Proof of Life

Posted by on Jan 7, 2013 in Blog | 5 comments

Proof of Life

After the smoke had cleared the boots were the only thing left.  Stuck in the ashes of the fireplace, melted to the grate.  Ciara was crying, wrapped up in her new fleece jammies, face smudged with ash and dirt.

‘You killed him’ she wailed, ‘Look what you’ve done, he’s dead!  You killed him!’ she threw herself at her older brother punching him with the side of her fists, weak with sorrow and exhaustion.

Owen stared at the coal-black boots , dread heavy like a stone in his belly.  This wasn’t what he’d planned at all.

***

It was all Fergals fault, Fergal and Ben, they’d been the ones to sow doubts in Owens mind.  They were the ones who whispered in the schoolyard that Santa didn’t exist, it was all just a joke – a trick your parents played on you till you got old enough to know better.

Some of the other kids had muttered agreement; they’d heard their parents in the hallway and seen bulky presents brought in from the garage on Christmas eve night.  Owen wasn’t so sure. Last year he’d asked for the Lego Wolverine Chopper Showdown when he went to visit the mall Santa.  The jolly fat man who smelled of breath mints and stale cabbage had just laughed and told him to smile for the camera.  Owen knew that wasn’t the real Santa, his mum explained that he was just a helper because Santa was so busy in the run-up to Christmas he couldn’t be everywhere at once.  But Mum liked to get a picture of them with Santa every year so Owen went along with it.  Of course he knew the only way to make sure that Santa knew what he really wanted was to write a letter to the North Pole. So Owen had sat down with Ciara and they’d both written their letters – Owen asking for the Lego set and adding a request for the Magneto and Deadpool figurines and Ciara asking for the My Little Pony Magical Express Train Set.  That Christmas morning he’d run downstairs and there under the tree sat the helicopter just like he’d asked and beside it in their plastic packaging the two figurines.  It could only have been Santa – his mum had been there when they went to the mall Santa but his parents didn’t know what he had written in his letter.  Owen had been sure to seal it with glue and tape before handing it to mom to put in the post.They could never have found out he’d asked for the two extra characters as well.

But that was last year, when Ben and Fergal believed in Santa too.  Now they were both pretty sure that Santa didn’t exist, and if Santa didn’t exist then that meant the end of writing letters and stockings and all the good stuff that happens before Christmas. Ir also meant that his Mum and Dad opened his letter and didn’t post it at all.  No, Santa must exist, and Owen was going to prove it.

The plan was simple.  Everyone knew Santa arrived and left through the chimney it was the fastest way to deliver all the toys in one night.  But and here was the genius of Owens plan, if the fireplace wasn’t available – if say there was a fire already lit then Santa would *have* to use the door – there was no other way into the house.  That would be where Owen would be waiting, in front of the door with Dads camera.

***

Owen had been sure to act normal going to bed.  Ciara had set out the cookies and milk nd the two of them had scampered up to bed.  Owen lay awake until he heard his parents go to bed and then crept out of his room and down the stairs.  The third step down creaked and he held his breath, but the door to his parents room stayed closed.  Downstairs he put  a firelog in the grate and lit the edge of the paper with the barbecue lighter. Then he grabbed his Dads camera from where it was sitting on the charger in the kitchen and sat down in front of the door to wait.

‘What are you doing?’ Ciara whispered in his ear making him jump, she’d been unable to sleep and heard Owen fumbling around in the dark. so had come down to see what was going on.

‘Is Santa here yet?’

‘Not yet’ said Owen.

‘Ok’ Ciara sat down beside him and rested her head in her hands, waiting.

It seemed they’d been waiting forever when there was a gentle tinkle of bells and some scuffling noises from the roof.  This was it!  Owen checked the fireplace and stoked the fire which had died down a bit, then lay on the floor with his finger firmly on the camera trigger.

The scuffling noises got louder and Ciara woke up from her dozing, ‘Is he here?’

‘Yes, now Shhh’

Owen kept his eyes fixed on the door, waiting, waiting…

There was a pop and a bang and suddenly everything was happening at once.  Two booted feet popped down the chimney and the fireplace roared to life.  Owen swung the camera from the door around to the sitting room where a cloud of smoke was rising slowly to the ceiling.

‘Santa?’ his voice wavered.

‘He’s gone!’ shrieked Ciara.  ‘The fire burnt him all up!’

Owen felt sick.  Fergal and Ben were right, thanks to him there was no Santa.

5 Comments

  1. Hah! Love it, good call. Never noticed the Santa boots angle.

  2. I’m not terribly happy with it, but it’s a start…

  3. Creators never love their creations like the rest of us. I like this a lot. I didn’t even think of Santa boots, either!

  4. Agreed, like a form of writer’s dismorphia. Distorytion?

  5. Nice, a thematically appropriate one for the holidays…I’m left wondering whether to think “poor Santa,” or blame those pesky older brothers for a really complicated prank!

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