Fanta Claus 4
The last instalment of “Fanta Claus”. Find the others here:
There was the sound of footsteps down the stairs. Fanta looked around for a hiding place. He dived in behind the heavy curtains.
“Uh-uh,” whispered the fairy in his ear. “It’s the wrong girl!”
“That’s why I’m hiding!”
“But the child can still see you! You’re huge!”
“Gee, thanks,” snorted Fanta Claus. And then, with immaculate timing, “hee-hee-hee” boomed out of his belly, without him having any say in it whatsoever.
The curtain was moved back, and a tiny girl stared at him with huge blue eyes.
“Fanta Clauve?” she whispered.
“Jenny, what are you doing?” came another child’s voice.
“Amy, quick, come look,” peeped the small girl. “I fee Fanta Clauve! He’v here!”
A girl of about nine, quite as blond as her little sister, stared at the black apparition behind the curtains.
“My word, Santa,” she stated quietly. “You need a clean-up! You look like you’ve been in an oil spill!”
“What’f an oil fpill?” queried the younger sister.
“Jenny, go back to bed,” said Amy sternly. “You’re only dreaming this. You can’t see Santa Claus. Otherwise you won’t get any presents!”
“Not true!” protested Jenny.
“Go,” urged Amy. “Don’t want Mom and Dad to wake up, do you?”
Jenny allowed herself to be bullied back upstairs. At the top of the staircase, Amy turned around and pointed an authoritative finger at Fanta.
“Stay!” she commanded. “I have to speak to you!”
Fanta waited, holding his breath. They only had a few minutes to get this right.
“The little one was not supposed to see you!” tinkled Finkie furiously. “Can’t you stick to a plan?”
“Well, she did,” replied Fanta with a shrug. “That’s life!”
Amy re-emerged and came back down the stairs.
“Let’s get you cleaned up,” she said briskly. “I never knew Santa works in the coal mines!” She scurried off through a door and returned with a bowl of water, soap and a cloth. She started scrubbing the hashed-together Fanta suit.
“Oh-oh,” she commented. “Sorry, Santa.”
“What’s wrong?” asked Fanta Claus.
“The soap is discolouring your coat.” She sighed. “Now I’m in trouble!”
“No, you’re not,” tinkled Finkie impatiently. “He’s a great big slob! Your little sister has it right. This is not Santa. It’s Fanta, the younger brother!”
“It’s not Santa?” Amy took a step back and stared at Fanta Claus in horror.
“Just doing his job for tonight,” sighed Fanta. “So far it hasn’t been much fun. Can’t see why he bothers, year after year. I’ve seen some Norwegian kids in a rich household – that house celebrated Christmas Eve instead of morning, so I had to do them first – and those children stormed at the presents the moment they spotted them, and ripped them open, one after the other, it was horrible… never seen such greed! And then they started comparing. ‘Mine is better than yours’, all that. Next thing some of the toys were broken. I’m not supposed to stick around and watch, but I couldn’t help it…”
Amy tut-tutted, disgusted. “Absolutely shocking! Say, Fanta Claus, why are you doing Santa’s job tonight? Where is Santa?”
“Very sick,” said Fanta gravely. “He needs a break. The doctor is looking after him.”
“Poor Santa!” Amy sized Fanta up. “I didn’t think anyone except him could do what he does! Are you managing?”
Fanta shook his head.
“And you?” Amy challenged the fairy. “Christmas Fairy? Aren’t you helping him?”
“Some folks cannot be helped,” tinkled Finkie in irritation. “He’s a dweep. Gets everything backwards. And one of his reindeer keeps driving over trees and chimneys and even street lamps. And another keeps on…” She shut her mouth.
Amy rammed her fists into her sides. “So! All backwards!” She stared at the sorry pair. “Ha! Two magical beings and both try to do things the normal way! You both need a manager! Finkie! Make a spell to clean up Fanta!”
The fairy swallowed and waved her wand. “But spells are expensive,” she complained as Fanta’s tri-colour suit was suddenly sparkling clean again. That had not been the plan – that the obligatory child took over!
“That’s better,” started Amy, and packed up laughing. “Oh my word! Fanta! What are you wearing? Christmas Fairy! Make a plan!”
Finkie reluctantly waved her wand again. She was a Scottish fairy. She was usually quite sensibly frugal with her spells. Fanta’s suit started twinkling, but the colours stayed the same.
“Don’t you know magic?” asked Amy disgustedly.
“It appears that the colours are copy-protected,” said Finkie grudgingly. “Can’t get them changed. By order, Coca-cola.”
Amy shuddered. “I’m learning more tonight than I wanted to,” she commented. “Enlightenment sucks. Now, next. Finkie, fink! – I mean, think. There are several billion kids to go –“
“We’re half a billion down,” said Fanta proudly.
“Half a billion! So you’ve only got through – let me see – one fourteenth of your workload yet?”
“Look,” replied Fanta, annoyed. “I’m only the stand-in. Those elves of Santa ought to be skinned. They should have told me about this a month back! I could have started delivering the presents early!”
Amy stared at him as though he were dense.
“This whole setup reeks!” exclaimed Fanta Claus, at the end of his tether.
“You’re still thinking in normal!” retorted Amy. “We need to think in Christmas magic! Now sit down…”
Finkie alighted on Fanta’s shoulder and whispered into his ear.
