December 2017 Christmas Dreams Story Contest Entry
A story about a Santa who doesn't want to be a Santa.
By Shiina Ai
"Charlie, get up."
"Last chance. Get up now, Charlie."
"Have it your way."
It was a quiet and peaceful morning. The birds were chirping, snow was falling gently like it was the petals of summer and everything was covered in the whiteness of snow. How could anyone possible guess that this quiet and peaceful morning would be punctuated by the sound of breaking glass as it was smashed against by the head of a flying man in a furcoat made of some not-so-common animal that would leave PETA seething in anger and promising naked protests which in turn would spawn thousands of memes, mostly ridiculing them.
"Time to work, Charlie," the speaker, a long eared woman less than five feet tall said as she stood next to the man lying face down on the bed. She, an adult woman, which must be emphasized because she hated when people thought she was a child, had whitish blonde hair that could've been mistaken for snow had it not been blowing in the cold winter winds. She had a cute face, almost childlike. However, one should take into mind never to call her a child for retribution would certainly be swift and painful.
"I don't wanna," the man said. He had short blonde hair, curly in some places but it was mostly straight. His body was quite athletic, and one could say that it had an appearance of youthful vigour. His face... well, that would be hard to say, as he was lying chest down on the snow, without making any effort to get up. Naturally, his face would be hidden in the snow.
"Why are you being so difficult? You're already 18. It's time to take over the family business."
"If I said I don't wanna, I don't wanna. Joseph and Michael can take over dad's business. Dad has been doing it for hundreds of years. Why'd I have to do it when there's two of them?"
"They are still young. It's expected that they won't be able to handle all the workload. That's why everyone have to help."
"Oh sure, everyone have to help. It's Christmas, what would the world do without us? Yeah, that's what they said last year. But tell me, Elly." Charlie raised his head from the snow slightly, showing the young (?) woman one of his beautiful green eyes.
"Why do they get hundreds of elves each but I got only one!" he cried as he pointed a finger at the elven (?) woman.
Elly the elf sighed. "Are you still sore about that, Charlie?"
"Of course I am! If they want me to do their job then give me more helpers! Why do I get only a single kid who's shorter than me?!!"
"Did you just call me a 'kid'?" Elly's forced a smile that did not reach her burning blue eyes.
"Uwaaahhhh! Somebody help!!!"
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The tranquility of this snowy mountainous region was again interrupted this morning.
"I don't wanna do this..." Charlie whined as he got on his scooter, already laden with red sacks full of Christmas presents.
"It's a once a year job, Charlie. Get on with the program."
"Why don't you do it for me, Elly?"
"I'm not a Santa. I'm a snow elf, remember? Snow elves help Santas. It's not like I can just take over just because you don't want to do your job."
"Yeah right, I bet it's because your legs can't reach the pedal." The moment Charlie said it, he instantly recognized his error.
"Are you implying something about my size, Charlie?" Elly said with gritted teeth she punched the palm of her left hand with her right.
"Uhhh, gotta go. Lots of presents to deliver. Tata!"
"Come back here you little rascal!"
Normally one would think that flying from the north pole to Montreal would take like two or three hours, but Charlie was a Santa. For that reason, he received the power of abusing time, just like how his father Santa Claus abused Miss Chrona once a year. There is no need to worry, Miss Chrona likes being abused, so she has no complain over her treatment. Regardless, it was because of this special power that Charlie managed to reach Montreal two minutes after his escape from the angry elf Elly. The tires of his scooter gently touched down on the cleared driveway of one of the houses on the list.
Charlie got off his scooter and walked to the front door. He pressed the doorbell and said, "Good morning! Santa delivery!"
A woman came out of the house looking confused. "I thought Santa come in through the chimney in the middle of the night?"
"Uhh, hello. Do you even have a chimney?" Charlie rebuked.
"Well no, but..."
"Yeah, just like two billion other people. How do you expect us to use the chimney when no one has them anymore? Sign here, please."
The woman signed the document but before she could take the present, Charlie said, "That'd be 120 dollars."
"Wait, I have to pay?!"
