DECEMBER FICTION

December 14, 2012 Fiction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Toffee Maker’s Christmas Crisis

By

Karen Taylor

 

 

Chapter One

 

Christmas is Coming

 

The postman looked like a walking snowman as he furrowed his way through the snow-piled path to the farmhouse.  Dazzling white flakes swirled around him in a blizzard; his gloved hands were caked white, chunks of snow falling off as he rapped firmly on the front door.

 

“Special Delivery,” he croaked, handing over a sparkly wrapped package to Alex’s father.  “Special delivery, for Master Alex.”

 

“Well, this is a surprise,” said Alex’s father passing the package to his son.

 

“Who would send such a thing?” said Alex’s stepmother, Kate, coming through to the hall from the kitchen, wiping wet hands down the front of her apron.

 

Who, indeed? thought Alex, his hands trembling ever so slightly as he tore open the glowing copper-coloured paper.  He could see his own reflection in its bright sheen – his wide-open eyes magnified, intensifying their look of surprise.

 

“It’s an advent calendar,” said Kate, looking over Alex’s shoulder with an expression of disdain.  “Full of nasty sweet things, I wouldn’t be surprised.  I’ll take that for now.”

 

But Alex held on tight to the cardboard box.

 

“It’s December 1 – time to open the first window,” he said, walking across the hall into the living room, where he placed the box up high on the mantelpiece.   Looking up he could see that the box was designed in the shape of a factory – a toffee factory.  The many windows and doors – labelled 1-25 – were exactly the same as he remembered that last time he visited the neighbouring Toffee Makers Factory in November for the Halloween Party.  But then the light glowing within the factory was bright and warming.   The windows on the cardboard copy were iced up and bleak – the door was bolted shut.   It looked derelict – like it had that very first time he saw the old factory at the bottom of the field where he lived.

 

“Interesting design,” said Alex’s father, joining his son in the living room.

 

“Not at all festive,” said Kate, with a sniff, her attention returning to her chores of the day.

 

Quite, thought Alex, picking the box up once more and taking it up the stairs to his bedroom.  He sat on his bed gazing at the cardboard factory, not daring to open the first window.

 

“Go on, open it!  What are you waiting for?  Christmas!” said a voice – a familiar voice.

 

“Delphi?” said Alex, brightening immediately.  “Delphi, is that you?”

 

“I see that school you go to isn’t making you any cleverer!” said the voice.  “You’d be better off leaving now – getting a job in industry.   Well, actually, maybe not …” said the voice, trailing off.

 

Alex followed the sound of the voice to the window – its glass pane foggy with condensation.  As he watched he saw a circle appear in the misty glass revealing a pale face pressed up against it, fragments of ice hanging from the limp curls that framed it.

 

“Delphi!  What are you doing outside in the cold?  It’s freezing!”

 

“Well, let me in then!  Open the window.”

 

Alex followed Delphi’s eyes as they glanced at the box on the bed and he did as he was told, peeling back the cardboard of the first window.

 

“About time too – a Toffee Maker could catch his death of cold waiting for you to get the message!” said the small toffee coloured face that peered out of Window Number 1.

 

“Shall I help you out?” said Alex, kindly.

 

“No need, you’ve done enough!” said Delphi, shaking his curls and squeezing his head out of the window, his bendy body not far behind.  Alex watched as Delphi grew, his limbs lengthening before his eyes.

 

“You know, you don’t always have to make such a dramatic entrance!” said Alex, “A rap on the door would do – you made that poor postman trudge his way to our house when you could easily have come yourself.”

 

“Hoity toity,” said Delphi, settling himself down on the bed beside Alex.  “The postman’s lucky to have a job.  I won’t … soon.”

 

“What!” said Alex, leaping up from the bed, turning his full attention on Delphi.  “Whatever do you mean?”

 

“Hard times,” said Delphi, his usual cheeky moonlike expression eclipsed by a dark shadow.  “Hard times, indeed.”  As he said the words he started to rip open the remaining windows of the cardboard factory – each one empty – each one a gaping void.  “It’s the same over there,” said Delphi, nodding in the direction of the factory.  “They’ve shut down the furnace.  Production has halted.  We’re ruined.”

 

“Oh Delphi!” cried Alex, his hands flying to his mouth in anguish.  “Tell me this is some sort of joke.  The Toffee Factory finished?  But it can’t be.  Who wouldn’t want your delicious magic sweets?”

