Oxford Circus, home to London’s most famous shopping street which is illuminated each Christmas
The calendar is at the end of my bed. Every morning when I wake up it’s the first thing I see. The twenty five little doors, seventeen of them already open. Each one has a small piece of chocolate inside. I am not bothered about the chocolate, each door that’s opened means it’s a day closer to Christmas. One more door and there’s no more school! I have to do one more thing at school though before it’s done with. The thing that is making me the most nervous! Once that is over I can really really look forward to Christmas.
The school play, I only have one three words but I’m scared. I asked the teacher if I could not be in it but she said it was too late and she couldn’t find someone else now. I didn’t want to be in it in the first place they just chose me! It wasn’t fair! Each evening when school has finished we go into the hall and go over the play again and again. I wait nervously each time for my three lines, when I have to run out onto the stage, dressed all in green, a little green hat and big red circles painted onto my cheeks. I so want it to be all over!
The radio is on in the kitchen, Capital Gold, playing Christmas songs. It’s foggy outside and it’s not quite bright yet. Mum comes into the room with a plate of toast and some cereal, she looks surprised to see that I am already awake. I sit down on my bed and eat it as I think about the play. How many people are there going to be there? What if I make a mistake and everything goes wrong and I make the whole play wrong. People will laugh at me and then I’ll never be able to go back to school because they’ll all make fun of me.
One of the other kids has a big part, she’s Father Christmas’ wife, she doesn’t care though. When we’re practicing she always says her lines right and the teacher is always telling her that she’s doing really well. She talks to everyone at school and all the teachers love her. Sometimes I wish I could be like that but I’m not, I’m really shy. Now I have to stand in front of the whole school and all their mums and dads. It’s just three words though, I’m sure I can do it, mum keeps telling me I’ll be fine, if she says I’ll be fine then I should be!
I know how many days it is until Christmas and I know how many it is until I finish school but I count all the doors left on the calendar again, just to make sure. I open today’s one and take out the small chocolate and eat it, making sure mum isn’t there, she says you shouldn’t eat chocolate in the mornings. Now only seven doors left. I wish I could hide inside tomorrow’s door! Then I wouldn’t have to go to the play. It’s too small though! The man on the radio says it’s eight o’clock, still half an hour left before I have to go to school.
The calendar is a picture of a house. There’s a big snowman in front of the house. It never snows at Christmas here though, I wish I could make a snowman one day. I’d make it big and fat, I’d give him a coat too so that he doesn’t get cold. There’s a cartoon that I saw last Christmas, a little boy who makes a snowman and the snowman comes inside his house and they fly away together over the town. I wonder if I build a snowman will it come alive and then I can go and fly with him! Maybe he’ll take me to Oxford Street and I can see all the lights! I really want to go there!
There’s a catalogue by my bed. I quickly put on my school uniform and then sit waiting for mum, looking through the toys. All the things that I’d love to have. I can’t have all of them though, that would be too expensive. I just want one or two. There’s a big castle made from Lego, I really want that but it is so expensive. I don’t think mum’ll be able to get that for me. One of my friends said they were going to get a bike for Christmas but I can’t get a bike, I’m not allowed to go out on my own and mum says all the kids downstairs are naughty so I wouldn’t be able to ride it anywhere. I would love a bike though.
“Time to go! Hurry up or we’ll be late!”
It’s so cold outside! When I breathe and blow out I can see my own breath. None of the trees have any leaves on them. The sky is really grey as well, it looks like it’s going to fall down. We walk slowly down the street because it’s slippery, there’s little patches of white on the ground, every time I step on one I feel my feet slip forward. If mum wasn’t with me I’d try and slide down the street but I can’t while she’s here because she’d get angry and tell me it’s dangerous, maybe if they let us in the playground I’ll be able to do it later!
There’s lights outside some of the houses, one man has put a big Christmas tree in his garden. There’s all different coloured lights and underneath the Christmas tree there’s a Santa Claus pulling some reindeer. One of my friends said that in Australia Christmas is summer time but I don’t believe him. How can you have Christmas in summer time? That’s definitely impossible. The High road is busy even though it’s in the morning. Everyone looks excited and people are smiling more than they usually do.
