“Now the frosty paws appear, and they've frozen up my ear, So we'll lie by the fire, 'til the sleet simply melts 'em all away….”
Sky Smith sang as she put up a set of outdoor Christmas lights around the hedges in the front garden of the house at Thirteen Bannerman Road. Her adopted mum, Sarah Jane, was on a ladder fixing blue and white icicle lights around the porch.
She sang those words again, then paused, puzzled by the apparent lack of sense in the lyrics.
“Frosty paws?” she queried.
“I always thought it was frosticles,” Sarah Jane answered her. “And I’m sure it’s ‘they’ve frozen up my beard’.”
Sky gave her a quizzical look.
“Roy Wood had a beard and moustache,” Sarah Jane explained. “He was the lead singer and songwriter of Wizzard. I expect that was what it meant. And I think it might be ‘sleep’ not ‘sleet’ that melts the frost away.”
“That makes a bit more sense,” Sky conceded. “I wish it could be Christmas Every Day……” She continued to sing. Sarah Jane sighed. She could remember the Christmas when that song first hit the charts. 1973. It was the last NORMAL Christmas she had for a long time. That was the year she first met The Doctor. After that, nothing was normal.
Nineteen Seventy Three - nearly forty years ago. Where did the years go? She wondered if she could have some of them back.
“Oh, I wish it could be Christmas Every Da…ayyy,” Sky continued. Sarah Jane smiled as Luke joined in with the harmony. He had only got home from Oxford yesterday. That was why they had waited to put up the decorations inside and outside the house. Sarah Jane wanted both of her children to enjoy every part of the Christmas celebration. It meant that today was a rush of hectic preparation, but it would be worth it if this turned out to be the most perfect Christmas, yet.
“I really DO wish it was Christmas every day,” Sky added. “I’ve missed out on so many of them, it would be a chance to catch up.”
“You should know better than to go wishing for anything,” Sarah Jane reminded her. “Look what happened last time.”
Sky laughed and stood back as Sarah Jane plugged in the outdoor lights and the garden was transformed into a winter wonderland. She sighed appreciatively. This Christmas was promising to be a good one.
They finished the outdoor decorations and went back inside to the big drawing room where a real log fire was burning, just as it always used to ever since Thirteen Bannerman Road was built in the era before central heating was invented. Most of the decorations in here had been done already. There was a big Christmas tree by the window, a real one in a pot that could be planted in the garden after Christmas. It was decorated with everything except the star that went on the top. Sarah Jane gave that to Luke who stood on a step ladder to fix it in place.
“Now, Sky, it’s your turn,” she said, remembering for a moment the trouble they had with electricity when baby Sky first arrived in Bannerman Road. Sky flicked the switch that Clyde had wired up, with lots of helpful and not so helpful hints from K9, to make putting on the lights safe and easy. At once the multi-coloured tree lights came on, as well as strings of white lights all around the picture rail on the walls and around the windows. With the light already fading outside the effect was very pretty.
“Now,” Sarah Jane said, pouring a glass each of brandy for herself and Luke and apple juice for Sky. “A toast to Christmas.”
“To Christmas,” her children responded.
“To Christmas,” added the mechanical voice of K9 who came into the room with a soft whirr of servo motors. “Mistress, the oven requires your attention.”
“Oh, the vol-au-vents,” Sarah Jane declared and rushed out of the room. Luke and Sky looked at each other and laughed.
“We’d better go and give her a hand or this party won’t be ready until New Year,” Luke said.
Not that Sarah Jane wasn’t perfectly good at cooking, but party catering wasn’t really her thing. Even in the big kitchen of her substantial house, she was running out of places for things to cool. The table was already covered with sausage rolls, pizza bites, some kind of savoury things that came in a pack of fifty from the freezer shop, tangy chicken wings, mini sausages, cheese cubes, pineapple pieces and silverskin onions waiting to be assembled on cocktail sticks. Sky took on that job while Luke organised them onto a plate and Sarah Jane got on with making the fillings for the hundred party vol-au-vents that had come out of the oven on three large trays.
“How many people are actually going to be here later?” Luke asked.
