fiction · STORIES

To Extinguish & Ignite the Light of Magic

Light1
Illustration by Cynthia Tedy

1.

‘Timmy, Timmy, wake up little munchkin.’

Timothy felt a warm hand rubbing him awake. The soft fleshy palm and long bony fingers seemed to span the entirety of his back. Fee-fi-fo-fum, he thought. He wanted to swat the hand away. Lemme ‘lone, he wished to protest. But he couldn’t summon the energy. The dozy, dormant pull of sleep was too strong.

‘Wake up Timmy.’

The hand persisted, rocking him gently from side to side now. It couldn’t be morning already, could it? He sensed it was still dark under his heavy eyelids and he half remembered that he was expecting a wondrous surprise the next day. He wanted to be well rested for the events to come, but to and fro he continued to go.

He finally let out a sluggish groan and squinted. Mum was hunched over his bed. She was beaming at him. There was a man standing behind her in the doorway. The man was blocking out the light from the landing so Timothy could only make out his silhouette. It wasn’t dad. Too fat to be dad.

‘Someone special has come to see you,’ Mum said pointing to the mysterious stranger.

Timothy rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and the stocky figure came into focus.

It was Father Christmas!

In his bedroom!

There he stood, dressed in his magnificent scarlet suit. His bushy white beard was tucked into the thick black belt wrapped around his globular tummy. He looked exactly the same as he did in all the adverts shown between Timothy’s favourite cartoon shows and on the countless number of Christmas cards he had helped mummy write to relatives and friends and neighbours. Timothy couldn’t quite believe it. He sat up on his knees, all his drowsiness evaporating into a wave of dizzy euphoric glee.

‘Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas!’ Father Christmas boomed.

‘It’s Father Christmas!’ Timothy whispered to his mum in disbelief.

Mum laughed. She lifted the little boy up into her arms and brushed his fringe of silky mousey hair away from his forehead.

‘Yes, it is,’ she said. ‘Go on, say hello.’

Light2
Illustration by Cynthia Tedy

2.

Timothy bit into the apple.

Pink Lady apples were his favourite. They weren’t tart like the Granny Smith variety, or bland and boring like a Red Delicious. Pink Lady apples were, in the words of Goldilocks, just right. They were soft and juicy and had a subtle honey-like aftertaste. But there was something horribly wrong with this particular fruit he was eating. As he chewed, he tasted a salty tang mixed with the familiar sweetness, and there was something else, something bitter and metallic to his tongue, like when he sucked on pennies.

Timothy pulled the apple away from him in disgust. The bitten craggy flesh of the fruit was spattered with flecks of ruby red. A small bloody tooth was planted firmly in the Pink Lady’s skin like an explorer’s flag in newfound land after brutal battle with the natives. He spat the chewed-up pulp on the kitchen floor and ran a finger across his upper gums in alarm. One of his front teeth was missing. No. It wasn’t missing. It was in the apple.

He didn’t feel any pain, but the sight of blood made him panic.

‘Mum! Mum!’ Tim cried out.

‘What?’ She answered in a tired, half-groan from the living room.

‘My tooth! It’s come out.’

Mum came into the kitchen.

‘Let me see.’

She lifted Tim’s chin towards her and examined his open bloodied mouth.

‘Finally,’ she said, ‘I was beginning to think you were never going to lose those milk teeth.’

She ruffled his mousey hair.

‘Go rinse your mouth out and I’ll clean this mess up.’

Timothy hopped up onto the kitchen top leaving his mouth wide open all the while; he didn’t want to swallow any blood. He slurped cold water directly from the tap and spat it out, observing how the liquid turned from red to pink to clear as it circled the drain.

‘They should all begin to fall out soon,’ Mum said as she mopped the floor tiles clean, ‘You’re going to look like a jack-o-lantern for your seventh birthday.’

Timothy giggled. The thought of looking like a jack-o-lantern pleased him. Maybe he could dress up like Jack Skellington for his party.

‘You’d better clean this too.’

Mum placed the fallen tooth in Tim’s small hand. Tim scrutinised it, turning it over his palm, not quite believing that until a few minutes ago, this thing that looked like a dried up kernel of white corn, had been rooted in his gums.

‘And don’t forget to put it under your pillow before you go to bed tonight,’ Mum said with a wink. ‘Who knows, the tooth fairy might pay you a visit.’

