I need a Christmas fairy. Not one on top of the tree, or even one who grants wishes. I don’t need a pretty dress, a pumpkin coach or a handsome prince. Some footmen might be nice, though. She can use the mice in the loft, and then they won’t eat through the Santa sacks, like they did last year, and nibble on the Christmas chocolate. (“Father Christmas,” we explained to my distraught daughter, “must have had nibblers on his sleigh.”)
What I need a fairy for is to be me, while I get on with the fun business of Christmas. For example, while I’m up from 5am tweaking photographs (one of my usual hair-brained Christmas things – photos make great gifts), the fairy could help find my kitchen table, ready for breakfast.
Or she could sit and supervise the children’s homework, because I’m all out of patience and actually had to go upstairs and scream into a pillow this morning because three hours’ sleep wasn’t enough to deal with the bickering. I also cried when I couldn’t get parked on the school run, because I had a red double-decker bus on my tail and I’m rubbish at reverse parking, but that’s not unusual.
The fairy could waltz the children to school, singing silly songs, and wait patiently for ten minutes for them to go through their settling in routine. I’m managing it, but the smile is slipping.
Or I could send the fairy out when I get the call for another chore for hubbie. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind, and she could have the McD breakfast instead of me, to save my waistline. That would be a real plus.
A helpful fairy might help locate my living room floor, or put food in the fridge, or make the photos look better when I pick them up from the supermarket (the 5am two-hour stint was worth nothing because they printed so dark they’re unusable. Start again!)
I wonder if I could convince friends and family to give Christmas gifts early? I don’t need slippers or perfume or jewellery, but a cooked meal would be marvelous. A school pick up superb. A quick vac of the house would be a result for everyone, because I can’t be the only one tired of standing on toys and picking stickers and dirt off my socks.
I want to be writing my blog, and inventing adventures for Claire (it’s just getting interesting!). I want to be buying and wrapping gifts, and writing Christmas cards. At a push I don’t mind walking the dog, but the housework isn’t on the agenda until January, and who knows what the house might look like by then. Does anyone know where I might find a Christmas Fairy? If so, send her my way, please. I’ll pay in chocolate. 🙂
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Claire looked in the mirror and pulled a face.
I look ridiculous. Why did I let Conor talk me in to this?
She tugged at the wig, which had slipped sideways, and pouted her bright red lips. She swished her skirt and struck a pose. “Happy birthday, Mr President…” she sang off key and laughed.
Fine; I’ll be Marilyn, seeing as the theme is Hollywood, but if there’s karaoke I’m out.
With a sigh Claire turned from the mirror and pulled on her cardigan. Despite the warm temperature outside there was no way she was walking across town without some protection.
As she strode down the road in her sandals, with her heels in a bag over her shoulder, Claire’s mind wandered over the events of the week. They were mostly a blur of phone calls and running across town to fetch and carry. She’d stayed awake for the fireworks on Wednesday, but had watched them from the hostel bedroom, not wanting to stand on the beach by herself.
Conor was still the elusive Pimpernel. She caught sight of him from time to time, hurrying to a meeting or helping out at an event. She’d been wrapped up in her own tasks, liaising with the shops over their storefront competition and doing a dozen other menial tasks.
Just when she was starting to think Conor was avoiding her, instead of simply being busy, he’d called out of the blue and asked if she wanted to take part in the Wheelbarrow Race on Friday night. Once he had reassured her that it was a pub crawl rather than a sports day event, she had reluctantly agreed. Then he’d mentioned the need for fancy dress.
“You’re kidding. I don’t do dressing up,” had been her response. Conor had only laughed. “You do now,” he’d replied with a wicked chuckle.
“Are you ordering me, as your employee?” She’d put on a prim tone, wondering if the banter was a wise idea, given his attitude all week. He’d paused for a fraction of a second before saying in a softer voice, “Of course not. I thought it might be fun is all.”
She’d had to agree at that point.
More fool me.
Her walk through the residential streets drew amused glances from passers-by, as she took the route into town, and she regretted not waiting until she got to the pub before putting on the wig. A group of lads wolf whistled from the other side of the road and she toyed between ignoring them and telling them to get lost. Instead she turned, bent forwards, pouted, and blew them a kiss. They looked shocked and then laughed; their appreciative chuckles drifted along behind her as she continued walking.
I guess I’m going to have to try and get in the mood.
She gathered that all of Conor’s colleagues – my colleagues, she amended – would be taking part in the pub crawl. It seemed strange to be socialising with people she hardly knew, and she wondered what they made of the woman Conor had hired against the Board’s better judgement.
Her footsteps slowed as it dawned on her what the evening would entail. Pub crawls meant getting drunk. Did she really want to leave herself vulnerable amongst strangers? The last time she’d been on a work do and under the influence she had heard things about herself she’d rather not have done. It was an experience she didn’t choose to repeat.
But it was too late now. She could see the pub up ahead; identifying it as much by the group of oddly dressed people milling outside. And by the wheelbarrows.
Bastard. He said there were no real wheelbarrows. I am going to kill him.
“Claire, you’re here!”
Conor pushed through the crowd and came to meet her. “You look amazing,” he said as he approached. “This gentleman definitely prefers blondes.” His tone was light but it brought the blood to her cheeks.
He came to a standstill too close for comfort and Claire concentrated on his outfit. He was dressed as Elvis, complete with white suit and big hair. It looked good. The words of anger died on her lips at the warmth in his expression and she dropped her gaze to stare at the pavement between them.
“Are you okay? Have you changed your mind?” Conor’s soft tone held too much understanding for her liking. Deciding the only course was to brazen it out, she threw back her shoulders and looked him in the eye.
“No, not at all. Bring it on.”
“That’s my girl.” His smile was swift and genuine. He looked like he was about to say something else, when a voice hailed him from amidst the crowd.
“Come on, Conor, stop hogging the fit bird and bring her over.”
It was Conor’s turn to look embarrassed. “Sorry, Claire,” he murmured, “Some of the lads have had a head start.”
“It’s okay, it’s nothing I can’t handle.” Claire took off her cardigan and draped it over her bag. In full costume she felt better able to enter into the spirit of things. Still, in the back of her mind she knew it was going to be a long night.