The old man bent almost double battling into the wind. He was getting too old for this. The wind bit icy. Would he ever be able to feel warm again? His very core felt frozen. His long white beard whipped around his face, his eyes stung.
“I hate you.” Words in the wind pounded his ears. “I won’t go to bed.” “You’re not my mum anymore.”
He wanted to cry. So much hate.
“You’re fat.” – Jordan, age seven. The name etched into the man’s eidetic memory. “Fuck you.” – Harry, age six.
He shook his head, despairing. Thick snow flurried into his face. Every year it got worse. The wind was stronger, colder, and more hateful words galed through. All of the pines that used to surround the house had long since succumbed to the relentless assault, the plain was open and unprotected. When did everything get so bad?
The man finally reached the huge wooden door of the house and safety. He heaved it closed behind him leaning the whole of his considerable bulk against it until the latch finally clicked closed. He collapsed, exhausted, trembling. The wind still shrieked its venom outside. He couldn’t stop hearing it.
“Shitface.” – Lucy. “Arsehole.” – Tyrone. “Do it yourself.” – Bella.
The sounds of bicycles being smashed because they wanted new ones. The sound of windows being shattered, for fun. What has become of the world?
There was only one place the man could get respite. He dragged himself to his knees, pulled himself upright using the brass door handle. It conducted the iciness from beyond. Miserable he trudged through the house but his steps quickened as he reached the door to the courtyard. He needed this. He needed relief. The door swung open lightly and he stepped into the sunshine.
“Can I do the washing up Mummy?” – Claire, aged eight. The fronds of the weeping willow moved, barely perceptibly, in the warm breeze. “I love you Daddy.” – Bryan, ten.
The man’s long hair hung tangled in his face. He pushed it back with his palm and made his way to the stuffed armchair which stood incongruously in the middle of the garden next to the koi pond. He sat heavily and leaned back into the comfort of the stuffing, eyes closed.
“Miss Draper, may I clean the blackboard for you?” “I already fed the dogs Mummy. Earlier.” “I made you breakfast Mummy.”
He soaked in the words that shifted gently in the air.
Every day he had to fight his way through the bile in the front to feed the reindeer. He had done so for centuries but every year, every day it got harder. The world was an evil, bitter place and that vile wind, the naughty list, was getting stronger. He was so tired but while he still had this tiny haven of fair weather where the good list blew, where the words were kind he knew there was still hope.