"Of course you have to! Presents don't magically appear, you know. Well, they used to, but ever since we were hit by copyright and patent lawsuits, we kind of had to actually buy them at discount, you see."
"But I already signed!"
"That's the confirmation of delivery. It simply means I have come here and tried to deliver. Don't ask why. My elf is very particular about documentation."
"But you're Santa! Why are you worrying about copyrights and patents?"
"Have you been to court? Lawyers are worse than demons!"
"We tried skirting the copyright laws by give it different names and appearances, but last year the complains kept coming. The elves in charge of customer service fell into depression and chanted Praystation 4, Praystation 4, Praystation 4 for the whole year."
"But I don't have cash on me."
"No problem, we take plastic."
"Wait, how would I know you're really Santa? The Santa I remember is an old man with long white beard!"
"That'd be my pops. He left for Heaven three years ago."
"Santa is dead?!!!" the woman cried as tears started to form in her eyes.
"Who ever said anything about death? He's at a retirement home in Florida. The place is named Heaven."
"Oh... well anyway, I need proof that you're Santa and not some dodgy scammer!"
Charlie sighed. "Maybe I'll just get fake beard next year. Okay, what do you want for Christmas?"
"Me? But I thought Santa only gives presents to children?"
"This and that are two completely different things. What do you want for Christmas?"
"Umm, then I'd like Dr. Phil's Weightloss Formula DX-12."
"Done," Charlie said as a box of medically-unproven diet pills appeared on his right hand.
"That... is that magic? But don't you need to take it out from the sack there?"
"The sack is just prop. You can buy the same ones at Walmart for 12 dollars. It has no magical power," Charlie explained while feeling his patience became thinner.
"Wait, I still don't believe you. If you are really Santa, then surely you know what I'm thinking really hard right now, right?"
"Santas are not mind readers. You have to say it if you want Santa to hear you."
"Then I don't believe you! The Santa I met when I was a young girl knew exactly what I wanted!"
"Absolute bullshit. It was just basic child psychology. The old man knew exactly what to say to make you think it's your deepest wish but in reality he was just a lazy old man with wishy washy attitude towards work."
"Then if you're really Santa... bring Pierce Brosnan here!"
"You sure? Okay, I'm not taking responsibility for anything that can or will happen, alright?"
Charlie dematerialized the medically-unproven diet pills that could potentially bring more harm than good from his hand. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes. He maintained silence for about a minute before he opened his eyes suddenly and clapped his hands together. With a poof and an explosion of smoke, Pierce Brosnan appeared, bare-chested and in his hawaii shorts, lying back on a lounge chair.
"God... why is it suddenly so cold!" Pierce Brosnan teeth chattered as he hugged his almost naked body.
"Card please," Charlie said as he materialized the credit card terminal in his hands.
The woman gave her credit card without question as she audibly panted while her eyes focused on Mr. Brosnan. The same Mr. Brosnan who's freezing to death. It made Charlie feel like messing around with her.
"Pin number, please," Charlie said as he offered the terminal to the woman, who quickly entered her pin number without looking.
"Alright, thank you for your business. It's 150 dollars after tax."
The woman instantly snapped her head towards Charlie. "There's a sales tax too?"
"No, I'm just joking. We're registered non-profit entity. You really should look at the amount before you key in your pin. I could've easily charged you double. Oh well, here's the present. Merry Christmas. Ho ho ho." Charlie said, making the trademark Santa laugh without any passion.
Charlie rode his scooter to other houses along the street, pressing the doorbell while saying the same lines with the occupants. At the same time, the woman carried the Xbox 2 into the house, satisfied that she was able to meet Pierce Brosnan in the flesh. Today's lunch and dinner would be great and his son would love the Christmas present. Both forgot that there was a Pierce Brosnan in the lawn about to freeze to his death.
"S-some... one... help... c-cold..."
"Urgh, tired..." Charlie complained as he stretched his arm. After delivering presents to thousands of homes, he was down to the last one. However, this last one wasn't anything like the previous ones.