***

That night, with his cleaned baby incisor tucked safely under his pillow, Timothy dreamt. He dreamt of two floating dots of light. One was green, the other red. These flamboyant fireflies whizzed by overhead performing an aerial ballet against an inky backdrop. The two dots criss-crossed and pirouetted leaving ephemeral glowing brushstrokes in their trail. Timothy watched them mesmerised. The dots drew nearer and nearer.

‘Shh! You’re going to wake him,’ the red light said.

Strange. Timothy knew this voice. It was familiar to him but Timothy was sure he hadn’t met any talking dots of light before. He wished the red light would speak some more so maybe he could identify it. The two lights dipped out of sight, and just as he was beginning to wonder where they had disappeared to, Timothy suddenly felt his head begin to rise. Up and up his head went, like a balloon floating off into the night sky never to return. It felt wonderful.

‘Don’t forget the tooth,’ the green light whispered from somewhere close by.

How odd! This voice was familiar too. He knew it intimately; he knew the face it belonged to. It belonged to …

But before he could fully grasp this enlightening thread, Timothy was falling backwards, down, down, deeper and deeper into the endless, all-encompassing ocean of darkness beneath him. The red and green lights were gone now. Timothy murmured in his sleep and drifted into peaceful nothingness.

***

The next morning Timothy woke up with no recollection of his fantastical nocturnal episode. He sat up and stretched his arms wide with all the exaggeration of a seasoned mime. He gave a great big yawn and felt the slumberous bedroom air rush through the sensitive exposed gap on his gums.

His tooth!

He flung his pillow off the bed and there, right where his head had lain in unconscious reverie, he found two shiny heptagonal silver coins. Coinage in exchange for his dead denticle. In one swift motion, he swept the silver pieces up into his palm, jumped out of bed, and bolted out of his room.

‘Mum!’ he called out on the landing. ‘The tooth fairy came while I was sleeping. Look!’

Light3
Illustration by Cynthia Tedy

3.

‘So where’d you even find this thing El?’ Daryl asked, inspecting the moth-eaten oblong box in Tim’s hands.

‘Yeah,’ Tim added. ‘It’s not like you can just walk into Toys ‘R Us and buy one.’

‘It was in Gemma’s wardrobe. Hidden in plain sight, right between Cluedo and Monopoly,’ Elis explained as he emptied a plastic carrier bag full of tea-lights and jar candles onto his bedroom desk that was strewn with school files and comics and dog-eared spiral copybooks.

‘Dad would proper freak if he knew she had it. Probably have her confined to some remote convent of nuns in the Himalayas, never to be seen again.’

The flaxen-haired boy chuckled to himself at the thought. Reaching into the back pocket of his baggy jeans, he pulled out a knock-off Zippo he had stolen from a market stool that summer just passed. Elis snapped the metal lid open with a loud clink and thumbed the flint wheel to ignite a steady blue flame. He began to light the candles and hand them to Daryl who placed them strategically around the bedroom; on shelves and on top of the cupboard, and a few closer to the ground on the stacks of movie magazines piled against the wall. Tim stood aside and watched, hesitant to participate. After making a few final adjustments, Elis flicked the switch by the door, and with that the ceiling lamp went dark and the messy teenage boy’s bedroom transformed into a flickering spiritualist’s den.

‘No turning back now boys,’ Elis said, admiring how the scattered flames of light caused their shadows to dance on the walls.

He took the box back from Tim and knelt down on the carpeted floor. He lifted the lid to reveal the contents inside.

‘Are you sure Gemma won’t mind us using this?’ Tim asked.

Elis and Daryl turned to each other and let out a chorused Ooo-ooohhhhhh! that went up the scale like a slide-whistle. The two boys started making kissy kissy faces before bursting into a fit of laughter. Tim glared at them in seething silence.

‘We all know you’ve got a massive hard on for my creepy older sister Tim,’ Elis replied, ‘but no need to be such a dweeb about it.’

‘I was only asking,’ Tim said, attempting to sound nonplussed.

Elis pulled the board out from the box, unfolded it, and laid it out on the floor. Daryl picked up a can of Coke from the bed and let himself fall into a massive Star Wars patterned beanbag beneath him, the bag visibly straining under the boy’s heavy frame. He cracked the can open, took a long swig of the fizzy drink, and let out a droning jagged burp.

‘Besides,’ Elis continued with a taunting glint in his eye, ‘Gemma’s in Italy till the end of term. Chances are she’s making out with some bronzed dude named Renzo as we speak. Sure she’s not missing an old dusty piece of cardboard … or a certain skinny worm-boy we all know and love.’

