The Stranger I Met

It was one of those mornings when you look into the eyes of the falling leaves and pray a silent whisper for a withering snowfall. It rarely snowed in Texas. But I wish it did. I wish it did so that my Christmas would have been just about perfect, more than I could say it was. Yes, it was the day before Christmas, and I was peering through the window like Stellar, my neighbor’s curios dog. Not that I expected something to happen, but it was one of those times, the Christmas mornings, when you await a miracle to happen. You want to believe in the stories you tell, the stories about Santa Claus being real.

It’s so funny how we look around for beliefs when the real place we should be looking for, is within us, all the time. I was standing in my kitchen, mixing flour, and my pink knit top rubbed against the smoothened edge of the platform ridge. The faint smell of flour and sweetness mixed with vanilla and eggs, was already in my tongue and I could visualize the hot fluffy pancakes come out of the stove. I added some more butter to it; Tyler liked it that way. I set the mixed dough aside and moved towards the hot smoking pot brewing coffee. I needed that right now. I am coffee person and try to sip a cup whenever possible.

The fresh aroma of caffeine was tingling in my mind, as the cup drew near me. One sip and my senses roared with vitalization. I moved closer to the window and stared outside again. This time, I was just plainly gazing at the green meadows, when my eyes fell on him. He was nobody I knew; an utter stranger to me. He meant nothing to me but I still watched him. What were my eyes expecting to see? I still don’t know the answer. But I watched him. His hairs were frail and feeble. He had a rounded belly, like those men get, once they cross forty; some get even early.

His small eyes were bulging out of his wrinkled skin and it seemed as if his feet were trembling. He wasn’t going to fall, it didn’t seem so, but it looked as if he could use a support. The thought rushed my mind for a moment. Should I help him? But then I wiped it away instantly. As I looked at him again, his eyes roved around the neighborhood and suddenly our sights collided. I instantly withdrew. I didn’t want him to see me gaping back at him. But it was too late. He saw me. He saw me seeing him. I turned the other side, still sipping the coffee. But this sip wasn’t real. I didn’t even feel the swell of caffeine indulge into my nerves.

I was scared for a moment. Scared of what, an old weak man? But I was. After a long pause, I slowly moved my eyes back on the lawns where I had last seen him. He was gone, he wasn’t standing there anymore. I felt so relieved by the thought of him being vanished. I pulled in a deep breath of relief and gulped the entire coffee down, something I would never do under normal circumstances. I like to enjoy every bit of it. I pushed the cup towards the sink and decided to check on Tyler and Brooke. They were supposed to be by the table now. “I hope they have brushed their teeth. ” I spoke to myself under my breath and moved out of the kitchen.

That’s exactly when the door bell rang. I had forgotten about the old man, but my destiny didn’t want it to end that way. Now I think so. I moved towards the door after snapping my neck back from the Kids bedroom’s direction. We didn’t have a peek hole in the door, something I wanted my husband to take care of. “Who is it? ” I still spoke to myself. My husband was coming in after the Christmas. He said something inevitable had come from work and he had to be away. “What if he is surprising me? ” I smiled by the thought and quickly opened the door to get a glimpse of his beautiful face. It was for me!

But as the door slowly opened up, the alien face showed its glimpse to me. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the old wrinkled face at my doorstep. “Can I come in dear? ” His voice had the shake, just like his feet, quivering that was faint. I slowly moved to let him in, I don’t know why. He quickly moved to the coffee colored leather couch and sat like he was tired of standing. I felt a small tinge of sympathy but it quickly extinguished itself. “May I help you? ” I asked sternly. Anybody would have considered me as being rude but what could I do. But I had no choice. What if this guy was some lunatic?

What if he tied me up and assaulted me? My husband wasn’t home and I couldn’t bear the risk. What about the kids? What if he tried to do something to them? “I… I don’t remember where my house is. ” He spoke in his fragile voice. “I don’t know where to go. ” I felt pity but then I had to look out for myself. “I don’t know how I can help you. I haven’t seen you here before. Do you need a phone? ” I asked him again. He nodded his head in plain negation. “I don’t remember anything. ” I blinked nervously. “What did he want from me? ” I spoke slowly. I felt uneasy and felt the need to call someone, but whom, I wasn’t sure.

“Can I have a glass of water? ” he looked at me with hope. I wasn’t feeling good to leave him alone in the living room but I still moved towards the kitchen to grab water for him. Just then Tyler and Brooke descended down the stairs. I saw them stare at the old man. He pulled out chocolates from his pocket and offered it to both of them. “Go back to your room. ” I yelled at them in anger. The kids were scared to see me like this. They didn’t know why I was being mad at them, but they ran back. “It’s okay, I will leave. ” He tried to get up but he collapsed back to the couch. “Nice Act!

” I wanted to say but I sealed my mouth. I handed him the water in a tall glass and waited for him to empty it into his huge stomach. As he finished drinking, I grabbed the glass and stared back at him. “Nice kids. ” He said and smiled meekly. “I can call the emergency, they can take you home. ” I said and waited for his reaction. “Its okay honey, I guess I will just leave. ” He started to get up and move towards the door. I could still feel the tremor in his legs but it was about time he left. I couldn’t drive him back to his home; I couldn’t leave my kids and look after this stranger. That was not my job.

As he managed to open the door and bulge his heavy body outside, I heard a loud noise of a young woman. “Dad! ” she called out with a loud cry. “Where have you been? I was so worried about you. ” I rushed to the door. A young woman, nicely seated in her BMW car, ran to his aid and lent him his shoulder for support. She seated him in the rear and came towards me. “I am sorry. ” she spoke very softly. Her face showed the resemblance. She had the same eyes. “He has a problem. He forgets a lot. He wanted to buy gifts for the kids; we were at the store but I lost him. I am so sorry for the trouble. ”

“Not a problem. ” I smiled. “Thanks for taking care of him. ” She smiled back and moved towards her car. “No problem at all. ” I imperceptibly whispered; maybe because I didn’t believe in what I was saying. As she started the car, the old man looked at me and smiled. “Give this to the kids. ” He handed out the chocolates from the window. As I took them from him, he smiled again. “Merry Christmas! ” And their car sped away. I felt a pang in my heart. “Merry Christmas. ” I whispered. I didn’t have the guts to say it aloud. I waited for a miracle all my life, and the miracle happened, one fine Christmas!