Socks by Quamar Al-Mumin

It was the day before Christmas and the snow was still falling lightly onto the sidewalks. Little kids peer through the windows of the toy shops, wide eyed and excited for what they might get wrapped up under their tree tonight. Couples waltzing around in the streets, secretly predicting what their lover’s reaction will be to their sweet gifts. It seems like such a wonderful time of year. The shops and houses decorated with colorful lights, snow men freshly made, angels and mistletoes, reindeers and sleighs. The essence of miracles filled the air. But sitting alone, his knees held tightly to his chest was one man who couldn’t find a reason for this night to be any more special than the rest. If anything, this was his least favorite season of the year.

He shivered violently, his back against the wall sitting right where the lights stopped shining in the alley. ‘Just like the theatre.’ He thought, the audience would be hidden from view, while the actors played their parts under the bright light. The only difference was that the audience would come out of the dark and then their existence would be acknowledged. But this man, in the dark or not, was ignored, he would sometimes lift his hand to wealthy looking men in hopes of being given a dollar or two to get himself something to eat, but all he received was a dirty look. And the only people who would give him money would give it out of pity, or so that they would look generous in front of their friends.

Losing hope in the kindness of others, he decided he would stop asking people for help and instead live off of rummaging through the trash, collecting cans and selling them for cash.

He blew into his hands trying to warm them up, rubbed them against each other and then rapped his fingers around his bare blue-ish feet. His pinky toes were completely numb and the rest of this toes seemed to vibrate slightly. It was painful, but he was starting to get used to it. If he sat down he could just wrap his over coat around his legs from the front and tuck some of the material under his toes to keep warm.

He looks at his clock, two hours to midnight. Standing up and stretching his sore feet, he catches a glimpse of a man carrying a big cardboard box over his shoulder. The man carried the box towards the trash, placed it inside, and then walked away. He was like a cat, so curious, he walked over to the trash, not caring if it was death in that box. ‘Nothing to lose.’ He thought.

Reaching into the trash, his heart beat quickened. What if it was a box of food? Or maybe finally it was his turn for a Christmas miracle and that this box was full of money! Getting impatient he messily tore the box open, a big smile on his face.

Socks. This was one big cardboard box full of socks. Big socks, small socks, socks of different materials, socks of different colors, any kind of sock imaginable was in this box. He brushed his hand over the soft texture and sighed. Better than nothing, maybe he could sell them. But who would buy used socks? He grabbed the box, and carried it to his alley. He took out the thickest socks and put them over his feet and hands. Then he sat there and looked at his big box of used socks.

The socks couldn’t be sold and they were a terrible source of entertainment. Instead of dully looking at the socks, he decided to make a game out of them; he’d put all the socks of the same color in one pile and then separate them into sizes. He stood up and observed his organized mess of used socks. ‘What now?’

After a few minutes of poking at his socks he got an idea. He sat up and started putting all the red, green and white socks in a pile, then he took some gum out of his mouth and started sticking the socks to his alley’s walls. Creating a design of Christmas colored sock decorations. He even tied a few socks together so it would almost look like a star, and hung it as far up the street light as he could. When he was done, he stood back and smiled at his work. Though it was dark and gloomy at this time, in the morning his alley should look almost as good as any old decorated house. But one thing was missing, his stocking. So he chose the biggest sock of them all and hung it right in the middle of all his decorations. ‘My Christmas miracle, I guess.’ He thought with a crooked smile.

He gathered up the rest of the socks and made himself a pillow, then curled into a ball and fell asleep right under his stocking.

Thump Something heavy fell on his head. He jerked up and grabbed a sock for defense. Imagining how silly he must look, he lowered it and realized no one was near him. His eyes trailed slowly to the thing that had fallen on him and his eyes widened with disbelief. His stocking, was so heavy with whatever was inside it that is had fallen off the wall. He opened it to find it was stuffed with candy. Thump another sock fell, and then slowly the socks started falling off his wall and onto the ground. He looked into the one closest to him and saw that it was full of coins. The rest had dollars, toys and even letters. Some of them read, “Merry Christmas!” “Have a nice day!” “I loved your decorations.” “Such a beautiful sight!” His heart swelled with joy. It turned out his box of socks was just the beginning of his Christmas miracle.

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