 

“Father Christmas – that’s who.  It’s December 1 and we haven’t heard a whisper.  Not a peep from one of the elves.  Alex, my friend, there is only a small market for our particular brand of toffee – and without the special Christmas order – we’re finished.”

 

Delphi sat with his huge head in his spindly-fingered hands.  His curls were damp with snow – his large eyes glazed over like iced ponds.

 

“They’re holding a crisis meeting at the factory in five minutes.  Will you come, Alex?”

 

“Of course, but why me?  I’m just a child.”

 

“Precisely.  We want to know why Father Christmas hasn’t ordered any sweets this Christmas.  Are the children not putting them on their wish lists?  Is magic … old fashioned?  Have children stopped believing?”

 

“Why, of course not, Delphi!” said Alex, his eyes flickering for a split second on the Xbox in the corner.  “There must be another reason.  Magic, sweets, Christmas – what’s not to like?”

 

“Well, tell that to Mr Glucose!   He’s in a right tizzy.  Talking about holding a focus group to re-brand the factory.  He’s becoming all …”

 

“Human?”

 

“Yes!  We need to save him before it’s too late.  Here, have one of these Toffee Maker’s Friend sweets.  You won’t need a coat.  Let’s go.”

 

 

Chapter Two

 

The Board Meeting

 

Delphi helped Alex down from his bedroom window, his long outstretched arm perfect for abseiling to the ground.

 

When his feet landed in the soft snow, Alex was amazed to find  it as warm and cosy as a duvet.  Sucking hard on the Toffee Maker’s Friend sweet Alex could feel its heat radiating throughout his whole body.   Just ahead of him Delphi was striding through the snow towards the factory; his body, lit up by a halo of heat, was slicing through the snow like a blowtorch.

 

Following in his footsteps Alex felt none of the joy and anticipation of his last visit to the factory.  The Halloween Party had been a celebration of all things sweet, spooky and magical.  This felt like a trudge to the workhouse.

 

Amalfi, Delphi’s sister, was sitting slumped sullenly at the small desk in the corner of the reception area.

 

“Oh, it’s you,” she said curtly, nodding Alex through without a name badge.  “He’s expecting you upstairs.  Good luck!”

 

Delphi and Alex climbed the iron staircase to the grand balcony that circled the production floor.  All was silent.  The sound of their shoes slapping down on the hard iron floor echoed around the empty space.  When they reached the large wooden door at the end of the balcony Delphi paused, before giving it a timid tap.  There was no reply.  Delphi tapped again, harder this time, and the door creaked open to reveal the long boardroom table and the sight of Mr Glucose, his head in his hands, at the far end of it.  He didn’t look up as the pair entered the room.

 

“Ahem,” said Delphi with a little cough.  “I’ve brought Alex, as you instructed, Mr Glucose.”

 

“Ah,” said Mr Glucose, finally looking up, his hand dipping into a big jar of sweets on the table.  Popping one in his mouth, he continued.  “The human boy?  Yes, finally, we may get our answer.  Sit child.  Take a seat.”

As Alex and Delphi took their seats at the table, others began to filter in.  Alex recognised Crystal and Celeste from the Halloween party and noticed another unfamiliar creature with a ruddy complexion and bright red hair.  He looked like a distant relative of Delphi’s .  “He makes the Toffee Maker’s Friends,” said Delphi, answering Alex’s unspoken question.

 

When they were all settled at the table, Mr Glucose cleared his throat and rose to his feet.

 

“These are terrible times, my colleagues and friends.  Terrible times.  Never in the long and illustrious history of this toffee making factory have we encountered such a devastating collapse in demand.  Never!  It is unthinkable that Father Christmas – our great and generous patron, friend and customer – would turn his back on the factory at this time.  It is unheard of.  Why?  Why, we must ask ourselves.  Young Alex,” said Mr Glucose, turning his attention to the only human in the room, “Do you not believe any more?  Is magic all washed up?  Is reality the new fantasy?  Is Christmas finished?”

 

Mr Glucose’s face was reddening, his arms waving, his eyes popping:  “Is Christmas finished!” he repeated dramatically, before collapsing back down in his chair, his fingers ruffling the thin strands of hair on his pink head.

 

“No, it most certainly is not!” said Alex, rising to his feet.  “I wrote to Father Christmas only last week.  Sweets were high on the list.  The whole class sent off their emails on Friday.  Christmas is, and always will be, the very best time of the year for children.  It is a magical time.  Believe me.”

