What follows is a brief excerpt from “The Tinselator”, a story included in my latest collection, The Woman in Red. Here, Kaylee encounters a second visitor to her home on Christmas Eve.
After noticing that the sounds on the roof had stopped, Kaylee felt rather than heard something soft and heavy landing on the floor somewhere in the house.
Once again, she peered out the bedroom door, considered waking her mother, and instead crept towards the living room. It hadn’t changed very much since she was five. Her mother had bought some new curtains. Or rather, she’d bought some material and had fashioned curtains from them. They were still thin, though, and she could easily see the contents of the room from the streetlights shining in.
All was as it should be: sofa, chair, coffee table, the TV and the plant stand. It’s just that there was something there that didn’t belong: a man, dressed in red, with snow white hair and beard, and wearing white gloves. Next to him on the floor was an enormous, bulging sack, standing about five feet high, tied-off at the top with rope.
The man was snuffling and scratching his head as he looked at a long piece of paper.
“You’re not Santa Claus,” Kaylee pronounced.
The man started, dropped the paper, and stood up. “I’m not?” he said.
“No. You’re not Santa Claus because there’s no such person.” Kaylee said as she crossed her arms.
The man looked down, scratched his head again, and said, “That’s funny. That’s very funny. Because I’m quite sure that I was Santa Claus when I left the North Pole. Yes, I definitely remember Mrs. Claus fastening the top button of my coat before I left. She said, ‘Now then Santa, you’ll be just fine without me. After all, you’ve been doing this for over 2,000 years.’ So, you see, I must be Santa Claus. The problem is, even though I have been doing this a very long time, things always change. People move around, new children are born, other children grow too old for my toys, it all becomes such a muddle.”
His eyes began to tear up and he withdrew a handkerchief and gave his nose a loud blow.
Finding that she was starting to feel sad for the man, Kaylee spoke in a softer voice. “But how do I know that you’re Santa? You could be anyone in a red suit with a big sack.”
Now the man’s eyes began to twinkle. “Oh, but this isn’t just any old sack. Come here and I’ll give you a peek inside.”
The Woman in Red is available from the Amazon bookstore.