The Grotto (Part 2)

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We walked through a plastic curtain that was meant to be dripping icicles and entered the igloo. There was a thick patterned rug on the floor and a huge red plush throne which Santa was sat upon. There was a female elf at his side with a fake book holding loose papers. I remembered that we had been asked Willow’s name soon after we had joined the queue.

Santa looked like anyone you’d find in other shopping centres and events. He was tall and fat – though his stomach was probably padded out. His red suit was bright and the buttons shining. He had a huge white beard that looked almost real but really couldn’t be and matching long white hair. The face peering out from all of that was wrinkled and brushed with make up. Santa looked tried, but he was hiding it well behind that smile and twinkling blue eyes.

‘And who do we have here?’ Santa asked in a deep, jolly voice.

Willow walked over to him, her head and shoulders high, determined to gather more evidence for her mission. I hung back, hoping that she didn’t embarrass me.

‘Ah, Willow!’ Santa said with quick glance at the elf’s open book.

Willow stopped by his massive black boots and as if she was a toddler, Santa lifted her up and on to his knee. I had a flash thought about wondering how okay that was now a days. Willow seemed happy enough.

‘Have you been a good girl this year?’ Santa asked.

Willow nodded, ‘yes,’ she added.

The elf slide the book further down, allowing Santa to look at the pages.

‘Ah, I can see from the good list you have been! What would you like for Christmas?’ Santa asked.

‘A unicorn,’ Willow said quickly, ‘with a rainbow mane and tale, a golden horn and she has to be pink.’

Santa chuckled before saying, ‘I should be able to do that for you.’

‘Thank you,’ Willow replied then, ‘Can I ask you a few questions? It’s for a report at school.’

Santa looked a little worried and the elf’s big smile turned into a frown.

‘Go on,’ Santa said slowly, some of the jolliness gone from his voice.

‘How are you related to the real Santa? And don’t say you are ’cause I know that’s not true as the real Santa is far too busy right now.’

Santa looked thoughtful and in a whisper said, ‘I’m his cousin.’

‘Santa has a LOT of cousins,’ Willow mused.

‘He sure does but we must keep it a secret.’ Santa winked.

‘Are these elves real or just cousins too?’ Willow questioned.

‘Cousins. All the elves are needed at the moment to make all the toys.’

The elf shot me a look then give a small side nod to Willow. A clean sign she wanted me to remove my niece. I looked away, pretending I’d not seen and forcused on the glitter covered wall next to me as if I thought it was real ice. We had waited so long for this and I wasn’t about to drag Willow away…Unless she got too embarrassing.

‘But do know Santa right?’ Willow carried on talking.

‘Of course! And I’ll tell him you were asking about him,’ Santa replied.

‘What about the reindeer? Do they really fly by magic? Why doesn’t Santa get a motor, like on a speed boat?’

‘The reindeer do fly by magic dust but there is also a motor. It helps to get the sled around faster. That’s why it’s very hard to spot.’

‘What happens if things go wrong?’ Willow pressed.

The elf give a small cough and Santa glanced at her, she was tapping her empty wrist.

‘Santa has many back up plans if anything goes wrong. But everything is fully tested, so nothing ever does. Is that all? There are lots of other children waiting to see me,’ Santa explained.

Willow looked across at me then back up at Santa, ‘I guess….I’m still not closer to the truth though.’

‘The truth?’ Santa echoed.

‘Yes,’ Willow uttered as she swung her legs, ready to get down.

‘You want to know if Santa is really real don’t you?’ Santa voiced.

Willow looked startled at him and I bit my lip. It was so time to leave.

‘If you believe,’ Santa begin, ‘then he is real inside of your heart.’

Willow give a nod and slide off his knee.

‘Oh, don’t forget your present!’ the elf called and she handed Willow a gift wrapped in girly unicorn paper.

‘Is it a unicorn?’ Willow asked excitedly.

Santa laughed loudly and replied, ‘you’ll have to open it and see!’

‘Thanks for coming,’ the elf added.

Willow skipped over to me, a huge grin on her face. She showed me her present, her finger itching to open it.

‘We’ll open it at home,’ I told her.

Saying goodbye to Santa and his elf helper, we left the grotto.

To Be Continued…

The Grotto (Part 1)

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The queue to see Santa at the small shopping outlet was far too long but my eight year old niece, Willow, had really wanted to see him. So, after we had eaten lunch and done some Christmas shopping, we had joined the hour wait behind the red ropes.

‘Haven’t you seen Santa four times already?’ I asked her.

Willow give me a hard stare, her arms folded across her chest and replied, ‘yes, but I’m on a mission.’

I couldn’t help but smile. She was trying to look serious but it didn’t work with the cuteness of the grandma made knitted rainbow bobble hat and bright pink puff coat with unicorns on it.

‘What kind of mission?’ I asked.

‘To prove he’s real,’ Willow said in a low voice.