“Relax! The plan is working! We found the right kid!”
He snorted. Amy was the managing type, alright!
After Amy explained her plan, with Finkie listening and nodding avidly, the little girl disappeared into the kitchen once more.
Fanta Claus gestured Finkie closer. “Why do you say, she’s the right kid?”
“She’s the one who knows everything, Fanta! Other nine-year-olds think they know everything. So does she, but the difference is, she actually does. She’s not aware of this herself.”
Amy returned with her arms full of stuff that she dumped on the coffee table. She darted around the room like a radioactive particle, fetching more items and adding them on the table. Fanta studied them.
Amy finished piling Christmas items onto the heap.
“There! And now, call the reindeer!”
Christmas magic. A fruit mince pie, a tot of brandy, a bowl of milk (although Fanta couldn’t understand how the Brownies fitted into the picture – they stood around on top of the heap looking confused), a Christmas tree with carved wooden nativity scene underneath it, the toboggan, the four crazy reindeer (who were a handful; especially Smasher seemed intent on breaking every ornament in sight); snow – this the fairy supplied with a wave of her magic wand, right into the living-room of Amy’s parents – and a quietly hummed Christmas carol. Fanta thanked his brother’s insistence on him taking singing lessons early in their childhood.
Everything started to twinkle softly, and a very low whispering sound filled the air. (Fanta didn’t dare to think of it as a “susurration” as he didn’t know how to spell that word.) A faint glow started up, and then a beautiful white being became half-visible. It smiled at Fanta, Amy and the Christmas Fairy.
“The Spirit of Christmas,” explained Finkie.
“Hee-hee-hee,” agreed Fanta anxiously. He had seen this being before – long ago, once, when he was a child. The Spirit of Christmas was a spirit bordering on extinction.
The spirit winked at him. The horrible urge to emit those three mindless syllables disappeared completely. Fanta sighed in relief. His Christmas present.
“We need a favour,” said Amy, planting herself squarely in front of the spirit with her hands on her hips. “Santa is ill, and Fanta is not coping. Can you help?”
The answer came into their minds, as lightly as falling snow.
Every child on Earth had a Christmas dream that night. That was, all except Amy, who was having a glorious time riding through the air next to Fanta and Finkie on the toboggan.
The children dreamt that Santa Claus passed over their house with his sleigh. It was a bit of a funny-looking sleigh, and there were only four reindeer, and Santa was wearing a really odd outfit; but it didn’t matter, because there was Christmas Spirit all over the world. The children dreamt that they got onto the roofs and waited for Santa, and he handed each of them their presents personally; each child only got one present, but it was received with delight and a feeling of wonder. They were instructed to put their presents under the tree or in their stocking or wherever Santa would normally have placed them, not open them but go back to sleep. And each of them returned to their beds and slept on with a feeling that this was the most wonderful Christmas of them all.
“You did great!” Amy was very proud of Fanta Claus, who grinned ear-splittingly.
“And what would your wish be for Christmas?” he asked.
“I already got my wish,” she cheered. “I saw Santa. Well, Fanta. And I got to ride on his sleigh! Wow!”
“What about me?” asked Finkie, insulted.
“And the Christmas Fairy!” added Amy. “But there is one thing…”
Fanta smiled. “You want to meet my brother, the real Santa.” He turned the toboggan and directed it home, to the North Pole, and stopped in front of Santa’s place. Amy walked around the workshop with huge eyes, marvelling at it all. The elves bustled around and gave her cookies, which she munched with delight. Fanta led her into the cubicle that Santa Claus called his bedroom. Doc Vera and the redheaded young girl were still at his bedside, keeping watch over him. Santa was asleep.
“Aw!” breathed Amy. “Poor Santa!”
The old man opened an eye and peered at her.
“Merry Christmas, Amy,” he muttered.
“You too, Santa,” she whispered. “Get well soon!”
He smiled. “I will, dear child. I will, now.” And he closed his eyes again.
Fanta gazed at his brother with a knot in his throat. That’s right, he thought. Get well jolly soon, bro! Hurry up already! Because Fanta is definitely not cut out for this insane kind of work!
“That was amazing,” exclaimed Amy as she emerged from the workshop into the Northern snow.
“Thank you, Fanta Claus! And well done tonight!” She peered at the bag. “Hmm! You’ve still got a lot of presents in there. What are you going to do with them?”
Fanta scratched his head. Hmm! Good point.
“Want them?” he asked, motioning at Amy.
“Oh heavens, no thank you,” she exclaimed. “I wouldn’t know where to put it all! Maybe one or two… that cuddly teddybear looks too adorable, and maybe… that mysterious little box there… Oh, but please don’t give them all to my sister either,” she added hastily. “I’m the one who clears up her room!”
“Aha,” said Fanta. And wrinkled his nose thinking about the present predicament.
And then it hit him.
“Obvious,” he said. “Look, it’s still midnight. Care for another round?”
“Yay,” cheered Amy. Finkie looked baffled.
“Now for the real Christmas,” explained Fanta.
There are a lot more poor children in this world than rich children. And did they appreciate their presents this year!
And Amy woke up the next morning finding her Christmas stocking filled to the rim. And her little sister’s
© Lyz Russo, 2009
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