The frost was at the height of his power. A small city was covered with snow, huge fluffy snowdrifts darkened in the twilight like sleeping giants. A dark blue canvas hung over the roofs, and one after another, bright points of stars flashed on it.
The air crackled like thin ice, it smelled of tangerines, fresh spruce, and children's laughter that had not yet tinkled.
It seemed, just wait a minute and something grandiose, something long-awaited, would happen, and the city froze in anticipation. The houses glowed like festive gingerbread, decorated with garlands. Lovingly and carefully hung lanterns sent beacons of hope into space. An artificial sleigh pulled by neon deer froze in front of the gates, somewhere a toy Santa Claus waved his hand, and snowmen lined up along the roads and greeted the late travelers.
Everything and everyone stood still, waiting for a coming miracle.
The old man walked along the road with a tired gait, leaning on a heavy stick. He limped a little as if he had come a long way. His shoes, not designed for such weather, were worn out long ago, snow-clogged into cracks and holes. And it was melting inside, turning into puddles of sloshing water. His clothes were also shabby, without holes, but old and obviously did not save him from the cold and wind, which sometimes brought prickly snowflakes in gusts.
The old man walked, longingly examining the halos of light around each house. There were lights in the windows, sometimes he saw the silhouettes of people whose lives were not burdened by the cold and the soon night.
He stopped at someone's porch. Even from behind the closed door came laughter and the old man seemed to smell the roasted turkey and red wine.
The old man hesitated, then timidly knocked on the door. The curtains on the windows trembled, and the rosy-cheeked face of the girl flashed for a second and disappeared again. Footsteps were heard and the door swung open. A well-dressed young woman stood in the doorway. Her chestnut hair was styled in an elaborate updo, flirtatious ringlets cascading down her shoulders.
"Good evening," the old traveler greeted quietly and politely. Music played loudly behind her, and joyful exclamations and the clink of glasses were heard. "Could you ..."
"Oh my god, it's you!" She didn't let him finish. Her beautiful face twisted into an unpleasant grimace, her lips stretched into a contemptuous smile. "What do you want? Isn't it enough for you? You brought us so many problems! Get out!"
The old man opened his mouth to say something, but the door was already slammed shut with a loud thud.
He was left alone on the porch.
The girl appeared in the window again, but someone closed the curtains.
The old man sighed heavily, exhaling a puff of steam. Going down the stairs was hard... He hobbled to another house, hoping that there he would be greeted with kind words.
"What do you want?!" A fat man shouted when he saw an old man in rags on the threshold. "How dare you show up here? After everything, you've done! My family is on the verge of ruin and it's all because of you! Go away!"
His scolding nearly sent the poor old man head over heels down the steps. The man shouted curses after him for a long time, and the old man hurried away, wrapping himself in an old sheepskin coat. The wind blew through the holes in his clothes, and the moisture froze before his eyes.
He did not dare to knock on the third door. And now slowly delirium along the road, lowering his gray head low.
"Hey! It's him!" He heard a scream.
A crowd of young people walked towards him, cheerfully bawling Christmas songs.
The old man hurried away, trying to get around them. But one of the guys rolled a snowball.
"Get out of town! My parents got divorced because of you!"
The snowball flew at the old man and hit him in the face.
"You brought nothing but trouble with you!" Another shouted, and another ball of prickly snow flew into the old man's shoulder.
"What is my fault? Am I to blame for your troubles?" The poor old man pleaded.
"Leave!" The crowd screamed. "Out! Out!"
And he, bending under the weight of resentment and misunderstanding, left. Left the city, wiping invisible tears. He walked until the lights grew thinner and the voices were left behind.
And there was a blizzard ahead. It got closer and closer, twisting frosty clouds on the ground. A cold mist descended on the city. And suddenly, in the middle of a circling snowstorm, someone's figure came out of the blizzard. The old man narrowed his eyes, trying to see the stranger.
"You look terrible, my friend," it turned out to be a young guy. Broad-shouldered, tall, fine. His icy blue eyes were smiling, a blush burned on his cheekbones. His jet-black hair was disheveled in the wind, but he didn't feel the cold.
"What happened to you?" he asked, slowing his pace.
The old man leaned wearily on his stick.
"People are chasing me," he said bitterly. "It's like all their troubles come from me."
The young man patted him on the shoulder.
"You take it too close to your heart, my friend. You shouldn't be so upset."
The old man shook his head and slowly walked on.
"I'll see you in 365 days," he said softly, leaving the young man behind him.
The stranger smiled at him, and went into the city, whistling a cheerful song. He was young and full of energy and enthusiasm.
He walked, the New Year, to bring people happiness and joy, hope and love. And he heard how joyfully the inhabitants of the city met him, counting the last minutes of the outgoing year.
And with the last chime of the clock, when its hands converged on the number 12, the Old Year, hunched over and knocking on the snow with a stick, stepped into a white veil, dissolving in a singing blizzard.
I enjoyed this! Hearted I wanted to know more of the man and the younger one and also why everyone fears him