fiction stories

Funny How A Song

I’ve been a lousy blogger (and blog follower) this month. My sincere apologies to my followers. Here is a little Christmasy write I did a few years ago. Merry Christmas all!

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Train doors opened to a cool, dense city air. Charlie heaved a sigh before he dragged heavy legs from his seat to join an unusually large crowd exiting the subway from Fremont. For him, it was a nightly, mandatory ride toward a reluctant destination, but to most of the folks, it was a Friday night treat into the city of lights.

Charlie observed several smiling couples with hands joined, laughing. A young mother pushed a stroller with a slumbering cocoon inside. And ascending the familiar stairway to streets all too familiar, he bore witness again to the motivation behind the bulk of the crowd’s visit to the city. The lights, already abundant in the town of towns, were eternally multiplied this time of year. And Charlie, wasted as he felt by the despair of recent years and the perpetual discouragement of life’s unrecognized potential, could not remain completely unaffected by the optimism of Christmas time.

His abused joints did not complain so much tonight as they did most nights, occupied as his mind was with the spectacle of normally worrisome people finding respite for a time by immersing themselves in the wonder of lights and decorations. Even as he smirked cynically at the thought that the crowd’s collective joy stemmed only in the temporary relief of retail therapy; even as he prepared to fix his gaze to the pavement while he walked, determined to dull the pain of the constant, crushing weight of disappointment, he slowed and became transfixed for a time.

Union square to his right, an unremarkable landmark in a city rife with them, was seasonal home to a smattering of skaters circling a rink of man-made ice. The skaters were comprised of mostly the young, and Charlie couldn’t help but smirk in response to their naivete.
“They don’t yet know…” he thought.

As he was preparing to move up the road, to ditch the moment in favor of resignation to a hapless routine, his ears picked up a sound, and the sound, unique as it was in a place so profoundly dark, laid hold of a buried part of him before his mind had opportunity to analyze it. music A group of young carolers gathered on the other side of the square. They could have been from a local high school, though the group seemed small, or maybe a church, or maybe that place Charlie strived to avoid thinking about. He wanted to move – needed to, really, if he was to make it to work on time, but his feet became fixed, and his hearing, heightened by an angelic force.

“O holy night, the stars are brightly shining.” A young female voice stood out from the group. Charlie’s mind threatened to cloud with cynicism, but pain was forgotten now, if only for a moment.

There are moments, and this proved to be one for Charlie, when the fear and anxiety of life become stifled by a suffusion of the realm of eternity. In those moments, it matters little if one is weak or strong, smart or dumb, clean or dirty – it only matters that the Almighty, for His own reasons, chooses to intervene.

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.” The voice rang out.

Charlie realized he’d paid much attention to the words of this song before, especially that line. Funny how that happens sometimes, when you’ve heard a song a thousand times and then suddenly listen to it the first time. He wiped a moist trail from his cheek, running his hand across his stained and tattered uniform shirt.

“Funny how a song…” he thought to himself. He decided to stay and listen to the rest. He’d be late to work tonight.

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3 replies »

  1. I love this Luke! This time of year I love all the lights and the music! When I’m in a store and hear strains of Silent Night or Joy to the World it resonates in my spirit and fills me with joy. The lights are a reminder that Jesus is the true light of the world and He comes to brighten our darkness! Joy to the world, the Lord is come!!

  2. I know that, ‘how a song’. That song winter Wonderland. I listened to it this year. We sang it in school for a Christmas pageant. I was in Catholic school and the line ‘we’ll build a snow man and pretend he’s Parson Brown’. We sang ‘pretend he’s a possum brown.’ (We had priest not parsons.) I always wondered why a possum would ask, ‘are you married?’ I took me almost 50 years to figure that one out. Or did it just took that long for me to care. Anywho Merry Christmas.

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