Coal for christmas

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story about an automaton and the girl in his charge around christmas.

Submitted: December 11, 2013

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Submitted: December 11, 2013

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Once, not long ago, there was an automaton by the name of Bentley.  Bentley was the head servant of the wealthy Fortuna family and had been so for a very long time.  The many years of service had softened his hard edges and he bulged slightly in the middle from the perpetual fire in his belly.  He had been kept in good repair for most of his life the previous master had spares for nearly all his parts despite him being an outmoded model nearly 20 years before.  But tough times had befallen the family and keeping spares for a tarnished, plumping old robot was considered the least of their worries.  Not that Bentley was too upset by this.  After seeing newer models come in and break down after a mere decade he felt Invincible.

 Also keeping his mind off his stiff joints and tightening cogs was the precocious daughter of the Fortuna family, Sophia.  She was a well behaved little girl not above a tantrum now and again or a secret trip to the pantry for some cookies in the dead of night.  But well behaved none the less.  Bentley loved caring for Sophia, and Sophia loved her big metal caretaker.  

It was the month of December and and the cold weather was doing Bentley’s rods and sprockets no good.  He’d go out to watch Sophia in the snow only to freeze a leg in place or continually stir her cocoa, the mug and spoon stuck in his rigid grip.  This was all acceptable, since these bouts would only last a few minutes and were only mild inconveniences to the family and Bentley himself, but Sophia noticed these occurrences and started to worry.

One particularly cold day Bentley was walking Sophia into the manor when his leg froze up and he started to fall over.  The elderly Automaton pushed Sophia out of the way as he crashed onto the masonry of the porch.  The furnace in his belly cracked open and coal started to pour out.  Sophia screamed and her mother ran out.  Bentley’s eyes started to fade off and he lied motionless on the ground.

After his furnace cooled Bentley was taken up to the attic and stored.  The family couldn’t throw him out, Sophia’s father remembered how Bentley cared for him when he was little and the thought of his old caretaker being scrapped was too much to handle.  So he sat up in the attic, cold, alone, asleep.  Or so they told Sophia.  It was Yuletide and they had big plans for the holiday, grand presents for their daughter since for the first time in a long time the company was doing well.  

But a peculiar thing started to happen.  The normally well behaved Sophia started to act out with reckless abandon.  Every day in the care of her new caretaker she would throw fits, cry, scream about every little thing she could find.  After a week Her father took her aside with intentions of punishment.  He asked her 

"Sophia, this is so unlike you.  I know this is a new friend for you but I don’t understand why you’re behaving like this.  Why are you acting out?" he asked roughly, exasperated.  Sophia, tears in her eyes from the tantrum he pulled her from huffed and scrunched up her face.

"You told me that Santa gives coal to naughty children.  I saw a whole lotta coal come out of Bentley and I want him to get better and wake up." Sophia’s father was astonished.  He stared at her for a silent minute, patted her on the head and said:

"Okay sweety. I think you’ve earned enough coal from Santa." He let her go on her way.  

Christmas morning Sophia woke up early and ran downstairs to the Christmas Tree, as children are wont to do, and stopped dead  in her tracks.  There stood Bentley, all shiny and new.  

"Merry Christmas Miss Sophia, up early as usual I see."  Sophia ran to Bentley and jumped into his arms, and a happy Christmas was had by all.


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