I was fine now. I was cured. I am a miracle.
I had excised the bad feelings from my own tummy, slit it open and they poured right out and I fixed my own wounds and everything with sticky silver tape. I had been wearing my brother’s clothing and it got messy, which made me sad because brother had gone to heaven and his were the only clothes I owned, but I had news ones now. Better ones.
(I am a miracle, after all.)
I left my problems in a wet red puddle. I smiled. No more school, no more names, no more crying. I could even stop other people’s cries now.
I could see steam coming out of my mouth in the air outside; it must have been cold, but I didn’t care. I skipped through woods I’d never seen before, barely noticing
the mud and pine needles being cast up on my red felt pants. I barely had feet now, so why should I care?
“This was my time,” I thought. There’d be time enough for cleaning up later, for soon I would be spirited back home on wings of magic. It was glorious.
It was dark but there was just enough moonlight to see quite clearly if you let your eyes adjust, but that wasn’t a problem for me either, was it? My eyes were plastic in a body animated by pure love. I was “fixed” now. I would even feel cold were it not for the red-and-white felt covering my body and the stuffing inside that was naturally impervious to such, but this is my gift! The world was welcome, its little boys and girls most of all. I could be flying right now...but it’s best to stay low. I am a sneaky Elf.
I skipped for I don’t know how long, until in the distance I could see the frame of a white house, its dark windows standing in contrast to the plastic siding surrounding it, practically inviting me in. Which I accepted, of course.
I glided past a metal swing set with the ease afforded to one who weighs almost nothing and danced around a Rubbermaid storage bin to get to the first window, where I peered in to seek my rightful place. The windows were frosty but I summoned hot breath from my cold body to melt enough from one pane so as to peer inside, and saw nothing but a commode across from a sink littered with tiny toothbrushes, and a litter box on the floor between them. This would not do.
I glided around the side of the house, never needing to seek purchase, such was my lightness, until I came to another window. It wasn’t a bathroom, but it was much the same: It contained a bed and side table, but it was also filled with what were clearly unwrapped gifts on the floor and on a mattress, meaning this was a guest room that had been conscripted into being a package-wrapping room, with which I had no quarrel. “This is my time,” I again thought.
But the next room? The next window looked over a kitchen sink and into the kitchen beyond, and that’s what felt right. My magic would work because these windows were so frequently opened they were rarely locked for the convenience of their masters. (Every good Elf knows this.)
Having no fingers, I pushed my red felt hands under the windowsill and began to lift. The window moved just as I suspected, and there wasn’t even a screen. The knick-knacks on the shelf were handled with care, pushed in and placed on the counters to either side, but never pulled out and discarded into the snow. (That was not our way.) And so after no inconsiderable damage to my outfit? I was in.
I am magic.
I could not help but wonder tonight, “Where would I go? What would I do?” But I never had to ask for very long. I am an Elf and this is our way.
I went through the kitchen and let my hands pass over their knick-knacks, little statues of baby Jesus and picture frames surrounding smiling faces on dusty shelves next to yellow furniture…a soda can left out begged me to touch the tip of the straw sticking out of it, so I did, taking care not to spill. I sat in a recliner and would have closed my eyes if they’d had lids, when I heard the sound of a cough from the bedroom. They were home!
I stood and eased into the bedroom where I watched them sleep, my pointy hat casting a shadow across their supine bodies in the blue filtered light of the moon, observing the gentle rise and fall of their chests…the slight pulsing of the carotid arteries in their necks, and the occasional twitching of their noses. Their mouths hung open and I knelt down close, to feel their hot breath on my cheeks. It seemed so real! I almost giggled, and left the room.
I quietly padded around the kitchen, looking for mischief, and I finally settled on a container of uncooked pasta noodles and a sack of flour on the counter next to the stove. I hopped up there and stretched out, and began pouring the flour on the length of my body, and followed suit with the pasta noodles. (I wanted to nibble on one, I confess, but I didn’t have a mouth anymore so I put the thought out of my mind.)
Everything had to be perfect for when they woke up, and I kept my cheeriest smile as I lay there, my head nearly on a stove eye (the counters not being that long in this home, kind of like my last home). I waited, stretched out on my side, my right hand propping up my head just behind my right ear. I moved only once to add more flour where the red from my tummy was making a stain in it on the counter. Everything had to be perfect.
And it was. It was perfect when the mommy woke up and saw me, saw the Elf on the Shelf in her kitchen where he had landed in the flour and the pasta noodles and she raised up her hands to both sides of her cheeks like that little boy in the Christmas movies we watched in our last home, her mouth a perfect “O”, screaming and screaming and screaming, waking everyone up.
That wasn’t the way it was supposed to work!
She would wake the babies and then there would be no more surprise, no magic! So I slid off the shelf and picked up a bottle of wine on the counter, the same kind mommy liked in our hotels, and made her go to sleep with it (like mommy did, wine always made her sleepy) and she was quiet again, and flour was all over the air settling on everything like the dust on the shelves by the pictures and the baby Jesus statue and the chair I sat in. I reached down to touch her hair, to help her sleep, and it felt like silk, except wet. I tilted my head and stared. And I smiled.
Noise was coming from the next room again, and I had to get up on the shelf. I scooted (quick like a bunny) and hopped back up there, throwing what noodles I could back on me, my hand propping up my head again and that same smile crossing my face, my beautiful plastic face.
The daddy walked in next, moving fast, his robe fluttering behind him. He looked over at me and was probably going to laugh because his mouth started to open wide when at the same time his feet slipped sideways in the wine that was pouring out of mommy (it made her so sleepy) and he crashed down on his side. He tried to get up but he kept putting his hands in the thick hot wine, and it was slippery so all he did was kind of splash around in it like he was a kitty with tape on his feet. And I laughed.
He kept making noise though, so much noise. The children! He was going to wake up the children, so once again I slid off the shelf, ruining my decorations, but not ruining them as much as he was.
I got down low and crawled over to him asking him to “Shhhush!” with my finger over my mouth, but he kept screaming and screaming, so I put my finger over his mouth, the red felt covering my hand, saying “Shhhh!” and still he persisted.
So I began putting my hand in his mouth while he screamed to make him quiet while telling him “Shhhhh!”, and he started to listen because he wasn’t screaming so much now but he was still making gurgling loud burps so I pushed my tiny hand further into his mouth, pushing and pushing to make it quiet while he slipped around in the wine, and he got quieter and quieter, and finally stopped moving.
“Shhhh!” I said to him, and he listened at last. I needed to check on the kids before I got back up on the shelf.
I walked back through the house, quiet like a mouse, and went to the bedroom where I saw presents being wrapped, and then to the last room in the house where the children must be, waiting on their morning surprise…but it was empty.
I was sad.
My tummy was aching now, and the red felt was wet and there was wine all over my hand and my face and I worked so hard, so hard, and there weren’t even children here. I sat back down in the comfy chair and rocked for a while, and glanced out the window and saw a ring around the moon in the sky, and after a while? I smiled.
I went to the back door (because I was a sneaky Elf) and stepped outside, locking the door behind me, leaving no trace like when Santa miracles me back to the North Pole, and I would have pulled air into my lungs if I had any and closed my eyes if they had lids…but I definitely had a smile, and I tilted my head back to show it to the moon.
I walked down the steps from the door and looked left, then right, looking for another house, this time one with children because that’s who loves me. Randomly, I went left. That one had a playground in the back.
I thought about the mischief I would create inside, and how the children would laugh and laugh, because I was their Elf on the Shelf.
I am a Christmas Miracle.