“Wow, I’ve always wanted one of them. Can I have it?”
“No! It’s mine.”
“But I want it!”
“It’s not yours, it’s mine, you can borrow it if you want, you can’t keep it though.”
“Okay, I’ll give it back to you tomorrow.”
So I gave it to her, and she never gave it back. Every day I asked her for it and she would tell me that she had forgotten it, she would bring it tomorrow. I would pout and tell her not to forget because my mother would get angry. Still she forgot it until eventually I forgot. The little boy in front of me, sitting down on the bus, is playing with one. That’s why I’ve suddenly remembered. A snowman encased in a glass sphere. He shakes it, the snow covering the small, plastic figure. The fascination created by such a simple thing, that simple thing that held such significance for me.
I love this time of year, sitting on the bus watching families making their way home in the crisp cold evenings. Children dressed in their warm clothes, wearing bobble hats, their parents wiping their noses, adjusting their clothes in case they catch a cold. The children excited after going shopping, knowing that they don’t have long to wait until they can open their presents on Christmas morning. I’d give anything to experience that one more time. The innocence and the expectation. Not that I expected much, that small toy, the snowman in his glass house, that was what I loved the most.
Shaking the ball I was there living with him. The snow falling around us both, the snowman coming alive, playing with me, throwing snowballs. Going into his small house and sitting by the warmth of his fire, the innocence and naivety of my imagination, a man made of snow completely unaffected by the blazing fire. He would read stories to me and then we would go back out into his garden and play some more. All the time I was lost in this dream, oblivious to the realities going on around me, my family laughing and joking, opening their own presents.
I would take it to school and take sneak peeks at it when the teacher wasn’t looking, escaping the boredom of another day at school. Oh how I wish I could allow my imagination to run wild like it did then. Cynicism, experiences, life, they’ve all taken away the beauty of youth. Seeing the little boy brought it all up again, maybe I can still let my imagination run away, perhaps I don’t have to be cynical, I can still sometimes be that naive little girl. I wonder if he will keep it? How long will it keep his attention? Will he go home and put it down and never touch it again?
That day I gave it to her, was that the day when life realities started to chip away at that innocence? Not being able to refuse someone, trusting that they’d give back my beloved snowman. She probably forgot, I doubt there was any malice in it. Small things, things that you completely forget but are triggered by other small events, seemingly so irrelevant. You look back and realise that the consequences were bigger than not getting something back, it was the start of the journey that has led me to be sitting here looking at a small child with envy. I think I’ll treat myself to one, I can relive that Christmas again, even if only for a few minutes.