“I’m getting five hundred pounds for Christmas and my dad is getting me a bike and my mum is going to take me to America!”
“So?! My dad is giving me a thousand pounds!”
“Our Christmas tree is massive too, it’s so big that we can’t even fit in the house, we have to leave it outside the house, and it’s got lots and lots of lights. I bet it’s bigger than your tree.”
“No! My dad said he’s going to go to Lapland and get a tree from there and it’s going to be so big that there’ll be no tree bigger than it. He said he’s going to get my Christmas presents from Father Christmas early as well. I bet your dad can’t do that.”
We have a nice Christmas tree. I don’t know why they want such a big Christmas tree, I like our little one. There aren’t many presents underneath it yet, even if there isn’t any I won’t care, I just want it to be Christmas. I don’t believe them anyway! The teacher wants us to write a story about Christmas, I hope I can write a good one, the person with the best story will get some sweets tomorrow after the play is over. Maybe if I know I’m going to get some sweets it’ll make the play go quicker!
One day there was a boy. The boy was only seven years old. Every Christmas he wanted it to snow but he still hadn’t seen it snow at Christmas. When he wakes up in the morning he looks out the window and at the sky hoping that just one little snowflake will fall from the sky. On Christmas Eve, he thought he saw a snowflake. Only a little one! He ran down the stairs and out of his front door and looked up at the sky trying to find the snowflake but there was no snowflake. The boy was sad, he really thought it was going to snow.
One of his friends saw him standing there and came and asked him what he was doing. The boy said ‘I’m trying to catch a snowflake!’ His friend stood there with him and they both looked up at the sky trying to see if they could see one but there weren’t any. His friend got bored and went home leaving the boy alone. The sky became dark and the clouds went away. All he could see were stars and the moon. His mum shouted to him through the window to come inside otherwise he’d catch a cold. The boy looked up one more time and he saw a star moving across the sky. In his head he wished for it to snow, just a little bit.
The boy’s mum cooked him his dinner, but he was excited because tomorrow was Christmas day. He looked at the big Christmas tree in the corner. Under the tree there were big boxes, red ones, yellow ones and blue ones. All of them had big red ribbons on them and a big bow at the top. When the boy’s mum went to wash dishes he sneaked up to the boxes. He looked at the door to see if his mum was coming, she wasn’t. He tapped the boxes with his finger, then he picked one up and shook it a little bit to see if he could find out what was inside. Then he heard his mum so he put the box down and pretended to watch the television.
His mum told him he had to go to bed. He lay on his bed trying to go to sleep. His friend told him that if he counted sheep he would be able to go to sleep quickly. He counted one hundred sheep in his head but he still couldn’t sleep. He heard his mum go to bed, all the lights in their house were off. There were no noises outside, still he couldn’t sleep. I just want to go to sleep so I can wake up in the morning and open all my presents he said to himself. He climbed down from his bed and opened the curtain a little bit so he could look outside, maybe he would be able to see Father Christmas!
In the sky he saw a light moving and flashing. Maybe that’s Father Christmas! I wonder where he has been tonight already! He must have been to so many places. I hope he doesn’t forget about me, mum says he gives me one present every year but the rest of them are the presents that she gives to me. The light moves away and then it disappears. Maybe he has forgotten me. The stars slowly started to disappear too, if it’s clouds maybe it really will snow! The boy finally fell asleep sitting next to his window.
When the boy woke up it was still dark. He went into the kitchen to see what time it was, it’s still only five o’clock! He can’t wake his mum yet, she will say it’s too early and he needs to go back to bed! He goes quietly into the living room, it’s so dark! The boy is a little bit scared, he doesn’t like the dark but he is excited too! He looks out the window but there is no snow, maybe next year it will snow, I can wait one year for snow he says to himself. He sits by the window again, there’s nobody outside, no cars driving in the street, no one walking. There is a light on in the house across the road, he can see a boy jumping up and down. Why isn’t his mum angry?
