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THE GIFT MAN

Gergana Apostolova

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It all began in times far before history took place on our old Earth, when it was inhabited by the proud race of the dragons and their varied peaceful neighbours: goblins, trolls, banshees, elves, wood people, sea people, yeti and giants.

The glorious dragons often went to battle with each other waging spectacular fights in the air lavish on fire and thunder and turning the green hills below into sparkling golden dunes. Sometimes - into sparkling red dunes.

The other races complained about that so often that finally a decision was arrived at to divide the earth into zones or belts where each race would be left to its own: to mind their special businesses and arrange their lives to their liking.

The Sea, of course, did not count, and it remained as it was on the surface while the sea people took care of its regulation on the bottom as much as they could and as far as they cared and dared.

The land, however, was divided into colour bands, for the mighty dragons were aesthetes and powerful enough to convince the other races that beauty should rule: that is beauty as they saw it. The middle of the global land was dark green, then there were the favourite battle grounds of the dragons in red and yellow, then the shimmering colours of spring, summer and autumn and the inconsistent shadows of brown, grey blue, white and black in winter. The caps of the globe were white for it would be funny to try to paint the polar ice with dragon fire

When they moved the earth races had to abandon their towns and build new ones: the dragons liked pyramids with many steps and entrances, the trolls fell for archways and bridges; banshees, elves and wood people preferred horny bushes, steady oaks and silver lindens; the sea people had always had their coral and crystal palaces with their live seaweed gardens and marble mosaic floors with amphorae where anemones thrived or octopuses formed spooky bouquets. The yeti left their gorgeous palaces carved in the red rocks of the middle earth to replace them with the secret palaces in the caves of the highest mountain with innumerable tunnels and exits in mysterious valleys and spooky precipices.

At the beginning of this migration of the earth races some of the roads cut short through the white ice desert of the North Pole. Then it suddenly became clear that there was still another race on that planet - a race of aliens who had come once on their damaged spaceship from a star too distant to hear their desperate calls for help. Their rocket had steamed through the icy air and landed forever turning into an imposing sparkling ice castle. The survivors of the crew went out and built themselves cozy ice huts with just one porthole on the top for the smoke to get out and for the people to get in.

The space race found this place good enough to settle for the rest of the earth surface was already inhabited by races they had little desire to challenge.

They used to wear red space suits so that they could notice each other easily in the snow and for safety - because unfriendly species sneaked around them and all who did not belong to the team were declared enemy and vaporized instantly with their still efficient laser guns. Thus they imposed respect and the other living things hardly dared do harm to them.

Sometimes they flew south on their miniature fliers: to get some wood (pines and firs preferably for they smelt well, burned readily and carved nicely); to fetch some flowers and fruits (in order to bring colour into the boring whiteness of the snow); or just to have picnic (for even the finest food becomes tasteless when eaten every day at home while simple food gains special taste in a traveller’s bag). They used to take things from the other races’ dwelling zones. However, they were despicably straightforward and believed that they had to leave a gift for every thing taken away. Having arrived in a spaceship they believed that the top porthole was the main entrance to a place so they dropped their gifts in the chimneys.

As time passed the other races waned and died out while the space race thrived and spread all over the planet. Only the commander remained in the spaceship - he was already an old man, surrounded by a group of mini clones - they took care of the spaceship inside and of the ice palace outside, making their immortal machines produce artifacts typical for their home world. Once a year he used to visit his people leaving bright reminders of their previous life. The people, too, started leaving green trees for him and decorated them with bright flowers and fruits. He naturally could not take all of these trees and the greater part of them remained in front of the houses as tokens of his crew’s love for him and the people’s desire to have a reminder by him.

The other races were quite impressed. The glorious dragons who were poetic and the hop goblins who were illiterate, started telling tales about the old man in red garments who came on his flying sleigh and dropped gifts through the chimneys on the longest night of the year. Then everybody started waiting for that special night because even in those remote times all living souls loved to receive gifts. And this night became a great holiday. And the nature of the gifts changed but not the thrill of expecting them - an undefined longing for the lost home among the stars.

 

 

© Gergana Apostolova
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© E-magazine LiterNet, 09.03.2006, № 3 (76)