Santa stares at himself in the mirror, gathering his resolve. He feels strange, dressed as he is all in black. But these are strange times. His customary red suit hangs dry cleaned, ironed and smart in his cupboard which he has left open – a habit his wife hates. Santa shoots a slightly rueful look at the suit, turns back to his reflection and wonders for the umpteenth whether this is a good idea after all.
Then his gaze drops to a lengthy crumpled list on his dresser and, also for the umpteenth time, he realizes that it is. He picks up the list and sits down for a moment to scan it, his free hand automatically dipping into the packet of chocolate chip cookies he always keeps nearby. The rustling of the packet makes his wife stir in her sleep but he keeps munching, albeit a little guiltily. He knows he needs to keep the weight down, especially considering the taxing nature of tonight’s assignment, but he also needs energy. Sugar’s good for energy, he’s heard.
First on the list: Sri Lanka. Santa sits back in his chair, his brows drawing together as he tries to remember where that is. The reindeer always seem to know where they are going but he likes to have some idea as well. After so many years of doing what he does, he guesses he should know the world like the back of his hand. As loathe as he is to admit it, though, his memory isn’t as good as it used to be. He rummages around his person and finally unearths an ancient dog-eared world map from the depths of one of his pockets. Smoothing it out on his lap, he hunches over it, groping absently for his glasses while he squints in the dim light, trying to find the place. Continue reading Santa