I was home alone. You know how when you're alone you hear all sorts of sounds you'd never noticed before? Floorboards creaking for no reason. Window rattling at the wind outside. Silence that sounds louder than a whole thunderstorm. Echoing the storms from your past.
Poetic don't you think? I'm such a good writer I often surprise myself. Anyway ... let's move on.
I was so frightened that I hid under the bed. And that's when he appeared.
It was a ghost. I knew because he said so. He said, "I am the ghost of Christmas past!"
"It's not Christmas," I replied, looking from under my bed.
"Shut up and don't interrupt," he said, "get out of there. What are you doing under the bed?"
"Looking for monsters," I hesitated a response.
"Don't be an idiot. Get out," he commanded, "We're going on a journey! We will visit your past and I'll show you what you did, in case you forgot!"
He then took me right back to my late teen years. "Do you know who she is?" he asked.
"It's Melba," I said, "she was my girl-friend at college. We were nineteen. We grew very fond of each other. I remember taking her out for a meal when we were young. We went to a fast-food restaurant and bought burgers and milkshakes which we ate at the back by the bicycle shed. How romantic it was. I wonder what happened to her?"
"You just grew apart," said the ghost from my past, "she grew and grew and grew, mainly on burgers and French fries. She married another friend of yours, remember Peter? Then she became a heavyweight wrestler."
"Poor Peter," I thought. He was always a great thinker. I wonder what's pressing on his mind right now.
The ghost then took me to my early twenties when I worked for a big firm in London. He took me to a scene in an elevator in our headquarters.
"Do you remember what happened then?" he asked.
"You broke wind in a crowded elevator," he reprimanded, "now I know you were poor at the time and ate a lot of baked beans. But farting in an elevator is wrong on so many levels. What is worse, you blamed it on poor Miss Valentine standing next to you. Remember her? An elderly secretary looking forward to retirement. You kept pointing at her surreptitiously so that the other passengers would think it was she who created the stench from hell. Because of you, she was known as Stinky Valentine from that day!"
I felt ashamed at my behaviour ... poor Stinky Valentine. She was sent a rotten fish as a present on Valentine's Day. All because of me.
The ghost then took me back to my wedding day. "Remember that night in your hotel room?" he asked, "You and your new wife. Remember how you behaved?"
I blushed again. I certainly did not want to see that again.
"All that banging against the wall," he said, "non-stop banging ... and the continuous shouting 'Oh Lord ... Oh Lord ... Is any one there? Is any one there? I have fallen once again? Is there anyone there?' "
I held my hands over my eyes, peeking a little not wanting to see what I should not see, yet giving way to temptation.
"And you ignored her," the ghost said harshly, "you did not care. And it was not until the next morning that you discovered that poor old woman in the room next door had fallen and was crying for help!"
The ghost then left and handed me over to another ghost.
"I am the ghost of Christmas present!" he said.
"Will you give me presents?" I asked in anticipation.
"Don't be an idiot," he said, "the other ghost told me about you. A bit stupid I think. I shall show you what you have now become after all these years."
"I know who I am!" I said proudly, "I am a model citizen!"
"Only if the model is a still life, or an inanimate object," he said, "you certainly are no Adonis!"
"Who?" I asked.
"Adonis," he repeated, "the Greek god of beauty and desire. You're nothing like that. You're more like a badly drawn Picasso. The only one who'd desire you is a woman who does not care. Someone easily pleased!"
"You don't have to be insulting," I said, "I'll tell my wife about you when she gets home."
But there was no pulling back from the insults. The ghost continued, "you look like an overweight David by Michelangelo."
"Why are you being so insulting?" I asked, holding back the tears in a big tub I was carrying at the time.
He smiled and said, "I know it's all an exaggeration," as his grin grew larger. "But it is for your own good really. If I said good things about you, about your kindness, your generosity and all that, your head would grow too big. So I'm deflating you a bit. Only because the tide is waiting to come in ..."
He then laughed so loudly as he disappeared from view, followed by yet another ghost.
"I am the ghost of Christmas future," he said.
"Oh yeh?" I replied. "No doubt you too have come to torment me. To tell me how bad I was back then, and how bad I am right now, and how I'll end up in total badness for eternity."
"On the contrary," he said, "I have come to tell you that many people in this world today think that they are good.
They believe that they are perfect even.
That they do no wrong; and that they can justify everything that they do.
They have a clever answer to everything.
They believe that they are always right; and that the present as well as the future is theirs.
"Well, I tell you; they are wrong.
"I have come to warn you not to be like them!"
POINTS TO PONDER: If the ghosts visited you, what would they say?