The Little Soldier (A Christmas Story) | By: Emilce | | Category: Short Story - Christmas Bookmark and Share

The Little Soldier (A Christmas Story)


(A Christmas Story)



As it is the habit, I would almost start this story by telling you "Once upon a time...", but you will coincide with me in that every significante thing in life starts happenig just once first time that won´t be a any other.

I very clearly remember the first time I saw him. He was in a bag full of toys, under a pine embellished for Christmas. The little soldier belonged to a great army joined by other little toys-cowboys, Indians, and strange monsters. They were all mixed together except for small group of medieval knights that were placed in one of the corners of the bag. I evoke this image because, among them, there was one whose outstanding beauty made it difficult to go unnoticed. I was a little princess. She looked like a fairy in miniature, refined and exquisite. Her features were so delicate that she did not seem to be a toy.

This little soldier in question was a very special toy. When I picked him up, I got confused by the curious position of his body. He was squatted down, with one of his knees bent on land, his torso and both hands bent forwards. He seemed to be getting out of a trench; or looking for the ground after throwing a hand grenade; or , maybe, he was falling wounded so that the children who would play with him learnt, with didactical irony, about he consequences of getting shot. However, my enthusiasm for sport erased those depressing images determinig that, the position of his body was exactly the same as that adopted by runners when they are just before the starting point in a race. I thought that position was nicer for the little soldier as, in this way, he was presented as the fastest and most hardened man in the whole army.

There was also something particular about my favorite toy: this little soldier, unlike the others, had no guns. I thought he had a failure. In his hands there existed some sort of hollow to place something amid them, but it was empty. This detail exceedingly surprised me as it kept me wondering which function it really had. Anyway, it wasn´t long before I could place some guns in them so that he could combat.

Throughout the many years we spent playing togheter, he played a wide variey of roles. At first, I left him in a small hole, as if he was getting out of a trench. But as we got to know each other, I realised that his dream was much bigger than I had imagined. I learnt about this, when I started to talk to him. When you grow up and become an adult, and you watch children talking to theirs toys, you think it is the children the ones who make them talk to their own imagination. And it is here when you forget the extraordinary capacity that children have to be connected with toys.It is the love towards their fantasy fellows what makes these true friends to be as if they were alive, as it was the case between my little soldier and me.

As I was sayig, he didn´t want to stay in the trenches. So, I placed him at the vanguard, at the head of their comrades, to show them his courage and valour. And yet , despite his meritorious function, I didn´t see him content at all. I made him carry flags from different countries, but he explained to me that children from countries where there had been wars didn´t like playing in that way. I changed the times to see if he could find out his favorite weapon, but, due to the position of his body, none was useful.And that was how he met cowboys; how he sometimes played the Indian when they were the minority; and how he even managed to make great monsters have a hard time. Still, in spite of his wide experience in playing battles, the little soldier didn´t look happy.

So it crossed my mind to introduce him to the little group of medieval knights. And it was then when, like every significant thing in life, he met the little princess for the first time.It was no use trying to make him play far away from her. He wanted to play with her all the time. However, the little princess didn´t like to be where soldiers were fighting , and that made it difficult for me to find a suitable job for my friend. I always saw him by her side, bent down, with his knee on land and an expression of ecstasy before his true love.

This particular attitude of him led me to invent another situation:from his posture he could treat the wounded, heal and even operate them. Form that time on he would be a daring and intrepid doctor, devoted to saved the lives of his fellow beings, no matter the war going on around him! I liked the bravery of his mission so much that, for a while, I congratulated myself on having had that unusual spark of ingenuity. I was proud of his fearless, audacious spirit, of his selfish devotion to serve his comrades. And there he remained, happy, with his little princess as a nurse helping him heal the wounded of fantasy.

But it was there where I failed. The little princess didn´t wat so many sacrifices .She had been born to have the bravest warriors at her feet, or to have them fighting duels for her love. Practically, she didn´t help my little soldier and, little by little the din of battle left him farther, at the rearward. Farther from the game. Farther from the little princess. And, worst of all, farther from me. In the course of time, a cruel curiosity about my news toys made me forget his presence among my things. Our chats had gone and, eventually, I forgot to invite him to play. Without realising how much alike indolece and abandon are, I didn´t even ask myself how much pain indifference would be causig to the little soldier.