 

Mr Glucose’s head shot up.  His eyes, popping just seconds before, were narrowing now, taking in the information.  “Did you say email?  Email?  Oh, my word.  Email!  Do you think, my dear boy and fellow Toffee Makers, that Father Christmas has email at the North Pole!”

 

The colour drained from Alex’s face and he sat back down.  “Everyone has email, don’t they?” he whispered quietly.

 

An equally quiet whisper replied:  “Let’s see shall we …” Celeste rose from her seat and placed a large chunk of transparent toffee on the table.  The assembled audience looked on, mesmerised, as a scene, not dissimilar to a snow storm in a glass dome, appeared before them.  As the snow inside settled they were alarmed to see a shocking sight – Father Christmas, alone and adrift upon a floating piece of ice.

 

“Oh My Word!” said Mr Glucose.  “Where are the reindeers?  Where are the elves?  Where is the Grotto?  What on Earth can be happening?  Has Father Christmas gone …”

 

The unfinished question hung in the air as Mr Glucose reached for a gobstopper sweet from the jar.  To question Father Christmas was to question the very existence of Christmas.  The assembled Toffee Makers lowered their eyes and shifted uncomfortably in their chairs.  Only Celeste remained calm – her long elegant fingers softly shaking the transparent chunk of toffee, stirring the snowflakes and changing the scene.  This time they could see the Grotto with its elves – their faces wearing the same worried expressions as the ones around the factory table.  In the far corner they could see the reindeers and one of Father Christmas’ sleighs.  But there was no Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  There was no beacon of light to guide the sleigh.

 

“Father Christmas is in mortal danger,” concluded Mr Glucose, pulling himself together and summoning up all his managerial skills.  “We need to send out a rescue party.  Any volunteers?”

 

“It’s a long way to the North Pole,” said Delphi, unhelpfully.

 

“Any volunteers?” repeated Mr Glucose.

 

“I’ll go,” said Alex, standing up and looking around him.

 

“So will I,” said Crystal, smiling across at Alex.

 

“And me,” said Celeste.

 

“You can count me in,” said Firegus, the flame-haired Toffee Maker.

 

“I’ll go too,” said Relph, a small Toffee Maker who had been sitting quietly at the far end of the table unnoticed.  “I used to work at the Grotto, many years ago.  I could be of use.”

 

All eyes turned to Delphi who was sitting at the table studying his nails.  “As Union Representative of The Rainbow Toffee Factory Unlimited I can firmly state that such a dangerous assignment flies in the face of all elf and safety guidelines.”  Delphi paused for effect, the pompous expression on his face dissolving fast:  “So you can definitely count me in!  Let’s face it – you need a leader!”

 

“We also need a strategy,” said Crystal turning to the others.

 

“Indeed,” said Mr Glucose, screwing up his face in an effort to devise one.

 

“If I could make a suggestion,” said Firegus.  “We need to get to the North Pole, right?”

 

The Toffee Makers and Alex all nodded their heads in agreement.

 

“And we can safely say Delphi’s long arm – even if holding on to the equally long one of his sister – wouldn’t stretch that far.  Am I correct?”

 

They all nodded again.

 

“Well – I just so happen to have some rockets left over from fireworks night.  I should say, stoked up with a good dose of Toffee Maker’s Friend, they should have enough in the tank to get us all to the North Pole.”

 

“The North Pole’s a big place, Firegus,” said Delphi, a little dismissively.

 

“Celeste, will you guide us?” said Firegus.

 

“It will be an honour,” replied Celeste.

 

“And Relph, you know the lie of the land?”

 

“It’s been a long time,” replied Relph . “But I’ll try my best. “

 

Delphi crinkled his brow:  “It’s all we can possibly do.”

 

“Before you go,” said Mr Glucose, rising from his chair and getting something out of his pocket.  “Give my dear Father Christmas my very sweetest regards.  As well as this present,” he added, slipping an object into Delphi’s outstretched hand.  “Good luck and have a sweet journey!”

 

 

Chapter Three

 

Blast Off

 

Alex couldn’t help noticing that the remainder rockets Firegus talked about were hardly more than the size of his hand.   As Firegus lined them up on the factory roof they didn’t look like they could soar beyond the gate, let alone to the North Pole.

Celeste smiled when she saw the look of bafflement on Alex’s face.

 

“We will need to make a few adjustments,” she said softly.  “But I am fairly confident that we will have enough fuel – both thermal energy from the Toffee Maker’s Friends and lunar energy from the moon up there.”

