The Christmas Wish.

Little Emily stood in the large bay of the living room window staring out at the Stars that twinkled in the clear Sky.
A snowfall earlier that afternoon had refreshed the white blanket that covered the gardens, and now Jack Frost ran around waving his Wand making the ground glisten and sparkle.
Dark shapes shuffled along the pavement, some tipping their hats in silent greeting, cautious of slipping. The hollow bark of a Dog sounded through the dark still evening. A sleigh drawn by two Horses black as coal drove through the cone of light under the Gas Lamp.

The log on the open fire crackled sending orange sparks dancing up the chimney. Emily could feel its warmth on her back and see its glowing image waving to her in the window.
She could also see the reflection of the Christmas Tree, its branches draped with golden beads, and hung with glass baubles that returned the fire’s glow. Chocolates and candy stripped walking sticks for the Children, were fastened to the green-needled branches with red ribbon.

It was Christmas Eve, but why was Emily so sad?
She was sad because only three months earlier, her twin Sister Judith had died of Polio. Her beloved Grandparents had also passed away that Summer, leaving a massive hole in Emily’s heart. She missed them all so much. Even now on the threshold of Christmas Day, as she stared up at the Stars, she wept. A teardrop escaped and ran down her cheek, leaving a watery trail for the next one to follow. 

Emily stared at the silver slither Moon, her lips quivering with emotion, more tears, silent tears, escaped.

Suddenly! A Shooting Star crossed the inky Heavens slashing the black canvas like a sharpened blade.
Make a wish – make a wish! Thought Emily.
Speaking out loud Emily made her wish. “I wish Judith and my Grand Parents were here with me.”

A shriek of child’s laughter pierced the air, causing Emily to spin round so fast that her pigtails whipped her ears. Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open in disbelief…

There on the burgundy Chesterfield was Gran and Grandad and squeezed between them squirmed little Judith, trying to escape Grandad’s tickling. The room was filled with the sound of playful laughter.

Beaming with joy, Emily ran and threw herself enthusiastically at her beloved Kin wrapping her arms around them. She sobbed tears of happiness into Grandpa’s jumper. He smelt so good. They were all good! The emotions could be held back no more, the four hugged each other tightly, laughing and crying together.

The living room door was flung open with such force that the large brass handle thudded against the wall. Shocked, Emily lifted her face from Grandpa’s jumper and peered over his shoulder… it was Mommy. She hurried into the room, her right hand holding her long dress so that she didn’t trip over it. She rushed past the sofa without so much as glancing at it, and went straight to the bay window, where she fell wailing beside the body of a young girl. Holding the girl’s head to her bosom, she rocked back and forth crying.
Emily’s expression changed to one of shocked concern. Her little hands tightened on Grandad’s jumper and she tugged.
“Grandad, who’s that little girl Mommy’s holding?” Emily enquired.
Grandad’s kind eyes peered over the thin-framed gold spectacles and met Emily’s panicky stare.
“Why that’s you, of course, Princess. – you’re dead!”

Childhood Disaster.

On the 21st October 1966 the Village of Aberfan – South Wales, appeared on the television screen in front of me. 

I was seven years old at the time, two, maybe three years younger than the 116 Children that were taken on that Day.

I wasn’t watching the News purposely, I was sitting ready to watch Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben the flowerpot men or the Wooden Tops.
Our Television was old… black and white only, but adequate to display the images of that fateful Day. Those tragic images were burned into my memory, like a Cowboy using a branding iron.
Until that Day, I had only experienced emotions of love,  kindness, maybe a glimpse of frustration every now and again, but suddenly…only feet from my face: images of tearful Mothers, their eyes wide and wet as they watched Men dig with their bare hands in sheer desperation to find and save their Children.

I wasn’t traumatized by the events of that Day, nor did I cry, but the memory of Aberfan and its lost Children was to stay with me through the years. So much so that last week I had to visit them in their resting place. I’m so glad that I did.

High on the western slope of the Taff Valley above the village of Aberfan, overlooking as if keeping guard of their childhood playground is the resting place of those innocent Souls that lost their lives all those years ago.
The white marble bright as a bonfire burning at night projects its presence along the entire valley making a clear statement: WE ARE HERE!  

I passed through the Cemetary Gates onto an uneven path bordered by large Caledonian Pines, their needles unswept for a long time littered the floor, crooked Headstones covered in lichens, and green with age produced an image of secluded neglect. 
I slowly gazed the steep cemetery and at the very top of the slope, there they were!

