Is He Real?

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs


A lad questions his grandfather about Father Christmas

Submitted: December 22, 2017

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Submitted: December 22, 2017

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‘Granddad.’ Henry looked up from the newspaper, ‘Is Father Christmas real?’ Luke had the earnest look of a seven year old. 

‘What do you think, Luke?’ replied Henry, not wanting to dispel any fantasy.

‘Well, he brings me stuff that Mum and Dad say I need.’ Replied Luke, a bit downcast. ‘And things for school.’

‘Does he bring you anything that you want?’ asked Henry.

‘Oh yes!’ Luke was enthusiastic. ‘Lots!’

‘Well, there you are then.’ Replied his grandfather.

‘But big boys at school say that he is not a real person, just a made up story.’ Frowned Luke.

‘Well they would wouldn’t they?’ Henry was making this up as they went along. ‘It makes them feel like big boys and more experienced.’ Maybe they’re bullies too, but Henry didn’t say.

‘So is he real then?’

‘If I told you he was real, and you went to school and told those big boys that I said he was real, what would they say?’ Henry asked.

‘I don’t know,’ replied Luke, ‘they might laugh at me.’

‘Do you want to believe in Father Christmas though?’ Henry asked.

‘Yes, I think he’s cool!’

‘Well, listen Luke, your old Granddad believes in him too.’ Henry said slowly, ‘But it doesn’t matter if he’s real or not. What you feel in your heart is for you alone to know. You don’t need to tell anyone else what you think. People believe in things to be happy, and to hope. You understand?’

‘So you don’t think he’s real then?’ Luke was like a fox terrier!

‘Well, Luke, I’ve actually been Father Christmas!’ that was a revelation for the boy! ‘For Asifiwe and her sister and brother, their Mum and Mbise too come to think. I dressed up, not with a red hat or suit, but I was in disguise, and I shouted “Ho, Ho!” And I gave out presents!’

Luke laughed, ‘Granddad.’ He was unsure of the truth of it.

‘Can you keep a secret?’ Luke nodded, alert now. ‘Once, I needed someone to drive my tractor and this guy came to my office. He had white hair and a bushy, bushy, white beard. I only need him for three months, from New Year until the end of March.  He seemed to be a happy-go-lucky man and he did call the tractor “my sleigh” because of the jingling implements he was pulling behind it! When he finished, I asked him where he was going and he told me that he was going “way up north”.’

‘Do you think it was him?’ Luke asked hopefully.

‘Well he was a very nice man.’ Replied Henry, noncommittal.

Luke looked carefully to see if his granddad was smiling and he wasn’t.

‘Are you tricking me, Granddad?’

‘It’s true. Then there was a boy down our road.’ Henry said seriously. ‘His Dad was injured in the war so he sat in a wheelchair all the time. Peter was the boy’s name. Everyone was upset and worried when he ran off to join a circus.’

‘Was he a clown?’ asked the wide-eyed boy.

‘No, he cleaned up the poo from the lions, horses and elephants.’ Replied Henry.

‘Eew!’ It didn’t seem an important job to Luke.

‘Well he also cleaned and painted the horses’ hooves, and the elephant’s tusks and some say even the lions’ teeth!’

‘Wow!’ the astonished lad wowed at the bravery of him.

‘Nobody knew where Peter went after he left the circus,’ Henry went on, ‘but an Artic Tern, that’s a bird, told me that it was actually Peter who polished Rudolph’s nose!’

‘Granddad!’ Admonished the Doubting Thomas!

‘Well much later,’ Henry said in truth, ‘Peter paid for a new leg for his Dad. And when his Dad asked him where he got all the money from, Peter told him, “Just from Father Christmas”!’

‘A whole new leg?’ Luke was incredulous. ‘A real leg?’

‘No, a tin one, you know, like Luke Skywalker’s hand.’ Henry corrected.

‘Oh.’ Luke said vaguely not too sure about prosthetics but his mind was ticking.

‘One last thing.’ Henry had another one. ‘Remember when we watched that movie, The God’s Must be Crazy?’

‘No?’

‘The one in Africa where the Coke bottle fell on the man’s head.’ Henry reminded him.

‘Oh that one? Yes, it was funny.’ Luke remembered. ‘Can we watch it again?’

‘I’ll see if I can find it.’ Smiled Granddad. ‘Well the same thing happened to Max! A Christmas parcel just fell out of the sky, it didn’t hit him on his head, but it landed just in front of him!’

‘Where did it come from?’ Luke asked.

‘I don’t know.’ Replied Henry, ‘Maybe it was just there on the ground or he was making it up, but Max told everyone it fell off Father Christmas’ sleigh as he flew overhead.’

‘Was it Christmas time?’ asked Luke.

‘Christmas Eve.’ Replied Henry. ‘Max picked the parcel up, it had Christmas wrapping, and the label read, “To Mary. From Santa.” But Max didn’t know anyone called Mary to give it to and he couldn’t find Father Christmas to return it! There had been lots of Father Christmases all over the place before Christmas, but now, there was no sign of him.’

‘Did he open it?’

‘No, not Max.’ Henry wriggled in his chair. ‘He decided to keep it and wait until the next Christmas and then he returned it to Father Christmas who was talking to children in the mall.’

‘I would have opened it.’ Admitted Luke, and he gave a little laugh.

‘Well it turned out that in the parcel there was money, lots of money, it had been robbed from the corner dairy down the road.’ Henry told the boy.

‘Really?’

‘Yup, really.’ Henry nodded. ‘But the shop owner was so happy that he gave Max a brand new ten-speed bike as reward!’

‘Gee!’ exclaimed Luke. ‘But Father Christmas didn’t give it, did he?’ He added.

‘No, but remember what I said.’ Henry explained. ‘It’s not wrong if you believe in him, you make up your own mind. The truth is…It’s a bit like when you try to reach for something that’s just out of reach, you can’t… quite… get there. Remember the first time you managed to reach the light switch in your room? It made you proud! Finding out about Father Christmas is a bit like that. Suddenly you’ll know!’

‘Well I believe in him, Granddad.’ Asserted Luke.

‘This year anyway.’ Henry kept the words to himself.

 


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