“Sophie. Oh, Sophie?”
“Ah, jeez!” Sophia groaned at the sound of her name. She made no move of getting up as she was totally worn out from nothing. “I’m coming.” She rolled tiredly and yawned.
It was Christmas Eve and she still had no plans of celebrating Christmas. She wasn’t Jewish, no. But she despised the jolly season more than anything.
She sat up reluctantly and fixed her eyes on the wall clock, gasping as she realized that she had slept in. Forcing herself to stand, she dragged her feet with her as she walked into the bathroom so she could pee.
“Mm. Sweetie, you’re up.” Sophie’s mother said as she watched her daughter walk down the stairs.
“She looks tired. What did she do?” Her Dad observed.
“When is she ever not?” Her mother gave a shrug.
“Hi, Mama. Hi, Dada.”
“Merry Christmas Eve, baby.” They both responded as their daughter’s expression grew into an angry one.
“Santa’s coming this time. Thought you should know.” They ignored her, like they’ve been waiting to get on their naughty 10-years old daughter’s nerves.
“I hate Christmas, you guys. Why do you have to wish me?” She spoke angrily, and they both laughed.
“Oh, baby. You do realize that Santa’s coming, right?” Her Mum spoke.
“I don’t care!” She shouted and squeezed her face. “Santa’s not real. If he was, he would have brought me presents last Christmas, and the year before.”
“Calm down, you. Calm down.” Her father tried to calm her as she went on.
“And if Santa was real, maybe he would brought me a Barbie doll when I actually needed one.” She huffed, dipped her hand into her Dad’s plate and stuffed her mouth with some gingerbread, not minding if he opposed. “No one should ever mention Christmas to me… ever!” She thundered and stormed right off.
Later at noon, Sophie Harrison wanted to go out on a play date with her toys. But unfortunately, a blizzard was going on right outside. “Great! Just great!” She tossed little self on the bed and listened for Zoolie’s bark. Zoolie was her puppy, and her best friend, too. She had no other friend than him. And often preferred talking to him, cause to her, pets were not that different from plants. You don’t talk to them, they don’t grow – that was her belief.
The unusual quietness of her room got her alarmed. Groaning out loud, she called out to her dog, and got up panic-stricken not hearing him anywhere.
“Zoolie?” She called again, leaving the comfort of her bed as she walked out the door, downstairs. “Mum, have you seen Zoolie?”
“Oh, jeez. Tell me that puppy of yours didn’t poop in my shoes?” Her Mum took her mittens off, wanting to go check.
“He’s not even here. Do you know where he is, Mommy?”
Her mother replied. “Of course not. Sweetie, go check in the pantry. He might be there.”
Sophie gave a sigh. “All right.”
She looked for him in the pantry, searched all the kitchen cupboards, and even looked in her bedroom, still he wasn’t there. I hope my Zoolie Winky is okay, she hoped and prayed silently, thinking about how he’ll be.
She got to her bedroom, giving one last scan of the hallway, and turned her bedroom handle, giving up completely.
“Ruff!” came a bark.
“Zoolie Winky?” Sophie’s eyes shone at the recognition of her puppy’s bark. “Zoolie, where are you?” Her lips made ‘kissing’ as she moved in the direction. “The closet -” She stopped, not believing she’d find him there. “Zoolie? Zoolie popkin, are you in there?” She asked, expecting no answer – the high-pitched squeal of her puppy alerting her at that instant. “Zoolie!” She yelled, pulling the closet open as she saw him nowhere. Okay, that’s weird, she thought. I’m pretty sure I heard my Zoolie bark – she peeped inside, seeing nothing but blackness. Pulling her head out again, she looked backwards, wanting to confirm that he wasn’t behind, as she brought her head back and made to close the door. “Ah!” came her sudden gasp as a thin light shone upon her face. She moved closer, curious to know what it was, as it grew into an enormous ball, swallowing her up – as she came falling – falling – falling.
And… thump! She crashed.
“Happy birthday, Sophie!”
“Wh-what is this?” She gaped at the scene, as she watched a replay of her 8-years old birthday.
“Would you like to open your presents, Honey?” She heard her mother’s voice as she turned.
“Ahh!” She shouted again, realizing her Mum had just walked through her. “What the – am I dead?” She flinched at the thought.
