christmas, he had missed with her and all the things that he could have share with her, made him to immerse deeper and lower to the emptiness of his soul.
With a deep sigh, he stopped his step and took out a cigarette from his silver cigarette case. He lit it and smiled faintly... how much he wished in that moment to see her.... scolding him for smoking… small traces… memories she had left her mark.
He started walking again when he felt a shadow passing by and it made him turn backwards. Nothing, he couldn’t see anything. He went to turn his head and continue his way when...
A small green glow caught his attention. The road was dark and wrapped by the evening fog, preventing him to distinguish anything specific. He approached a bit at the point where the glow appeared and then he saw in surprise, two bright green, penetrating eyes!
He stayed motionless by looking at ... these two bright emeralds, and then tossing his cigarette down, took a step forward as spellbound.
The green glance looked hesitating and it seemed to him taking a step back. Trying not to scare her, holding his breath, he remained motionless, waiting. The small figure watching Terry patiently standing still took two - three steps towards him. With longing, he saw her approaching him while his heart was beating faster and gave her space to reach him.
When she was close enough, carefully he bent towards her and held out his hand gently. She leaned her head slowly and let him touch her with long warm fingers. They stayed thus for a while; enjoying the moment when Terry decided to become more daring by opening up his hands, he showed her that he wanted her, in his arms.
With one quick move that surprised him pleasantly, she almost jumped on him and nestle against his arms. Surprised and happy, he lifted her up and stared at her beautiful green eyes.
- '' ... my… sweet…little Tarzan '' he muttered softly and brushed his nose to hers.
As he slowly leaned back his face from hers, Terry couldn’t help but to notice the small scattered splashes around her nose and the soft blonde hair.
-''....Candy '', he whispered gently and then noticed she was shivering. '' ... you’ve been freezing ... don’t you?...’’, he said as he tenderly wrapped her within his arms and the warmth of his coat.
-''... let’s go… home…’’, he whispered tenderly and started to walk hugging her.
‘’ I… will get… into big trouble ..." Terry thought, enjoying with his own thinking and smiled, as he had not smiled for a long time.
The moment he opened the door of his apartment, he leaned slowly and whispered into her ear....
- '' ... Now, we’ll be quiet ...’’
She looked at him with her huge green eyes, showing terrified, and tried to leave from his arms.
Terry held her more firmly....
- '' Ssh ....everything will be fine…’’
He gently stroked her head giving her a loving smile when he heard Susana’s voice from within.
- '' Terry ?? !!!! Terry, you came?? !!!’’
They went slowly into the living room, where they found Susana sitting next to the window.
- '' Hello, Susana. ''
- ‘’ Terry, hel ..... ??? !!!!’’ Susana left a cry throughout surprise and wonder, placing a hand to her mouth by trying to hide her scream, but it was already too late. Terry was looking at her impassive.
- ‘’...Ter...Terry... what is sh…she… doing here?!!’’, Susana asked troubled as she saw they were standing there in an embrace.
- ‘’ …came to stay with me ...’’, he answered her colorless.
- ‘’ What do you mean by saying, came to stay with you ...?!’’
- ‘’ What you heard, Susana’’.
- ‘’ ... How ... when ...why… '', she almost stammered.
- ‘’ Now that was coming from the theater, I found her waiting for me... she was freezing, as you can see’’.
- ‘’ ... Right.... '', Susana said full of nerves, ‘’ I don’t believe, she’s staying for a long time... '', she added feeling to completely losing the control of herself.
Terry smirked somehow pleased....Oh! How much he was amused from all these! Eventually these Christmas, were taking a turn that he never would have imagined.
- ‘’ Terry!’’ Susana cried again, ‘’ you think it's even possible for her to stay here?!’’
He nailed her with a cold look, remaining silent.
- ‘’ Candy’s going to stay here. Here, is her home from now on...’’, he replied very calmly eventually.
- ‘’ Candy ??? !!! Candy ??? !!!!’’, Susana practically screamed, ‘’ Candy ??? !!! You named the stray cat you found, Candy ??? !!!!’’
