“A good day, Papa?”
“There is but one good thing about a day, Pete,” returned Scrooge. “The end of it.” Then, “Stoke the fire.”
“I would, Papa, but there is no coal.”
Scrooge cursed, and the six children crouched closer together beneath their tattered blankets and clothing. The fire would not warm them, this eve, but perhaps their father’s ire would provide its usual heat. “How is it that we’ve run out of coal again?” Scrooge shouted.
Mrs. Scrooge would have kissed her husband upon his entry, but she knew better. Now, she only wished he would settle his nerves. “Dear…” The rest was lost on the crotchety old man.
“I’m already feeling ill, Mrs. Scrooge,” he interrupted. “I think I shall forego the stale bread and make my way to the bed chamber.”
“I’m sorry to hear it, Mr. Scrooge,” answered the missus. Ebenezer headed into the adjoining room.
A tiny, tinny voice emerged from the center of the collective blankets. “Happy Christmas Eve, Papa.” Tiny Tim’s brown eyes were surrounded by white as his face peeked from the warm collective. The other children enveloped him. Papa Scrooge ignored the comment from his brood, shutting the dividing curtain and removing his wraps and carelessly tossing them into a wet pile on the floor.
“I shall sleep like the dead,” said Scrooge. And I shall awaken with a headache, thought he. Why must tomorrow be any different from today? And then he remembered the door’s knob – Jacob Marley’s reflection there. Strange, he pondered. Why should Marley come into his mind after all this time? He had been honored to be a pallbearer at Marley’s interment, seven years before this one. He remembered the weight of the casket – surprisingly heavy for such a narrow gentleman. He must have been buried with his money belt. The pallbearers had borne the weight of the casket for 15 blocks from the wake at his mansion to the churchyard.
But now? Seven years had passed without a passing thought of Marley, and now…a reflection as clear as daylight. It must have been a poorly digested potato. Scrooge anticipated visits to the chamber pot. “Happy Christmas, Mr. Scrooge,” he told himself, as he slipped, shivering, onto his cold pallet in hopes of sleeping. He was never warm any more, even out of season. The cold hardness of his demeanor was deeply rooted in Scrooge’s bitter heart and soul, planted so deeply within that the cold spidered throughout his existence and emanated from his flesh. Scrooge was unaware that the temperature of a room descended several degrees upon his very entrance. As such the man was always cold.