Then something unexpected happened in the cadre of toys: a very special One appeared. It was a wounded little Man. He had fallen from one of my grandmother´s necklaces of beads. He should have come from a Great Battle , as he was lying down, lengthwise, with his arms wide open. He had certainly been a victim of torture: his clothes had been torn leaving him almost naked; apart from the wounds in his chest, hands and feet, his forehead was bleeding as though a thorn crown had been stuck into it. It worried me who his owner might have been, who could tolerate the sight of so much suffering in a toy.But soon after that, I realised that I had found the ideal mate for my little soldier, who, having lost his limelight in my entertaiment, caught my attention again. And, actually, I should be very attentive because, after they were introduced to each other, I started listening the most wonderful dialogues that toys had ever given me.

The little soldier commited himself to improve the condition of his new Mate at once. However, despite his efforts, his wounds wouldn´t stop bleeding. Suffering had been sealed upon his face for ever.I soon realised that none of them would be able to do anything else but suffer: the little soldier , perpetually squatted down; and the little Man, eternally hurt.

Although my soldier had the experience of innumerable battles as a doctor, still he had used up all his resources in vain to save his Friend. Desolate, with sadness and a feeling of frustation, he apologized to the wounded little Man for not being able to heal him. His friend told him that it wasn´t the wounds themselves what had caused him so much pain, but the fact that they had been done by those whom he loved like brothers.

I still remember the little soldier´s grief upon his face. He looked as if he was about to cry. His hands weren´t able to hide his face. I had never imagined to see such a sad toy. I didn´t know how to deal with the situation. He had never found sense to the game of war: that was why he didn´t feel confortable anywhere in the battle. And when he had finally found his favorite post, he felt useless , unable to help the wounded little Man. The latter, however, didn´t despair. He tried to make the little soldier understand that life is a long battle and that its grounds were not always understandable, that you had to feel them instead. He then admitted that there were lots of logical answers to face destiny; but his brothers kept leading an incoherent life. The great secret the wounded little Man transmitted me is that life is a constant struggle, but it has sense if our motives are worthwhile . Even so, the little soldier kept being prey to confusion. He didn´t know how to make their existences coherent, for war wasn´t not even if it was a game. So, he was seized by disappointment, and he asked the wounded little Man to guide him to salvation. And by doing so, almost unconsciously, he had learnt the key to his conversion: supplicating the wounded little Man, he found himself in the perfect position to start praying.

How many years have passed since that episode? I can´t remember it. I grew up and life roughess hardened my heart. In a sea of fustration, some triumphs floated, although they were not strong enough for me as to be able to cling to them. That is how my existence used to elapse till the arrivel of festivity, when I happened to remember the lessons which that little soldier had once learnt at Christmas time.

For decades, I lost sight of my loyal little toy. Nevertheless, a formidable impulse led me look for him in desesperation. I felt that seeing him again would make me learn something new, like those things the wounded litle Man used to teach him.

I couldn´t find him anywhere, neither in the attic nor in the shed. Nobody knew where he was. Who really knew where he had ended up.

It was Rose, who has been working at home for many years, the one who remembered that my mother had lent him to our neighbour´s daughter when she fell ill. The girl liked the little princess so much that my mother , in order not to give her the toy alone, gave her the princess along with my little soldier, who would be in charge of looking after the princess...

With the hope of seeing him again, I went to my neighbour´s house. She was then a woman and I found her with her husband and children, waiting for the Christmas Eve guests. I felt a bit ridiculous asking for a toy that, maybe, was so insignificant for her, and after so many years! Yet my question didn´t surprise her. On the contrary, her face got bright, as if she was very pleased because I remembered the toy as well. She let me in. I went into the living room where colourful flashing lights revealed the presence of the Christmas tree. She took me where it was; and, as I getting closer, and incredible surprise made my heart beat faster...

There he was, knelt down next to the crib, in deep spiritual absorption. From his rucksack two little wings came out tied up with wire to his shoulders and belt. From above his head, a copper halo surrounded his little helmet, which was painted light-blue. Close to him, and guarding the Baby Jesus, the little princess was standing in solemn worship. Deeply touched, I caressed them. I was amazed by the turnarounds that Providence cause to happen in one´s destiny.

My neighbour, seeing that I was acting a little strange, asked me if I still wanted to have them. And I was just about to recover from the astonishment to answer her, when the miracle was completed...

At the top of the tree, on a radiant star, the little Man was shinig bright, showing the highest glory of Christmas.

I came back home deeply moved and crying.

My crying had made it impossible for me to give her an answer.



To Bauti and Nicole

Adrián Angel Inchauspe


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