‘’ Why, could I name her otherwise...? From the first moment I saw those green eyes, I knew her name...’’, Terry thought happy, but nothing of all these, said them to Susana. Just threw her an ironic grin and launched to his room.
- ‘’ Terry!!!Terry, where you're going?!!!’’, Susana asked him yelling like a lunatic.
- ‘’ Candy and I are very tired, we’re going to sleep...’’, he replied without even turning to look at her.
- ‘’ Terry !!! You know very well, I don’t want animals in the house, especially cats!!!’’
- ‘’ Goodnight, Susana’’.
- ‘’ Terry !!! I don’t want this cat in the house !!!’’
- ‘’ Merry Christmas, Susana’’.
- ‘’ Terry ..... !!! Don’t you dare to think this matter ended! The cat will be leaving tomorrow! Terry, you hear?!!’’.
His furious fiancé kept on yelling like a crazy; however Terry was as if he had put wax in his ears. Went to his room still holding the little cat and really amused with his soul as he was closing the door behind him.
The moment he entered his bedroom, the cat jumped from his arms, on to his bed, and from there on his desk.
- ‘’ Gee’’, Terry laughed,’’ you are a Tarzan cat, don’t you?!’’, he asked her cheerful, as he sat on the chair of his desk to observe her better.
She was petite and pretty; her emerald eyes were throwing lively shiny sparks. As if that wasn’t enough, her fur was golden, almost blonde pink, and brown small scattered splashes, were spread out around her a little pink nose. Exactly like freckles....
With a short meow, after that scrutinized all the objects on his desk, she sat down on it and started looking at him with the same piercing eyes, as in the dark alley when he found her.
- ‘’.... you probably understood that the other female of the house doesn’t want you…’’, Terry told her almost apologetic and for an answer received an angry growl from the cat, showing that she had the same dislike for Susana. Terry laughed with his heart, with cat’s reaction and then an idea crossed his mind ...
- ‘’...Oh! ...how I was so careless! You must be hungry!’’ he said tenderly,’’…And if you look like the predecessor of your name...you must be a glutton too! '', he added teasingly.
He saw her blowing annoyed and then stood up of his chair.
- ‘’... I’ll be right back, be a good girl ... Candy! I'm going to prepare our Christmas dinner!’’
He returned to his room five minutes later, with a hot cup of tea for him and a saucer of milk for her. To his surprise, however, he saw the little cat had fallen asleep, curled nice and cozy, on his pillow. He placed their Christmas dinner on his desk and in quiet steps Terry went and lay down on the bed beside her. Sensing his presence in a sec, she instinctively woke up. After she stretched well, in light feline steps, climbed up to his broad chest; reached his face and gave him a smooth short lick on his nose, tickling him. Then went and coiled on his flat stomach, purring.
Terry felt the warmth of the small cat spreading across his body and reaching deep inside his soul. He closed his sapphire eyes and a sunny beautiful faced, blonde girl came as a vision in his mind. At the time he was letting himself into the arms of Morpheus, was formed a dream.... Candy smiling beneath a brightly decorated Christmas tree ...she was offering her hand, to him ...
‘’.... Terence Graham Grandchester! .... You gave my name to a cat ..?!’’
‘’....you are lucky I gave it to a cat…I might have given it to monkey you know! ...’’
‘’ Terry ... ! ...’’, she complained in her characteristic tone.
‘’ Oh, don’t be angry.... she looks like you so much.... she’s freckled too! …’’
‘’.... Terryyy !!! you never going to change?! ...’’, she scolded him supposedly sulking… but then…. She smiled and Terry laughed his soul ... they both laughed, when he suddenly saw himself getting serious ...
‘’.... Candy…I missed you…. Candy .... I miss you still ...’’ he told her slowly and saw tears coming out of her beloved green eyes ....
‘’.... Freckles….don’t cry... please don’t cry ... my love…’’
‘’....They’re not tears of sorrow, Terry…are tears of happiness… I’m happy that you liked my present…’’, her face was shining like the sun....
‘’... your… present ...?! ...’’
He saw her suddenly disappearing… fainting …No! He wasn’t going to let her go… not yet…. Not in his dreams! In his dreams…she was his, now and forever!