“The three of us, Rani and her mum and dad, Clyde and his mum,” Sarah Jane answered. “Eight in all.”
“Are we really going to eat a hundred vol-au-vents between us?” he queried.
“I could,” Sky volunteered. “I love them, all crispy and melting in my mouth. Yum.”
“You fill them,” Sarah Jane told her son. “Or we won’t have a hundred left.”
They laughed. These were chores to be done before the fun began, but they didn’t really feel like work. They were all enjoying themselves already.
In fact, ninety seven vol-au-vents went on the plates in the end. Sky ate two of them surreptitiously and one fell on the floor and was run over by K9. He complained about tuna-mayonnaise in his wheel bearings but Sarah Jane thought it probably wasn’t dangerous to mechanical lifeforms.
There were probably some other people they might have invited to a Christmas Eve party, but K9 would have had to be hidden from view. This handful of friends were all in on the secret and he was able to mingle with them singing Christmas carols tunelessly and wishing everyone a happy Christmas. He ran over at least one more vol-au-vent and a couple of sausage rolls that were dropped on the floor, but he didn’t mind.
Sky enjoyed the night immensely. She was almost sorry when it was over. Only ‘almost’ because in the morning it would be Christmas Day itself and there was so much more to look forward to then. She went to bed tired but buoyed by the excitement of what was still to come.
She woke the next morning to the sound of K9 singing I Wish You A Merry Christmas in his out of tune mechanical voice and Luke throwing snowman shaped marshmallows at her head.
“Stop it!” she protested about the marshmallow assault. “K9, stop singing. I’m awake.”
“Come on, there are presents to open,” Luke told her with a big, wide grin. She threw off the duvet and grabbed her dressing gown and slippers before following her brother downstairs.
There were tons of presents for both Luke and Sky. They were piled around the Christmas tree and in front of the now cold fireplace. Some of them were BIG! Sarah Jane and K9 watched as the two youngsters tried to decide which to open first.
“Before we start opening them,” Luke said. “Is everyone absolutely sure that every present came from a legitimate shop, and not from a wandering magic shop or any quaint little emporium down a dark and forgotten side street?”
“Absolutely certain,” Sarah Jane replied. “You’re perfectly safe.”
Luke picked up a flat, rectangular present while Sky unwrapped a not particularly well-disguised scooter leaning against the window. She turned from that and selected a second present, one that was much more of a surprise and opened it slowly while Luke was still examining his new Kindle. The anticipation and the revelation of each present was something she had learnt to savour.
Within an hour, despite the effort to open everything slowly, there were two collections of presents and a large pile of discarded wrapping paper, ribbons and gift tags cluttering up the usually tidy drawing room. Sarah Jane was sampling one of the delicate, hand-made chocolates that was a present from Gita Chandra and enjoying the fact that her two adopted children appreciated their Christmas so thoroughly.
“We are lucky,” Sky said to Luke. “Mum didn’t have any children at all for all those years when she was working as a top journalist and earning loads of money, so she had plenty saved up to spend on us now we ARE here.”
Sarah Jane smiled wryly. There were probably better ways of putting it, but that was the truth of it. She had lived a relatively quiet life since her days with The Doctor. Her own needs had been simple, and she actually had salted away a nest egg that she dipped into for the expensive consumer products that made up the Christmas present list.
And she was glad to do that. Out of the blue she had become a mum when she had thought the time was long gone, and she didn’t resent or regret it one little bit, especially not at Christmas.
After a while Luke and Sky cleared up the wrapping paper while Sarah Jane went to prepare the vegetables for Christmas dinner. When that was done they all enjoyed a mid-morning coffee. Sarah Jane and Luke had theirs with a shot of liquor in it. Sky had a double helping of thick cream and a dash of almond essence to make hers special. They toasted the Christmas morning with it.
The dinner came around in due course. A turkey far too big for three people to eat was cooked to perfection and the dining table groaned under the weight of the trimmings.
“It IS just the three of us,” Luke pointed out. “Although Sky looks hungry enough to eat two dinners.”
“Yummy,” Sky said and reached for the dish of fragrant chestnut stuffing.