Alex followed her eyes as they looked up into the heavens.  The moon beamed back brightly – its face open and friendly, seeming to promise a safe passage.

 

“But isn’t the moon cold?” questioned Alex, “I’ve heard of solar energy from the sun.  But lunar energy?”

 

“The moon is one of the most powerful sources of all energy.  Who else could govern the tides of the mighty oceans?  The moon’s cool, steady force will carry us across the seas to the other side of the planet – the stars will guide us and light the way and our own thermal energy will be our engines.”

 

Having satisfied himself that the rockets were pointing north, Firegus turned towards the others, passing them a bag of Toffee Maker’s Friends to share.  “Not too many,” said Firegus, sensibly, “Put a few in your pockets for later.  Now Relph, do you have any Toffee Pippets with you?”

 

“Why, of course,” said Relph, “I would say that Toffee Pippets were the order of the day, wouldn’t you everybody?”

 

The Toffee Makers all nodded in agreement, holding out their hands for a couple.

 

“Just take two,” Delphi told Alex, “wouldn’t want you to shrink away to nothing – just enough to get you on board the rocket.”

 

Alex smiled broadly.   “Delphi, are we going to the North Pole by rocket?”

 

“We could hardly wait for Father Christmas to send over his sleigh, now could we?”

said Delphi, shrinking before his very eyes.  “Now, young Alex, don’t get too excited.  We wouldn’t want you over-heating.  Follow me!”  said Delphi, striding over to the first rocket and straddling it like a horse.  “Make sure you hold on tight – these little beauties are a blast!”

 

Firegus lit the touch paper on Delphi’s rocket and the others watched as it soared into the sky, leaving a bright trail of sparks in its wake.

 

“Weeeee!” yelled Delphi. “Come on, we’re on a moon mission …”

 

Alex could feel the night air brush against his face, but his body was completely warm – his skin like a thermal vest protecting him from the elements.

 

“One, two, three, take off,” said Firegus, as he lit Alex’s rocket, sending it flying into the inky darkness.   Alex could see Delphi just ahead, controlling his rocket with his legs, keeping it on a steady track to the North Star.  The ride was exhilarating – Alex could feel the full rush of speed as his rocket sped through the sky, the thermal heat from his body a comforting form of power. Looking over his shoulder he could see the others in jagged single file behind him – Firegus at the back and Celeste just behind.  Below the lights of a city blurred into a kaleidoscope of colour – the speed making it impossible to see anything in detail.  The moon and the stars were the only constants – celestial signposts, signalling them along their way.

 

“Not far now,” said Celeste, after a while, moving her rocket forward so it was almost in tandem with Alex’s.  “Have another Toffee Maker’s Friend,” she advised.

 

Alex felt in his pocket and popped one in his mouth.  Immediately the slight chill he had felt as the rocket soared above the icy plains of Alaska disappeared.  Overhead the pitch black sky was studded with stars.   In contrast, the ground below was pure white, the crystals sparkling like the stars above.

 

“I can see the Grotto,” shouted Relph.  “Shall we pop in and say hello?”

 

“Not enough time,” said Celeste, looking at the small block of transparent toffee in her hand.  “Just a little further and we should soon find Father Christmas.”

 

Up ahead, Delphi dipped his rocket, allowing it to glide just feet from the surface of the ice.  They were travelling above the biggest expanse of frozen water Alex had ever seen – but as they journeyed further he could see vast cracks, creating hundreds and hundreds of small islands.  On several were a few stranded animals – a polar bear and her cub.  On another was a furry white creature with a sharp snout –an ‘artic fox’, according to Crystal who was flying on the other side of Alex.  The rockets were slowing down, their momentum reined in by the moon, to give them a chance to search the desolate icescape for Father Christmas.

 

“He shouldn’t be hard to find, wearing red and black and all,” said Crystal encouragingly.

 

“Like trying to find a berry in a snow drift!” said Delphi, stretching out his neck and looking all around like a particularly bendy swan.

 

“Maybe I could ask the polar bears?” said Relph chirpily.

 

“You speak their language?” said Firegus, with an expression of surprise.

 

“It’s very similar to Reindeer,” said Relph.  “I used to tend the reindeer when I worked at the Grotto.  The polar bears, if they’re not especially hungry, are usually very friendly.  There’s not that many of them, you see, so they get lonely and like a chat.”

 

Even Delphi looked impressed.  “You’re full of surprises, my little friend.  You go down there and have a word.  I’ll be right behind you!”

