“You broke it. I’m telling Mummy.”
“You always go crying to Mum. Baby.”
“I am not. You’re a baby.”
“I’m 10. You’re a baby.”
“Am not! I’m almost eight.”
“But you’re not eight yet. Baby!”
Finn threw a weak punch at his big sister.
Amy shoved him right back. “Don’t hit!”
“Don’t call me a baby.” He punched out again and his strike landed in the middle of her abdomen.
“Ow – that hurt.” Tears sprung up in Amy’s eyes and she wiped them away furiously with the back of her hand.
“You’re crying!” said Finn triumphantly. “You’re the baby.”
“You are. Crybaby, crybaby.”
“Father Christmas isn’t real!”
Finn froze. “What?”
Amy squared herself up and blinked away her last remaining tears, buoyed by her brother’s horrified reaction. “Samantha told me. Father Christmas isn’t real.”
“But he leaves presents.”
Amy shook her head. “Mum and Dad buy them.”
“But he eats the cookies we put out.”
“Mum and Dad eat them.”
“But he takes the carrots for the reindeers.”
Amy shrugged. “I think Mum and Dad eat them too.”
Finn flopped onto the floor and began to wail.
“Don’t cry, baby!”
His wailing only grew in volume and soon drew the attention of an exhausted parent.
“What’s all this?” said Dad. “What have you done to him?”
“He started it.”
Finn forced out words in between his great sobs. “She… said… Father… Christmas… isn’t… real.”
Amy shrunk. “Samantha told me.”
Dad sighed. “Of course he’s real. I was just coming to see if you were ready to put out the milk and cookies for him.”
“Not… if… he’s… not… real.”
“Well he isn’t,” Amy barked.
“That’s enough, Amy. Go and get ready for bed.”
“But I –”
Amy slinked away and stomped up the stairs, while Dad rubbed his son’s back and murmured reassurances.
“Don’t listen to Amy. Father Christmas is real and he’s coming tonight. Can’t you feel the magic in the air?”
Finn hiccupped as his sobs dispersed and wiped his sleeve across his snotty note. “Not anymore,” he said.
“Oh, Finn. Let’s put some cookies out, eh? And some carrots for Rudolph, of course. You’ll see them gone in the morning and you’ll know he’s real.”
Finn shook his head. “I want to go to bed.”
“Alright. If you’re sure.”
But Finn didn’t sleep. His fists clenched as he thought of his sister’s words. His mind whirred with fears for the magic of Christmas. His ears strained for sounds of sleigh bells. What if she was wrong? Believing was key; if you didn’t believe, Father Christmas would never come.
He waited until his parents were safely tucked up in bed and then he slipped out of his bedroom and down the stairs. As he approached the living room door, he heard something rustling in the dark.
“Father Christmas?” he whispered.
“No, it’s me,” Amy hissed back. “Come here.”
Finn crept into the room. “What are you doing?”
“I put out some milk and cookies. Just getting some carrots.”
“But you said –”
“I know. But just I case.”
Finn grinned. “Good idea.”
I write one new story each week inspired by a random song from my Spotify library. To round off the festive tunes in the run-up to Christmas, this week the prompt was “I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake, which is one of my all-time favourites.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!