Elf On The Shelf · Short Story · Writing

Elf On The Shelf: A Story – Part 1


December 1st

HEY THERE!
MY NAME IS DAMIEN AND I’VE BEEN SENT ON A SPECIAL
MISSION FROM SANTA TO STAY WITH YOU AND MAKE SURE
YOU ARE BEING EXTRA GOOD BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
SANTA SAYS I’M TOO MUCH TROUBLE TO WORK IN THE TOYSHOP
BUT HE’S SURE YOU’LL ENJOY MY ANTICS WHILST I’M VISITING.
REMEMBER, A BIT OF MISCHIEF IS ONE THING,
BUT BEING A NAUGHTY LITTLE BOY OR GIRL MEANS
NO HAPPY CHRISTMAS FOR YOU.
I’LL BE WATCHING…

“Damien?” James snorted into his cereal. “What kind of a stupid name is Damien for a Christmas Elf? I thought they were all called ‘Jingles’ or ‘Buddy’ and stuff like that.”

His mum bopped him on the head with the empty milk carton, “They can’t all be called that kind of thing. They’d run out of names. Anyway, don’t start by insulting the little guy – that’s not being good.” She laughed and turned to put the bottle in the recycling, missing James’ eye roll.

“I’m way too old for this rubbish, Mum. Even Lola’s almost past it.”

“James! Watch what you say around your sister! Let her enjoy the magic whilst she’s still little.”

James rolled his eyes a second time and carried on eating his breakfast, his sister Lola had her headphones on and was jiggling in her seat to what sounded suspiciously like Christmas music. She hadn’t heard a thing, and probably would think ‘Damien’ was fabulous once she noticed he existed, but ever since her birthday two weeks ago she was oblivious to the world until she’d listened to her new iPod for her alloted thirty minutes every morning.

Seven year olds were stupid. So were Christmas Elves.

*

That afternoon, when James deposited his rucksack on the kitchen table, Damien the elf was sat next to Mum’s shopping list pad with a pen in his lap. A note was written in the same careful block capitals as the ‘Official’ letter on the top page of the notebook. Mum or Dad had gone all out to copy the writing and make it unrecognisable for Lola, they really were trying to keep her a baby as long as possible.

James grabbed a packet of crisps from the cupboard and went into the front room to watch TV until Mum got back from collecting Lola from her after-school recorder club. Afterwards Lola would doubtless insist on ‘practising’ whatever noise they were currently learning and it would be so hideous that he’d end up in his room doing homework, so he had to make the most of the peace.

Lola burst through the door in a whirl of recorder squeaking and breathless giggling. “James! James! Jamie! Guess what we’re learning at recorder club now it’s December? Guess! Guess!”

James turned the TV up.

“James Alexander! Don’t be rude to your sister. Turn that off and speak to her.”

With a sigh, James flicked off the TV. “Is it ‘Frère Jaques’? You seem to learn that every month.” Badly, he added in his head, not daring to say it out loud under his mother’s already stern gaze.

“No, silly. It’s your faaaavourite. Listen!” Lola took her place between James and the now-blank television screen, brandished her lime green recorder with a flourish, and blew far too hard resulting in an ear-splitting squeak that made everyone flinch. “Whoops! Mrs Flintlock says I get too excited and need to take a big, calm breath before I start so I don’t do that every time. I forgot. I was too excited. Hang on.”

She made a show of taking a deep breath and concentrating hard before slowly playing a series of notes that made nothing recognisable at all.

“Do you like it? It’s good isn’t it? Mrs Flintlock said if I practice loads I might be able to play the solo bit this year. I said you’d love it because it’s your favourite. It is isn’t it?”

Lola was positively bouncing on the spot with glee. James wanted to be watching TV.

“Lola, it’s just noise. I can’t even tell what it’s supposed to be. I’ve got maths homework to do, I’ll see you at dinner. Oh and the stupid elf thing left a note, it’s on the table.” James stormed out of the room, ignored Mum’s angry glare and Lola’s crestfallen face, grabbed his rucksack off the table and stomped upstairs. Not noticing that he knocked Damien clear off the table as he did so.

*

“D’you want to know what the note from Damien said?” Lola asked round a mouthful of mash. “I picked him up off the floor where you knocked him. He looked cross.”

“He can’t look cross, Lola. He’s a toy.”

Lola’s bottom lip wobbled.

“Okay, tell me what the note said. And, I know, he’s only a toy when we look at him. So maybe he looked a bit cross. Or something.”

Lola glared at him suspiciously, then cleared her throat and read:

“JAMES.
MAKING FUN OF PEOPLE’S NAMES
IS NOT ON MY LIST OF ‘GOOD BOY’ GAMES.
THAT’S ONE BAD MARK UPON YOUR CARD,
IT’S ONLY DAY ONE. IS BEING GOOD SO HARD?
LET’S START OVER, MAKE AMENDS,
I’M SURE BY CHRISTMAS WE’LL BE GOOD FRIENDS.
NOW, TOMORROW IS A BRAND NEW DAY,
GO FIND A NICER GAME TO PLAY.”

“So really it was all a note for you. You need to be good, James. What if I don’t get presents from Santa because you’re mean to Damien? That wouldn’t be fair.”

James opened his mouth to say something along the lines of ‘There is no Santa’ but stopped at a warning cough from his Dad. Instead he shrugged and mumbled, “Sorry.”

“I fink yoo…”

“Lola! Empty your mouth before speaking!”

“Sorry, Daddy.” She swallowed noisily. “I think you should say sorry to Damien too, Jamie-James. You were mean AND you knocked him off the table.”

“Don’t call me Jamie-James. And I’m not saying sorry to…”

“James…” His Mum said warningly.

“Fine. Sorry for being mean about your name, Damien.” Nobody missed the eye roll at the end of his apology, but nobody shouted at him either, so he figured it would do. Having a kid sister sucked sometimes.

“Thank you, James. Lets try what the little elf said tomorrow shall we? Start over with a better attitude and all that.” His dad ruffled his hair as he stood up to clear the table. “Even if it does feel a little early to be getting in the Christmas spirit yet.”

“Nonsense. It’s December now, it’ll be here before you know it, Steve.” Mum grinned.

This time it was Dad’s turn to roll his eyes as he left the room.

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