He stood outside the window and admired the twinkling lights and shiny decorations that adorned the tree. The brightly colored lights flashed on and off and cast reflections of green, red, blue, and yellow against the dark green evergreen branches. The boy loved that the tree was real, not one of the fake ones he saw in all the stores. The branches displayed a variety of ornaments, all unique and unmatched. That’s the way it should be, he thought. A Christmas tree holds memories of all Christmas’ past, with new memories added each year. This tree was the definitely the best
His eyes drifted from the tree to the presents beneath. His breath caught in his throat as he imagined ripping into the packages in the early hours of Christmas morning, with his mom and dad looking on with sleepy eyes and faint smiles. I wonder what is in the big one in the back, he thought. Perhaps it’s a football. Maybe it is a pair of cool tennis shoes. His mind began to reel with the idea of the many things it might be, and how it would feel to rip open the box.
“What the hell are you doing, boy?” Startled from his thoughts, he looked up to see an angry middle-aged man bearing down on him. The boy felt rooted to the ground where he stood outside.
“Planning on stealing from me? Hell no, you will not! I will teach you a lesson you will never forget!” The man stepped from the door and marched toward him. In his hand he held a wooden baseball bat. That sight motivated the boy to move. He took off running in the opposite direction of the threatening man. Never daring to look back, he ran down the middle of the road without stopping until his sides ached and felt ready to split open. Only then did he look back and finally stop. Tears were streaming down his face as he gulped in the cold air. The boy leaned against the lamppost until his breathing returned to normal. He continued walking slowly down the street until he could see the neon lights of the burger restaurant glowing in the distance. Right before the parking lot of the restaurant he looked around to make sure no one saw him before he ducked underneath the rusting chain length fence that surrounded a dilapidated building. The building used to be a factory. Now it was his home.
When he stepped inside the dank building he heard his mom right before her hand came down across his face.
“Where you been?” she hissed through clenched lips. “I been worried sick about you!” The boy hung his head and didn’t even try to explain. How do you say that you were standing in someone’s front yard, wishing and dreaming that you could be someone, anyone, other than who you are?
Just as quickly as she slapped him, his mother grabbed him and held him tightly in a hug. “I jus’ worry ’bout you, you know? Anyway, I found some pretty good leftovers next door. Let’s go have some supper.” The boy untangled from her hug and walked deeper into the building. It was time for supper.