Erik ambled through the heavy snow. Today was a rare day for him as Mr. Shaw was out of town for some no doubt shady business, so that meant that Erik had the day off as well as some of the next day. He was going to go early to his spot in the corner and set up his things, hopefully snagging some of the early customers, they generally tipped him much more than the afternoon or evening crowd. He was running a bit low on shoe polish so he might just have to buy some more from Mr. Solomon.
Shaw only let Erik use really expensive shoe shine when he polished his shoes, so Erik couldn’t use any of that. Not if he wanted to waste a lot of money in buying more of it on his own dime. Luckily for Erik, not many people cared what kind of quality of shoe polish he used when he worked so he was able to buy some really cheap stuff from Mr. S for his normal customers.
“Have you heard?”
“Oh yes! Can you believe it?”
“I know! It’s like some kind of fairy tale.”
Erik turned his head as a pair of gossiping women passed him by, chattering loudly with excitement.
He dismissed it quickly from his mind but when he saw a large group of people standing near a post board all talking loudly with fevered excitement he couldn’t help but walk over, his curiosity peaked enough to see what the fuss was all about.
Maneuvering around the mass of people he made his way to the post.
A large poster was plastered to the wood, its bright coloring and big words stood out against the dreary wood and white sky. Dwarfing all the other smaller advertising papers pinned to the wood.
As Erik slowly read the words his confusion mounted, along with a feeling of…anticipation.
Dear People of the World,
I, Charles Xavier of Xavier’s Chocolates am opening up my factory for five lucky people. These lucky five will be shown around personally by me, and will learn all the secrets and magic of my factory to do as they please when they tour the whole factory till the end.
Five golden tickets have been hidden underneath the ordinary wrapping paper of five Xavier chocolates. These candy bars may be anywhere where my chocolates are sold. These five lucky winners will get to spend a whole day in my factory. Four of those winners will receive a lifetime supply of my chocolates. In addition, one of these lucky winners may receive a greater surprise, greater than anything you could ever imagine.
Sincerely, Charles Xavier
What the hell?
Erik ignored the buzz of excitement around him and went to his corner to set up shop. He felt numb inside, which was at odds with the weird fluttering in his chest.
Who cared about all of that? Five candy addicts would be going into Mr. Xavier’s factory, good for them. That didn’t have anything to do with Erik, who could hardly afford a freaking carrot, much less a chocolate candy bar.
Once upon a time long before his father and brothers had died Erik could remember getting a Xavier bar as a birthday present every year, back then they all had still been poor but more well off then nowadays. To this very day he could still remember how much enjoyment he gotten from that bar of chocolate. His family had gotten a kick out of teasing him about it, his father use to say he was like a whole different person once the chocolate touched his tongue.
Erik hadn’t had any chocolate in almost ten years now…such a long time.
He shook his head sharply when he realized that he was pining and staring off into space instead of working. This was no time to daydream of things long past. That was something he could no longer afford to do. He was an adult now with serious problems ahead of him. He had no time for sweets and childish thoughts.
His family was depending on him to make some money. His mother already worked hard as a cleaning lady for several of the local inns and also took care of the house and grandfather whenever she could. She worked so hard to earn so little and the least he could do was the same in support.
As the day became long he got few and far customers, Erik venomously blamed it on the elation buzzing in the air. Despite being open for business for almost the whole day he got few customers then he would have hopped, while Mr. Solomon had a hard time keeping up with customers as they wiped out his entire shipment of Xavier’s chocolates.
He went home disgruntled and annoyed with the world and Mr. Xavier.
It seemed that the day’s events though would continue to haunt him, for when he got home his mother and grandfather were glued to their small, black and white rickety TV. It only worked part of the time and that was because he’d taken his father’s tools to it while also building a small metal antennae on their roof to steal their neighbor’s cable.
It looked like tonight would be one of the nights it was working.
“Erik, my boy, have you heard?! Mr. Xavier is opening his factory again!” Grandpa Joe announced with excitement while wiggling in his bed, mostly it was his arms and head that were whipping around to showcase his happiness.
Erik bit the tip of his tongue to stop himself from saying something callous. This was the most active he’d seen his grandfather make in months and Erik didn’t have the heart to hurt him with his spiteful words.
“Yes, I have. The whole city is in an uproar. Mr. Solomon was cursing himself blue over the loss of his weekly shipment of chocolate in only a day’s time.”
Grandpa Joe beamed and laughed loudly. “Isn’t it wonderful, oh poor Bill, he must be tearing out the little hairs on his head. Oh, how I wish I was a younger man, I would go hunting for that golden ticket myself just so I can see inside that wonderful factory one more time.” Joe sighed in wonder as his daughter-in-law and grandson smiled at him.
“I would love to meet Mr. Xavier again of course. Such a delightful young man he’d been when I had known him, did you know he’s only a few years older than you my boy? He was ever so polite when you spoke to him but with such a wild imagination, he was filled to the brim with such outlandish ideas of fancy and wonder. It’s a rare thing nowadays to see sadly, especially in adults.”
Erik nodded absently as he moved around the room getting himself comfortable.
“Come and sit with us Erik and watch the TV.” His mother said gently once he had his shoes off and into a pair of soft worn leggings and shirt.
Erik was indecisive for a moment before he gave up and dragged his body to where his mother was sitting on Grandpa Joe’s bed. They didn’t comment or question, his mother gave him a short hug around the shoulders while his grandfather just smiled at him and gave him two quick pats on the back.
Erik managed a smile back for them before their attention went back to the fuzzy screen.
Erik listened as well to the news reporters who talked excitedly about who would be the first person to get the golden ticket and speculation about the whys of Xavier opening his factory to five individuals and other such drivel.
Erik snorted while his mother and grandfather looked back at him curiously.
“Mark my words the first person to get a ticket will be a binge eater, most likely a fat teen or overgrown adult.” Erik scowled as his mother scolded him half-seriously and his grandfather laughed.