The Silver Sleigh
Jesse leaned his nose against the window of the hobby shop. It was still there, the gleaming sleigh
with the team of black horses. He admired again the fine detail of the horses, each with the right front hoof raised to step forward. The sleigh itself was perfection, the runners splayed out on the sides for stability and the driver’s seat curved to give maximum comfort. All the sleigh was missing was a driver.
The tapping on the window brought Jesse out of his reverie abruptly. The shop owner was beckoning him into the store as always. Jesse stood there undecidedly. He had never actually gone into the store, no matter how many times the shopkeeper had beckoned. He had no money and his mother would soon be looking for him, impatient to leave the mall and rush home to start dinner. He started to walk away, but suddenly stopped. There on the floor of the wide hall was a ten dollar bill. He looked around quickly for who may have dropped it, but saw no one. Stooping, he snatched it up and stood there, looking at it in amazement. It was real, all right. He shoved it in his pocket and turned to the hobby shop. He had money now. He could go in.
The shopkeeper smiled at him as he came in the door. “I see you admiring the silver sleigh.” He said. “Would you like to see it close up?” As he spoke the man reached into the window display and carefully extracted the sleigh and team. He put it on the counter and Jesse saw how truly impressive it was. It took up the whole counter and must have been two feet long. Now Jesse could see the horses’ eyes, glowing as if alive and the flare of the equine nostrils. He imagined steam coming from them in the cold of a winter’s day.
Jesse reached out a hand tentatively and touched the flank of the near horse. It felt warm. Then he touched the runner of the sleigh. It was icy cold. Oh, how he loved that sleigh. He could picture a driver,
ten years old, like himself, snatching up the reins and clucking to the horses to set off through a snowy countryside.
The shopkeeper leaned over the sleigh and picked up the cunning reins that draped the front seat.
“It looks like it would go through any amount of snow, doesn’t it? The man who made it said it was just like the sleigh he rode in as a child, many years ago.”
Jesse stepped back from the counter. He put on his most adult face and asked, “How much is it?”
The shopkeeper chuckled. “Oh, it isn’t for sale. It’s for display only. It’s here on loan from the owner.”
Jesse felt tears forming and fought them back. He knew it must be worth much more than the ten dollars he had found, but he had hoped, somehow, that maybe he could find a way, like layaway that his mother used when money was short. He turned to go.
“Wait, young man,” the shopkeeper blurted, “Let me give you the man’s name and address. Maybe
you can talk to him about it.” The shopkeeper handed Jesse a hastily scribbled note and Jesse mutely put it in his pocket next to the ten dollar bill.
As Jesse again passed the shop window, he saw the owner putting the sleigh back in its usual place.
“Jesse, come on.” Looking up, Jesse saw his mother gesturing for him to come from the other end of the hall. “Hurry up!” She added loudly, her voice echoing in the empty space.
As they rode the bus home from the mall, Jesse took the piece of paper out of his pocket. It had the words “St. Nicholas, Heaven” written on it.