“You know Sam ,” said Gabriel. I’m usually an even tempered type, but often recently, when I’ve been out and about, I’ve been, well, almost despairing. It’s the Christmas thing –“Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all men – that sort of stuff. You would think the Boss might have noticed, but no, same old, same old, year after year. Trust me, I’ve been doing this a long time and to tell you the truth, at first I loved it. They way the kids were fascinated, wide eyed at the very thought of presents. Actually, I could swear that they really did believe in Santa and his sleigh, the reindeer, the mistletoe, the Christmas tree – the whole thing
His friend sipped his tea and looked over.
“I know” he said. I’ve not been here as long as but I know what you mean. Watch it though, walls have ears”
“What do you mean?” said Gabriel.
“Look, here you are trying to say that folks believing in a myth is a good thing. Wenceslas, Christmas fuel and all that stuff. You could be had up for that. It just ain’t PC!”
“Tell you what”, said Gabriel “ People have believed in queerer tales than that. And any way, even if it was a tale, if it makes people kinder to each other for a couple of weeks – and we get a bit of overtime, what’s the harm?”
“Dunno!” said Sam.
“Look – last week I was down in yon place with the cows..”
“No stupid – Milton Canes or summat. Well, they got a big shopping place, and I was sitting in the Food Court, across the table from a young girl. She was, oh, about 26 she was. Quite a looker too! Lovely UGGs – I like that word, dark leggings an’ a neat wool dress!
“And ---- all right, spill the beans!”
“She did that – right into my lap. She went to stand up and tipped the table – all over me. Well, she was so upset, shakin’ and cryin’ and trying to apologize at the same time. Well, I gave her “the look” – you know YouTube make any girl fall for you!”
Well she dried her eyes, and looked over, mascara all smudged and slightly sniffly.
“I’m Mary” she said. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
“Don’t fink so love, not likely really.”
“Oh, OK.” She said. “Just that I’ve had a hellish day. Went to the doc’s and he said I can’t start my treatment – something to do with hormonal imbalance or something”. I’ll never be a real woman – ever!
“You’ll do for me!” said Gabriel. “Your drop dead gorgeous – you know, that don’t you. How about you and I slope off for a drink.?”
And so they did. The White Hart was busy. Crowded in fact. They found themselves a cosy little table, and Mary poured out her heart. Somehow, she felt safe with this tall, slim grey eyed stranger, who had taken the time to listen to her. She thought his eyes were those of a sailor perhaps, used to gazing at far horizons where anything could happen.
“Look, Mary” he said, I have to go now. Work to do!”
“Can we meet again sometime” she said, aghast at her own forwardness.
“We will” he said. “But I can’t be sure where or when. I’m being posted you see”
“Army?” she asked. “Where to”. “Middle East” he, said, “But I can’t say more, Mary. Trust me though, things are going to change for you. Take care, I’ll be thinking of you.”
He rose, and she watched his back disappearing into the milling crowd of shoppers.
She went home to the flat, put an old Rick Mayall album on to play, and promptly
went to sleep, scattering her clothes all over the bedroom. A few hours later, a gray, uncertain light crept under the window blinds, and she stretched. She felt – well, calm, relaxed and full of hope. She sat up, feeling slightly odd, noticing the unusual pull of her breasts as she turned. She cupped them, and burst into tears of joy.
Far, far away on as sandy, scrubby, sunbaked outcrop of rock, Sam turned to his mate and said “You know Gabriel, for an Angel, you’ve got one awful sense of humour!