Inspired by one of my favorite paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, A Miracle on a Starry Night is a short-story I’ve written derived from my love of Christmas and the classic holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
I sat atop the hill, gazing at a night of infinite depth. The moon hung half-dressed as a brilliant golden crescent with stars ablaze across shades of navy-blue. I gazed at the little town just below me. It was rather quaint and bustling with citizens accomplishing various duties. They greeted one another with broad smiles, warm hugs, and excitement. They were dressed in thick coats, shawls, and heavy boots, and had adorned on their arms bags of various hues.
Boxes wrapped in shining paper were also stacked in people’s arms. They were being carried off of the paved roads and into the cottages, where great heaps of grey smoke billowed out from the chimneys. Children playing on the streets outside their homes dispersed as mothers called them in for supper. My mouth twitched upwards as their hoots and howls disappeared behind their wooden doors.
Carolers emerged from the church, dressed in hues of scarlet red and forrest green, and hummed the tune of Christmas along the quieted streets of the town. I could hear nothing else but the high octaves of cheer resonating throughout the starry night.
I closed my eyes, inhaling the scent of roasted meat, sweet cranberries and the thick aroma of chocolate. I wonder how such food would taste against my tongue. I giggled, shaking my head. I had to keep watch, for at any moment, my own Christmas treat would come.
My pupils landed on the house just on the edge of town, closest to where I had benched myself along the dried grass. I could see the Moore’s through their window. They were a kind family, ignoring their poorness to give to others and spread kindness despite all they didn’t have. I had always been curious about worldly possessions, but then I met the Moore’s and realized that humans needn’t much more than shelter, food and family to be happy. They just have to know how to juggle it all; there isn’t a right way, just a willingness to believe that happiness exists even with so little. I also learned from the Moore’s that those deserving of kindness, are the same that give it out without expectation.
There was Thomas and Adeline Moore, and their children Henry and Rosalin. They had another boy, Benjamin, though he had been deployed lands away as a soldier for a war now reaching its end.
The Moore’s hadn’t heard from Benjamin in three months, and feared greatly that their son’s soul no longer remained on this earth. Adeline weeped every night she didn’t hear from her son, while Thomas continued his work and consoled his wife, tears threatening to spill from his own eyes alongside her every night. The children wrote every week to their brother, not expecting anything in return, but simply hoping he was there to receive every piece of parchment with their scribble. I too, had first questioned whether he had reached the light or was simply stuck in his path. I then thought of myself, something I hadn’t done in so long, if ever.
The world was changing me already, making my thoughts ramble on about my will— about how I felt watching this bereft family and the newly-formed emotions that came from watching them appear as content as everyone else. I held no doubts that if I ever lost my way and came upon the path of these beautiful humans, they would open their arms to me and help me find my way without expectation of anything in return.
They were at the dinner table now, their hands joined in prayer. I listened to their words as I gazed at the fifth stocking hanging on the stone fireplace.
“Let the light guide him home, and may this war not take from other families any longer. May our world find peace even for one night, and pray, that on this day an angel brings our boy to his home.”
I lifted my eyes back to the sky, watching as the shades of cobalt swirled around the evening ceiling. The golden moonlight lit the heavens and the stars flickered as if they were dancing to the tunes of the carolers. The stars were so small, yet so fierce. They each glowed at a different measure, but together with the moon, they illuminated a world bustling with life of its own.
I sighed before a step crunched along the dry terrain behind me. I stood tall and turned around, the light of the universe shining on what stood watching me.
A handsome man, with eyes as lustrous as the liberty bell and lips pink from cold, gazed at me in wonder. I’d never felt this peculiar feeling in my chest before. There was a warmth spreading across my cheeks, which were noticeably radiant amidst the chilled air. He held a sack against his back but used his free hand to pick up his cap and offer a bow. When he retracted, his gray eyes twinkled, “Are you lost miss? I can guide you home if you need the assistance,” he paused, shrugging off his jacket, “You must be cold in that gown. Please, take my coat.”
I tilted my head and ogled at him with a burgeoning curiosity, “And how then, will you stay warm, dear sir?”
A puff of breath escaped his lips before he regained his composure and spoke once more, “You needn’t worry about me. Your beauty alone has already warmed my heart in just seconds.”
I smiled at that, “Your kindness is as dazzling as your charm, though I expected nothing less from you.”
He lifted a curious eyebrow, “Have we met before?”
I approached him, my gaze never faltering from his wondrous irises. I slipped my fingers around his palm, grasping his cool hand in mine, “Not until today.”
He followed me easily as we descended down the hill. His thumb had gently folded across my hand as a funny smile spread across his face, “Pray tell.”
We approached the oak door when I finally turned around. His eyes had ceased to lift from my figure.“Pray indeed,” I uttered, before turning back around and knocking on the wood. I detached my hand from his and took a few steps out of the way, “Though, your prayer is the one I heard the loudest. Always remember, shouts and hollers can be projected by the loudest mouths, but it is the silence of the will and the belief in one’s heart that truly allows a prayer to be heard.”
The door opened and his pupils finally averted there gaze from mine and onto the woman wrapping her arms around him, tears cascading down her flushed cheeks as the whole family emerged behind her.
I smiled, “Merry Christmas Benjamin.”
I stepped into the shadows and fled back up the hill until I was concealed by the tall strands of grass.
I observed as his gray eyes searched for me and then went back to the faces of his overjoyed family. They all cried and cheered so vehemently that the neighbors emerged. They too, rejoiced with the Moore’s as their son had finally returned home.
Just then, the silver church, with its towering steeple—that nearly reached the stars themselves—echoed the tolls of its magnificent bell. Its ring reverberated louder than the caroler’s youthful tones and chimes. It was barely greater than the cries of joy from the newly-reunited family. The sound swept passed where I stood, sweeping tresses of my mane across my bare shoulders. There was a tender feeling along my back, like warm fingers skimming across my shoulder blades. I beamed, as soft, feathered limbs enveloped me, before extending out to greet the world.
I stared again at the sky, sending a word of thanks. The heavens had never looked more alive, but as my gaze fell back unto the terrain, I realized the earth had never looked so ebullient either. Human beings hold hope, kindness, and strength within their hearts, and when those qualities exist and are spread without condition, they create a world more beautiful than what the stars already show.
-Kiran Bains Sahota