"Another one of those special case presents, huh? There was one last year too. I wish the elves at HQ would stop giving me these kind of tasks."
Special case presents are basically 'unspecified presents', which means the 'presents' section of the child's name on the list are left blank. These are the cases where the presents aren't physical items, and therefore, the elves are unable to procure them through any existing sources or create them through magic or mechanical know-how. In most cases, these 'Christmas presents' are refused but some do get accepted.
Charlie himself has no idea the criteria the elves used to determine which requests were accepted or refused.
"Santa sensor!" Charlie said as he imagined the child in question.
Santas have special abilities to find children on the list. They can't use it anytime they wish. The usage is very specific, as long as the child is listed in the 'Good Kids' list for that year, santas can find them. If they're not present in the list next year, not even that same santa can find them next year. Santas have a lot of special powers, but there are heavy restrictions on all of them.
"Oh, just around the corner, huh?" Charlie mumbled as he rode his scooter and rounded the corner in question. His santa sensor immediately identified the child in question, a young girl around the age of 11. She had her hair in twin ponytails, her winterwear appeared well-worn. However, what was most striking about her was the sadness in her eyes as she stood beside a bakery, looking into the interior of the shop through the front display.
"What are you looking at?" Charlie asked the girl.
"Mom," she answered.
"Oh, your mom, huh? Did you promise to go home with her tonight?"
"Your mom is not here? Oh, I get it, you want to go to where your mom is, huh? Alright, this Santa will find her for you!" Charlie said, putting his forefingers on his temple and casting Santa Sensor again.
While Charlie call it Santa Sensor, this particular ability doesn't actually have a name. Santas have a variety of abilities, but they're all governed by very specific circumstances. However, the most basic limitation of a Santa's power, is that they can't use their powers for their own benefit. It must be used for others and it can only be used within the few days of Christmas.
But, as Charlie used his Santa Sensor, he encountered a problem. It was a problem he had no power to solve. It was the fact that the little girl's mother was no longer in this world. In other words, the girl's mother was already dead.
Charlie had no idea how to tell the little girl this particular fact.
"Umm, little girl... Claire... what did you wish for Christmas?"
"See mother again..."
Charlie's face distorted from the shock.
Charlie screamed a monologue in his head. "You stupid elves! How exactly do you expect me to fulfill this wish? Do you want me to go raise her mother from the dead? Do I have that kind of power? Wait, is that even possible?"
"Umm, what other wish do you have for Christmas? Just name it, this big brother Santa Charlie will fulfill it for you," Charlie said as he attempted to persuade the little girl to change her wish.
"No! I want to see mom!"
Of course, reality was never kind to Charlie.
"But mom is very very far away. Umm, mom can't come back, you know."
"I know. Daddy said mom is watching from Heaven, but I want to see mom."
So she knows her mom is dead, huh? "If you don't mind me asking, why do you want to see your mom?"
"Last winter... I did something very bad. Then mom died. I never get the chance to apologize," the little girl said, he words punctuated by sobs.
Charlie could feel his frozen heart breaking listening to the teary-eyed little girl. However, he had no idea how he could help. After all, it was only his second year as a santa. He didn't have the experience to handle this problem even assuming it was within his capacity to help.
"One moment, I need to make a call," Charlie said as he whipped out his cellphone and dialed a number.
"Santa speaking! Your one and only answer to everything the universe throws at you. By the way, the answer is never 42," came a voice from the other side.
"Michael, I need some advice regarding the job."
"Why, if it isn't my dearest little brother Charlie. How can I help you, baby brother?"
"Please, don't say it that way again, okay? Just no. It's disgusting."
"Aww, my dear baby brother is all shy again. As expected you're such an adorable-"
"Stop! Anyway, I have a special case where the child asks to see her dead mother. What must I do?"
"Oh. Okay, that's a bit troublesome," Michael's tone turned businesslike as he considered the situation, "Just go with the flow."
"What do you mean 'go with the flow'? Explain!"
"We are santas. Specifically, we are santas who bring gifts and joy to the world once a year. Within this scope, we have the power to do anything imaginable and unimaginable. You dig so far?"
