Little Faith pressed her face on the window and stared at the beautiful globe with the three witches that turned and turned. She was holding her mother's hand, both wearing torn gloves that let their fingers out, to be touched by the cold wind. They hadn't eaten for days, and, as it was Christmas Eve, Mrs Hope was going to ask to help Mr Strickland at his gift shop, in exchange for a little money for hers and Faith's Christmas dinner.
"What do you see my darling Faith?" Mrs Hope asked, seeing her daughter's eyes nearly in tears.
"I see that beautiful globe with the three witches. How I wish I could buy it for Christmas"
"I know honey, but at the moment we need food and warmth. So I am going to ask Mr Strickland for a job for today, so we can eat and get a warm room in the shelter. So, I want you to promise me you'll be a good girl and you won't speak to the man, until he speaks to you and also not to touch anything in the shop."
It was known to the whole village that Mr Strickland was a very strange and sometimes mean man. He had never decorated his shop for Christmas and no one had ever seen him smile.
"All right mommy", answered Faith. But she didn't take her eyes off the globe as they were entering the shop.
Mr Strickland, without even raising his head shouted "No beggars, go away!"
Mrs Hope was ready to turn around and go, but she made a step forward, took a deep breath and said "No, we're not beggars. I am looking for a job for today, or any other day until New Year's, so that I and my little girl can have a plate of food"
"Niah, I know what you're like. If I take you in here, the minute I'll turn my back you'll steal my money"
Mrs Hope was ready to say something when she noticed that Faith had gone near the window and had stretched her arm and taken the globe.
"Faith, NO!" shouted Mrs Hope and Mr Strickland plunged at the window and grabbed Faith by the hair. "NO ONE TOUCHES ANYTHING IN HERE, ESPECIALLY YOU, YOU FILTHY BEGGAR!!" and pushed her out of the door.
Faith let a cry and fell on the floor. As she fell, the globe flew out of her hands, and it crashed on the pavement. Faith looked around her and saw she was on her own, her mom or Mr Strickland were nowhere in sight and the shp was shut.
Suddenly, the wind blew madly and everything became misty, as three strands of smoke rose from the globe and transformed themselves into fully fleshed witches, identical to the ones that were in the globe.
"Ah! Free at last!" said one witch.
"Unbelievable, after 260 years!" said another
"Hey, look, the Strickland shop is still here!" said the third.
Faith, with her mouth open stared at the witches. When she finally realised what was happening she asked:
"Are you real witches?"
"Oh, my dear child," said the oldest of the three witches", of course we are. We were cursed by that man's ancestor, Midas Strickland, to live inside the globe, because we punished him for being greedy. I see his progeny is not far better. We've been watching him all these years. Ever since he inherited that shop from his father. He's been a miserable and stingy man, especially after his wife died and left him on his own. I loathe him, but pity him the same time. I'm Fenella, by the way"
"And I'm Prunella" said the middle one.
"And I'm Carmella" said the youngest one and bowed.
"And you, " said Fenella " who freed us, can have a wish. Any wish. What would you like? Wealth? A house? More food than you can ever eat? Eternal beauty? Ask for anything"
Faith thought for a while. "You know what I want?"
"I know", said Carmella. "A doll, as beautiful as...well, me"
"Oh, shoosh Carmella" said Prunella. "Let the child decide. And I think I know what she wants. She wants a warm coat"
"You are both wrong", said Fenella looking at her two sisters dissapprovingly. "I think she wants her mother to get a job. That will be at least useful for longer!"
"Actually..." hesitated Faith, "you are all wrong. What I really want is..."
"Yeah?" the three witches said together with anticipation
"I want ... I want Mr Strickland to be happy...!"
"No, no, no, you don't understand" said Prunella. "The wish is for YOU and YOU only. Whatever made you think you could wish for someone else?"
"Yes, but don't you see?" insisted Faith. "If Mr Strickland was a happier man, he wouldn't be mean to my mother and me, he would have given her the job and we would not be cold and starving tonight. Or ever"
"I think she has a point", Carmella said. "You know for a little girl, you have a very big heart. What is your name by the way?"
"Faith" said the little girl and gave them a big smile.
"Well, Faith" Fenella said and rose her hands to the sky, as did the other two witches.
"Here it is, your wish:
By the enchanting Moon that illuminates the sky
And the stars that are lamps in the night
Make this man named Strickland happy
For ever more, as of tonight!"
And, wooosh, three stars appeared from the sky leaving three bright stardusted tails that lit the night with the brightest lights.
Faith blinked her eyes and when she opened them she was once again all alone. The witches were not around and the shop door was once again open.
"Faith, Faith" she heard a voice. It wasn't her mother's voice. It was a man's. It was...Mr Strickland's!
"Come inside, you'll freeze to death little girl" said Mr Strickland. Faith rose to her feet and went closer to the shop hesitating at the start, but then she saw her mother smiling to her so she ran inside.
"Well, Mrs, erm, Mrs..."
"Hope" said the woman, holding her daughter.
"Well Mrs Hope, I tell you what. It's already after four and I see that everyone's at home, no one will be coming here now. So why don't I shut this place and we all go home and have dinner. My sister sends me a huge meal every year and I can never go through it, so tonight we will share it. What do you say? Heck, it's Christmas Eve, after all!"
Faith and her mother looked at each other. Mrs Hope could not believe her ears. She smiled at the man and said "With pleasure, sir" and they all left to have a warm night and a rich meal.
Mrs Hope started working at Mr Strickland's shop, who gave her and Faith a small room above the shop to live. A few months later he married her and became the happiest man in the world, always smiling and giving a lot of money to the poor.
Mrs Hope could never understand what exactly happened and Mr Strickland changed overnight.
She never learned about her daughter's wish and the three witches of Christmas.
Faith never told her the story. She would never believe her.
It didn't really mattered though.
She kept her secret to herself. And every Christmas Eve she would look at the sky and she would see three stars flickering and smiling back at her.
Ok, that's a little story for Christmas I wrote some years ago, for my AOL webpage (which existed before this blog)
I dedicate it to all of you, wonderful people and wish you
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!
and may you always have
FAITH and HOPE