The park is beau’iful in winter, thought Thomas, shivering slightly in the frosty breeze. Bu’ I wish there were somefin to brigh’en the dull colours. It’s so… dead-lookin’. His red scarf whipped about his face, blinding him momentarily; he swatted it away, folding the ends between his arms, before continuing on his way home. While he was walking, he pretended he was a tight-rope walker in the circus; one toe in front of the other, stepping carefully, then cartwheeling onto the platform, arms held high above his head, while an ecstatic audience cheered and clapped below. Thomas closed his eyes, revelling in the wild applause in his mind. His cheeks were flushed with exertion, and he could hear his heart thundering, so much so, that he did not even notice the man approach.
“Well done, young man!” the man called, from merely a metre or so away. Thomas opened his eyes in shock. There, right in front of him, stood the strangest man Thomas had ever seen. He was dressed as if from an old movie, with a shiny black waistcoat, and a tall black hat, and shoes that clacked with each step. His eyes were the strangest shade of lilac. And his skin… it was so white. What an odd-looking man, Thomas thought, but smiled at him anyway.
“’Ello, sir, ‘ow are you?” Thomas asked, ducking his head in a quick bow.
“Absolutely splendid, young man; I have found the one I am looking for. Tell me, boy; what do you want to be when you grow up?” Thomas stopped and thought. It was a rather odd question to be asked by a rather odd stranger. Finally, though, he settled on an answer.
“An ar’ist, sir,” he said humbly. “I love colours, and I always ‘ave this itching to draw, whenever I see somefin beau’iful.” The man frowned, and asked,
“My boy; have you ever had the itching to become a thief? You’re a chimney sweep; you must have the opportunity to steal, all the time! All of those rich people, who trust you to stay up their chimneys, and clean. And such poor pay. Do you ever get the itching to just… pinch that little china figure on the old woman’s mantelpiece? Surely, she wouldn’t miss it. Or just swipe that brass paperweight from the portly man’s desk? He would never notice.” Thomas stood in front of the man, his mouth agape; the absurdity of the idea!
“Ex-excuse me, sir,” Thomas stuttered, “bu’ I ‘ave never once ‘ad the itching to take somefin what someone saved up and bought for ‘emselves. Never. I fink you’ve got the wrong boy, sir. Me parents might no’ be the best parents around, bu’ they me ma and da, and they bought me up good an’ proper,” Thomas said, utter indignation colouring his tone. The man beamed at him.
“Just as I thought, then,” the man said, adjusting the cuffs on his expensive looking suit. Thomas wondered at how unnatural the man looked, all there in his expensive suit and gold pocket...