Caroline's Guardian Angel
Caroline, are you ready? We have to go! Carolines parents were putting on their coats in the hallway.
I don't want to go, she said quietly, looking out the window. It was drizzling outside. Despite the festive holiday lights, the streets looked dull and dismal.
Caroline! called her father, a little louder this time.
Caroline sighed. She had always enjoyed the time before Christmas. But, everything was different this year. It would be her first Christmas without Grandpa. She felt the tears welling up in her eyes.
Caroline, where are you? Her parents were getting impatient.
Iâm coming! She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
Grandpa had been her best friend. He had always been there when she needed him. Caroline felt a telltale tear slip down her cheek.
Caroline, we have to go now! Her mother was standing directly behind her. Caroline hadn't heard her coming. Oh, honey, you're crying. She gently held Caroline in her arms. You miss him, don't you?
It's okay. I'am on my way down. Caroline slipped out of her mothers arms and hurried down the stairs.
Lets go, we don't want to miss the concert,Carolines mother said enthusiastically. A concert! Caroline rolled her eyes.
The shopping district was already packed with people. Caroline and her parents were swept along by the crowds. Lots of people were already waiting for the concert to begin. I'd like to look around a little bit, she said hoping that the market would be less busy during the concert.
All right, but be back in one hour and stay inside the market.
Typical Mom, she always worried too much. I'am eleven ”not a baby anymore. Caroline sighed and stormed off. Sure enough, the market was a bit emptier. Booths sold hot chocolate, Christmas cookies, candles, and jewelry. There was even an old-fashioned carousel, a Christmas tree lot, and, of course, a Santa Claus.
Those men in Santa suits are for kids, thought Caroline wearily and trudged on. Suddenly, something familiar surfaced between the heads of the shoppers in front of her. That hat! Wasn't that? Carolines heart leaped to her throat. There! There it was again! It was a dark blue cap. Grandpa! Even though she knew it couldn't really be true, she found herself speeding up, but suddenly it disappeared.
Not knowing what to do, Caroline stopped.
Who were you chasing, little girl?
The two boys, who looked about fifteen years old, were speaking to her. â€œHey, are you deaf or something? They came closer. Caroline felt uncomfortable and took a few steps back. â€œNice purse you have there. Lets see how much money your mommy sent us. The bigger of the two boys reached for her purse.
No, screamed Caroline. She turned around and ran, the two boys on her heels. She turned and slipped through a gap between the booths and kept running. Suddenly, the path came to a dead end! Caroline looked around anxiously, but there was no escape. She was trapped. The boys had already caught up to her.
Bad luck, little girl. The older one grinned. Time to pay up.
Carolines heart was racing in fear. Her hand gripped her purse tightly.
Hand it over. The boys slowly came closer. Caroline wanted to cry for help, but fear closed her throat. Well, fine. Have it your way¦ Hey! What?
A man stood behind the boys, gripping them by the hoods of their jackets. Caroline could hardly believe her eyes. The man wore a blue cap. Leave the girl alone, she heard him say.
Otherwise, you'll have to deal with me. Don't you have anything better to do than to steal money from an eleven-year-old girl?
The two boys looked at each other, appalled. They quickly freed themselves from the man's grasp and ran away.
Are you all right? the man asked, concerned. The deep voice sounded familiar.
Yes¦ I'm, uh, fine, thanks, she stammered as she tried to get a look at the man's face. But it was too dark behind the booths to see anything clearly.
Good, then lets go back. The man accompanied Caroline back through the booths, and then he was gone. Where could he have gone? She turned around and looked in every direction. It was strange how he'd shown up just in the nick of time and even stranger that he knew her age.
She could just hear the brass ensemble playing â€œSilent Night, Holy Night. That meant the concert was almost over.
Merry Christmas! said a voice near Caroline, startling her. The costumed Santa Claus was offering her a candy cane. Sorry, I didn't mean to make you jump! You look as though you've seen a ghost, he said when he saw the look on her face.
No, not a ghost, said Caroline. She thought quietly for a moment, and then it came to her. Of course! It had to be. She was sure of it. A little smile danced at the edges of her mouth. Just my guardian angel!
Silke Lefler (org.)
A simply wonderful Christmas “ A literary advent calendar
New York, North-South Books, 2006