On the 12th Day of Christmas Judy Darley gave to me…
I watched her emerge through the gleaming glass doors and hurry through snow to the bus stop. With a flick of my ear, the electronic sign glitched, showing false news of buses running late.
She pursed her lips, and settled on the tilted plastic seat, pulling off her mittens despite the cold. From my hiding place in the shadows, I observed as she drew her knitting from her bag: crimson yarn, green needles. Click clack, click clack – the sound made my whiskers twitch.
The harrumphing bus romped in and up she leapt, mouth agape, fingers fumbling for her pass.
Haste made her careless, as I’d hoped. One mitten dropped and languished among crumpled cigarettes and crisp packets. I waited till the bus was gone and then rescued the fallen mitt. Gripping it tight between my teeth, I swept it to my children’s nest beneath the waste storage container.
My children three curled into their new bed with contended squeaks. Tell us again, Mama, about the princess who lost this glove.
I told them once more of her radiance and diligence; how she toiled each day inputting data, and dreamt away each journey home knitting for the love she’d yet to recognise.
While my children three slept snug in their bed, I crept onto a bus, following our princess’ trail from shining glass door to blue-painted door.
At her home, I crouched on a windowsill, watching through the curtain’s gap as she upended her bag on the floor: yarn, knitting needles and all.
Her flatmate entered the room. She stood as short as our princess stood tall and was as fair as our princess was glowing dark.
What’re you looking for?
Our princess sighed and spoke of the mislaid mitten.
The flatmate took our princess’s cold hand between both of hers and kissed it warm.
Our princess blinked, startled. But you…? But I…?
The flatmate answered, But we.
Both glittered and beamed like the stars rising behind me.
I scurried home, glad of a happy beginning to tell my children three.
Judy Darley is a British writer who can’t stop writing about the fallibilities of the human mind. Her work has been published in the UK, New Zealand, US and Canada, and performed in Hong Kong. Judy’s short story and flash collection, Sky Light Rain, is out now. Judy has shared her stories on BBC radio, in cafés, caves, an artist’s studio and a disused church. Find Judy at http://www.skylightrain.com and https://twitter.com/JudyDarley.
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