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Silver Angel

by Daniel Braum

Twelve days before Christmas it wakes. It claws its way into the Johnson’s basement to the where the Christmas ornaments, boxed from last year, are ready to be unpacked. Beak and horn and scaly-skin, hooves and forked tail all change to the form of a silver angel, hands clasped in prayer, like always.

The Johnsons are pleased to find it though they didn’t remember it from last year. Still, they place it atop their newly decorated tree.

When the Johnsons are asleep the silver angel creeps down from atop the tree and into the room where the elder Johnson boy is sleeping. With one claw it reaches into the boy’s mind and grasps images of Saint Nicholas. The boy’s belief is strong, so there is a lot of work, lots to eat. By morning the boy does not believe in Saint Nicholas any longer.

Last year the children of this neighborhood saw the specter of the real Saint Nicholas. That is why it has come. To eat. Saint Nicholas, the reindeer, the manifestation of Father Winter all are real.

On Christmas Eve it is about to creep down the tree when it senses something is wrong. The fire in the hearth goes out. Hooves patter on the roof. The specter of Saint Nicholas appears by the milk and cookies. Saint Nicholas eats, but the cookies remain whole. It knows the specter takes nourishment from only the belief with which they were made and placed.

The specter is ugly. An old child of Adam- round face, white beard. This year he is frail and thin- it and its kin have been eating well.

The specter does not see it. He leaves his gifts for the children, blessings- imbued in the toys beneath the tree. It sees the boxes begin to shimmer- this one with long life, that one with happiness, another with laughter and fun.

Hooves stomp the roof. The reindeer sense it and are trying to warn the Saint.

I won’t be taken alive, it thinks. I have walked the earth for ages and have eaten the faith of many children. I will never be forced to serve the Saint.

Faint footsteps pad down the stairs. The younger Johnson boy peers through the arm-rail and sees the specter of Saint Nicholas by the gifts. The specter promptly disappears.

When it is confident its enemies have moved on to another roof the silver angel crawls down from the tree. The Johnson boy has seen. One more meal before this year’s sleep.


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