For 48 hour Media contest.
CAROL OF THE BELLS
“I first met her one snowy day the week of Christmas. I was new to the city and had not either time or inclination to make friends. Luckily, I’d found a coffee shop, aptly called Cuppa, close to my new apartment.”
The man stopped his story and wiped his eyes on his sleeve.
“As I sat drinking coffee and deciding if I could afford breakfast, I watched a slender redhead in an ankle-length patchwork skirt, short velvet jacket and soft leather shoes, cross the street and stop outside the café. She took a wooden box out of her large handbag. Setting it down in front of her, she opened it and took out bells on straps.
“Fascinated, I watched as she put them on her wrists and ankles. Then she began to dance. She was like a bird in flight, an angel with no wings.”
The sorrowing man twisted his felt hat in his hands and gathered his thoughts.
“Breathless, I marveled at her. People came and dropped money in the open box. Some even stayed to watch her until they got too chilled, then came in for coffee or hot chocolate.”
He looked up, tears flowing freely for the crowd to see.
“I made it a practice to stop at the café the week before Christmas every year. Nigel, the owner, told me that first day, that she did this every year at that time for two hours a day; in order to get money to give away. After that, I always brought her out a hot chocolate when she took a break.”
“Her smile lit up my world, but I never managed to speak to her and tell her how I felt. Now, it’s too late, but I wanted to say my piece at this celebration of her life.”
The man put on his battered hat and motioned to a man in the front of the crowd. Nigel the café owner, brought him a case. As it was held out to him cradled in the Nigel’s arms, he opened it carefully.
Tenderly, he removed a violin and began to speak again.
“Nobody knew her name for she was mute. So, I named her Carol of the Bells. It was she who got me back into playing the violin. At the end of her Christmas performances, I would come and play the Christmas song ‘The Carol of The Bells’ and she would dance as she never danced without music. Her box would fill to overflowing after that song!”
The man tuned the violin in silence.
“In her honor and for my love, I will play that song.”
Tucking the instrument under his grizzled chin, he began to play a soulful and heart-rending rendition. There was not a dry eye in the crowd of mourners. Money began to fall at his feet.
After he gathered it up, he addressed the people again.
“This will be the beginning of a dance scholarship in Carol’s name, thank you!”