“Not yet,” Sarah Jane said, filling wine glasses for herself and Luke and a glass of apple juice for Sky. “Let us think of friends who can’t be with us.”
“The Doctor,” Luke suggested.
“Yes, The Doctor,” Sarah Jane agreed. “And others.”
She might have been thinking of The Brigadier, whose death still bothered her a little. There was Harry, long dead, but still often in her thoughts. Luke wondered if she was also thinking of Captain Yates who she had mentioned meeting up with earlier in the year. Anyway, absent friends was a traditional toast at any meal and they made it before giving in to a hearty appetite.
Sky didn’t exactly have two whole dinners, but she did have second helpings of turkey and stuffing and a very large portion of Christmas pudding. Sarah Jane and Luke drank Irish coffee while watching her finish her pudding.
“I am stuffed,” she announced as she pushed the well scraped bowl away. “That was the best Christmas dinner, ever.”
It was only her second Christmas dinner ever, but she meant it perfectly sincerely. Sarah Jane smiled indulgently.
“Help me take the dishes to the kitchen and then we can take things easy for the afternoon,” she said. “Gather your strength for tea.”
They watched a film, just the usual Christmas afternoon fare on the television. Before it was halfway through Sky had fallen asleep on the sofa. Luke half watched and half concentrated on downloading books onto his Kindle. Sarah Jane just soaked up the quiet atmosphere of happy domesticity.
Sky woke just before tea and stretched. She saw it was already getting dark outside and complained bitterly.
“Christmas Day is almost over. I slept for so long. I’ve missed a huge chunk of it. And I haven’t even tested my new scooter.”
“Plenty of daylight tomorrow,” Sarah Jane told her. “Teatime, soon. Ham salad, pork pie, trifle, Christmas cake, mince pies.”
Luke rubbed his stomach and said he could still feel his lunch digesting, but Sky was happy with the prospect of more food.
“We eat so very much on Christmas Day,” Luke pointed out as they tucked into the ham salad. “We would never have a big lunch and a big tea on any other day of the year.”
“This is nothing,” Sky told him. “We did Christmas traditions in history. In the Medieval and Tudor and Stuart times, there would be massive feasts that would go on for hours, with whole roast boar and stuff like that. And they did it EVERY day for the twelve days of Christmas.”
“I’d be sick,” Luke commented.
“I expect the medieval people often were,” Sarah Jane replied. “I’ve been to the twelfth century and the hygiene in the kitchens left a lot to be desired. They leave that kind of thing out of your history books. But nobody is going to be sick today apart from Sky if she doesn’t stop gobbling down pork pie as if it was going out of business.”
“I’m pretending I’m at a medieval feast,” she explained, but she slowed down and savoured the food. The tea didn’t exactly last for hours and cooked ham was far from wild boar, but it was a modern feast that was rounded off nicely with a huge fruit trifle and the Christmas cake Sarah Jane had made and decorated herself.
After tea they played games. Sarah Jane had bought new question packs for Trivial Pursuit and it was a surprisingly close run game. Sky was much better than either her brother or her mum at questions about television or pop music. Sarah Jane was a little put out to find that ‘history’ questions frequently referred to events that were within her lifetime. Luke was best at the questions about science and maths, of course.
Cluedo and a marathon game of Monopoly brought them close to eleven o’clock with Sky fighting to stay awake and enjoy every last minute of Christmas Day, but she was in bed before the old church clock in the distance chimed midnight and it wasn’t the day any more.
“I really DO wish it could be Christmas EVERY day,” she sighed as she picked a marshmallow off her pillow and let it melt in her mouth as she drifted off to sleep.
She woke up to her brother throwing marshmallows at her head. She had a slight stomach ache from all the food she had eaten yesterday and she really didn’t want to wake up this early. She responded grumpily, throwing some of the marshmallows back.
“Go away. I want to sleep,” she said.
“Come on, get up,” Luke insisted. “There are presents to open.”
“No there isn’t,” she replied. “We opened them all yesterday.”
“Are you going barmy?” Luke asked. “It’s Christmas Day. Come on.”
“What?” Sky opened her eyes fully and looked at her brother. Either he was having delusions or she was.
