The Miracle of Christmas
I am but a humble musician. It's possible you've seen me
limping down the street with my clarinet gently leaning on my shoulder as I walk
home. Or perhaps you've noticed me standing on a corner in Neopia Central, smoothly
blowing out sweet melodic notes.
I watch over a child, a little blue Kacheek,
whom I can barely provide for; she is my golden jewel. My beautifully carved
wooden clarinet is second in my life. Even though I can barely scrape a hundred
neopoints together in a week, my life is filled with laughter and music. I will
tell you how I lived before...well, before everything I was used to was turned
on its ears.
It wasn't always like this. There was a time
when I was a poor, lonely, bitter old Draik. There was a time when the music
I played was missing something special. Those were hard, awkward times to be
sure. As a lad, my mother always used to tell me, "Pets can only truly change
during Christmas. Keep a sharp eye, and you too will witness the miracle...."
I remember laughing in her face.
* * * * *
"The holidays," I said bitterly to myself, "are
I gazed around me as I slowly picked up my worn,
faded black hat and poured out the couple of neopoints people had spared for
me that day while they listened to me play that soppy holiday music. Thank
you for your generous donations during the giving season, I thought sarcastically
to myself as I counted out 10 neopoints.
I pocketed the money and pushed the hat firmly
down on my head. It would be omelettes for dinner tonight again, as it had been
for the last nine months. Swinging my clarinet over my shoulder I began to limp
down the road in the heart of Neopia Central.
Mothers pushed past the crowd of people, almost
knocking me over, as they tried to snatch the best toys for their greedy little
kids. Pets were practically falling out the windows and doors of the stores
I passed because every place you went was stuffed with Christmas crowds.
You could tell which ones were the pets that
used neopoints as furniture, just because they could. One Kyrii was pushing
out two of the latest ten thousand neopoint bicycles for his children, talking
about how he wasn't sure that this would be enough for his little darlings.
Even the thought of the holiday season put a
sour taste in my mouth.
* * * * *
By the time I had made it home, my fingers were
frozen stiff around my clarinet and my yellow Draik nose tingled when I wiggled
If I had to guess, I'd say that my home is about
the size of a king's refrigerator. Of course, I wouldn't know for sure. There
was one room, and it acted as the bedroom, living room, kitchen, and entrance
all in one. I did know that in the winter, the house was definitely as cold
as a refrigerator, with only a small fire barely burning in the kitchen to heat
the whole house. My home was right in the heart of Neopia Central, so it was
always noisy and bustling outside.
I carefully pried my clarinet from my curled
up fingers and placed it on the distressed-looking table. Kneeling down in front
of the flames, I rubbed my hands furiously to warm them up.
After a few minutes I grabbed a crusty old omelette
that had been saved for a long time, and threw it on a chipped blue plate. Before
I realized that I had started to eat it, the whole omelette was gone. Sighing
and not bothering to wash the plate, I stuck it back in a cupboard. I limped
over to my bed by the window, passing a scraggly Christmas Tree with broken
ornaments hanging off of it. You had to give me credit for at least trying to
be in the spirit.
Right on cue big snowflakes started dancing and
twirling down the sky, blowing directly into my glassless window as if they
planned to make my life miserable. Clutching my blanket closer around me, I
turned away from the window and curled up, trying to forget about my empty stomach,
increasingly wet blanket, and icy house. After all, there were pets that had
it worse than me. Maybe.
* * * * *
Two days until Christmas. I woke up early, beating
the sun by about 10 minutes, and took a cold shower. Quickly I grabbed my clarinet
and put a reed in my mouth to wet it so I could play. I placed my hat on my
freezing yellow head and buttoned my coat, then staggered out the door as fast
as my bad leg would let me.
I had not gotten far when I felt something small
latch onto my arm. I stopped and blinked, then looked down. A little blue Kacheek,
with one brown eye and one blue, was staring up at me.
"Excuse me, sir; do you have any food for me?
I'm really hungry," she told me.
"No I don't," I responded, my speech a little
slurred because of the reed.
"I'd clean your house or something for it," the
Kacheek offered, staring at me with those odd eyes.
I shrugged her off. "I've got to be somewhere
and I don't have time for this."
"I'll wait!" she said cheerily and plunked down
in the snow right in front of my house.
What could I do? She couldn't possibly sit in
the snow for so many hours, so she would probably be gone by the time I got
back. I decided not to worry about it and kept walking down the road to my usual
I played especially well today, spinning out
Christmas songs so perfectly that people might believe that I could play in
my sleep. But at the end of the day, I still only made fifteen neopoints.
Upon returning home, I felt sick when I saw the
little Kacheek still sitting in the exact same spot that she was in about ten
hours ago. She was shivering right down to her toes, and her blue lips were
an even darker color. Sighing, I nudged her to get her attention and motioned
inside. She nodded and followed me.
I wasn't really sure what to do with her after
that. You wouldn't exactly call me Mr. Babysitter. I decided to put her in one
of my old kitchen chairs in front of that little fire. I splurged and used an
extra big piece of wood so that the fire would be big enough to warm her.
I checked my cupboard. All I had left was an
omelette and a biscuit. I cut the omelette in half and ate it, then gave the
other half and the biscuit to the Kacheek. Just call me a softy. She looked
at me, with a tight smile on her face--I guess her cheeks were frozen-- and
I turned around to close the cupboard door and
when I looked back at her, the food was gone. I've never seen anybody eat faster
than me in my life, until now. She must have inhaled it.
"So what's your name?" she asked me suddenly.
