Story:The Christmas landing
Jimmy Greating woke with a start. He looked at his alarm clock: 11.35pm. Not Christmas Day yet!
Suddenly, his 10-year-old eyes noticed the light was on and a small figure was perched on the end of his bed tapping a wristwatch. He realised Jimmy was awake. “About time too,” he muttered gruffly.
He was dressed top-to-toe in green: boots bigger than his feet, baggy trousers, felt jacket and pointy hat held up by two pointy ears. A black belt with red buckle was the only colour change. Jimmy knew this was an elf; but elves didn’t exist.
“Oh don’t I?” he said indignantly; “Then I won’t be able to deliver the mobile phone you really, really want!” Dozens of questions hurled around in Jimmy’s head. “No time for idle chat. Santa has accidently landed on Coquet Island; then the light from the lighthouse spooked those silly reindeer; they took off, landed by the harbour with us elves clinging on for dear life. As your dad runs the trips round the island, you need to help us take the boat out and rescue old Mr HoHoHo!”
“How were you daft enough to land on the island?” spluttered Jimmy, when he finally got a word in edgeways. “Bloomin’ satnav,” growled the elf – who was called Lofty Bigge (Jimmy didn’t laugh). “Turn right at the Farne Islands and begin to come in to land indeed! We had to swerve at that stonking big castle just up the river.” “But why me?” asked Jimmy. “Why not just take the boat?” Lofty shook his head as if talking to a nitwit: “Two reasons – one: we don’t do boats at the North Pole; two: you’ve got the keys. No wonder we call humans soft-brains!”
“But we should wake up my dad. I’m too small to steer.” “Right – talk as we go,” decided Lofty. He grabbed the youngster and dragged him downstairs. They paused for a second to take a coat and the keys; then they were scurrying down to the harbour.
“Adults are useless,” Lofty continued. “Have you ever found one who has actually seen the Claus-Man on Christmas Eve?” Jimmy thought for a moment and conceded he had a point. “It’s because when you become an adult, your eyes change. Magical things become invisible to you, sadly”
At the harbour’s edge, Jimmy could see the boat. With a low tide, it seemed a long, dark way down. He didn’t expect the elf to grab his arm and jump. Before he could scream, they had gently floated onto the deck. “Cool!” admired Jimmy.
“Just don’t ever try it on your own,” growled Lofty. On deck, several other identically-dressed elves were scurrying around. One grabbed the keys from the youngster; others began casting-off. Three of them picked Jimmy up and held him on their shoulders so he could steer; others were around the edges of the boat holding huge candles so he could see where they were heading.
Lofty jumped up and sat beside the wheel looking at him. Before Jimmy could speak, he answered: “Yes, you can land it.” He smacked him hard on the forehead. Jimmy yelled an “owwww!” “Oh don’t be a baby, I was just forcing a bit of temporary confidence into what passes for your brain.”
And, amazingly, it was true. Santa was duly welcomed aboard by some pretty pleased elves. Jimmy was bear-hugged by the man who looked exactly as he expected. The journey back to the harbour was uneventful.
And, the next Jimmy knew, he was being awakened from a deep sleep by Suzie: “Wake up brother sleepyhead; it’s seven o’clock and Santa’s been”. Throughout the present opening and breakfast, Jimmy grew more convinced he had simply been dreaming.
Then, his father walked into the front room; a puzzled look on his face. “I must be going daft,” he announced to Jimmy’s mother, passing her a steaming mug of tea. “I mean every night for sixteen years I’ve hung the keys on the first hook in the hall. Everybody knows to leave them there. Yet, this morning, they are lying on the hall table.” He shook his head at the greatest mystery of all time. Jimmy just sat thinking; holding his longed-for mobile phone.
It was late afternoon when Jimmy went to fetch something from his room. Lying on his crumpled bedcovers (even Mum let that go one day a year) was a rectangular package; beautifully wrapped in green foil with black tape and red bow. Jimmy knew he had already opened all his presents.
Inside the wrapping, in a silver frame, he found a picture of Father Christmas and the elves, on the sleigh at the edge of the harbour. As he looked closely, they all began to smile and wave. It was a couple of minutes before he read the inscription underneath: “To Jimmy with thanks from his friends. No matter how old you are, you’ll always be able to see us”
by Gordon Veniard