She crawled out of bed and pulled on her nightdress and slippers and followed Luke downstairs, wondering what was going on.
She stepped into the drawing room and stared at the piles of presents around the tree, the wrapped up scooter leaning against the window, K9 singing tunelessly, and Sarah Jane smiling warmly at her.
“I don’t think Sky wants her presents,” Luke said. “She didn’t want to get up.”
“But….” Sky began. But she didn’t know what else to say. It was Christmas Day and her presents waited to be opened – all over again.
It should have been exciting. The last time it had been. Even though the scooter was obvious and she had a good idea what else her mum had bought her, she had enjoyed the surprises as she opened each parcel. She had loved even the little cheap gifts from the market that bulked out the expensive presents.
But there was no surprise this time. She had opened these presents already. She did her best to look and sound enthusiastic, and Sarah Jane looked pleased, but Luke didn’t seem fooled. He watched her carefully while pretending to be looking at his new Kindle.
“What’s up?” he asked her when Sarah Jane went to make coffee. “Are you feeling ill? Too many tuna vol-au-vents last night?”
“No, it’s… it’s nothing. I’m all right, honestly. You’re right… too many vol-au-vents.”
“Well, take some Alka Seltzer or something and get your appetite back for lunch time, or mum will think you’re REALLY sick.”
“I think I’ll go out and try my scooter,” she said.
It was the one thing that was new, at least. She hadn’t had a chance the first time around, with everything else there was to do on Christmas morning. At least this was something fun.
It was a cold day with a leaden sky holding off the rain. In her coat and gloves she was warm enough, though, even before she got going on the modern, three wheeled scooter with v-shaped back end. It was as much fun as a bicycle, but without all the pedalling. She enjoyed the sense of speed and freedom it afforded.
The streets were busy with children of all ages trying out new bicycles with or without stabilisers. It was almost a Christmas tradition of its own. She raced a boy who had a scooter like hers and was only narrowly beaten by him before she turned back towards home.
The exercise did help sharpen her appetite and she was ready to eat when Sarah Jane called her in to lunch. Even so, the sight of the huge turkey and the steaming gravy boat made her groan. Eating the same heavy meal two days in a row was too much. She laboured to clear her plate long after her mum and brother had finished theirs.
“Just a small bit of pudding,” she said. “I really couldn’t eat more.”
“That’s not like you at all,” Sarah Jane commented. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
“I ate too many sweets earlier,” she lied. Luke gave her a sharp look. He knew she hadn’t touched the big jar of Roses chocolates or any of the other confectionaries around the house. Sarah Jane smiled and nodded and gave her a small portion of Christmas pudding and white sauce. She managed to swallow it all, but she really didn’t enjoy it.
After lunch she curled up on the sofa as she had done the day before. This time she didn’t fall asleep. She was too afraid of finding herself back in bed being pelted with marshmallows and having to start all over again. She watched the Christmas film through half-closed eyes and pretended to be asleep. She heard Luke comment to Sarah Jane that she didn’t quite seem herself. Sarah Jane shook her head and confessed she was a little worried.
She didn’t want her mum to be worried, so she did her best to look brighter when she ‘woke’ in time for tea. After eating less lunch than expected she did feel hungry for the tea and ate enough to allay any concerns, though she didn’t ask for seconds even of the lovely trifle.
Trivial Pursuit followed and Sky beat both Luke and her mum to their utter surprise. The question packs were new and sealed so they knew she couldn’t have been cheating.
“I don’t know,” Sarah Jane admitted. “Two child geniuses in the house, how can a mere mortal like me stand a chance at this sort of game. Let’s play Cluedo. At least my investigative journalist skills give me an advantage with that!”
They played two rounds of Cluedo and a long game of Monopoly before Sky started drooping and admitted that she had to go to bed.
“Get a good night’s rest. Remember, Rani and her family are joining us for lunch tomorrow.”
“I hope so,” Sky answered cryptically.
But the next morning wasn’t the next morning at all and Luke was throwing marshmallows at her head again.
“Presents,” he insisted. “Come on, sleepy head.”