I lent down to hear her better as she explained, ‘kids in my class say he’s not real and it’s their parents who buy all the presents. I though want to prove he’s real and I can only do that by talking to as many ‘Santas’ as possible.’

I nodded then said, ‘but you know all the Santas are like the real Santa’s relatives, right? The real Santa is far too busy right now.’

Willow pressed her lips together and puffed out her cheeks, ‘I know.’

The queue moved a little and a mother ahead of us stopped a passing male elf to ask how long it would be.

‘It won’t be much longer now!’ the elf cheerily replied, ‘and have you been good children this year?’

I turned to Willow who was watching intently. The elf was too tall and it looked like the green trousers, jacket and hat were far too small for him. He was clean shaven and he had short blond hair. He was wearing fake pointy ear tips, there was a bell on the end of of his hat and also atop each of his green pointy shoes. He had red blush circles on his cheeks too and though it was hard to tell his age, he couldn’t have been more then twenty-six – close to my own age. Actually, if wasn’t dressed like he was I would have found him attractive!

He walked down the line, chatting to adults and kids then he reached us.

‘I think my auntie likes you!’ Willow spoke out.

‘Oi!’ I snapped and give her pink fluffy lined hood a tug.

Willow giggled and beamed at me as I felt my cheeks go red.

‘This is your aunt? Why I thought you were sisters!’ the elf said cheekily.

‘Are you a real elf?’ Willow asked.

‘Of course I am! Fresh from the North Pole! Only the best elves get to travel with Santa.’

‘How much longer is it going to be?’ I asked.

‘Shouldn’t be-‘

‘No,’ I cut him off, ‘the real time. We have a bus to catch.’

Willow look at me in shock but I tugged her hood again to stop her from speaking.

‘Oh….erm….an hour or so. He’s really popular today! I’m sure you could catch another bus….’ the elf trailed with a wide grin, ‘he’s worth the wait!’ he winked at Willow then walked off.

‘Meanie!’ Willow snarled, ‘I’m not leaving till I see him!’

She crossed her arms and turned away from me, nose in the air.

I signed and looked around. The shopping outlet shone and glittered with lights and sparkly decorations. Christmas music was playing in the background but the noise of people made it hard to only make out a few louder notes. The window displays of the near by shops were trying their hardest to compete with one another and also draw customers into spend lots of money. With it being the third Saturday to Christmas, a lot of people were doing just that.

Looking back at the Santa’s Grotto which was shaped like a large igloo covered in glitter surrounded by presents and models of penguins, bears and reindeer, I just couldn’t bring myself to drag Willow out of the queue and leave. So, we waited an hour and twenty minutes watching the shoppers and the elves until we were next.

There were two female elves at the front, one was taking money and the other photographs. They looked like twins with their green costumes, blonde hair, blue eyes and too much make up.

‘It’s five pounds to see Santa and another five if you want your photo taken with him,’ the first elf explained.

I glanced at Willow and she responded, ‘just Santa, please.’

‘Are you sure, sweetie?’ the second elf asked, swaying the large camera around her neck.

‘Yes,’ Willow and I said together.

I handed over the note from my purse and lead Willow up the cotton wool pathway. The family that had been before us came out and we went in.

To Be Continued….

Town Decorations #FridayFictioneers

I looked up at the high street’s Christmas decorations with a mixture of  puzzlement and anger. At the lights turn on, the mayor had announced that due to lack of funds this year, they had decided to go with a ‘homemade’ feel..Children, old people and those who had nothing better to do, had dug out their old decorations and got making some too. Long knitted scarfs wrapped around the lampposts, ancient lights danging down, children’s glittered things and was that someone’s Mrs Santa’s nightdress? Well, I guess the town had come together in the spirit of Christmas.

(Inspired from; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/12/13/15-december-2017 with thanks).

Mists #writephoto

He watched the mists rolling across the field and patchy woodland from his bedroom window. He was still in his pajamas, the blue and white stripped ones that his wife had brought him last Christmas. His lower back ached and so did his upper legs, as if he been sleeping on a pebble beach instead of the well worn soft bed.

He did the morning exercises like his doctor had told him too. The bending and stretching helped a little but he’d still need some pain killers to get through the day. Perhaps, he’d take a bath later, if he remembered though he already knew it was going to be another day inside; watching TV, reading, napping, cooking then falling asleep on the sofa.

Watching the mists would entertain him for awhile and if it cleared up maybe he’d go for a walk. It didn’t though. Just like the snow and ice the other day, the mists hung around as if they were happy to be there. He didn’t really mind, it was interesting to see how the mists give everything an out of focus look.

In the evening, it was nice to see that the mists even softened the too harsh Christmas lights coming from other peoples’ houses. He looked at the small tree his daughters and grandchild had set up for him before the front window. The lights were on a timer so he didn’t have to do anything. He and his wife normally put the tree up and placed the children’s presents under for them to open on Christmas day…

This year, he’d be going to stay at his eldest daughter’s for a few days. Then his youngest daughter was bringing her family for New Year’s week. He was looking forward to seeing everyone and having the company. It was going to be just what he needed to being some brightness and colour back into his life again.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/12/14/thursday-photo-prompt-mists-writephoto with thanks).

