Short Story. Waiting for the Bus at Christmas Time. A Santa Story to read online.
The sky was a uniform shade of grey that could only mean that it was going to snow later that afternoon. I had watched the number of people at the bus stop dwindle as their buses arrived and mine did not. At least now I could put the bag with the turkey in it back on the bench seat beside me. I had lifted the bag onto my knee to make room for an elderly lady to sit down but now she had struggled forward through the crowd to get on to her bus home.
Soon, it was just me there and the old boy sitting next to me, both waiting for the village bus, which was not as frequent as the ones to the estates. We sat there both I guess cold and tired and wanting to get home before it snowed.
“You waiting for the number nine?” He had asked me a few seconds ago. I had nodded. It then seemed bad manners not to speak to him. I looked at the passing shoppers, clutching their over loaded carrier bags, wishing my bus would arrive. I thought about the jewel-colors in the silk scarf that I had seen, in the shop window on the way to the bus,
“ Christmas is not like it use to be is it?” I offered a sentence that could be answered with one word or a nod of the head or more words if that was what he wanted . He looked at me and smiled the cold weather had reddened his face and his cheeks and nose were so red that he looked as if he had been at the sherry bottle. I knew he had n't not whisky either there was no trace of a smell of alcohol about him but he did seem exceedingly jolly for an old boy of his age sitting at a bus stop on Christmas eve with the threat of snow seeming to increase by the moment. Was he not worried about slipping over on the icy pathways? Why was n't he sitting in front of a fire-place with a cup of tea and a mince-pie to eat and grandchildren playing on a fire-side rug at his feet. I looked at him as he started to speak and noticed for the first time that the glasses he wore where of the metal style I always associated with photos of John Lennon. I suppose John Lennon would be an old man by now fate had dealt him a different hand.
“I was Father Christmas up until a few years ago”
at first I thought he had said it as a joke but then he continued
“At Len’s garden centre, then at the new big grotto the one outside town in the new Mall."
He paused and looked at me to check I was listening, the misty weather had fogged his glasses and he took them off to wipe them with a pristine white cotton handkerchief, as he continued talking to me.
" The last couple of years I did n’t really enjoy it. The children were asking for more and more expensive things, computers, mountain bikes. I could tell some of the parents could n’t really afford it. I’d say Santa will try to bring you that but he has lots of children to visit and take presents to."
In the end one of the parents complained and the company reprimanded me said I must not say that again. I left that Christmas Eve knowing I would not be back next year.”
I smiled at him, then as we stared at the High Street traffic which was moving at an extremely slow rate, our bus came into view. We both stepped forward to the bus stop, me not wanting to give the driver an excuse to drive by without picking us up; which has been known to happen in the past.
“Bye, have a nice Christmas.” I said as we boarded the bus me to head for a seat with room for my bags and him to sit down in the first empty seat near the driver, probably worried he would not stop at the right bus-stop for him, I thought. He raised his hand once seated to wave to me and as he smiled at me everyone on the bus seemed to smile back. As he removed his hat he ran his hand through the thatch of white hair that had been hidden beneath his flat cap. a small child dropped its teddy bear at his feet and the old man bent forward to pick it up and hand it back to him.
"Say thank you." said the child's mother.
"Tank you Santa," the child mumbled. Then he started to sing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and a spontaneous chuckle rippled around the bus, except for 'Santa' who had the deepest laugh I have ever heard.
I never thought about the old man at the bus stop or our conversation again, after I had jokingly said to my family on arrival home
“ I was waiting for a bus in the High Street with Father Christmas today”
" Oh yes, and we saw the Christmas Fairy. In the supermarket." responded my mother with a cynical tone in her voice.
I said and though no more about it, Christmas Eve being a busy evening in our house.
You need to know that my family have an odd sense of humour, not exactly practical jokers but they do make the most of a situation that amuses them.
So, I suppose it was their idea of a joke that there was an extra present under the tree for me the next day on Christmas morning with no label on and that everyone denied buying for me. The really odd thing is I cannot even remember telling anyone that I wanted this gift, but it went perfectly with the fluffy sweater my sister had got me and the leather gloves that were from my brother and his wife. Maybe I had mentioned it, that I like it and where I had seen it, but the more I thought about it the more I was convinced that I had only saw it when I was out shopping on Christmas Eve, the day that I met 'Santa' at the bus stop.
Another Christmas story by the same author
- A Christmas Tale. A short story for Christmas time.
It was her first Christmas without him and she just wanted
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