On the 13th Day of Christmas Hannah Storm gave to me…
Today my four-year-old found the Lord in his lunchbox. Tucked between the apple slices and the yoghurt tubes, Charlie might have missed the miracle, but fortunately for him and the future of faith, his form teacher Miss Angel was on hand.
I had feared as much ever since I saw the letters C of E carved into the wooden board beneath the school name, and even more since the heavenly-faced young woman pulled me and Ryan to one side, as if we were the chosen ones.
‘You must be Charlie’s parents?’, she said, her painted eyebrows tiny slugs on her otherwise perfect face. I nodded, feeling the murmurings of approval from my husband, and stretched out my hand, trying not to compare her rosy pink Shellac nails with my nibbled nudes.
‘I’m just not sure about this place’, I told Ryan, as we walked home after that open evening, reversing the route Charlie and I would take for the next seven years.
‘Oh Janey, you need to let go of the past. This one’s not Catholic, like your school, and any way, I thought you wanted to give our boy a head start?’ He smiled and I pictured him, imagining the staff room’s hottest new pin-up, halo over her head, wings sprouting from her tanned shoulders.
‘I do’, I said, seeing our longed-for baby, until his image became a blur of memories. ‘I do’, I murmured, remembering the nights I spent waking from dreams where the nuns hauled Hail Marys from my mouth, and the days treading on egg shells, shielding my soft skin from the cane as they threatened hell and damnation for my mortal sins.
I should have told Ryan right there that lust was also a mortal sin and perhaps Miss Angel was one of the fallen kind, but I let it go.
And now it’s almost the end of Charlie’s first term and all that’s left is the festivities – the Christmas fayre, festive jumper mufti day, turkey lunch, Santa’s grotto, and best of all the nativity. I never got beyond the third shepherd. Ryan failed to graduate from the farmyard. But I have big hopes for my boy. With his Dad away, Charlie and I cuddling in bed and talking about the play. He’s all blonde cherubic curls and puppy fat. In his Paw Patrol pyjamas, he’s more baby than a school boy, and my heart melts as he looks up at me with a full fat milk moustache.
‘Mumma’, he says, ‘Miss Angel says because I been so good, I get to play with cheeses.’ I look at him, wondering how in all those years of the Christmas story, I missed the fact it took place in a dairy not a stable.
‘What was that my cherub?’, I ask.
‘Miss Angel said I could play with the cheeses. But I told her, Mummy doesn’t let me play with my food and any way I like jam, not Jesus in my sandwich.’
Hannah Storm has been a journalist for the past 20 years. Though her notebooks have long been full of snapshots from her adventures, she only started writing flash fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction last year as a way of honouring some of the extraordinary people she has met, remembering the places she has been and processing her own experiences. She lives on the south coast of the UK with her husband and two children and juggles parenting with work, writing and long-distance running. Follow Hannah here Twitter
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