The uneven gritty path, broken and crumbling in places was steep, so steep in fact my Electic Wheelchair was struggling for power, I even had to reverse up at times to prevent myself from tipping over backward. Determined to get closer to the Kids I pushed on, literally.

Apart from my Brother John and myself, the Cemetary was deserted. The only noise that of Jackdaws calling from the Village below. Our progress was surely watched by unseen eyes.

I slowly maneuvered my wheelchair along the row of graves, reading the heart touching tributes placed by grieving parents as I went. Short, simple verses that ripped the heart of the reader wide open.
After reading the last verse I turned to look back at the white  row of arched headstones. Now those children of Aberfan, that for so long had been in my mind had names and faces.   

As I sat amongst those graves on that hillside, was it the chilly breeze that moistened my eye?

“Da Boch Chi”.

Cuthbert the Caterpillar.

Cuthbert paused from chomping his Bramble leaf too observe the approaching family. Mom and Dad walked leisurely hand in hand enjoying the sea air while the two young children ran back and forth along the tarmac path that cut through the sand dunes. 
“Oi! You pair! Keep close.” Shouted Dad.
“We will.” Replied the boy excitedly.
The Welsh coast was enjoying some late-season sunshine that encouraged Holidaymakers out of their Caravans and onto the seafront. From Prestatyn to Llandudno the beaches echoed with the joyful sound of playing Children.   

“Look at those two little Angels Tom, they’re loving every second of this Holiday. Shall we book for the same place next year?”
“Why not dear, I mean, look at them, the little scamps. They are so safe here, it’s a far cry from back home in Liverpool.”
You’re right Tom, they’re safe and we’re relaxed, nothing can go wrong.”

All that Cuthbert wanted from life was a bit of peace and quiet in which to become a fully fledged Grackle Moth. But no, he wasn’t going to find that here, not with all the development of tourist facilities going on, he’s got more chance of being bit by a Lettuce than finding his Shang ri la here.

Young Ben and his Sister Lucy were racing towards the ice cream booth when suddenly Ben stopped.
“What is it, Ben?” Asked Lucy as she peered over Ben’s shoulder.
“I’ve no idea Sis, it’s a Caterpillar of some sort, pass me that little twig so that I can pick it up.”
Cuthbert knew what was coming so he coiled his green and yellow body for protection. Ben prodded the twig into Cuthbert’s ample body causing him to fall from his leaf.
“You’ve done it now Ben, you’ve lost it.”
“Nah, I can see it.”
Ben stretched his arm into the Bramble ignoring the scratching thorns. He fumbled about amongst the grass feeling for Cuthbert.
Ma and Pa were now only yards away.
“Ahh look, Tom, ain’t it nice to see the kids playing as one with nature.”
“Sure is pet – JUST GRAB IT, Ben!”

Ben’s fumbling fingers found Cuthbert who was now pretty pee’d off.
“Got it –  got it.” Rejoiced Ben jumping up and down, holding poor little Cuthby aloft like a trophy.
Lucy jumped up and down too. “I want it – show me.” She pleaded.
“Come on Ben show your sis.” Said, Dad.

Cuthbert was now suffocating in Ben’s clenched hand, making him madder than mad. His body pulsated with venom.
Ben held out his clenched hand, the other three peered in wide-eyed and expectant. Ben slowly unfolded his fingers to reveal the swollen torso of Cuthbert. The family members stared, holding their breath with anticipation.
Now on an outstretched palm with balloon faces only inches away, Cuthbert exploded. BANG!
Venom hotter than pepper spray found curious eyes, sending bodies to writhe in the Autumn grass. 

Vinny the ice cream man vaulted the counter of his booth, Glenis his wife quickly handed him eight cones of vanilla.
Vinny was soon on the scene. Starting with Lucy he shoved two cones of ice cream, one into each eye socket.
After only seconds the soothing ice cream started to take effect. Mom, Dad, and the two kids lay on their back’s, looking as normal as ever, apart from the ice cream cones sticking out of their faces.
“Everything ok Vinny?” It was Mrs. Pibble the Vicars wife, out walking Fifi their French Poodle. Unrestrained and full of excitement, Fifi ran straight for the prone figure of Mom and after licking briefly at the ice cream, turned and cocked a leg. Mom went bezirk. “Calm down – calm down.” Said, Dad.
Don’t just book it…