Elis gave Tim his best jester grin. Dan guffawed.

‘Shut up El!’ Tim snapped.

The thought of Gemma locking lips with a sexy Italian had ruffled his feathers. He tried to put the upsetting image out of mind by focusing on the matter at hand. He crouched down beside Daryl and Elis to examine the cardboard square.

The face of the board showed the entire alphabet printed in two neat curves. Just beneath these were numerals from one to nine with a zero at the end. The two top corners were decorated with etchings of a sun and moon, a bold YES and NO next to each respectively. There was an ominous GOODBYE stamped at the bottom that appeared to be wavering in the candlelight as if the word were about to peel itself off the board, float up and hover mid-air.

‘You guys sure this is a good idea?’ Tim asked.

‘Course it is,’ Elis said rubbing his hands together. ‘It’s Halloween night. The parents are away. Time for some supernatural shenanigans.’

Seeing the look of concern on Tim’s face, Daryl clapped his friend on the shoulder.

‘It’s only a bit of fun mate. Relax.’

Tim didn’t think he could relax. He knew that believing in ghosts and spirits was pretty childish; it was the same as believing in monsters under the bed. On the other hand, he had to admit – only to himself mind – that he still felt uneasy when he woke up to go to the toilet at night and was confronted with the pitch-black landing. He always got a sense that someone or something was lurking in the dark, ready to pounce on him. And no matter how much he told himself he was being a lily-livered baby, he always noticed his pulse would begin to race, and he would subconsciously pick up his pace in a jittery panic to enter the sanctuary of the brightly lit bathroom. All that for an imaginary bogeyman in the night. He wasn’t sure how he would react should they actually make contact with the spirits of the dead.

‘How does this work then?’ he asked, trying to sound casual, show he was game.

‘OK, I’ve done my research. We place this planchette in the middle of the board,’ Elis held up a small heart-shaped device that had a hole in its centre. ‘We all put our fingers on either side of it. Then we’re meant to ask questions to the spirits and they’ll answer by moving the planchette around the board and spelling out their answers letter by letter. Ready?’

Tim and Daryl nodded.

‘Given how exciting this neighbourhood is, we’ll probably end up speaking to the ghost of some dead cat buried in the back garden,’ Daryl said with a smirk. He put his can of Coke down and leaned forward to place his fingers on the planchette alongside the others’.

The boys fell silent. The séance commenced.

‘Hello. If anyone’s here can you please give us a sign,’ Elis intoned to the air.

The planchette remained still. Nothing happened. Daryl let out a strangled meow. Elis punched Daryl hard in the arm and Tim laughed, feeling his bottled up anxiety depressurise somewhat. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. It was just a laugh, like Daryl had said.

The three boys started fooling around, making creepy ghost noises, doing their best Regan MacNeil impressions: Your mother sucks cocks in hell! But after a few more minutes of buffoonery, Elis shut them up to resume the spiritual enquiry. Tim was more at ease now. There was nothing to worry about.

‘Hello,’ Elis chanted in a deep mock-serious tone like some B-movie Svengali.

Nothing.

‘We welcome you to this room.’

Nothing.

‘This is bullshit,’ Daryl scoffed sounding bored. ‘It doesn’t work El. Can we stop sitting around a plank of cardboard like three loser assholes and go do something that’s actually fun?’

But Elis wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

‘We are ready to receive you amongst us.’

The planchette suddenly twitched. The boys gasped.

‘Is someone here?’ Elis called out, astonished.

Their hands began to glide slowly around the board in small round circles that started from the centre and widened with each gyre. The planchette came to a final halt over the etching of the sun.

YES

Tim’s heart began to pound hard against his ribcage.

‘Christ alive!’ Daryl whispered.

‘It’s working,’ Elis said in awe, and then to the ceiling. ‘Who are you? What’s your name?’

Round and round their hands went.

‘Are you pushing it Elis?’ Tim asked unable to take his eyes off the board. ‘This isn’t funny.’

‘How can I be pushing it? It’s moving in my direction.’

‘N – A – B – U,’ they recited in unison as the wooden heart glided across the surface.

‘Nah-boo? That’s not a name,’ Daryl said.

‘Maybe it’s foreign,’ Elis posited with a shrug. ‘Do you have anything to tell us Nabu?’

Off their hands sped, fluttering and stalling over select letters.

