Blog: Stuart R West; Facebook page
White feathers of snow blanketed the ground. Madison pulled back the curtain. Awesome. Everything outside seemed so quiet, she imagined she could hear the flakes landing with a soft sigh. Christmas was never going to get here.
Her mother pushed open the bedroom door. “Madison, you need to get to sleep.”
“I’m sleeping!” Parents never understand about the longest night of the year. Every year, Madison played the same endless game with her parents. They’d tell her to go to sleep, she said she would, but never did. This year was different. Her father wasn’t there for the first time.
Her mom stepped into the room. “Santa’s not going to come if you’re awake.”
“OK, OK, Mom. I’m going to sleep.”
“Doesn’t look that way to me, honey.”
“I’m trying!” Madison ran across the room and jumped into bed. Pulling the bedspread to her chin, she grinned. “See?”
Madison's mom sat on the edge of the bed and smiled. She looked tired. The way she's looked for a while now. “Madison, as soon as you get to sleep, the sooner your Christmas wishes will come true.”
“I know! I’m not a baby!”
“Maybe Santa will bring you that special doll you asked for.”
Madison thought the doll would be nice. But it really wasn’t what she wished for. “I wish…I wish Daddy was here.”
The smile fell from her mother’s face. “I know, honey.” She swept her hand across Madison’s forehead and kissed her. “I know. Now, get to sleep.”
“Good night, Mom. Love you.”
“Love you, too, honey.” She closed the door behind her.
Listening for her mom’s receding footsteps, she hopped out of bed and ran back to the window. She breathed onto the window-pane and wrote Dad in the condensation with her fingertip.
Something thumped in her closet, followed by a muffled voice. Words drifted out. The bad kind of words that meant a quarter into the kitchen jar whenever her mom used them. The closet door opened with a squeak. Madison flipped on her bedside lamp. Before her stood a short man wearing a flannel shirt and a black felt hat. Toys spilled out at his feet while he untangled Madison’s pink feather boa from around his face and arms.
Madison laughed at the sight. “Who are you?”
He tossed the boa to the ground and glared at her. “Well, what’s it look like, Madison? I’m Gibb, I’m an elf, and you need to come with me!” His face was as red as Santa’s suit. Snowflakes lined the rim of his hat.
“You’re an elf? Where’s your green suit? Prove you’re an elf!”
Gibb sputtered before whipping off his hat. “Hello!” He waved his hand beside his head. “Pointed ears! And we only wear those suits at the shop. You think we wear those suits when we’re not working? Profiling much? I mean, what do you expect? That elf on the shelf crap?”
“Cut it out, kid!” Gibb backed away, shooing her with his hat.
“You are an elf! But why’re you here?”
Gibb sighed. “Thought I already made that clear! The big guy up there said he needs your help.” He hitched a thumb upward.
“What? No! I’m talking the North Pole! You’re breaking my…um…back here, kid! Look, the big man said it was your time. So, he sent me to get you.”
“Time for what?”
“You’ve been contacted as an agent of Christmas. There’s trouble brewing.” He narrowed his eyes and studied Madison. “For whatever reason, the Claus said only you can help. Now, get your slippers on! Time’s wasting!”
“But…it’s cold out there!”
“Kid, the way we travel, it ain’t no big deal. Let’s go!”
Madison couldn’t control her delight. As she slipped into her slippers, her excitement grew. When Gibb rolled his eyes, she let out a peal of laughter. This was much better than waiting for Christmas to come to her.
Gibb impatiently looked at his wrist, even though he had no watch. “Come on, kid!”
Madison’s eyes lit up. “Wait!” She raced toward her dresser and emptied a glass jar of crayons. She held the empty jar toward Gibb. “Got it! Now, I’m ready!”
“Kid, why in the world do you need a jar?”
Madison pursed her lips. “’Cause, Gibb, you really shouldn’t swear! Put a quarter in every time!”
“Oh, for…this is gonna be a long night. Whatever.” He shrugged. “Let’s go.” He gestured toward the closet.As soon as they entered the closet, Madison felt the floor slip away beneath her feet.
Join us tomorrow for Part 2 by Nicole Zoltack