At the bottom of his house the boy sees a strange shape. It’s big and round, it’s really white too. It looks like a snowman! It really is a snowman! He has a hat, and his nose is a carrot, he has a black coat on too. Where did he come from? It hasn’t snowed! The snowman waves at him. The boy looks over to the other house with the light but the light is off now, maybe his mum was angry! The snowman waves again, telling him to come down the stairs. The boy doesn’t know if he should go or not, he’s a little bit frightened, then the snowman smiles and the boy smiles back. He walks down the stairs slowly and quietly.
When he walks out of the door the snowman takes his hand and they walk down the street. The snowman can’t talk, he just smiles. He walks with the boy through the streets, pointing at the windows as the lights come on in each house, little children playing with their new toys. The boy is worried he will be late and his mum will be angry that he has gone outside on his own. The snowman turns around and takes the boy back home. When they get to the door, the snowman points to the sky and smiles, then he walks away. The boy climbs the stairs, his mum is still not awake. He looks out the window and can see that it’s snowing! He finally gets Christmas present that he has always wanted!
I hope the teacher likes it!
“That boy over there, he’s not going to get any Christmas presents. His mum and dad haven’t got a job and are poor. That’s what my mum said.”
“What’s the point in Christmas if you don’t get any presents?!”
“I don’t care, my dad has lots of money and he’s going to buy me all the best presents.”
The little boy is called Mark. I don’t ever talk to him, he doesn’t talk to anyone, he’s very quiet. I told my mum that the other kids say bad things about him and mum said that I should just ignore them. He’s drawing a picture, it looks like it’s a tree and some presents. I think I should talk to him, he must be lonely if no one ever talks to him.
“What are you drawing?”
“A tree, and some presents.”
“Is it your house?”
“No, we have a tree but there won’t be many presents.”
“Oh, why not?”
“My dad lost his job and he doesn’t have much money. It’s okay though, I don’t mind, my nanny is coming for Christmas and she always makes me laugh.”
“Why don’t you talk to people?”
“They all make fun of me, they say I’m poor so I don’t want to talk to them. I’m not poor we just don’t have much money.”
“You should just ignore them.”
He carries on drawing his picture. It’s like other people aren’t here, he’s just drawing his picture, as though he’s the only person in the classroom. At the top of his picture he is drawing lights, they are all different shapes, stars and Christmas trees and angels. I wish I could draw like that, I can’t even draw a man properly. I wonder what it’s like to have no friends? What does he tell his mum about when he goes home from school? He puts down his pens and folds the piece of paper into four and puts it in his pocket.
“What are you going to do with that?”
“I’m going to take it home and give it to my mum. I saw some lights on the television, it was on a big street, there were lots of Christmas trees and angels, I wanted to draw it for her. She’ll like that I think.”
The teacher in charge of the play is in the room. I forgot about the play! Why did she have to come into the room? I wouldn’t have to think about it then.
“Remember everyone who is in the play, you come here straight after lunch so we can get ready. Everyone will have to be on their best behaviour, all of your parents are going to be there watching and we want to put on the best play we can for them.”
I’m not sure if my mum is going to be able to make it. She has to work, she said she will try and get away early but I am not sure. If she doesn’t come it doesn’t matter, I don’t really care, I only have a tiny part anyway.
“Why were you talking to Mark? He’s weird.”
“He’s okay, I think he’s just lonely.”
“If he wasn’t so weird then he’d have some friends. If other people see you talking to him they might make fun of you too.”
“I don’t care, I was only asking him what he was drawing.”
“My mum is taking you home with us tonight.”
“I know, my mum has to work.”
Mark is in front of us kicking a stone, just him and his stone, like when he was drawing the picture, as if nobody else is on the street with him. I wonder what he is thinking? I wonder how his holidays will be? He doesn’t have a part in the play, I wish I could be him, he doesn’t care about anyone else. He goes into a doorway, the door opens and he goes inside, as we pass his house I look in the window. There’s a small Christmas tree in the window, there’s a lady looking out the window, she smiles as we walk past, I put my hand up to wave at her and she waves back.
It’s cold and dark outside when mum picks me up from John’s house. She talks to John’s mum for ages, I don’t know what they are talking about, they keep whispering and then laughing, sometimes mum rolls her eyes. I just want to go home now, I’m tired. John’s mum gives mum a drink and they close the door and sit down. I know we won’t be going home for a long time yet. They laugh and talk about people. John is asleep on the sofa so I have no one to play with. Finally mum puts her coat on and we go home.
