Not the Naughty List

“Get back to work,” a fat voice bellowed.


Sherry Wintersleigh yawned, stretched her arms wider and opened her eyes.


“What, what, what,” she began.


“He’s always like this,” whispered a passing elf.


“But Christmas is…,” Sherry said. The shadow standing over her shook his finger at her.


“You heard what I said,” bellowed Santa. “On your feet.”


“Finished,” whispered Sherry as she stood. Santa scowled down at her.


“Well, ho, ho, ho,” he replied. “To the mailroom. Now.”


“But, but…” said Sherry as she uncurled her arms and rubbed her eyes.


But by then Santa had gone.


“Better hurry,” said another passing elf.


So many passages, so many corridors, so many wrong turns, Sherry said to herself, as she wandered, only occasionally lost now through the North Pole.  


Until finally she found it. Mail Room. She tried the door handle. It turned and clicked but didn’t open. She looked up. There was a handwritten sign that said, Press for entry.


She pushed the door bell.


“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,” the door chorused.


Christmas is so over for you now, she thought.


She opened the door, pushed aside a Santa sack which and stepped inside.


“Glad you could make it,” said a friendly voice.


“Alabaster,” she said. She couldn’t see him for the room was filled, floor to ceiling with Santa sacks. She pushed another sack aside to see better. It fell to the floor with a gentle bump.


A wizened grey elf was crouched over a trestle table. His face flickered. Santa’s administrator. She heard scratching and leaned forward to see. He was writing.


The candle next to him sizzled. Sherry jumped.


“What, what, what,” Sherry began.


“Sit down, and I’ll tell you,” Alabaster said.  


Sherry crept forward, bumping into and stepping over sacks, pulled out a folding chair and sat opposite.


“All these letters,” he gestured around him.


The mail was late this Christmas, Sherry thought to herself.


“Are from children who,” he paused.


Sherry leaned forward.


“Don’t believe in Santa anymore,” he finished.


Sherry looked down at her hands. Oh no, she thought. Not the Naughty List.


Alabaster looked up and smiled.


“No, not the naughty list at all. An opportunity instead.”


He held up a letter.


“We write back to them. We tell them the truth.”


Sherry gasped. The Naughty List was now starting to look like the best job at the North Pole.


“What, what, what do we tell them?” Sherry whispered.


“That the person who gave them the present works for us. And yes sometimes they get gift-giving wrong. But only you can make it right. By giving love and joy and peace until next Christmas day.”


Sherry stood up, clapped her hands and shouted for joy.


Alabaster pushed a pile of letters, a pen and pad towards her.


Sherry began writing.

Laughably Ever After

“Dr Twinkle?”

“Speaking.”

“Do you do weekend emergency out calls?”

“Nope. Only weekdays. And only to the Kid’s hospital. Why?”

“I need a doctor for a party.”

“Have you tried datingdoctors.Com?

“A clown doctor,” I replied.

“And how did you get my name?” she asked.

“You tried clown ties on me. In the kid’s hospital foyer.”

I heard her smile.

“Andrew isn’t it?” Her voice softened.

“None fitted,” I continued, “Though the colours matched.” 

Light laughter at that. “Nice try,” she said. 

“And you’re at the party now?” She asked.

“My daughter’s,” I whispered. 

I heard her smile over the phone.

“You’re the trainer?”

“Now a disaster manager.”

“What seems to be the medical emergency?”

“Kaylaur’s balloon party,” I sighed, “Balloons, helium, the clown ran away…”

“To the circus…” she replied.

It was then Kaylaur tapped me on the shoulder. 

“Daddy,” she said, “Why are you calling a doctor? We need a clown.”

Murmurs from the girls crowded around.

I smiled. “Dr Twinkle is a clown doctor. Would you like that?”

“Yes,” said Kaylaur.

Stifled giggles now from Dr Twinkle.

“Hmm, possible case of mass child hysteria.”

“And chronic parental guilt syndrome too,” I replied.

“Hmm, looks like your party needs a humour infusion.”

“So, you’ll come?

“Yes.”

“I’ll text you my address. And I almost forgot…You can make balloon animals?”

“That’s my specialty. I can bend and twist them into any shape you want.”

I had to catch my breath at that. Luckily no one noticed how flushed I was when I hung up. 

“We have a clown,” I said.

Everyone cheered and clapped and stomped.

And that’s how Dr Twinkle saved Kaylaur’s birthday. She stayed afterwards to ensure I made a full recovery. And that’s how we lived laughably ever after.

One for Each Pot….

“One for each person,” she thought she heard.

“And one for the pot,” the whispered reply.

Yes she thought. You again.

She turned her head away, the easier not to hear.She stood on tiptoe, stretched up and opened the kitchen cupboard. 

“I could’ve done that for you,” he said.

She shook herself off. She reached high, levered up a saucer, scrabbled at a cup, caught it before it slid off the hook and brought all gently down to the bench. 

Again? She thought.

“One for each person.”

“And one for the pot,” his whispered reply.

No, she mouthed silently.

She lifted open the percolator, turned on the tap and filled it.

One cup. she said to herself.

She opened the coffee bag. Carefully spooned out enough coffee. For her. 

“One for each person,” he whispered.

Not Again? She thought. Surely he would know by now.

“And none for the pot,” she said to herself.

She turned on the stove. 

Then she felt his tap on her shoulder. Cold.

She slammed the percolator down and caught it just in time. She whirled. She brandished the percolator at him.

”Give it up will you,” she said aloud. 

Clitter-clatter, she heard.Not that rattle, she thought. 
The cupboard doors sprung open.

She dodged and deftly ducked her head underneath.

She turned and shook her head again.

Another cup and saucer floated to the bench. 

Not the bloody teapot, she thought. 

An ugly squat misshapen John Bull teapot rose, circled and landed like a dragonfly on the bench. 

“One for each person,” he whispered.

“And this one is for the pot,” she finished.

She snatched up the tea pot and turned to face the cupboard.

“One…”, he began.

But before he could say or do anything, she turned back.

She stepped away from him. She stamped the garbage bin foot lever.

And in one movement, threw the teapot in.

“Plenty of tea on the other side,” she said as it shattered.