Jonathan Dresden had never been in this store before. He had walked the street outside practically every day for the past thirty years and hadn't as much as glimpsed this store before. But something made him notice the sign outside that led down the stairs to, Sui Generis Emporium.
Now standing with the remnants of the falling snow melting off his overcoat and shoes onto an ancient oriental rug, he caught the odor of many cooked meals heavy with cumin. A bell over the door had announced his entry and he could hear some movement coming his way from the back apartments. Glancing around he could see that the store had an eclectic taste in one of a kind gifts, something he had been searching for as his last Christmas gift to his beloved Margaret.
“Hello, kind sir. How may I be of service?” a voice said a second before a shrunken flower of a man appeared. The man was wearing the traditional robe, called a thawb, black in color with a white keffiyeh headpiece. He gave a quick half bow when he walked around the counter.
Jonathan, himself eighty-three years old instantly felt an inward tug of warmth towards this man, even though he was usually apprehensive around different cultures. “I-I'm looking for a gift for my loving wife of fifty-eight years. It is to be, sadly, my last gift to her, as I am a dying man.”
“Ah,” he said as he turned and directed me to follow him. “You love her very much, I can tell. Tell me does she return this?”
“I would think so!” Jonathan felt a bit taken aback. He hadn't come in here to talk of his love life to a complete stranger.
“Tell me would you do it all over again, my friend?”
Without hesitation, “Absolutely!”
Later that evening, Christmas Eve, Jonathan related his experience with the strange Arab, to his wife, Margaret, as they sat side by side in twin recliners in front of a fake roaring fire. The snow outside had amounted to a good three inches of the prettiest, fluffiest snowfall in recent memory. It brought back fond nostalgic memories for both of them.
They sat there reliving past Christmas'. They had especially loved this time of year. Often calling it “Our season”, because that was the time of year that they had met outside of the local theater waiting to see, “It's A Wonderful Life”. They had loved that movie. It was another of their traditions, Once a week from Thanksgiving until Christmas day, they would watch Jimmy Stewart being shown just how much an impact one person can have. It was a theme that lived in both of their hearts.
Even after Grant, their only son had been born, in August of all months, the season had remained theirs to share now. And share they did. Grant had grown up to be a fine man, having his own family now. Grant and his wife Kathryn still came over for Christmas day. The grandkids having grown and started their own families were not so much a tradition to count on, but they were still visitants quite regularly.
“So, his name turns out to be Abbas, took me back inside the apartments area of the store. I could tell not too many people were afforded this aspect of his store, as it was, not unkempt, but lived in would be a good description. And that's where he showed me this...” With that Jonathan reached down to the side and brought up a package all dressed in holiday paper with a huge red bow and handed it to her.
Margaret's eyes grew wide with childlike wonder and Jonathan could see the flood waters that were being held back.
“Now before you go all crazy on that wrap, there is still more to the story. The whole time he was showing me this he was asking questions about us. On hindsight they were quite personal questions, but for some reason, I just answered him to the best of my ability as if he and I were old chums. Questions like how happy we have been together, what would the other do if one or the other were taken to go home. He didn't say home, of course, he mentioned something called Jannah. He told me it meant Paradise. I'm sorry if I assumed anything, but I answered him as if you were as happy as I have been.”
“Oh Johnny, you know.” that was when the flood gates opened. Tears washed her wrinkled yet still quite attractive face. She was still the most beautiful woman Jonathan had ever known.
Margaret started to carefully remove the wrapping as she truly wanted to turn time around and slow it down. The box was plain white and inside, ah inside was the biggest and most beautiful snow globe that she had ever seen.
Inside the globe was a log cabin with the windows alit and what looked to be smoke rising from a huge chimney, as if inside there was a blazing fire. The cabin was surrounded by a small copse of trees and beside the side door, what looked like a pile of cut logs, as if the inhabitants were ready for a long, but cozy winter.
“He also told me that we should renew our vows to each other if we are sure that we want to spend forever in Jannah.”
So they did.
That was a month ago. Grant had found them holding hands and smiling, the next day. The toxicology report had just come in. They both died of natural causes, minutes apart. Now packing up their belongings, he started to wrap up the biggest snow globe that he had ever seen, not noticing the fresh prints going to and from the woodpile.
Tom Britz lives in South-eastern Michigan, near Detroit. Born and raised in this area. However he has twice lived in the central New York/Pennsylvania area for a total of ten years. He loved it there, yet had to move back to Michigan for work. Ironically he has been unemployed for a year now. This story is hopefully the start of a new burst of writing because he has also been hit with the Mother of all writer's blocks for over a year. Happy Holidays to everyone.