It’s so cold outside, even colder than this morning. I blow out, it looks like a big puff of smoke, it makes me think of my favourite book about a purple dragon that had a thorn stuck in his foot and no one would help him to take it out. Puff was his name! I hold mum’s hand as we walk slowly down the road, I think she’s enjoying the walk.
“Are you looking forward to your play tomorrow?”
“No! I don’t want to do it! Can you write me a note?”
“I can’t write you a note now, it’s too late, they won’t be able to find anyone else.”
“No! You’ll be fine, I don’t know why you’re so worried about it. All you have to do is say a couple of words and then it’s over, you won’t even feel it.”
“Will you be coming?”
“Yes, I’ll be able to finish at lunchtime tomorrow so I can come and see you. Your nan is coming as well.”
Nanny usually gives me some money.
“I have a surprise for you tomorrow night as well. When the play is over you’ll see what it is.”
A surprise? I wonder what kind of surprise it’ll be? It can’t be a present because she wouldn’t give that to me until it’s Christmas day.
“What is it?”
“It’s a surprise, you’ll see tomorrow night. You can bring one of your friends with you if you like.”
“So we’re going somewhere?”
“You’ll see tomorrow!”
Where will we be going? I just want it to be tomorrow after the play already, I don’t want to have to wait another day.
We pass a man in the street who is drunk, he has fallen over. I think he is talking to himself, I hold mum’s hand tighter but she doesn’t seem to be worried. Another man is shouting at the drunk man but the drunk man is just laughing. I feel a little bit scared.
“Don’t worry, he’s just had too much to drink.”
I wonder if the drunk man will sleep outside all night? If he does won’t he be cold? The man shouting at him walks away, the drunk man starts singing ‘silent night’. I know that song because we sing it in school sometimes. I keep looking back to see if he’s okay, he just keeps singing, people walk past him looking scared. He doesn’t look scary, he’s just a little bit loud.
“Will that man be okay?”
“He’ll be fine love, he’s just a bit drunk.”
“Why is he singing a song?”
“He’s probably just happy.”
“Won’t he be cold if he sleeps outside?”
“He’ll find his way home.”
“Why do people get drunk?”
“It makes them happy and they can sing songs.”
Why do you need to have something to make you happy? I sing songs to myself when there is no one else around, I don’t need anything to help me. I hope the man will be okay.
We climb the stairs to our flat. I am really tired now.
“Time to go to bed! It’s late and you’ve got a long day tomorrow.”
“Can I look out the window? Just for five minutes.”
“Five minutes and then it’s bed, if you’re tired in the morning you’ve only yourself to blame.”
Every night before I go to bed I like to look out the window. In front of where we live is a bus station. The driver makes the name of the place on the front of the bus change before he drives away. Some places I’ve never heard of, I try to imagine what they would be like. One bus has ‘World’s End’ on the front. What’s at World’s End? Where is World’s End? Do they have Christmas at World’s End? Everyone has Christmas! The driver is about to go, then he stops. I see the drunk, he’s still singing, he jumps onto the bus and sits down at the back, his head against the glass.
Mum kisses me on the head and turns off the light in my room. I can feel butterflies in my stomach, I’m so tired but I don’t want to go to sleep because I know if I go to sleep tomorrow will be here and then I will have to be in the play. I know tomorrow morning is going to go so fast, I want it to go slowly. What if I make a mistake and then everyone laughs at me? I’ll be like Mark, no one will talk to me and then I’ll have no friends. I wonder if he is a good person? He doesn’t seem like a bad kid, he’s never naughty.
The lady waving to me through the window, was that his mum? She looked a little bit like him. All the other kids said that his mum is a bad lady because she never comes and picks him up from school. I think it’s because he only lives two minutes away from the school, she doesn’t need to come and pick him up. I wonder if that drunk man went to World’s End? Maybe the driver threw him off the bus. I don’t want to do this stupid play…
When I want something to happen the time always goes slowly. When I don’t want something to happen the clock moves really quickly. It’s the last day and everyone has brought toys to class and we can do whatever we like. Every time I look at the clock it has moved forward half an hour! Some of the other kids keep talking about the play and it is making me more nervous. Now I just wish it was over. I forgot that mum has a surprise for me. I still don’t know what it is, I can’t even guess. It’s nearly lunch time now, I really don’t want to do this!