This time the only present she bothered to open was the scooter. It gave her an excuse to get out of the house. She looked across the road to the Chandra family home and wondered if she should talk to Rani, but although her family didn’t celebrate Christmas she didn’t feel right about disturbing them. She scooted around the block and then off the estate altogether, towards the main road.
There weren’t as many cars around as usual, but she kept to the pavement all the same as people heading to family Christmas dinners with relatives passed by in both directions. She came to a church where people were going in to a Christmas morning service and slowed the scooter. She looked at the church door where the vicar was greeting people, then propped her unconventional transport at the side of the building and went inside. She took a hymn book from the lady handing them out and sat quietly at the back.
She had never really been to church. There had been a school trip to Westminster Abbey once, and the choir took part in a competition with other school choirs that was held in Southwark Cathedral, but she had never been to a church service. It was easy enough to follow, all the same, and the Carols were familiar to her.
Prayer wasn’t something she was used to doing, but she put her hands together and repeated the words along with the congregation. She even made her own little prayer.
“Please make it not Christmas tomorrow,” she whispered, though she didn’t have a lot of hope that it would be answered.
It was nice coming out into the daylight again afterwards and the vicar shook her hand and wished her a happy Christmas. She found her scooter where she had left it. She had been a tiny bit worried that it might get stolen - though even if it had, she reminded herself, it would be waiting for her again the next day wrapped up in Christmas paper.
She scooted home again and didn’t mention where she had been. She quietly unwrapped her other presents while Luke helped her mum get lunch ready. She did her best to be enthusiastic about turkey for the third day in a row and managed a small portion of pudding.
After lunch the day followed the same pattern – pretending to be asleep through the afternoon, tea, games. Again she won at Trivial Pursuit, but this time she didn’t feel as triumphant about it. The whole thing was too easy. She won at Cluedo, too, because the same cards came out, and the Monopoly began to feel monotonous when she recognised the same dice rolls as twice before.
“I hope you feel better tomorrow,” Sarah Jane told her when she elected to go to bed. “I’m sorry you haven’t been feeling so good on Christmas day. But there’s still plenty of fun tomorrow.”
“I… hope so,” Sky answered. She pressed her lips together and ran to bed. Only when she was in the dark and under the covers did she start to cry.
“No more Christmas,” she sobbed as she fell asleep from exhaustion and disappointment.
The next morning when the marshmallows assailed her she turned over in the bed and cried again. Luke was astonished and moved closer to comfort her.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “It was just a joke. I didn’t mean to hurt you. Sky, don’t cry. It’s Christmas Day. You can’t be crying on Christmas Day.”
“I’m fed up of Christmas,” she answered. “Leave me alone.”
Luke was puzzled by her response. He left her huddled under the bedclothes and went downstairs. He told his mum that Sky wasn’t feeling well. She was disappointed, of course. She had planned the perfect Christmas Day for them all.
“Maybe a party last night and then so much going on today was too much,” she decided. “Let’s leave her to get up when she’s ready. At lunch time I’ll just make some ham sandwiches, and we’ll do the big meal in the evening, instead. Maybe Sky will be feeling better by then.”
She did get up eventually, and she did open some of her presents, but it all felt like an anti-climax. Luke opened his Kindle and downloaded some books onto it. He spent the afternoon with it while Sky lay on the sofa listlessly half-watching the film on television.
She was hungry by the time they ate their Christmas dinner at seven o’clock in the evening instead of lunchtime. She even had some of the teatime trifle before the plum pudding.
“We’ll have the Christmas cake before bed,” Sarah Jane decided. “Shall we play some games, first? Trivial Pursuit?”
“No, not that,” Sky protested. “It’s not fair, anyway. Luke always wins. He’s too clever for me. I don’t think I really want to play a game. Mum, let’s just sit and… I don’t know. Tell us a story, about your time with The Doctor. K9 can help. He knows all of the details.”
“Well, it’s not really a Christmas kind of thing to do… although… there was that time with the Christmas trees that sucked the intelligence out of unwary people….”