In The Cemetery Snow

Caspar David Friedrich Monastery Graveyard in the Snow 1817-19

The monks walked slowly through the place they had long ago called home. The once magnificent archway which had dominated them for hundreds of years rose out of the bare trees, a skeleton of it’s former self. The suffocating snow lay heavy on the land and the gravestones making everything seem even more dead. And the eternally grey sky above reminded the monks just how bleak their lives had now become.

(Story inspired by and imagine of photograph of Caspar David Friedrich’s 1819 oil painting Klosterfriedhof im Schnee (Cloister Cemetery in the Snow)

Jolly

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Christmas is only two weeks away and I’m so excited! I just don’t think I can wait any more! There’s so much to do still; like wrapping presents, sorting and buying the food and getting the time table finally done. After that though, it’ll be all sorted and I can truly celebrate. I feel so full of joy that I can’t contain it. I just want to, I don’t know, dance about and sing loudly to Christmas songs, tell everyone how I feel, but that would be a bit crazy….Why should that matter? It’s CHRISTMAS!

(Inspired from; https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/jolly/ with thanks).

Snow Day

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The snow fell silent and heavily on the village, making a perfect picture under the gaze of the moonlight.

The Old Sawmill

Old Sawmill

Fairy lights twinkled in the single window of the cabin, like a beacon through the trees. The sounds of a small river racing over a waterfall and turning the old wooden wheel at the bottom echoed in the pause I had made. The snow lay thick on the ground and trees, giving everything a white coat like icing on a cake. The sky above was dark blue, nearly black with the promise of nightfall and more snow to come.

I carried on walking, my boots crunching on the snow and making a trail of clear footprints. My torch provided a small circle of light with which to guide my eyes with but I knew this forest so well that it didn’t matter. I carried a few logs under my other arm, cut from a dying tree I had knocked down a few days ago. Shifting the heavy bag on my back, I climbed the slope upwards, towards the cabin.

It had once been an old sawmill which had kept a now long lost village in some industry, but now it was my home. Reaching the front door, I kicked the snow of my boots and went in. I didn’t bother locking the place unless I was away for a few days; there was no one out here and not much in there to steal.

Opening the door, my old dog woofed and wobbled over to me. I patted him then closed the door and went to the fire. The wood was low, so I put some more logs on and watched the flames grow back to life. The dog joined me, curling onto the rug. The electrical lamps above flickered but held their dim light. I took my bag off and laid it with my axe next to the single cold bed.

Warmed by the fire, I took my boots off and sat in the single chair. The fairy lights looked merry in the window but were a sad reminder of the past. I hadn’t always called this small wooden cabin home… At least I wasn’t outside in the snow, frozen. Getting up again and keeping myself busy, I emptied my bag and made something to eat.

Catching anything in winter was hard, but rabbits and smaller creatures could be tempted with a bit of food. The water in my canteen had turned solid, so I had to place that close to the fire and wait. The dog snored loudly and woke a few times, I shared my meal with him. Then after adding more wood to the fire, we both got into bed.

Once I’d had a wife and children. We’d lived in a bigger cabin then this but then there had come hard times. One day, my wife took the children into town and sold them. She told me we could have more when things were better again.

I had my axe in my hand and felt a rage I had never known before consume me.

There’d been no other choice but to run away. I had lost everything but my freedom and that was something man of the wildness could never give up. I now lived the life of a hermit, selling whatever I could to whoever I could and hoping to live out the rest of my life in quietness with my happy memories of the past.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/12/10/sunday-writing-prompt-232-its-all-in-the-title/ with thanks).

Letter To Santa #TwitteringTales

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Dear Santa,

I’ve been really good this year. Please can I have the pink sparkly ponies play set, Girl’s Adventure books, Craft making box and a ton of chocolate!

Also, if you can make it snow that’d be great.

Love, Megan.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2017/12/12/twittering-tale-62-12-december-2017/ with thanks).

The Last Present

18 Eric Wiklund 10 December 2017

It was hard to open the Christmas present granddad had gotten for me. I sat with the heavy box on my lap whilst around me my family carried on opening their gifts. Christmas music was playing the background and there was a warm smell of food. It should have been a happy day but granddad had died a week ago and we’d had to rush the funeral or he wouldn’t have been buried till after the new year.

I didn’t want to open the last present I’d ever receive from him but it would be a waste not too. Slowly, un-sticking the badly wrapped package then opening the cardboard box, I peered inside. There was lots of tissue wrapped packets in there. I pulled one out, curiously unwrapping it. It was a tiny wooden table.

Frowning, I got all the other items and laid them out together. Granddad had built the fairy village I’d asked for as a child. Tears misted my eyes and I sit there and cried.

 

(Inspired by; https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/12/10/sunday-photo-fiction-december-10th-2017/ with thanks).