“I can’t wait for the play! They said it will be really good this year, there’s elves and Father Christmas and they said that at the end everyone is able to get a present.”
“Miss!! He took my toys from me and he won’t give it back.”
“I’m telling my mum, you’re not allowed to bring that to school. She’ll tell the headmistress and then you’re going to get expelled!”
“No I won’t!”
“Miss! Whose story was the best one? I bet it was mine! When are you going to give me all the sweets?”
“I asked my mum if you could come to my house at Christmas and she said yes but you need to ask your mum first.”
“I’ll ask her after school.”
Why is everyone so noisy today? Some of them are running about and some of them are jumping up and down. The teacher doesn’t care, she’s just talking to one of the kids. They’re all so excited! Mark is sitting by himself reading a book, no one else is playing with him. Five minutes until lunchtime! My stomach feels funny, I wish I could run away!
“What book are you reading?”
“It’s about a dragon.”
“That’s my favourite book!”
“Are you going to be in the play today?”
“Yeah, but I don’t want to be. Do you want to do it for me?”
“I’m not allowed to do that. It’ll be okay.”
“My mum and my nan are coming, is your mum coming? I think she waved at me yesterday.”
“No she can’t come, she doesn’t like to go outside. She says it makes her frightened.”
“Oh! What about your dad?”
“He went to a new job today. It doesn’t matter, I’m not in the play anyway.”
The bells rings and Mark puts the book back on the shelf and walks out, everyone else pushes past him. Today is school’s Christmas dinner. There’ll be turkey and roast potatoes and gravy and some vegetables. Most people won’t eat the vegetables though. I have to eat mine quickly so we can get changed and get ready for the play.
“Miss! I feel sick! I think I need to go and see the nurse!”
“You look fine, you don’t have a temperature either.”
“But I have a headache, and my belly hurts.”
“Really? That means you won’t be able to have the sweets I was going to give you for having the best story then. Don’t worry about the play, you only have a small part and it will be over in seconds, now hurry up and go and get your Christmas dinner before it’s all gone.”
“When can I have my sweets?”
“You can have them when the play is over. Don’t go running to any of the other teachers telling them you’re sick either because I’ll let them know you’re not.”
I’m not even hungry, it doesn’t taste nice. Mum’s turkey will be much better than this. What if I ran away out the door. No one would miss me. Mum would see I’m not there, the teacher would probably come and look for me too. I throw away the dinner, I don’t want it.
“Everyone who’s in the play make sure you come to the hall in 10 minutes.”
The hall is full of kids and teachers. The kids are all excited. I think I am the only one who is nervous, everyone else is running around while the teachers try and catch them to try and put their costumes on. They tell us all to move into a corner where there’s a curtain. The teacher gives me my green costume and my hat. I put it on. One of the older kids comes over and puts red lipstick where my cheeks are, I look in the mirror and see I have big, red, rosy cheeks. I think I look stupid, everyone else looks stupid too.
“Remember everyone, I will tell you when you need to go on stage, don’t worry, don’t be nervous, everything will be fine.”
There’s a big, fat kid sat next to me in the same costume as me but his doesn’t fit properly and he looks even more stupid than I do. He keeps talking to himself but I don’t know what he’s saying. He looks at me, his big round face looks yellow even though he has lots of makeup on.
“I think I’m going to be sick!”
He runs off into the corner and I hear him throw up. All the other kids laugh and make noises, some of the girls start screaming. The teachers run about even more trying to tell everyone to be quiet. The fat kid comes back and sits down next to me and starts to talk to himself again, one of the teachers has a mop and bucket and is cleaning up his Christmas dinner.
“There’s turkey in it!”
Someone comes through the curtain, the curtain doesn’t close properly and I can see outside. There are so many people. Oh no! I didn’t think there would be this many people. I look to see if I can see my mum and my nan but I can’t see them. What if she couldn’t make it? What if I am not going to be able to get my surprise now! She might have had to work late and she won’t be able to see the play!