D – E – F – W – L – C – M

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ Daryl asked.

‘Maybe d-e is like shorthand for the or something,’ Elis said.

The boys mouthed the letters, filling in the gaps with random vowels, trying to form coherent words.

The Fowl Com? The Falcon?’

Deaf Welcome?’

Death … will … come! It’s Death Will Come!’ Tim cried, his voice rising in pitch.

He jumped up and two of the candles on the magazine stacks went out in a puff of smoke. Daryl stumbled to his feet in shock, knocking over his can of Coke that fizzed and hissed on the carpet and pooled around the edges of the board like a poisonous potion or sacrificial blood. From somewhere not too far off a cat let out a screeching ululating meow. Tim felt the hairs on his arm stand on end. Elis no longer looked eager and excited; he was now as wan as wax.

The three boys made a split-second unspoken collective agreement: run for it.

They shot out the bedroom door, switching on all the lights as they scrambled down the stairs, knocking down a picture, the glass smashing in the frame as it hit the ground.

‘I swear to God El, if you’ve got us cursed by some dead evil fuck, I’m gonna kill you,’ Daryl yelled.

They rushed through the kitchen, pushing past one another, each trying to get out into the back garden first.

The sensor light clicked on as they shuffled out onto the dewy lawn, and they froze in the white beam like escaped convicts under a searchlight. The three boys stood there, taking in deep lungfuls of the cold night air, looking up at Elis’ bedroom window that was glimmering red from the burning candles.

The boys started to shiver. They blamed it on the chilly October night.

***

Tim turned the key in the front door and saw the glow of the TV flickering in the living room. He heard a rattle of cutlery come from the kitchen.

‘Dad? Mum? I’m home,’ he called out in the entryway.

Dad popped his head out of the kitchen door, a piece of buttered toast in hand.

‘Back so soon?’ he said through a mouthful of his late night snack. ‘Thought you boys were having an all-night movie marathon?’

‘Elis wasn’t feeling well. We decided to call it a night.’

‘Oh, well they’re showing Twilight Zone re-runs on TV if you want to join?’ Dad said pointing toward the living room.

‘Nah, think I’ll go to bed. I’m a bit tired.’

‘Suit yourself.’

Dad switched off the kitchen lights and Tim watched him walk down the corridor, his dressing gown trailing behind him.

‘Actually, Dad, can I ask you a weird question?’

Dad turned on his slippered heel.

‘Sure. Shoot.’

‘Do you believe in ghosts and evil spirits, that sort of thing?’

Dad raised an eyebrow.

‘What’s the matter? Got spooked by one of your exorcism films?’

Tim looked sheepishly down at his feet.

‘Something like that,’ he admitted.

‘Well,’ Dad began as he absently brushed crumbs out of his greying beard, ‘your gran certainly believed there was. She once told uncle Jim and I about the spirit of some dead nun she saw in the chapel when …’

He trailed off seeing Tim’s troubled face.

‘But I’m sensing you don’t want to hear about that right this minute.’

Dad walked up to his son. Tim sensed his dad wanted to put a hand on his shoulder, but they had never been the touchy type. Instead, he leaned next to him, back to the bannister.

‘Honestly Timmy, far be it from me to tell you what to believe, but I think it’s safe to say there’s no such thing as ghosts or ghouls or any of that nonsense. Sometimes we see things or have experiences we don’t understand, so our imagination weaves a narrative around the events, comes up with quick-fix explanations. But if you’re willing to take the time and look closely enough, you’ll always find logical answers that will demystify any campfire spook stories. Trust me, there’s enough crazy stuff happening in the world without us having to add the supernatural.’

Tim felt heartened.

‘Yeah, I guess that makes sense.’

Dad nodded and wolfed down his final bite of toast.

‘That said,’ he added, ‘if I do discover I’m a ghost after I shuffle off this mortal coil, you’re the first one I’m haunting.’

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Illustration by Cynthia Tedy

4.

Late. Late. Tim was always late. He hurtled up the stairs two-by-two; his canvas bag, which was stuffed with books, notepads and the chunkiest laptop known to man, was not making the task any easier. He would have taken one of the lifts if it wasn’t for the fact that all the students used all of the lifts all of the time, pretty much guaranteeing to make any trip slower than climbing the stairs with a Zimmer frame. And Tim had no time to lose. He had precisely two minutes to get to class on time. Two minutes which could determine whether his 2:1 would slide to a 2:2. You didn’t mess with Baker. Though it was technically against official uni policy, it was common unofficial knowledge that Pr. Baker marked students down for lack of attendance and tardiness. Two minutes, four floors. Doable. On Tim ran.

