By the time I reached town I was frozen to the bone and in a thoroughly bad mood. It was my own fault, I’d been thinking too much and I was just ready to go home, fall back into bed and stay there until the new year. The town was more festive than I’d ever seen it. There were Christmas lights and mistletoe in every doorway. There was a sleigh in the middle of the square with a slightly plump man dressed as father Christmas, handing out messily wrapped gifts to little kids and loud Christmas music was blasting out from speakers disguised as golden stars. To get to the grocery shop I was going to have to navigate my way around the large crowd of toddlers and their parents. I sighed. I really wasn’t in the mood to have to deal with the runny nosed, sticky fingered children, all hyped up on the excitement of Christmas, let alone their pushy mothers. Instead I decided to take a detour through a field just opposite the square, that would lead me straight to the shop.
I hoisted my bag further up my shoulder before starting on my journey, head down and trying only to focus on nothing but my footsteps. Otherwise I was sure my negative thoughts would drive me mad. I’d managed to count to on hundred steps when something caught my attention, a flash of white in the corner of my eye. I looked up suddenly to see that a couple of feet away was a girl dressed all in white, slumped awkwardly on the damp grass. My breath caught in my throat and I quickly picked up my pace, rushing over to the dainty figure. I fell to my knees as I reached her and gently rolled her over so that I could see her face. “Please don’t be dead, please don’t be dead,” I whispered, my eyes scanning her face to see any signs of life. Slowly, her eyes fluttered open and a wave of relief swept over me, my heart crashing against my ribcage. “W-where am I?” The girl murmured in a soft voice. I finally took a moment to fully take her in. She looked around seventeen or eighteen, the same age as me and she was wearing an angel costume. Suddenly I realised what I’d stumbled upon.
“You’re in a field in Honeycomb town. Rough night last night was it? What was it, your works Christmas party? Christmas do with your friends? I said loudly so to be sure that she could hear me.
“Something like that,” the girl groaned. She sat up slowly, looking extremely confused. “I’m Zoey,” I said, trying to smile as politely as I could, when for some reason I felt angry at this random girl. What kind of idiot got themselves into such a drunken state that they found themselves face down in a field without a clue where they were? Nevertheless as the girl began to gaze around with wide unblinking eyes, I began to unbuckle my bag and took out the flask of coffee. “Here,” I said holding it to her mouth, “take a sip.” The girl did as I said, wiping her arm across her mouth when she was done. After a couple seconds of silence the girl cleared her throat and smiled up at me. “Thank you. I’m Angie.”
Despite my reservations I found myself smiling back. “Do you want a hand up Angie?” I asked, heaving myself to my feet and brushing at the wet patches that the frost covered grass had left on the knees of my jeans. Angie gave a lopsided grin, “might as well,” she shrugged. As I helped her up, she still glanced around with a bewildered expression on her face, as if she’d just fallen out of the sky. Once she was standing I gathered my things and turned to leave. “Well, I better get off-” I started, but Angie reached towards me and stumbled as she did. “You’re leaving? Oh wow, I think I’m going to faint, please don’t leave me.” I had half a mind to turn around and leave without another word. It was her own fault after all, getting her self into this state over Christmas. But there was something about her that was so calming and made me feel instantly comfortable that I couldn’t just leave her there alone. Her big questioning eyes and long brown hair reminded me of someone but I wasn’t sure who. I sighed half-heartedly but turned to face her again. “Ok, I won’t leave. Do you want me to walk you home or something?” “You know, I’d much rather tag along wherever you’re going?” Although it struck me as odd I didn’t mind so much. It might be nice to have some company to keep my mind occupied. “Ok, sure,” I replied and nodded in the direction I was going.
Angie lifted up the hem of her dress, the massive feather covered wings on her back swaying gently with each step we took. As we walked I noticed Angie begin to perk up. She lifted her head high, breathing in the fresh air and slight fragrance of pine needles. “So, what did you drink last night that got you so out of it?” Angie, who was now gliding along effortlessness, even with a certain type of grace, frowned. “Out of it?” “You know, drunk?” Angie laughed lightly. “The only thing I’m drunk on is Christmas!” I raised my eyebrows and scoffed. “What, you don’t like Christmas?” Angie exclaimed, her eyes wide with concern. I didn’t bother explaining that my scoff was down to my disbelief that she wasn’t drunk off something much stronger than Christmas cheer. Instead I said, “Nope,” quite bluntly. So much for distracting me. In fact Angie was beginning to get on my nerves and I regretted letting her come along. Why had I said yes again? I could see the shop ahead and hoped that when we got there this perfectly strange stranger might go off and do her own thing, even if that did include collapsing into another field, apparently high on glittery baubles and Christmas puddings.