 

The party hovered on their rockets as Relph introduced himself.  “I know these two!” he shouted back encouragingly. “We used to go fishing with them from time to time.”

 

Alex could see Relph chatting merrily, waving his little arms around and peering into the distance.  He was awestruck.  “I shouldn’t wonder if Relph hasn’t earnt himself a promotion,” said Alex to Delphi who was also watching with a look of deep concentration.

 

“I should say that would be very much up to Mr Glucose,” Delphi reprimanded. “All chat and no action, so far!”

 

Right on cue, Relph turned to say:  “They say Father Christmas was spotted floating south – around five miles from here.  The ice cracked under him when he was out fishing with Rudolph.  Rudolph fell into the sea and has damaged his leg.  That’s why he hasn’t been able to reach Father Christmas.”

 

“All well and good,” Delphi called back, “but how are we going to reach him?  More’s the point, how are we going to get him home in time for Christmas?”

 

“They say,” yelled Relph, in his shrill little voice, “that they’ll help us!  Give us a lift.”

 

“That is so kind!” said Celeste, dipping her rocket and gliding it down to rest at the fluffy white feet of the bears.

 

“How can we ever repay you?” said Crystal joining them on the ice.

 

“They say,” said Relph, “that it will be a pleasure to help such a nice man – he’s a big name around these parts.  Been helping the animals cope with the changing climate.  The melting ice has caused a lot of problems, they say.   Ice breaks up all over the place, forcing them onto the land, not giving them much of a fishing season.  He slips them a bit of food, when he can. ”

 

The two bears raised their soft dark eyes and nodded their snouts in union.

 

“They’re ready when you are,” said Relph, taking a leap, but just failing to make it onto the smaller bear’s back.

 

“Need a hand?” said Delphi, stretching out his arm, picking Relph up and placing him on the smaller bear’s back.

 

“Tally ho!” said Delphi, springing aboard the other bear, hoisting Alex and Firegus up next to him.  Their bear sprang into action, leaping from the ice float onto the next and the next, racing his brother who was just a couple of furry paws behind carrying Relph, Celeste and Crystal.  “Father Christmas, here we come!”

 

 

Chapter Four

 

Father Christmas

 

 

Father Christmas was sitting on a log, at the edge of the ice, chatting to a Robin, when the Toffee Makers caught up with him.

 

“Well bless my timbers!” said Father Christmas, laughing despite his ordeal.  “I was just saying to my friend Robin here that I might need him to relay a message to the Grotto.  But Toffee Makers to the rescue!  By Gove those sweets you make are powerful stuff!”

“Would you like a Toffee Maker’s Friend?” suggested Firegus, thoughtfully.

 

“I would indeed!  Indeed, I most certainly would.  A Toffee Maker is a friend for life!”

 

Father Christmas took a handful of sweets and chewed them appreciatively.

 

“Warming me up a treat!” he boomed, droplets of perspiration appearing on his brow.  “Now down to business, my friends.”

 

Alex and the Toffee Makers looked on expectantly.

 

“First we need to find Rudolph – and then we need to get to work.  What day is it?”

 

“December 1,” said Alex, remembering the date from his advent calendar.

 

“I need to get back immediately – open the letters – the children must not be disappointed!” said Father Christmas rising to his feet looking concerned.

 

“Perhaps you could get a head start with this,” said Delphi, passing Father Christmas Mr Glucose’s gift.

 

“A mobile phone?” said Father Christmas, rubbing his beard and looking at it with wonder.  “We have toy versions in the Grotto – they play silly little tunes – but the children seem to like them.”

 

“I think you might find this one to your liking,” said Celeste, tapping a few buttons on the phone and bringing it to life.  The phone started to play Jingle Bells as emails poured in addressed to Father.Christmas@thenorthpole.com.

 

“Ho ho ho – this first one’s from you young Alex.  I think you can safely say that your wishes will be granted this year.  I see you like a very special brand of toffee.  Delphi, ensure Mr Glucose gets to work right away on this year’s order.  Double it for good measure!”

 

“Rest assured I will pass the order on,” said Delphi smiling broadly, all the while texting Mr Glucose with the good news.

 

“While you tend to your mail, we’ll go and find Rudolph,” said Crystal.  “I think some of my sherbet might heal his leg – or at least keep it steady until we get him home.”