The girl who everyone likes is wearing her costume, everyone is telling her how nice she looks. She just smiles and doesn’t say anything. All of the teachers look worried.
I want to be sick like that boy! Through the curtain I can see Mark, he waves at me. I look around me to see if anyone is watching and then I wave back at him, he laughs and pulls a face, I laugh too. The fat kid sitting next to me runs away again but this time he runs through the door. A teacher runs after him trying to catch him. Where’s he going?!
Everybody goes quiet and the lights go dark apart from the big one on the stage. The girl goes on to the stage and starts to sing. Some of the teachers are smiling. The teacher who chased the fat boy comes back in the door with her hands in the air, she looks at the other teachers and shakes her head. I wish I had thought of that! Now he doesn’t have to do the play. How can I make myself sick? I try to pretend I want to get sick but I don’t feel anything. The girl stops singing and the people start clapping.
I watch all the other people run on and off the stage to say their words or sing their songs. I still can’t see mum through the curtain. I don’t think she has made it. Mark keeps making faces at me. I laugh at him and one of the teachers sees me and tells me to be quiet and stop messing about, I feel my face go red but I know she can’t see it because of all the makeup. The teacher holds up her hands showing two fingers. I think she means two minutes but I’m not sure, she didn’t do that when we were doing the rehearsals.
I feel a little bit dizzy, the other kids that have finished their parts are all laughing and playing, they don’t have to worry anymore. The teacher is waving her hands up and down at me but I just look at her. I don’t want to get up. I can’t even move if I want to, I feel so heavy! Another teacher grabs me and lifts me up. They both hold me by the curtain and then I hear them both start counting to three, when they say ‘three’ both of them push me forward.
I run onto the middle of the stage next to the girl who has just been singing again. I can’t see mum, I can just see lots and lots of people but they all look the same. I look down and I can see Mark and he is still making faces at me. I don’t want to laugh though. I am shaking, I know I have to say my words or else everyone will be laughing at me and then I’ll have no friends and all of Christmas will be ruined and mum will be angry at me.
“What about Ready Express?”
My voice sounds stupid, it doesn’t sound like my voice. I look on both sides again but I still can’t see mum. The girl pushes me and I run off the stage. It’s over! It’s over! It only took a few seconds, mum was right! The teacher smiles at me and tells me I was good. I don’t think I was good, it’s over, that’s all I care about. I look through the curtain and I make a face at Mark and he laughs, one of the teachers outside tells him to be quiet. I laugh while he gets told off. In the corner at the back I see mum and nanny sitting next to each other. They can’t see me but they’re here!
The play is nearly over, the girl is singing another song. We all have to go onto the stage at the end but I don’t care about that because I don’t have to say anything and everyone else is there. Everyone walks onto the stage, the girl is standing on a box, she tries to get off the box but she falls over. Everyone starts laughing. The teacher picks her up and shouts at everyone to shut up but they keep laughing. Some of the parents are laughing too. The girl starts to cry and runs off the stage. At least I never fell over, I didn’t like her anyway so I don’t feel bad for her. The curtain closes on the stage, the teacher keeps shouting at people but we all run through the curtains to our mums and dads.
“I told you it would be easy! You were brilliant!”
“I tried to get sick but it wouldn’t work.”
“What did you do that for?”
“I didn’t want to do it.”
Her eyes roll around and she ruffles my hair. What’s my surprise?
“Here’s your sweets for your story, I told you it would be fine!”
“Thank you Miss! Mum? What’s my surprise?”
“You’ll see in a bit, did you ask John if he wanted to come?”
“Can I take someone else?”
“Take whoever you like, love but they need to ask their mum or dad first.”
“Okay, I’ll be back in two minutes.”
If his mum wasn’t here I think he might have gone home already. I run over to where he was sitting but he isn’t there. I go back to the classroom to see if he has gone to get his bag. He is there, reading the rest of the book he was reading earlier.
“I wanted to finish it in case it isn’t here after Christmas.”
“My mum wants to take me somewhere, it’s a surprise and she says I can bring one of my friends. Do you want to come with me?”
He looks a little bit sad, then he smiles.
“Yes, but you have to come to my house first so I can ask my mum.”