“If you still can, then you’re not.” A throaty voice made her jump.
“Who are you?” She gaped at the bearded man with a pot belly – dressed in a Santa suit.
“Walk with me.” He only said.
“S-Santa?” She couldn’t believe her eyes.
The bearded man stretched out his hand and beckoned to her to to come with him.
“Y-you want me to?” Her words grew shaky.
Giving one last look at her family, she turned to him and placed her hand on his – a flicker of light sending them off.
“Where are we?” Sophie asked, her eyes no longer shut.
“Welcome to Santa Land.” Her new friend announced.
“Ho, ho, ho, ho! Welcome to my world, little girl.” Santa laughed airily.
“You’re Santa for real?”
She wasn’t sure if she meant to ask, knowing she had figured that out. Santa’s real, she realized a third and looked up at him. “If you’re Santa, then this place is the North Pole, I guess?” She asked inquisitively, and Santa laughed again.
“That’s right, Sophie. Santa’s real.” He read her mind as he said.
Sophie still couldn’t believe it. She was standing right inside Santa’s workshop, with dozens of elves creating toys and keeping the Christmas spirit alive.
Who knew Santa’s workshop was also real? she thought, admiring the wonderful scenery.
“We have a situation.” One of the Elves whispered to Santa.
“Okay, Sophie,” Santa called to her attention. “I’ll see you in a bit.” He gave his tummy a rub and left with the little red hat elf.
Sophie was sure her name was going to be on the naughty list cos she had not been good this year. And she wished that Santa would consider and give her the one thing she’s always wished for.
“Fazu. What’s wrong?”
“We got a report on Ginger Lane that the Murphy brothers are no where to be found.” said the head Elf, as he was called.
Santa sighed at his voice, trying so hard to keep it together. Calling to his trusty keepers, they assembled before him.
“Cupid. Sandman. Captain Jack -” He frowned, not seeing Easter bunny with them. “Easter Bunny!” He hollered his name.
“I’m here. I’m here.” The fluffy tail bun hopped into sight.
“Everyone. It’s time we headed to Ginger Lane!”
The four keepers gasped at his words. “Ginger Lane?”
“Schozet, ready the reindeers!” He commanded hoarsely.
“But Santa, Chet and Prancer are still in training.” The female Elf reminded.
“Well, you never can tell what they can do.” Santa tugged at his belt and led the way.
Sophie had forgotten all about home. She also didn’t remember coming to the North Pole with Santa, as she was carried her away, and so didn’t know when he left for Ginger Lane.
“Where’s Santa?” She remembered at the sight of a drumming Santa toy.
“Ginger Lane.” An Elf with funny shoes, with its pointy end carved up, gave a reply.
“Ginger Lane? Where is that?” asked a panicked Sophie. “Is Ginger Lane so far-off?”
“Only a tinkle.”
She had no idea what it meant. “A tinkle? What is that?”
“He means it’s just across the bridge.” came another reply, as she turned, not seeing anyone.
“Down here.” It came again.
“Holy smokes!” She moved backwards, seeing a little fella not about the size of a human. “You scared me there. What are you?”
“The name’s Swizzle. I’m a brownie.” The little fella introduced.
He was so tiny that one could pick him up with just a finger, Sophie observed. “Never knew brownies were real.” She said with bulging eyeballs.
“Oh, they are.” Her tiny friend affirmed.
“Well, can you help me get to Santa, little fella?” She bent forward as she picked him up.
“Oof. Watch the head.” The brownie ducked in a way that made her giggle.
“You’re so funny.” She lowered her palm she had suspended above his head.
“Uh, no one’s ever told me that before.” Swizzle stared, surprised.
He liked this little girl, even though she wasn’t as little as he was.
“Can you help me find Santa, Mr Brown?” Sophie’s tender voice came again.
“It’s Brownie.” Swizzle corrected.
“I’ll call you Mr. Brown.” Sophie insisted, and the brownie smiled at the sound.
“Me like it.”
“Oh, I bet.” She chuckled and left the Elves’ work table.
Sophie and Swizzle went looking for Santa – they went across the bridge, past Chocolate Falls, walked down Eggnog Hill.. and onto Ginger Lane they came.