Charlie merely nodded despite knowing that Michael wouldn't be able to see it from the other side of the world.
"This power is limited and unlimited at the same time. In a way, we're like gods, but please don't call yourself that. Joseph called himself a god and I'm sure you still remember the divine retribution he received when you were twelve. Anyhow, within the scope of the Christmas wish, we have unlimited authority to fulfill that wish, even if the fulfillment of that wish breaks the rules of the universe. That's how I was able to let little Maria fly just now."
"So are you saying that I can raise the mother from death? Return her back to life?"
"In theory you can, but you don't get to decide how exactly this wish is granted. There is a higher power that decides it for us. Just think of it as if we're telemarketers. We collect information on what the customers want, but it's the marketing department that decides what the customers actually want. We're just the intermediary."
"So how do I fulfill the wish then?"
"Just accept the wish. Surrender your body and soul to fulfilling the wish. You need to give consent, because this higher power that fulfill these wishes will work through you and it will not work if you do not consent to it."
"Alright, understood. Thanks."
"No problem! Anytime for my dear, beloved-"
Charlie cut the call before his brother could say more disgusting things. He looked around the bakery and couldn't find the little girl anymore. He used the Santa Sensor again and discovered her sitting alone at one of the benches in the park not far from the bakery. He quickly rode his scooter there, as he really wanted to end the night as soon as he could.
"Mommy..." Charlie could hear the little girl's sobs as he hid behind a tree.
Oh well, it's just once a year, right? Charlie thought as he closed his eyes and surrendered himself to the fulfillment of that wish. He could feel something entering his body. It circulated around his body, a warm breeze that enveloped his body and made him tingle every time it caressed his skin. He wondered if this was the higher power that his brother mentioned earlier as his legs suddenly took a step forward.
He panicked as he did not make this movement himself. It felt like he was in a trance, like in a dream. He opened his eyes and saw the little girl's startled face looking at him. Tears still flowed on her face, some of which already dried and became frozen on her cheeks.
The little girl suddenly launched herself at Charlie, shouting, "Mommy!"
Charlie was shocked and his immediate reaction was to pull back, but instead, his body spread his arms and welcomed the little girl into his embrace. Charlie wanted to scream, to say that the girl had lost her marbles. He wanted to scream, "I'm not your mommy!" However, he calmed down and relented. He considered that this was probably how the universe decided to fulfill this wish, by giving the little girl illusions of her mother.
Charlie thought there was no way he could do anything anyway, and let his body ran on auto.
"I've missed you, Claire," Charlie's body on autopilot said.
Hold on a minute, my voice changed? Isn't this supposed to be just an illusion? Am I under the effect of the illusion as well?
"Mommy, where have you been?"
"Up there, dear. I'm sorry about what happened. I'm sorry that I had to leave you so suddenly."
"Let's go home, mommy..."
Charlie's body carried Claire on his arms before sitting on the park chair that Claire vacated earlier. He put her on his lap before fixing her snow hat. He was glad that Claire was no longer crying, though the frozen tears on her face failed to hide her sadness from earlier.
"I'm sorry, Claire. It's no longer possible for me. Tonight is the only time we can meet."
"Then I'll wish to see you next year too. Let's celebrate Christmas together again."
"I'm sorry, that won't work. See, God told me to come down just for tonight, because Claire has something to say to me."
"Ummm, yes, Claire..." the little girl paused, looking uncertain as she pondered her words.
"What is it, Claire?"
"If Claire doesn't say it, then mommy can come again tomorrow, right?"
"It doesn't work that way, sweety. If you don't tell mommy now, there won't be any other chance to tell mommy, you know?"
Charlie-on-autopilot kept smiling, encouraging the little girl to speak.
"Claire is sorry that she ate that last chocolate cheesecake!"
"Oh, it's just that? That's no trouble at all. Hahaha!"
"But, you ran out crying, mommy!"
"About that, I was actually just acting. Mommy wasn't mad at all. Mommy just wanted to act spoiled for once. Hahaha."