‘’... My Candy….stay….Freckles… please, don’t leave....Candy ...’’, stretched out his hand to reach her, but she stopped him...
‘’.... you must have hope Terry...never lose your hope… some Christmas, one day…will be ours ....’’
‘’... Candy ...’’
‘’ Merry Christmas, my Terry!’’ .... he saw her fading away… in a sea of stars....
‘’ Merry Christmas, my Freckles…’’
- ‘’…Thank you...’’ Terry whispered through his sleep, feeling the hope born in his heart; and for the first time in many years, fell asleep happy that the next day was Christmas.
He opened his eyes just a bit; a small meow sounded somewhere low on his knees. Still dizzy from sleeping, trying to focus his eyes, he saw two small white hands lifting up from his lap, the brown Cheshire cat. He heard a cute little voice.
- ‘’ Ssh ... easy ....’’
- ‘’ …I’m doing as quietly, I can ....’’
- ‘’... careful ....not to wake up your grandpa ....’’
- ‘’... ok…ok…don’t worry grandma…’’
- ‘’.... good, now take Tiger inside ... and I'll come in a moment....’’
The six year old chestnut boy, looked his grandmother with huge green eyes and tapping on the tips of his feet, left the room hugging the cat. The petite blonde lady took cautiously the open book from the hand of her husband, trying not to wake him up. With slow affectionate moves, covered him with a warm woolen blanket and approached his face to remove his glasses when.... she felt losing her balance and fell upon him without her will!
She pulled out a cry that however was drowned from the mouth of her husband and his kiss! She stared at him, opened eyes, from her surprise and pushed him lightly back, trying to take a breath!
- ‘’ Terry…?!!’’
Terry was hilariously burst out laughing, but continued holding tightly in his arms, his wife.
- ‘’... You ... you....! ‘’, started telling him annoyed,’’… all this time, we were doing quite to take the cat and…and you’re awake…. playing dead?!’’
- ‘’ .... Why not?! To miss the chance, of been pampered from my wife?! Am I, a fool?!’’ He replied winking to her,’’… let aside… that I managed to be alone with you at last!’’
- ‘’ Terry! Don’t you have shame?!’’
- ‘’.. Uff ....’’ he puffed annoyed,’’…. It’s not my fault Freckles…It’s very crowded these days the house ... ‘’
- ‘’ Terence Graham Grandchester! That fact, that your children and your grandchildren came to visit us for Christmas, you call it crowded?!’’
He approached his lips on her face and gave her a kiss on the tip of her nose.
-‘’.... you’re right… I’m sorry… I just missed been the two of us alone…, will you forgive me..?’’
She looked at him sweetly in his two beautiful, blue eyes.... she never could be truly angry with him. Stroked with her fingertips his gray-haired temple ...
- ‘’... as if, you don’t know....’’
- ‘’.. Yes, I know’’, he replied gently,’’ …on the occasion…’’, said and put his hand in his rob’s pocket.
She stared at him puzzled ....
- ‘’… Do you mind, if you give you… your present a bit earlier, this year...’’ he added taking out from his pocket a small red box, offering it to her.
- ‘’ Oh! Terry ....’’
Candy took hold of the small velvet box, and by opening it up she gazed like enchanted, a beautiful antique ring, which was adorned from a golden emerald daffodil...
- ‘’... Some night…at some Christmas eve… many years ago…like in a dream… maybe it was a miracle dream, a blonde smiling freckled girl, she gave me a special gift ...she told me, not to ever losing my hope for Christmas....this…’’, said Terry passing the ring on his wife's finger, ‘’.... is for… the thirty wonderful years Christmas and hope ... that you gave me Candice White Grandchester ....’’
- ‘’...Oh ... Terry! '', she whispered Candy emotional while a tear of happiness rolled down her cheek...
- ‘’ Merry Christmas, my love! '', Terry told her wiping lovingly with his index finger, her tear...
- ‘’ Merry Christmas, my Terry!’’, Candy wished him with bright smile, glistening from joy, and let herself to the warm kiss of her husband.