“Think Santa will be here?” She looked down at Swizzle as he sat perfectly cupped in her palms.
“I know so.” came Swizzle’s sure response.
All this time she had no idea the clock was ticking. All she wanted was to get back home to her family – and this time, with a nice attitude.
“We’re here.” Her brownie friend announced. “Heard Santa’s solving the Murphys’ case.” He leaked.
“You mean Papa’s Murphy?” gasped Sophie, remembering how her dad’s tale about the gingerbread man.
“Ah. I don’t know what that is but the Murphy brothers went missing this morn. I fear there won’t be any gingerbread this Christmas if they’re not found.”
“Oh no!” Sophie placed her hand on both sides of her cheeks. “What’s gonna happen now? How is Dad going to take the news?”
“What’s a Dad?” Swizzle asked to her surprise.
“You have no idea what the ‘D’ word means?”
“If I did, I wouldn’t be asking.” The Brownie got his face squeezed at her question.
“Well, a Dad is -”
Sophie began explaining. She didn’t notice when a Santa’s sleigh flew by, as Swizzle did and alerted her with a yell.
“Hey. It isn’t that Santa’s sleigh I see?” He pointed to the sky and Sophie looked up.
She could only see a wishing star.
“Oh, no. What are we going to do?” She panicked even more. “How will I ever be able to get home for Christmas?” She slumped to the floor and began sobbing.
“Did anyone say Christmas?”
She stopped at the voice, shivering at the coldness it brought.
“Captain Jack!” Swizzle shouted.
“You can say that again.” The white hair man grinned.
“Captain Jack?” Sophie tried to remember where she had heard that name. “Captain Jack!” She turned immediately.
“Merry Christmas Eve, Sophia Harrison.” He wished her one.
“Oh, Captain Jack, we’re so lost. Santa’s not here and… and…”
“You need to get back home. Yeah, yeah. I know all about it.” The grinning Captain cut her short.
“But what about the Murphy brothers, Captain. What’s going to happen to gingerbreads this year?” Swizzle drew closer to him, getting on his shoes.
“Oh, dearest Swizzle. You need not worry about that.” said the Captain to the frightened brownie. “Santa’s taken care of it all.” He assured. “Turned out they took a day off and forgot all about Christmas.”
Swizzle gasped. “They didn’t!”
“Unfortunately. But words have been sent to them already. They’ll be back before the first light.” His words gave the two comfort.
“Well, is Santa coming back anytime soon? He didn’t forget me, did he?”
“Not at all, Miss Harrison.” Santa’s jolly voice made the three turn.
“Santa!” Sophie screamed with delight.
“That’s right, Miss Harrison. Santa never leaves a kid behind on Christmas Eve.” He laughed airily as he let the little girl into his arms.
“Oh, I knew you’d come back.” She tightened her little arms around him.
Santa showed her that Christmas wasn’t all about being happy. It was about being around family and the people you love. “Ready to ride on Santa’s sleigh?”
Sophie replied with a nod. “I’d love to.”
There was no one happier than Sophie, as she had come to know that Santa truly exists.
“Sophie. Darling, wake up.”
“Oh, Zoolie. Quit barking, will ya?” Sophie groaned and gave her sleepy eyes a roll. “My, what happened?”
“Honey, it’s Christmas. Your presents are waiting for you downstairs.”
“Christmas?!” She jumped out of bed immediately and rushed out the door. “Presents. Santa got me presents!” She smiled, remembering the most sweetest dream she had ever had.
“Since when did you believe in Santa?” Her Mum asked, amazed at how excited she was.
“Oh, you won’t believe it, mama.” She giggled and ran toward were the presents were under the tree.
She picked up one with a red ribbon and read, “To Sophie. Merry Christmas.” She squealed happily. “Look, Mommy. A present for me.”
“Can’t wait to see what it’s got.” Her Dad chimed in as he walked towards them.
“Oh God!” She screamed ecstatically. “It’s a barbie doll, mama. A big barbie doll.” She wiggled the doll in the air, pleased at last.
She’s always wanted one like that – and now her wishes were finally fulfilled.
“I love Christmas!” She shouted and fell backwards on the rug, as her mum and dad joined.
“And we sure love you, honey.”
❄ THE END ❄