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Title : The Art of Talking - A Christmas Story
Description : For Mom:

The art of talking. by nick cifuentes.

The old man sat will full on the bench. He reminded me of dear old friend, the one who left such an imprint on me. His desire to converse dragged me next to his soiled disguise.

His coat was dark, like muzzled skin from a burn, his shadow struck ten and under it sat a willowed mustache. The chatty smoke crated by his breath formed odd shapes as it left his mouth, it aligned itself upward as he rolled each consonant he spoke.

"It's cold."

"It is," I replied, clearing my throat each time I spoke. A sign of my habituos nerves, I did this each time I felt uncomfortable. Be it my family, love, life or loss, in each step it broke more soundly.

"You don't like me."

"I don't know you."

"True, but you could..." His breath exploded into a tulmutous ruckus of hacking.

I backed away, probably should of gotten up and just left, but it was his innocence that seemed to keep me in place.

"You take this bus a lot, I never see you"

It was hard to not respond. Both waiting for this moment to fall out of existence, or a meteor to crash through this bench and the 4 pine trees we sat around. I often think of moments like that, where peace is at the left and then in one whisper, it's all gone. Depth at its most touching, right minded decision. To soar from a place where time is unreachable, where stars have conversations we'll never hear, where Giants play soundly in the corners of its fabric. It's dark, it's loud, and it's silent.

I quickly threw my world back into a place of cold, snow. Started to fall. It felt like a novel moment in front of the Dunkin Donuts Christmas tree starting back at us across the street.

"I usually drive to work, but the car has been acting strange and my wife and I have been given it a break here and there. A la, here I am."

His gruff improved, he started to take a handkerchief out of pocket, it was soaked wet. Like the rest of him, his smell reminded me of our old dog, Asti, an impressive collie, 60 pounds overweight, but loyal. Growing up with animals you learn to disown your senses, they become calloced & used. Grown over like Mrs. Sally's backyard, you adapt to the pain that life adds to your everyday burdens. One day gone, another day closer. His smell wavered in between a wet dog, and overly musty cologne. Terrible but surprisingly pleasant.

"I was married once. She left me for a reason"

What reason I wondered. In all the seconds we have spent together, I have never once thought to remain until this moment. The idea of hearing more of this rampant vision is a rampage of regret the longer I tread. It's a serial of relief I can't decide between - each moment begging for another to spare the decision.

"Christmas, she left me for Christmas."

My thoughts turned even more curious now, it left me thinking of who, what, where and why Christmas would leave this helpless soul behind. Outside of his acute smell, the old man was a summit. His shadow was one to live a thousand lifetimes I'm sure. We often think that moments can tie together this beautiful string of existence, and while the pearls can sometimes be white and beautiful, they fade, or they falsify their color to be something we mistake for honesty. And love left in facade of constant training. A love for a day, for a second of what life thinks is even more upsetting then the next day.

The next day. You, I have tried, but I don't fit. That kind of love is for fools. To trust a soul with no scars, it's nonsense. They cut beautiful blemishes into our hallways, slicing down the familiar path - here. At this bench, at this moment. It made me think what would Christmas take from me in my future past; what would I wine on a bench in the middle of winter, next to some chug who thinks they have seen the world. You don't know the world, the work, the death that means to be me in my life. And they never will, it's settling for an ending, some finite decision that thinks of finishing, In this sentence, this period.

I'm green to this moment. A soft disguise called Christmas is sitting next to me.

"You believe in Jesus" he muttered through his shadow.

"Some days," I responded without hesitation. I gave into that one. Too easy.

"When I was a boy, I member the fist time I saw him. My father led me down the aisle and I made a joke about the boys wearing those outfits and it reminded me of my mom's friend at the hospital. I laughed and he told me that the lord wouldn't laugh at me if I was wearing that outfit right now. Then I looked up, and saw it. His face, his tears, his eyes."

"That's when I saw it"

"Saw what?"


I danced around his silence and was thinking how to respond. To be sensitive, and yet respectful of the odd situation this conversation was soon to lead to. We run scared often from that's what unfamiliar to us - I'm no different.

"Yea..." I couldn't finish the thought. It was blank, and impressive to be shutout by someone who now not only could outwit me with his shadow, but also his trembling speech.

"It was Christmas Day, I wost him a few years later, and then she went too; it's all I had left was him really."

"It take a lot to breathe, to touch, to feel, every day I'm proud of my life. I sit here, try not to bother good people like yo self, and know I'm lucky to have this life."

"Don't you wish you had more though, money, friends, a network, a circle to come home to? I don't mean to be brash, or insensitive, I know it must be hard."

"You bet yo ass it's hard. It's cold, it's wet, it's dirty, bugs, begging. But you know..."

He paused and seemed to sit with a moment in his mind we all wish we could have. That sense of all knowing and realizing that very thing...

"It's perfect. Like a melody, da, da da, da, da, da, da; you hear that?"

His fingers played the most beautiful piece of music it ever could in front of us, like an orchestra dreaming through a piece that had the most perfect note.

I smiled.

"I do"

"I hear that all the time, and it's some thing they play for me, it's buty ful"

His stare into the air was flawless, it played it over and over again in my head, I wanted to hear it so badly.

"You should go, that's your bus, right?"

The metal sleigh screeched in front of us, dim lights, the numbers lost in the darkness. Sardines spilling over themselves.

"I do, yea."

I stepped up, shook the dirt off my coat and stared next to me. I don't think I wanted to leave that moment, it was just a matter of minutes, but felt like I met someone who I could look up to, and never learn enough about.

I reached in my pocket...

"Don't son, it's ok, buy your pretty lady a nice gift this year, do that for me."

His smile was cracked with broken teeth and dark circles, the shadow Buckled as he spoke. Aloud.

"And listen to that music, da, da da, da, da, da, da..."

My soul smiled. As I stepped up once, my thought was to turn around, to sit there with him. And then another, I could hear the bop asking me to. stop. For just a few more minutes, I'll take the next one, I'll spend that time, dream away in the cold, wet snow, think of everything I possibly couldn't and be.

I squeezed into the coop and to my left a woman speaking beyond her soul with a thick accent into a speaker box, and my right, a little boy listening to a small cassette player. Beyond the rush of multiple voices, I could hear it. It started faint, and then the whisper became a dull roar; the music, the melody, it was there - in all of its innocence.

The coach finished loading, I shocked myself into the bee of the bop. I zipped to my left, one last glance. The sagged ridges of humans in snow, the bench lined with dark white circles; threads stuck to the nails I sat next to, peeled away, splintering shadows, tiny efforts, and a soul of mass. And empty space.

I turned back. My soul smiled.


It made my souls smile, even now as I think if that man. I never new his name, his title, his favorite color, whether he liked eggs or preferred pancakes for breakfast, and maybe dinner, some folk enjoy that. It's my favorite Christmas memory, and can say it's close to 100% true, from a random boston moment during the winter of 2005.

Listen, be humble, thankful and always remember what this season is about.

Merry Christmas.


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Duration : 11:40
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