"Uh, Warren," I told her, trying to figure out
what to do to keep myself busy.
"I'm Lezlie. Thank you for the food, Wart." She
slid out of the chair and pushed it back to the kitchen table.
"I am not a wart, diseased lump on a Neopet indeed!
My name is Warren," I responded briskly.
Lezlie giggled. "You're silly, Wart. Now, what
can I help you with since you helped me?" she asked.
"Nothing. I only did it because I didn't want
a giant ice cube sitting in my front lawn. It would have been unattractive,"
I told her, adding a few more sticks to the fire.
Lezlie put her little blue hands on her hips.
"I'm not useless like a jar of pickled olives, you know. I can do work too.
Here, why don't you let me clean up? Your home has yucky dust everywhere, no
offense." She grabbed a broom that was almost twice her size from the corner,
and started sweeping up.
I didn't stop her. Hey, if she wanted to clean
my house, how could I argue? I watched her for a while. She didn't stop sweeping;
her little mismatched eyes were full of determination.
I climbed onto my bed and looked out the window.
A blast of cold wind hit me in the face, bringing a cloud of snow with it. It
was freezing outside again; I'd feel bad making her go back out there. But,
on the other hand, I didn't ask her to sit on my lawn in the first place. I
had no desire to care for a little imp like her.
I sighed, and started pacing the room, deciding
what to do. Finally I said to her, "I don't know what your sleeping arrangements
are, but if you need to...you can stay here for tonight."
A wide grin lit up the blue Kacheek's face like
a light bulb. "Thank you! That'd be great! I promise I won't be purposely annoying.
You'll barely know that I'm here."
I waved her off. Gratitude embarrassed me. "You
can sleep on that couch over there, I suppose. I don't have another blanket...."
Looking around I nodded and went over to the kitchen table. "You can use this
tablecloth for now...I guess."
Once I got Lezlie settled, I crawled back into
my own bed. I didn't know why I had just stuck myself with being responsible
for this munchkin, even if it was only for a day. I glanced over at the little
lump covered by a ripped red and white checkered cloth and shook my head. A
snore erupted out from under it suddenly and I groaned. Perfect.
* * * * *
"Why can't I go, Wart?" Lezlie whined after I
refused to take her with me to the corner that morning.
"Because I said so, and because you'd just get
bored, cold, and whiny like you are right now. But at least you can do all that
here where I won't have to be near it," I retorted, swinging the clarinet onto
my shoulder and throwing my hat on.
Lezlie crossed her arms over her chest and frowned.
"I do not whine!"
"You do. I was never this annoying when I was
a kid," I told her smugly.
"I'd rather be an annoying kid then an old, crabby
Draik," she muttered and went to go sulk on the couch.
Nodding cheerfully, I hobbled out the door before
she could say anything else.
There were tons of pets milling around Neopia
Central, and a fair share of them stopped to listen to me play the clarinet.
But there still must have been something out of place, because neopoints weren't
exactly rolling into my hat.
It must've been around noon and I was a little
way into my favorite song, when I suddenly heard the unmistakable words behind
me to the song I was playing.
"...Ding dong, ding dong, that is their song,
With joyful ring all caroling...."
I stopped playing abruptly and spun around, trying
to find out who was singing my song. In the crowd came out-- "No," I whispered.
Lezlie. I covered my face with a hand and she came to stand next to me.
"What are you doing?" I hissed to her.
"Helping you! Play!" she ordered.
Looking around at the gossiping crowd around
me, I sighed. This wasn't the time to argue. I started playing a different song,
which Lezlie jumped into instantly. I had to admit, for such a little Kacheek,
she was great. Her voice rang out like sweet, chiming bells over the crowd,
and she drew shoppers in like crazy. Looking out of the corner of the eye, my
old worn hat was housing more money than I had ever pulled in before.
When the time came for Lezlie and I to wrap it
up, there was actually an applause for us. I had never gotten that kind of reaction
before, and I was amazed.
"Lezlie, um...." I stammered, unsure of how to
say what I was thinking.
Lezlie waited patiently for me but when it seemed
like I didn't plan on saying anything else, she prompted, "Lezlie, I was wrong."
I made a face. "Yes, that's what I meant to say.
I was w-w-wrong. You should have come to the corner with me this morning. And
thank you. Your voice is unbelievable."
"You're not too bad at that clarinet yourself,
Wart," she told me with a little skip in her step.
I almost scolded her
for calling me that, but the whole Christmas thing was making me unusually cheerful.
Instead I looked at all the money in my hat--I couldn't fit it in my pocket--
and smiled. "Come on, let's go this way."
"But your house is over here," she protested,
"You'll see, Lezlie."
* * * * *
That Christmas Eve, the table was filled with
roast turkey, a heaping bowl of potatoes, corn, cranberries, and three different
kinds of bread. Both Lezlie and I had watched it with hungry eyes--and mouths--while
it was cooking. We had already dug into the food before we set it on the table.
It was a feast like I had never tasted before,
and after I remember almost feeling weird with a stomach that wasn't growling
all the time.
Lezlie and I had some kind of weird bonding experience
that day. I learned her life's story, and she definitely didn't need a 'Mr.
Babysitter'. Lezlie was a good kid who had been through a lot, and it didn't
take me long to decide what I had to do.
It was on that day that I gave Lezlie her own,
new fleece blanket. In return, I got a friend--who became basically like a daughter
to me--and I got a lot more joy in my life.
And so it seemed that, in fact, my mother was
right. That little blue Kacheek, with one blue eye and one brown, turned out
to be my Christmas miracle.