An Interview with Ebenezer Scrooge

By Brent King On December 22, 2014 Under Christian Fantasy, Short Stories

ebenezer-scrooge_optI rapped lightly on the swagged entry of the townhouse. A gaunt man in a robe opened the door and peered out.

“Mr. Scrooge?” I asked.

“Your servant sir,” he said.

“I’ve come for our interview.” I held up my pen and notebook. “Remember—for school?”

“Ah yes.” He opened the door wide and embraced me. “Come in my son. I didn’t recognize you at first. Old age does something to the eyes. I am glad you’ve come.”

I stepped into a room with high ceilings and rows of books. Mr. Scrooge ushered me to a high back chair near the fireplace. He settled across from me. The firelight flickered in his eyes.

“Where shall we begin?” he asked.

“With a confession,” I said. “No story has made such an impact on me as your story. I have no doubt that it will become a classic that is told for years to come.”

Mr. Scrooge loosened his robe. “It is miraculous, but I don’t suppose it is too much more so than others experience, who find themselves face to face with truth.”

I nodded. “Are you ready for the first question?”

“Lead on,” Scrooge said.

“Looking back over your life, what is your greatest disappointment?”

Ebenezer Scrooge stared a moment into the fire before his eyes met mine. “I suppose some may suggest it was my failed romance or the loss of my dear sister at such an early age, but it can only be one thing: my father. I wanted his approval, his time, and his love, but it was not to be. As much as I wished it, it became more and more clear to me that my father would never give me those things, at least in the way I needed them.”

“I remember how cold he seemed in your story,” I said.

“If only more fathers, like yours, understood how much their children need them,” Mr. Scrooge said. “But alas, so many never give the gift their children need most.”

I leaned back in my chair and studied the drooping brow of the master of the house. My next question was a bit livelier.

“During your time among the spirits,” I asked, “what scared you the most?”

The old man’s eyes stared past me toward the window. “The Ghost of Christmas Future was terrifying and my own corpse lying on my bed…” Mr. Scrooge shuddered. “But thinking back on it, it was Jacob Marley. I spent most of my life with him and to see him unexpectedly in my solitary apartment—part zombie and part ghost—was a horror I will never forget.”

“I must say,” I said. “That was one of the most horrifying parts of your story for me too.” I shut out my visions of phantoms and eaten flesh. “I’d like to come back to your father,” I said. “When did you realize that you had become like your father?”

Mr. Scrooge leaned forward. “I must say,” he said. “That was likely the most startling revelation of my life. It happened when the Ghost of Christmas Past took me to the most heartbreaking place I have ever been: my sister’s deathbed. There I heard the words I was too impatient to listen to before, and I realized that all those years I’d treated her boy like my father treated me.” Mr. Scrooge shuddered again. “I had become like the man that had hurt me the most.”

I tried to catch Mr. Scrooge’s eye, but he stared persistently at the floor.

“Sir?” I asked. “What was the high point of your adventures with the spirits?”

My question succeeded in lifting Ebenezer’s head. A grin replaced his grimace.

“Waking up with my arms around my bedpost,” he said. “In all my long life I’ve never had a more wonderful revelation! I had a second chance. I had a clean slate on which to write a better story.”

“Was the sight of your own tombstone the turning point that led you to that place?” I asked.

“No.” Mr. Scrooge rose, stepped to the mantle, and stared into a faded picture frame. “It came long before that, in my counting house with the Ghost of Christmas Past. I stared, stunned by the actions of my younger self. As I watched myself add Belle’s diamond ring to an accruing fortune, I ran forward and shouted, ‘No! No! No!’ I pounded on the desk of my younger self, saying, ‘You fool! Run after her!’ But it was to no avail. I couldn’t change the past. It was then that I knew for sure that I must change. Somehow, I had to change.”

“But why change?” I asked. “What was the point? Didn’t you feel that it was too late, that you were an old man and had already hopelessly squandered your life?”

Mr. Scrooge pulled away from the picture of Belle and faced me. “I did. At one point I told the Spirit to go redeem some younger man. It was Tiny Tim that changed my thinking,” the old man smiled at me, “seeing his small form still taking breath and so needy. It dawned on me that I still hadn’t passed into the realm of Jacob Marley. I could still change the world for good. I could still bless the life of Tiny Tim, of Bob Cratchit, of my nephew—even if I only had a few years to do it. I may have lost rich opportunities to the past, but all was not lost. Not yet.”

Ebenezer Scrooge settled into his chair, and sunshine spread across his face. I waited a moment, awed by the old man’s expression, before I spoke again.

“Is there something you’d like to tell those of us who may have followed in your dark footsteps?”

“It’s never too late to make the right choice,” Mr. Scrooge said. “And from that place God will forge a new man, no matter how low he’s sunk. The miracle of Christmas will conceive new life in the most hopeless of cases, and death itself will fail to strike away its good for it will but spring forth from the wound and sow the world with life immortal.”

A grin spread across my face. “I like that. I can’t help but think that your father would be proud of you, if he were alive.”

“Yes.” Mr. Scrooge caressed his chin with his fingers. “I’ve thought that myself. He was the product of his pain just as I was. I am so thankful that I learned what he couldn’t—or wouldn’t: that we can’t always control what happens, but we can control our response to it.”

I rose from my seat and extended a hand to the gentleman before me. “I’m sure many of your colleagues are laughing at your change of heart,” I said. “But I’m not.”

The old man leaned forward and took my hand in both of his. The wrinkles in his face deepened.

“Let them laugh,” he said. “And I’ll be laughing with them.” He struggled to his feet again, and our eyes met. “I never knew how good it felt to laugh.”

I couldn’t contain myself any longer, and I threw my arms around him. “I’m so glad you learned to laugh Uncle Scrooge,” I said. “I’m so glad you changed.”

“I am too Tim,” he said. “I am too.”

 

1 Comment Add yours

  1. AshleeW
    December 24, 2014
    2:06 am #comment-1

    Aw! What a wonderfully Christmas-spirited post!!

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