“What?!” Angie exclaimed, “how can you not like Christmas? What about the decorations, the mice pies, the mistletoe, the holly, the hot coco…” As Angie blathered on I went about my shop, trying to pretend that she wasn’t there. It was hard though, especially when she didn’t stop talking, not when the bell on the door tinkled to announce our arrival or when Mr Lake the shop owner greeted us. With each item I picked up, Angie added another thing to the list of why she loved Christmas. By the time I’d been rigged up, Mr Lake had wished us a Merry Christmas and we were back out in the freezing air, Angie had hardly taken a breath and was red in the face. “… The turkey dinner, the Christmas movies, advent calendars, putting an angel on top of the Christmas tree…” “Stop!” I exclaimed, afraid that if I heard another word Angie might find herself in the middle of a field again after being knocked out by a can of baked beans.
“Sorry,” she mumbled looking deflated. Her expression just annoyed me more and I started walking away, straight towards the crowd of children in the square, hoping perhaps I’d lose Angie in their midst and she’d get the message and just go home. When I reached the edge of the crowd I fully submerged myself into the sea of bodies, my shopping bags digging into people’s sides and granting me a few dirty looks. When I emerged on the other side I grinned triumphantly. The grin wavered after a few seconds though when I realised that Angie was still glued to my side, ginning up at me, her arms wrapped around her torso as if she was trying to warm herself up, which she probably was, considering she was dressed like a six year old who was playing angel Gabriel in a school play. “What kind of idiot goes out like that anyway?” I mumbled as one of her wings poked my face. “Don’t you like it?” Angie said spinning around, as if I needed to see the whole sordid outfit. “No.” I replied. Angie smiled hugely. “Don’t you like anything?” “No.” “Aw come on. I bet that I can guess what you do like. Oh, maybe carol singing? Oh, yes, I can see you right now, front and centre of a large choir, standing at the middle of a beautiful church singing ‘Do you hear what I hear?’ Oh yeah, that’s totally you.”
Well that hit a nerve. My shopping bags suddenly felt incredibly light in comparison to my legs. I had to sit down. I spotted a set of swings a little across the way in a playground and made my way towards them before my legs gave up. Since I was young I’d absolutely loved singing and when I was eight I’d joined my local choir. Every year at Christmas the choir put on a carol service in the Honeycomb Church and every year I’d swell with pride when I was picked to perform a solo. ‘Do you hear what I hear?’ had been my mum’s favourite song. I hadn’t performed a Christmas carol service with my choir for the last three years, since she’d been gone.
I took a deep breath and tried to steady my heartbeat before glancing at Angie, who had perched on the swing beside me, moving gently back and forth. In the low winter sunlight she truly did look like an angel. “How did you know all that?” I asked quietly. Angie was silent for a moment before shrugging. “You know I’m really not sure. So you do sing?” “Yeah.” “Do you sing Christmas carols?” “I used to. I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore.” Angie swung forwards, kicking her white stocking covered legs towards the sky, a thoughtful look on her face. “Does singing make you happy?” She asked. I nodded. “Did Christmas use to make you happy?” “Yes.” “So did singing Christmas carols use to make you happy?” I hesitated before nodding again. “Well, I’m pretty sure that all anyone wants is for you to be happy.” “Anyone?” I repeated, confused at her strange choice of words. “Anyone and everyone,” Angie said firmly. I looked away from her and began twisting the chains of my swing around and around, like I used to do when I was younger, when my mums arms got tired from pushing the swing.
“Angie?” I said. “Yes?” “Who are you?” I stopped spinning and glanced at her to see that she’d been spinning the chains of her swing as well. Angie’s grin was huge when I looked at her and was so bright it almost blinded me. “I may be in this angel get up Zoey, but if I told you who I was, I might have to kill you,” and with that she loosened the tension on the chains and let them spin back to their normal position. I followed her lead letting my hair fly back and pointing my toes. A warmth spread across my whole body, despite the below freezing temperature of the air. When I stopped swinging and my head stopped spinning I slowly gazed around the playground. Angie was gone.