"But after that, mommy went to heaven! Because of that... no way, what have I been doing for the whole year?"
"Ah well, things happen. Human lives are so short and fleeting. We can die from the simplest things, but it's because our lives are so short that we can achieve great things. So Claire, I want you to promise me that you will try your best even after I'm gone, okay?"
"But... you won't be here to see it."
"Tsk tsk tsk. I won't be here, sure, but," Auto-Charlie pointed a finger upward at the sky, "I'll still be watching from Heaven, you know. That reminds me, you were praised by that strict Ms. Callahan for your excellent essay, didn't you?"
"How did you know, mommy?"
"I also know you helped your daddy with housework. You studied hard for your exams and you helped Mrs. Tarnham clean her lawn, didn't you? See? I watched you properly, you know. So don't be so down. Work hard, live happy. You are my greatest pride and joy, I'll have you know. Watching you sad also made me sad. Watching you happy also made me happy. Watching you did your hardest also made me proud. Do you know what I said to the other mothers up there? "Look, look, that's my little girl! Isn't she great?" So that's why, please be happy, Claire. I can't speak to you like this anymore, but know that I have never stopped watching over you."
"Mommy!" Claire cried against Charlier's chest. Her sobs echoed through the night, until eventually she quieted down. Claire had fallen asleep, crying and smearing snot on Charlie's new red wintercoat.
Charlie looked down at the little girl as his hand caressed the little girl's head. He suddenly came to a realization that he could move again. Whatever happened, it must've ended when the little girl fell asleep. Charlie breathed a sigh of relief, thanking the powers that be that he wouldn't have to lend his body for the whole night. He really was tired.
"Thank you for allowing me to use your body," a woman's apparition appeared in front of him.
Wait, was that a woman? She looked so young in Charlie's eyes. His first thought was that it was the ghost of some much younger than him. She was probably around 15 years old. Her body was somewhat transparent, but he couldn't mistake her age so badly.
"Thanks to you, I was able to speak with my daughter again."
"Wait, this is your daughter? How come you look like a teenage girl?"
The woman grinned. "Good genes. Even at 31, I still look gorgeous, aren't I?"
"You must be joking."
"Ufufu, are you falling in love with me?"
"Hell no! By the way, I'm curious, how did you die?"
"I slipped on ice while buying another chocolate cheesecake," the woman laughed with an embarrassed smile as she slowly faded and disappeared.
"... so tired... When I get back, I'm gonna sleep for the whole year," Charlie said as he picked the little girl up and sent her home.
Her father was so frantic when he couldn't find her that he hugged her so hard with tears in his eyes eventually waking up the little girl. She smacked the man on his head and told him not to overdo it. The little girl's eyes were filled with life as she laughed and her smile, so beautiful on her face, was a genuine one of happiness and contentment. The little girl was now ready to face the world again. Despite his tiredness, Charlie was satisfied with the outcome. For the first time, he thought being a Santa who made children smile like that wouldn't be so bad after all.
The doorchime rang as he dragged his tired body through the door.
"Oh you're back, welcome - Charlie?" Elly the elf greeted him with a question.
"Who else would come back to this drafty old shack?"
"Why are you a girl?"
"What the heck do you mean?"
Elly produced a mirror with her magic. As Charlie looked into the mirror, he came to a shocking and maddening conclusion. The universe screwed up. He could not accept this.
"Why do I look like that childish chocolate cheesecake lover?!!!"
Charlie's scream of despair could be heard from miles away. Literally, miles away. It was that loud.
*I'm sorry if this story does not fit the criteria of the contest. Ai-chan writes what Ai-chan dreams, after all. And this dream came pretty late, like two days ago. Was also very busy with work .·´¯`(>▂<)´¯`·. Not even sure if it's already due, but since it's already complete, oh well, have at it.
**As usual, please give me your feedback. Praises help me write faster while constructive criticism helps me write better.
***If people like this story, maybe Ai-chan will write Charlie's story again next Christmas. Don't worry, I won't suddenly drop dead next year, so if people like this, there will definitely be Charlie's story again next Christmas.
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