Short Stories » The Gift
It was Christmas eve, 2050. The young boy was eagerly waiting for tomorrow, as it would be Christmas. The father, the mother, and the young boy rode to the rocket port, and the parents were worried.
It was the boy’s first trip to space, and his very first time in a rocket and the parents wanted everything to be perfect. Therefore, when they reached the custom’s table, they had to declare everything. Unfortunately, they were forced to leave behind the present that they were carrying for the little boy. As the present and the Christmas tree and candles were a bit overweight, they had to leave them behind with the custom authorities. The parents suddenly felt deprived of the love they were going to share with the little boy in space.
The little boy was waiting for his parents in the airport terminal. His parents were walking towards him whispering to each other and they looked visibly unhappy. Little did he know about their clash with the Custom’s officials, as all he was thinking was about Christmas and the flight.
His mother whispered to his father, “What shall we do?”
“Nothing, we cannot do anything! Silly stupid rules,” replied his father.
“But, he was looking forward to seeing that tree with all the candles lit up,” said the mother.
Suddenly the siren sounded, and the people got up to board the rocket to Mars. His parent waited until all the other passengers had boarded the rocket and they were last in line with the boy between them. It was evident that they were visibly upset.
“Don’t worry darling, I shall think of something,” said the father.
“What are you hush-hushing about,” asked the little boy?
“Nothing dear,” said the mother.
They were asked to sit tight put on their gears and fasten their seat belts as the rocket blasted into space.
The rocked moved on and the Earth was fast becoming a round bluish globe. The date was December 24, 2050 and they were fast heading into a space where there was no time. In fact no months, no hours and no minutes. They went to sleep and probably slept the whole day.
When it was nearing midnight by their Earth-time, the little boy awoke and said that he wanted to go front and sit next to the window seat so that he could look outside. The window was made of immensely think glass of some size.
The father said, “Not now, I shall take you there later.”
“But I want to see where we are going,” said the little boy.
The father asked him to wait a bit longer. He said, “I want to surprise you, so just wait for a few minutes.”
He had been lying awake thinking of the abandoned items at the customs, and the reason for which it was abandoned. He was trying to come up with something different that could make up for what they had left behind. Finally, he thought that he had come up with a plan. He thought that all he needed was to implement that plan and the journey would be joyous and memorable.
He said, “It will soon be Christmas.”
“Oh,” said the mother, somewhat dismayed that he had brought the subject up. Somehow, she was hoping that it would be forgotten.
The little boy grew all excited. “I know and I have been waiting for this the whole year. Would I get a present, and would there be any Christmas trees and candles? You promised-“
“Oh Yes, and all that and more,” said the father.
The mother was startled at the father’s reply. She said, “But-“
“I am downright serious,” said the father. “I am not kidding. There will be that and much more. But, excuse me, I shall return in a few minutes.”
He left them for some time and when he returned, he was smiling. “Well, it is almost time,” he said.
“May I please have your watch, so that I will know the time,” asked the boy.
The father unstrapped his watch and handed it over to the little boy. The boy stared at it in silence and excitement.
When it reached mid-night, he jumped and screamed in excitement,” Wow! Its Christmas! Where are my presents?”
“Here we go,” said the father and he led his wife and son along the room, down the hallway.
His wife kept saying, “I do not understand.”
“Oh, you will,” said the father.
“Alright, here we are,” said the father. The father opened the door to a large cabin. The father tapped on the door thrice and the door slowly opened. It was all dark and there were many whispers.
The father asked the son to go in. “But it is dark,” said the little boy.”
“Don’t worry, I shall hold your hand,” said the father.
“Mother, please join us,” said the little boy.
They went into the dimly lit room and the door shut behind them. Before them was a large window of sorts, a porthole with a thick glass. It was almost his father’s height and through that, they could look into outer space.
The boy gasped in awe. His parents also were awestruck at the magnificent view. Behind them, their fellow passengers began to sing Christmas carols.
The father hugged his son and said, “Merry Christmas, my son.”
They sang carols with the other passengers and really had a good time.
However, the boy could not take his face from the window. He was awe-struck at the million candles that were lit below…
This is a short bedtime story, which was originally written by Raymond Douglas Bradbury, popularly known as Ray Bradbury. He was an American Science Fiction and fantasy writer and most of his works have been converted to either movies or comics.