Santa

Riley has never looked forward to Christmas until one night... (This is my entry for the Movellas Advent Calendar Competition.. Hope you like it :) )

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1. Santa

 

"Santa's coming tonight, right? RIGHT?" Lilly, my seven year old little sister, excitedly asked our Grandfather. She had been bouncing around ever since she woke up. Tonight was Christmas Eve and she had never been more excited.

"Of course he will," I mumbled as I decorated the tree in our small living room. I have been telling her that Santa's not real. But she won't listen. I know I sound rude but it's better to make her understand reality now so she won't be disappointed in the end.

"He will, Riley," Lilly stomped her foot. I sighed.

Grandpa chuckled. His breath wheezed a little.

"Now, now, don't be like that around Grandpa." I said, turning around and picking her up. I smiled at the old man in the worn loveseat and he smiled a warm one back. His health had seriously declined ever since Grandma passed away. A little stress could do major damage to him.

"I'm fine," he reassured me, although the cough at the end of his sentence told me otherwise.

"And Santa's going to give me my very own bike!" She exploded like a small bomb in my arms.

I mentally cringed. I have been saving up some money from my job at the restaurant ever since Lilly have been asking non-stop for a bike but I was unable to gather enough for it. I guess her bike still had to wait until next year...

Ever since Grandpa had to stop working because of his health, I had been the one providing for our small family. It was the only thing I could do for him since he and Grandma were the ones who practically raised me and my sister. It was hard, balancing work and high school, but it was worth it if it would be for the two most important people in my life.

I felt sad for a bit, suddenly remembering our parents. The divorce took a toll on both of them, and they said they needed time for themselves. Our Mom left us with our grandparents, said she'll come back. She said those words when Lilly was still a baby. Dad said he'll fight for us, but then I found out he married a woman again a year later.

If Santa was real, he would bring our parents back. That's all I ever wanted for Christmas.

I felt the air get colder in the house. I put Lilly down so I could add more wood to the fireplace for our grandfather's sake.

 

The day passed by with me and Lilly preparing food for tonight.

"Riley..." she trailed off.

"What is it?" I asked, putting the pie in the oven.

"You'll wait with me, right? For Santa?" I was about to decline but she got me with just her doe eyes.

"I will."

 

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I woke up to the sound of footsteps. I looked beside me and saw Lilly asleep.

I forced myself to sit up. Lilly made us hide behind the sofa to wait for Santa. It had been almost midnight when we fell asleep.

But when I peeked through the top, my eyes widened. There he was, in all his red and white glory, placing boxes of presents under our shabby tree. It was hard to see his face because the only thing lighting up the room was the dim moonlight.

First he made his way to the plate of muffins Lilly and I made. His black boots sent sounds as he walked. Lilly thought Santa would be sick of cookies so she told me to make those instead.

I guess she was right because he finished them in a few bites then drank the milk.

Rubbing his belly, he went by the fireplace. It was quite impossible to see what he was doing there from our position.

Santa came back pulling something behind him.

A bike.

He pushed it until it was right beside the tree.

Before he turned around and caught me looking, I quickly hid myself into our blankets. I didn't dare to move until I fell asleep.

 

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I opened my eyes to Lilly screaming for joy with her new bike.

"I told you he was real, Riley! I told you!" The happiness on her face tugged at my heart. I have never seen her so happy. I know it wasn't just because of the bike but also because she was right.

I noticed a thin wrapped square under the tree. It had my name on it. It felt like a card.

When I opened it, my eyes teared up. 

Inside the envelope were postcards. The first one was from Mom. In the back she wrote a message for me and Lilly. She said she's coming back. The second one was from Dad. He sent us a picture of him and his new family, with a new baby. He said he was our new baby brother.

I have never been happier.

It took a few moments to regain myself.

I looked around the living room.

"Where's Grandpa?" I asked. She shrugged and rode her bike inside the house, oblivious to my own joy. I shook my head at her excitement.

I walked into Grandpa's room to find him asleep on his armchair.

Should I wake him up?

I was about to when I noticed his black boots.

I smiled to myself and quietly gathered his blanket. I covered him up to his neck and kissed his forehead. I whispered,

 

"Merry Christmas, Grandpa. You and Grandma are the best parents anyone would have."

 

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