written by David Pucsek
Hugh was excited on Christmas morning. He wished for a bike this year and couldn’t wait to go down and open it up. He was 8 years old and for as long as he remembered, he always got what he wanted.
Still in his pajamas, he kissed his parents on the cheek, when he went down to the kitchen. Opening presents only came after having breakfast, that was the way it went down every year. But something was not right. He glanced at the packages under the tree and none of them resembled a bicycle. A cold sadness gripped his heart. He was not really hungry but shoved a few strips of bacon into his mouth anyway. After that he asked his father, “Can we open the presents, Dad?”
He looked up from the newspaper with a smile on his face, “I thought you would never ask.”
They went to the tree, Hugh, his mother, and his father; he had a terrible premonition, but tried keeping his hands from shaking, so they wouldn’t notice it. They gave him the smallest package under the tree.
“We know you asked for a bike this year, my son, but this is something much more valuable,” his father smiled.
Unenthusiastically, he untied the little bow, that kept the paper from unfolding. He was speechless. It was a framed picture of Jesus Christ. The colors were all washed out, and the wooden frame had little chips on it. It was a piece of junk for Hugh. He raised his eyes quizzingly at his parents.
“This belonged to your grandparents, dear,” his mother explained. “They had it hanged over their bed, they got it on their wedding day and had it until the day they died. Go on, help your father hang it in your bedroom.”
The fireplace was crackling merrily, red and orange flames danced in its belly, and Hugh had the unconquerable urge to throw the picture into it. He did it, glass shards were flying everywhere, and the frame and picture ignited almost instantly. His mother screamed and reached after the family heirloom, but it was unrecoverable and soon became a no more then smoke and a fading memory. Hugh’s mother cried and tried covering her eyes with her burnt hands, his father threw a menacing look in his direction and leaned down to the crying woman.
Hugh was furious and rushed to his room, shutting the door as hardly as he could. He was expecting the parents to show up soon to ground him, but they didn’t come. He cried a lot during the day, he really wanted a bicycle, and he also felt ashamed about what he did, he wanted his Mom to come, so he could apologize to her. The sun was setting already when someone knocked on his door. It was not his Mom nor his Dad, it was Father Augustine. He was the local priest, a harsh and confident speaker, a man that Hugh always tried to avoid, even when they attended mass. He preached with a voice of thunder, and his blue eyes could pierce anyone’s soul, one had the feeling that he could see everything. He closed the door after himself, leaving the parents outside.