I sat at the back of the chapel and listened. I needed some solace for my soul, and so I came here to listen to the sermon about Jesus. It was a story that I had heard many times before and I did believe it. When the sermon came to an end I pulled myself of the bench and headed out the double doors. I never spoke to anyone. I couldn’t even though they were friendly enough.
The cold of the winter air stung my face; it was colder this year and even my fingers, despite the gloves, felt numb. I rubbed them together and quickened my pace. If it wasn’t for the cold I would have walked slowly because the streets looked prettier then what was waiting for me at home. One house had gone all out this year, decorating every inch of brick with white fairy lights and a large star hung above the door. It shined at me, daring me to follow its brightness, like the three wise men. If only life were this bright. I took in the serenity of the star; it would keep me going for tonight. A little bit of hope on Christmas Eve would see me through.
I tightened my grip on the plastic bag in my hand.
I lived in a flat just opposite a corner shop. I could run from one end of my bedroom to the other in less than a second. The kitchen could only fit two people. Roughly. Before I left, I remembered to turn the heater on; a warm home makes a big difference.
I slumped on the sofa- it was less comfortable than it looked- and switched on the radio. It was old-fashioned especially in this day and age when music could be found with just one click. As expected most stations were playing Christmas music. I instantly turned the dial and switch it off. The cheeriness was too much and I had no one to share it with. I had parents, but they had gone to the shelter with my younger siblings to get some extra things for Christmas. I couldn’t go with them. I didn’t want to. Living like this was humiliating and I was having to secondhand clothes, rely on food tokens and pretending, to the small amount of friends I had, that my life was great.
I reached beside the sofa and looked inside the plastic bag. The present was in there, wrapped in shiny purple paper with a note that said,’To Ella. Merry Christmas.’ I knew it wasn’t really for me. A boy had never given my a present before.
I hadn’t had a present in a while.
I do believe that Christmas isn’t just about presents, but it felt nice to get something that seemed pretty and delicate, even if it wasn’t meant for me. To unwrap the paper and wait with excitement. The human side of me wanted that.
But I held the box in my hand, not wanting to unwrap it because it wasn’t really mine to open. Ella was the type of girl that Leon could fall in love with. It was hers and not mine. My eyes started to burn. Was I really going to cry over this? I did’t even know him properly. He just had to give me this present. Out of pity?
I yanked the gift off the table and hurled it underneath the sofa. Pity. I didn’t want it anymore.
I looked inside the plastic bag again and pulled out a bottle of cider. Cheap stuff. I used my teeth to lift the lid and then spat it across the room. I quaffed down the cider, wincing at the taste. I still wasn’t used to it. Warm and bitter, it settled in my tummy. Someone at school once said that it was never good to drink alone. It could turn into a dangerous habit. I took one more gulp. Wouldn’t it be nice if a boy could fall in love with a girl like me?