Monday, January 2, 2012

THE LITTLE MATCH BOY ~~~~ a re-telling of H.C. Andersen's poignant tale part X

And then is was over. His face was scratched. The pillowcase was gone. His pockets were empty. Some of the people living on the street had to hear. But they did nothing. An urchin in trouble. What else is new? He sat up and looked around. It was hard to see in the dark. And a later age would have termed him slightly near-sighted. So he felt around, but found nothing. Even the mittens were gone. He started to cry. He said - mama...mama...... No mama answered. He reached for Max, but the puppy wasn't there. The neighbor's eldest son had him, securely tied in the pillowcase. At first he planned to drown him in the river. Weigh him down with a stone and heave him off a bridge. Why not? Boy's did things like that all the time. It would be fun watching the makeshift bag sink down into the dark, cold water. Maybe there'd be bubbles? Maybe he'd see the little paws struggling inside the cloth? Just like a Roman emperor, or a Grand Inquisitor condemning people to the stake. But this oaf was sly for an oaf, so he thought again. Nice, little puppies have value. Some people actually dote on them. He saw the cages in the 'live' market. True, most were merely rabbits and chickens destined for the pot, but some were dogs...some were cats. Who knows, a lonely old crone might pay good money for this one? So he cancelled the death sentence and carried little Max into his world.

The little boy got up. His hat was there. The scarf still hung 'round his neck. At least he had shoes. But now he was dirty. And the spigot in the kitchen behind the church seemed so far away. He wanted to see the house, his house. He didn't care if the evil people were there. He just wanted to see it. He would peek 'round the corner and look. His mama's curtains  still hung in the window. And the nice, little bench his father made was right by the steps. It had to be. Maybe he could curl up and sleep under it? No one would know. They'd never find him. He'd wake up real early and sneak away before they all came out.  

He called for Max. But then he remembered. The puppy wasn't there. So he sat down in a corner against cold, brick walls and cried. Ten heartbeats later, it began to snow. But it was a warm, dry snow. The air was still. The street was quiet. He fell asleep. And whatever spirit it is that watches over little children sent five, crisp pages of the Bohemische Tagblatt floating in on a breeze to cover him, a sad, little soul, hiding from the night.....


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