On the 15th Day of Christmas Damhnait Monaghan gave to me…
Chloe said, “I’m ready to post my letter up the chimney, Grandma.”
“Let me read it first,” said Ruth.
“But I licked it.”
Before Ruth could reply, Grandpa Jim took the envelope and chucked it on the fire.
It was Chloe’s first Christmas without her mum and Ruth wanted to give her grand-daughter everything she’d asked for. How would she do that now?
“What did the letter say?” Ruth asked.
“Amy’s mum says we mustn’t tell anyone. She says it’s between me and Father Christmas.”
“Nowt to do wit’ her,” muttered Jim.
“Grandpa said he doesn’t know what to do this winter,” said Ruth. “C’mon Chloe, you can tell us. We can keep a secret.”
“Sorry, Grandma, you’ll have to wait until Christmas.”
When Ruth took Jim aside and explained their predicament, he thought for a minute. Then he sat Chloe down to tell her the story of Smokey.
“Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of Smokey?” Jim feigned shock. “He’s a very important elf.”
“What does he do?”
“He reads the chimney letters and makes lists for Father Christmas.”
“Maybe he’s reading my letter right now,” said Chloe.
“Maybe. Remind me what it said?”
“Grandpa! It’s a secret.”
The next morning Chloe found a burnt note on her bed.
I’m sorry but I lost your letter. Please write again and ask your Grandpa to post it up the chimney.
So Chloe wrote another letter which Jim pocketed on the sly. Then he headed to town, where hours later he located the last talking unicorn in the county.
“Can I interest you in a loyalty card?” asked the cashier.
“No, thank you.”
“Would you like it gift wrapped?”
“I’ll do that at home.”
“As you’ve spent £50, these” – she gestured at the display case – “are all half price.”
“Just the unicorn.”
“Can I take an email address?”
“Can I just buy the damn toy?”
The next day Chloe said, “Amy’s mum told me I was supposed to put my letter in the post-box at the shopping centre.”
Jim was hurt on Smokey’s behalf. “Amy’s mum can get stuffed.”
“Grandpa said that’s where Amy’s mum goes to buy stuff,” said Ruth.
“Chloe,” said Jim. “You could send a letter by fax machine and Father Christmas would …”
“What’s a fax machine?”
“Something from the olden days,” said Ruth. “Like your Grandpa.”
“The point is,” said Jim, “you could text or What’s App …”
“Father Christmas is on WhatsApp?”
“What Grandpa means is that Father Christmas accepts all forms of communication.” Ruth frowned at her husband. “Even grunts.”
On Christmas Eve Chloe said,
“I told Amy’s mum about Smokey and how I had to write him a new letter. She said it was a good idea but too late and there might be some disappointed children at her house tomorrow.”
“Ha,” said Jim. “Karma takes a bite.”
“Grandpa said, ‘Happy Christmas and good night.’”
Damhnait Monaghan’s flash fiction is widely published and anthologised. Her novella in flash, ‘The Neverlands’ is out now with V Press. She is and editor at FlashBack Fiction and tweets @Downith.
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