“Okay, let’s go.”
Mark’s mum looks like she is a bit frightened but she tells mum and nanny to come in for a cup of tea. We go inside and sit down, mum goes to the kitchen with his mum and I can hear them talking. They come back with some tea and some biscuits. I take one of the biscuits but it doesn’t taste very nice.
Their Christmas tree is small and there aren’t many decorations. Their television is really small too. It feels like an old house. In the corner of the room there are lots of books in a pile. His mum sees me looking at them.
“Have a look through them, if you like them you can take one.”
“He’s enough books of his own at home.”
“Mark, make sure you behave yourself when you’re out.”
“I will! Where are we going?”
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
“It won’t be too late by the time we get home.”
“It doesn’t matter, they don’t have school tomorrow.”
“Mum? Why can’t Mark’s mum come with us?”
“She’s tired love, maybe she’ll come with us another time.”
We sit upstairs on the bus. So many people are outside shopping, it’s like day time but it’s almost night time. They all have big bags full of things. The bus is moving slowly because there are lots of cars. Mark stares out the window too, he doesn’t say anything, he looks happy. I looked at the front of the bus to see where it was going but it’s to a place that I have never heard of.
The bus turns and I know where we are! We’re in Oxford Street! I can see all the lights hanging over the street. They’re all different colours, there’s lots of stars and angels and Christmas trees, there’s Father Christmas with his reindeers and presents. Mum moves us to the front of the bus so we can see better. They all look so close. I look at Mark but his eyes are wide open and so is his mouth, he looks back at my mum and smiles at her. We pass all the shops, they have trees and presents in all of their windows, I want to go inside, it looks real, like they are really Father Christmas’ house!
We get off the bus, mum holds both of our hands. There are so many people, pushing past each other, all of them with big bags, none of them say sorry, I think that’s a bit rude! I look up at the lights as we walk along the street. They go the whole way across the road, all the way down the road, how many are there? How long did it take them? How did they make all of them? Mum takes us along the road, both of us are staring upwards.
It’s cold but I don’t feel cold, I feel really warm. Some people stop to take a picture of me, I forgot! I am still wearing my green costume and I still have big, red, rosy cheeks! They don’t speak English but they laugh and smile at me as they take a picture.
We stop in front of a big shop. Nan bends down gives me a twenty pound note, I put it into my pocket. Wow! What can I buy with a twenty pound note! Inside the shop it’s filled with kids and toys, there are toys everywhere. I wish I could buy all of them. There are so many colours too, things I’ve never seen, there’s a little helicopter flying around with kids running after it trying to catch it. There’s a man dressed as Father Christmas and he has lots of elves, kids are waiting to see him. I can tell him what I want for Christmas!
Mark is looking at some Lego, it’s not big, just a small thing you can make. He puts it down again and comes over and plays table football with me. He’s quite good, he beats me three times. He goes back to the Lego toy and looks at it again, he reads the back of the box and then puts it back.
“How much is it?”
“It’s £15, I just like the look of it but it’s too expensive, I don’t want it anyway.”
“I can buy it for you.”
“No, it’s okay, I don’t want it. One day I can get it, you can buy yourself a present for Christmas.”
“No, I want to buy it for you!”
“I don’t know, I just thought you might like it.”
“It’s okay, I don’t want it, it’s good just to see it. What are you going to buy with your money?”
“I don’t know, there’s too much here, I want everything.”
I really wanted to buy it for him but he wouldn’t let me. Maybe he’s shy. He doesn’t seem to be unhappy, he keeps laughing and smiling as we look at all the other toys. Mum calls us both over and tells us it’s time to go home. As we sit on the bus on the way home, I look out at one of the stars and make a wish. I wish that the snowman doesn’t come to visit me, I wish he goes to visit Mark and his mum and they can go out together.
Christmas post today! This short story is taken from my book of short stories ‘Queen’s Park to The Elephant’ which can be bought on Amazon. I probably won’t be posting here until the next book is out as I don’t have the time but once the book is finished I’ll be posting each weekday. Thank you for all your support this year, those who’ve bought my books and those who have even liked, commented or shared my work. It’s not been the easiest of years for me but the small things keep you going!