He reached the fourth floor, bolted down the hallway, and skidded to a halt in front of the classroom. A piece of paper was taped to the door.

CLASS CANCELLED

BAKER UNWELL

SEMINAR TO BE RESCHEDULED AT EARLIEST CONVENIENCE

APOLOGIES.

Tim swore and gave the offending notice two bolt-upright middle fingers, the veins on his knuckles popping. He slouched down to the floor. His legs were actually quivering from the sudden strenuous physical exercise they were very much unused to. He wished he could crawl back into his warm, cosy bed. No use going home though, he had another class that afternoon. He pulled out his phone and texted Daryl.

Hey. Seminar cancelled. Have a few hours 2 kill. U about?

Yes. At Goat Herder.

***

Tim headed to the little artisan coffee shop down the street from his campus, and got caught in a heavy downpour of rain on the way. He had no umbrella on him. Obviously. It was turning out to be one of those days. He had slept through his alarm. Rushed to class in a blinding panic, which was all for nothing. And now he was getting soaked to the bone. When it rains, it most certainly pours.

He ran into the café and stood there catching his breath, dripping wet and adding to the puddle in the already muddy entranceway. He spotted Daryl sat at a corner table with his girlfriend Alysia and … Cassie! Tim inwardly groaned. What was she doing here? Cassie was a recent addition to their circle of friends. She had turned up to one of their nights out a few weekends ago – it was unclear who had invited her exactly – and had been tagging along ever since. She was a token kook who wouldn’t stop yapping on and on about crystals and chakras and positive thinking. Tim couldn’t fathom how the others tolerated her. Maybe it was all the free back massages she was only too happy to give. Tim bought himself a much-needed Americano and went over to their table.

‘Hey all,’ he said, his wet jeans squelching on the faux-leather chair.

The three of them were cupping their coffees in their hands looking glum.

‘Something wrong?’ he asked, hoping the couple weren’t having one of their epic rows. He most definitely wasn’t in the mood.

‘Salome messaged before you arrived,’ Daryl explained. ‘Her aunt died this morning.’

The news, while tragic, was not a massive surprise. Their friend Salome’s aunt had been diagnosed with breast cancer six months prior. The disease was already quite advanced when detected and the doctors were forthright in saying there was little that could be done at that stage. Salome, who was very close to her aunt, had naturally taken the news hard. Tim could empathise. His dad had fallen victim to cancer two years ago now. The hospital appointments, the useless doctors, the endless treatments. He had watched on helpless as his dad deteriorated to a husk of the man he once was, as his mum fell to pieces after dad finally succumbed to the illness. It was all still fresh in his mind. It still hurt.

‘Sorry to hear that,’ Tim said quietly.

Daryl put a reassuring hand on Tim’s wet shoulder. From all his mates, it was Daryl who had really helped him get through those bleak times most.

‘Poor Sal,’ Alysia said.

‘I blame the hospitals to be honest,’ Cassie said. ‘You only need to look at cancer patients to realise that chemotherapy is doing more harm than good. Who knows what chemicals and poisons they’re pumping into people really. They refuse to use natural remedies because they want to make their millions off their laboratory medicines.’

Tim could have thrown his steaming hot beverage straight at her.

‘Not right now Cass,’ Alysia said, giving Cassie a wide-eyed warning glance, the significance of which wasn’t lost on Tim. Did she think he couldn’t hold his own?

‘Well,’ Cassie said twirling a spoon in her latte, ‘hopefully Sal will at least be comforted to know her aunt is no longer in any pain, that she’s in a better place.’

‘What, the morgue?’ Tim spat.

Daryl squirmed in his seat. Alysia, always the diplomat, held her breath and said nothing.

‘No, of course I don’t mean the morgue,’ Cassie said, clearly taken aback. ‘I mean wherever it is we go after we pass … heaven or the afterlife or whatever you want to call it.’

‘What, you believe in heaven?’ Tim sneered.

‘Well, yeah, I do I guess. Maybe not in the conventional sense. But I do believe that when we pass, we carry on in some form, as like a bodiless energy.’

Tim would have usually bitten his tongue. He could just let the moment pass, let the subject slide, it wasn’t worth the aggravation. But Salome’s news had touched a nerve.

