It was terribly cold and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year, and the snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl, with bare hands and trashed Converse, roamed through streets. It is true she had on a pair of gloves when she fell asleep last night, but it was not of much use. They were very large, so large, indeed, because she stole them from the mens section in a sportswear store, and the poor little creature had lost one of them in running across the street to avoid a big white truck that were driving along at a terrible rate. She had tried to take comfort in a stairway to the subway, but two security guards who noticed her as they were patrolling the area told her to piss off. So the little girl went on with her little naked hand, which was quite red and blue with the cold.
In her jeans pocket she carried half a pack of cigarettes, she always smoked Marlboro. They were expensive but gave her an odd kind of comfort. No one had thrown her even a penny although she had been begging since early in the morning. Shivering with abstinence, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of addiction. The snowflakes fell on her long, unwashed hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.
Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell from the marketplaces, for it was New-year’s eve – yes, she remembered that. In a corner, between a garage and a electric substation, one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her wet little feet under her, but she could not keep off the cold; and she dared not go to a hostel for homeless, they would ask a bunch of questions and spot the needle marks on her arms and between her fingers. They would certainly call the police. And the men would come and get her and send her back to rehab once again. No, she would prefer to freeze to death rather than to go back to that gruesome place of twelve-step programs. Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold. Ah! perhaps a smoke might do some good, with trembling fingers she drew one from the pack and light it with a BIC-lighter, just to make her feel a little better.
It gave a warm, comforting feeling, like mind moment of heaven, as she exhaled all the smoke from her lungs. It was really a pleasure. It seemed to the little girl that her hand was close to a fireplace, with burning flames and burning fumes. How the fire glows! Soon the cigarette almost had burn down to the filter. The last drag seemed so beautifully warm and she felt the blood circling around inside her body. And then, lo! The flame of the cigarette went out, and close to her left foot, she put the cigarette butt in a pile of dirty snow on the cold, hard concrete.
Quickly she lit another cigarette. After a couple of drags, she saw the wall became transparent as a veil and blurry, she saw a fully decorated room, but without any people in it. The table was covered with a splendid dinner service, and a big pig head in the middle, with an apple in it’s mouth. And what was still more wonderful, the head jumped down from the dish and tumbled across the floor, towards the little girl. The pig head spit out his apple and landed in her other empty hand. Then the cigarette went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.
She lit another one of her cigarettes, and she found herself sitting under a tall beautiful Christmas-tree, that reached above the clouds. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door at the rich shopping centre. Thousands of tapers were burning upon the green branches, and colored pictures of angels, Jesus and virgin Mary, like those she had seen in the show-windows, looked down at her from the three. The little virgin Mary stretched out her hand towards them, and the cigarette went out.
The Christmas-tree shoot up in the sky, faster and faster, like a rocket, and then only could be seeing as a little bright dot up in space. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. The fire went out, instead there were a line of people dancing and cheering “A freak show!” she thought. Then they saw the little girl, looking at her mad. The sky became silent. The freak show got blurry and erased out in empty space.
She again lit a cigarette with her cheap plastic lighter, and the light shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance.
“Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O take me with you; I know you will go away when the cigarette burns out; you will vanish like the warmth from the oven, the roast goose, and the large, glorious plastic tree with colorful lights.”
And she made haste to smoke all her last cigarettes, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And her cigarettes glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon-day, and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.
In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little one, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall; she had been frozen to death on the last evening of the year; and the New-year’s sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the empty pack of Marlboro in her hand, and her bright pink plastic lighter next to her on the cold ground.
“She tried to warm herself,” said some.
No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother, on New-year’s day.
/ Oscillate Wildly