Kate was trying to find her car after a frustrating round of holiday shopping, when she saw a man sitting on a bench. He was dressed in a worn, old-fashioned suit and looked a little lost. She debated for a minute or two, but finally decided to stop. After all it was almost Christmas.
She stood at a bit of a distance, to be safe, and asked, “do you need any help?”
The man turned, and seemed surprised to see her. “Oh, hello,” he said. His accent was strange. “I seem to be lost.”
“Where are you going?” Kate asked.
“I don’t know,” the man said. “ I know I have somewhere I need to be, and people that are waiting for me, but I don’t remember anything about them or where I live.”
The man grew paler as he spoke, until Kate could see right through him. Kate was tempted to run away, but the man seemed helpless and lost. Perhaps if she helped him he could move on or whatever ghosts do.
“Do you remember your name?” Kate asked. Perhaps she could look him up and help him figure out what sort of unfinished business he had.
“Bob Cratchit,” the man said.
It sounded so familiar to Kate. She knew somehow that she should be very familiar with this name, but she couldn’t remember why. The information just wasn’t there.
She pulled out her phone and tried to look up Bob Cratchit. “Error,” it said. It hadn’t ever done that before.
“Can you remember where you work? Do you remember the names of any family members?” Kate asked.
“I’m not sure. It’s always so cold at work, and I’m always so tired. I think I have a son who is ill.” The man began to look more solid. “I think I should be at work now. I am never home during the day,” Bob said. He rubbed his hands together.
“Except Christmas, of course,” Kate said, looking around at the shoppers bustling to their cars. Most didn’t even glance around as they rushed by, hands curled around their purchases.
“No, I remember working Christmas too,” Bob said. “I remember that my boss hates Christmas.”
“Like Scrooge, ‘Bah Humbug’ and all that,” Kate said, looking back at the man. “That must be pretty annoying.”
“Scrooge…” Bob said. He pressed his fingertips into his temples. “The name sounds familiar…”
“Of course it does,” Kate said. “Like the story.” Kate pulled tried to look it up in her phone. It wouldn’t load. Neither would any entries on Ebenezer Scrooge. Kate looked at Bob. “This may sound crazy, but do you have a son named Tim?” She asked.
“Tim!” Bob said. He stood up, eyes wide. “How could I have forgotten? I need to get back to tiny Tim. He needs me.”
“Bob Cratchit, you need to get back to your story. You work for Ebenezer Scrooge and you live in ‘A Christmas Carol’,” Kate said.
“Of course!” Bob said. “That’s where I live.” He began to sparkle and fade, growing more transparent as the sparkles grew denser. Soon all that was left was a little glitter in the breeze like a pinch of pixie dust.
Kate looked around the parking lot again. “Oh, I remember where I parked,” she said. “How could I have forgotten?” And she once again joined the rushing parade of harried shoppers.