‘What absolute rubbish.’

‘It’s only an opinion,’ Cassie said with a wounded smile. ‘Why? What do you think happens when we die then?’

‘Nothing. We die. We’re buried. We rot in the ground.’

‘Jesus Tim!’ Alysia whispered, reclining her head backwards on her chair. Daryl stared fixedly into his empty mug, seemingly fascinated by the patterns of the remains of his coffee grounds.

‘Why are you being so dark and morbid?’ Cassie asked, clearly confused.

‘I’m not being dark and morbid. Our friend’s aunt has died and you’re spewing a load of superstitious new-age hippie bullshit. I’m just trying to steer the conversation back to the realms of reality.’

Tim glared at Cassie from across the table, silently daring her to argue the point further. Cassie didn’t take the bait however. Instead, she sat there looking embarrassed. This infuriated Tim even more.

‘You know what, you’re always going on about opening your mind and being spiritually enlightened, but you’re stuck in the dark ages, swallowing any story with the slightest suggestion of magic and miracles hook, line and sinker. What are you, five? Do you still believe in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy? Do I have to break it to you that the Easter Bunny’s not real?’

Tim knew he was being needlessly malicious. He knew Cassie had probably no idea that his dad had died from cancer; they had only known one another for a few weeks after all. But oh, it felt so good to rip her ludicrous worldview to shreds. He felt like a rabid wolf tearing through the meat and guts of a helpless hare, intoxicated by the salty tang of fresh blood on his tongue.

Cassie looked towards Daryl and Alysia, seeking some form of explanation or support on their faces, but the couple refused to meet her stare in the awkwardness of the moment.

Cassie had had enough.

She pushed her half-drunk mug forward, got up, and walked out of the café without a word.

Light5
Illustration by Cynthia Tedy

5.

Tim looked at his sorry reflection in the bathroom mirror.

The big bulbous belly of the figure standing before him did not tally with his body’s otherwise slender, angular frame. The mousey brown of his receding hair did not match the snowy white of his curly beard. His eyes were bloodshot and fatigued. Tim opened the cold tap and splashed some water on his face to freshen himself up. It didn’t help. He now looked clammy on top of haggard.

His suit was all wrong too. The red of the material was meant to be deep and royal like a warm mulled wine, not the bright neon of a traffic cone. The coat was supposed to be soft and velvety. This bristly polyester had all the snugness of fur skinned off roadkill. And the belt! It didn’t smell of fine leather. It didn’t boast a beautiful buckle of gleaming firelight gold. A child’s plastic wrestling belt would put this flimsy cotton waistband to shame.

Tim regretted ordering the suit online. He should have found the time to go around the high street costume shops to find the perfect outfit. But when were you meant to find any spare time these days? Between the school run, his office hours, and all the other extracurricular seasonal commitments, Tim had barely managed to get the gift shopping done.

There was a knock on the bathroom door.

‘You ready Tim? It’s nearly midnight. Let’s have a look at you.’

‘One sec,’ he replied.

Tim added the final touches; a pair of half-moon specs and the obligatory Santa hat. He took one last sorry look in the mirror and trudged out for inspection.

Cassie snickered into her hand at the sight of him.

‘Yeah, I know,’ Tim said. ‘I look absolutely ridiculous. Isn’t she going to see through this Cass?’

‘Don’t be silly.’

Cassie moved the woollen pompom of his stocking cap so it would fall to the right side of his head.

‘She’s not going to know any better. In her eyes, you’ll be the genuine article,’ she said.

‘If you say so hon.’

Tim picked up the bulging sack of presents he had left outside the bathroom door and swung it over his shoulder. The two of them walked to the door at the end of the landing and crept in.

By the light pouring in from the hallway, Tim could see his three-year-old daughter sound asleep. She had kicked the quilt half off the bed and her cheek was resting in a pool of drool in the middle of her massive pillow. Just like her mum, he thought. Cassie sat on the edge of the bed.

‘Lilly, Lilly,’ she whispered, brushing the girl’s tangled hair behind her tiny ear. ‘Wake up honey, there’s someone special here to see you.’

Lilly moaned and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. Her little elfin face lit up when she saw Father Christmas in all his splendour standing in her doorway.

THE END.


Special massive thanks to the amazing Cynthia Tedy for her beautiful illustrations. Please check out more of Cynthia’s work on her website here.

Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoyed it.

Season’s Greetings to all!

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