 

“Good idea, my dear, good idea!”  said Father Christmas, distracted by the volume of emails popping into the inbox on his phone.  “Damn good invention this – but, if I say so myself, you can’t beat personal deliveries!  Wouldn’t get a bicycle in a phone!”

 

It didn’t take long to find Rudolph – Robin flew ahead and the bears chased the bird who spied Rudolph sitting alone and forlorn beside his broken sleigh.

“Chirrup,” chirped Robin.

 

Rudolph tried, but could only manage a teeny blip of light on his famous illuminated nose.

 

“You’ll feel better after I have massaged some pink sherbet on your wound,” said Crystal, kneeling down by the stricken reindeer and applying the soft pink substance to his leg.

 

“Have a Toffee Maker’s Friend,” chipped in Firegus. “It will make you feel all warm and toasty inside.”

 

Rudolph took the sweets from Firegus’s open palm and the effect was immediate – his nose, just seconds before flickering like a faulty Christmas tree light – was now glowing in glorious red.  Following his nose, Rudolf leapt up onto his four legs, bristling with energy and ready to fly.

 

Alex, Delphi and Firegus, now back to full size, had been giving the sleigh some attention, heaving it out of the snow and replacing a broken plank with a fallen branch which they glued into place with some toffee.  The harness was still intact and they swiftly lifted it over Rudolph, preparing him for the journey home.

 

“Room for a small one?” piped Relph, looking up at Rudolph with a big smile on his little face.  Rudolph neighed in agreement and recognition of his old friend.

 

And so Relph climbed aboard.  As they all did, in readiness for their flight to pick up Father Christmas.

 

 

 

Chapter Five

 

Home for Christmas

 

“Mission accomplished!” said Delphi looking down at Father Christmas who was waving outside his Grotto, surrounded by his team of delighted elves.

 

“And so nice of Father Christmas to allow Rudolph to give us all a lift home,” said Alex, resting in the warm, snug embrace of the sleigh’s soft fluffy blankets.  He yawned – tired by the night’s activities – but determined to stay awake and enjoy this wonderful trip home.  The sleigh wasn’t quite as fast as the rockets – but, in some respects, all the better for that.  It gave them all a perfect view of the millions of houses and communities dotted all around the world – all the many children playing or sleeping and now most certainly dreaming of a Christmas treat.

 

As the sun began to rise in the East, the sleigh made its magical journey back to England, over its many cities – the lights beginning to come on as early risers rose from their beds – and over the lush green fields of the countryside.  Alex could see the lights already burning brightly in the factory at the bottom of the field where he lived.  Mr Glucose, it would seem, had already set his staff to work – they had a big order to fulfil.

 

“Time for you to get off,” said Delphi, as the sleigh landed lightly on his farmhouse’s roof.

 

“Goodbye and Merry Christmas,” said Relph, who was sitting up front keeping Rudolph company. “I’ll slip in an extra present for you on the 25th,” he continued with a wink.

 

Alex looked a little shocked.

 

“Father Christmas has asked me to go back to work at the Grotto.  Given me promotion,” said Relph, a look of pride shining from his small bright eyes.

 

“You deserve it,” said Alex.  “Hopefully, we’ll meet again?”

 

“I should think so – the magic market is a small one.”

 

“Merry Christmas,” said Celeste, as Alex got down from the sleigh.

 

“Merry Christmas,” said Crystal, passing him a bag of sherbets.  “See you soon.”

 

“Want a hand getting in through that bedroom window?” suggested Delphi, stretching out his long arm for Alex to grip on to.

 

“Thanks,” said Alex, as he swung in through the window.

 

The farmhouse was quiet – the lights not on just yet.  It was as if no one had even noticed he’d gone.  The only vestige from the evening’s event was the cardboard factory advent calendar – its windows now all closed, but with a glow of light radiating from each one.

 

It was December 2 – time to open Window 2. With a smile and nervous fingers Alex pulled back the card window– inside was Father Christmas’ smiling face in rich, creamy milk chocolate.

 

‘Merry Christmas,’ he thought he heard him say before he curled up on his bed and fell off to sleep.

 

The End

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Quirina December 16, at 09:24

    Beautiful prose, James, and as always the reader sinks sensationally into the setting. And the last line, so compact with the richness of freedom.

    Reply
  2. Stephen Ramey December 16, at 03:50

    "a terrifying magnificence"... one of many sharply observed moments here. There is such intensity in this, almost a sense of the fantastic, and yet it's ultimately real and true. Wonderful work. Thanks for publishing it.

    Reply

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