That was good enough. Sky settled down on the sofa again, with Luke beside her reading his Kindle and listening to the story at the same time. K9 hunkered at his feet and occasionally chipped in with details about what happened even though he had not been there when Sarah Jane travelled with The Doctor. He had the TARDIS database downloaded into his own memory and that included The Doctor’s own records of his adventures, so the dates and times, space co-ordinates and even the exact temperature on the planet where the adventure occurred were accurate.
“That was a great story,” Sky said when it was done. “And a great way to spend Christmas Day evening. I really enjoyed it.”
“I’m glad you did,” Sarah Jane told her. “This wasn’t really the Christmas Day I planned, but it seems to have ended well, at least. Tomorrow, hopefully, you’ll feel a bit brighter and we can do some more things.”
“Yes,” Sky said. “As long as tomorrow happens,” she added to herself.
She went to bed again and settled down to sleep, hoping that this time she wouldn’t wake up to Luke attacking her with marshmallows.
But the next morning brought the same onslaught. She sat up in bed and threw the sweets back at him.
“Come on, presents,” he told her.
“Yeah, ok,” she answered. She had thought of something that might help. She got dressed fully before she came downstairs this time, and the first present she opened was, again, the scooter.
“I’m going to try this out straight away,” she said. “I’ll open the rest of the prezzies afterwards.”
“Whatever you want,” Sarah Jane told her, pleased that she was enthusiastic about her present.
But she didn’t really want to take the scooter anywhere. She wheeled it across the road to the Chandra house and asked for Rani.
“Hi,” the older girl said to her. “I just opened the present you and Luke and Sarah Jane got me. Thanks. It’s nice of you to remember me even though we don’t do Christmas in our house.”
“That’s ok,” Sky told her. “Can I talk to you? Privately.”
Rani wondered what could be so serious on Christmas morning, but she took Sky up to her room away from her mother’s chatter and her father’s inquisitiveness. Sky sat on a bean bag and told her story. Rani listened carefully and didn’t waste any time not believing her. They had all seen plenty of strange things, even Sky’s arrival among them.
“Sarah Jane was right” Rani told her. “Wishing for things is VERY dangerous in her house. You must have said it close to some artefact that takes wishes literally.”
“Yes. But how do I get it to stop? I really DON’T want it to be Christmas everyday. It really isn’t fun. The fun things turn into the same old things, and I’m just absolutely, completely fed up of Christmas. I can’t take another day of turkey and cake and stuff without being sick. I’m even starting to miss the idea of ever going back to school if this never ends.”
“That’s desperate,” Rani agreed. “What about… The Shopkeeper. He might be able to help.”
“It’s Christmas Day. Shops are shut,” Sky pointed out.
“I wonder if HIS shop is? Come on. I’ll tell mum we’re going out for a bit.”
Sky expected to walk, or possibly go on her scooter with Rani on a bicycle. She was surprised when Rani went to her mum’s car. There were L. plates on the dashboard, but she didn’t put them on the car.
“I don’t have a designated driver, so I’ll just have to pretend I’ve passed my test and hope there aren’t many policemen around,” she said as she fastened her seatbelt and put the keys in the ignition.
“If today keeps repeating it won’t matter anyway,” Sky pointed out. “This won’t have happened.”
Rani drove carefully towards Ealing Broadway where the Shopkeeper’s store was to be found sometimes. Rani was aware that she had walked along the shopping street many times and it hadn’t been there, but she felt it would be when it was needed.
And she was right. She parked in a side lane with one hour parking permitted and they made their way back to the only shop that wasn’t closed and shuttered on this festive day apart from a twenty-four hour newsagent and off-licence run by a Mr Parmar and his four sons in never ending shifts.
The shop was full of peculiar objet-d’art as usual. The Captain was on his perch. The Shopkeeper was sitting on an old wing-backed armchair drinking Turkish coffee from a long glass. He greeted them both amiably.
“What can I do for you today?” he asked.
“Help me,” Sky said and told her story to him.
“Undoing a wish,” he said with a wry smile. “Not always easy.”
“Please tell me THIS one can be undone,” Sky begged. “I’m going CRAZY!”
“It may be possible,” he assured her. “Leave it with me. Go home now, my dear, and try not to worry.”
That was the best promise he could make. Sky knew there was no use in expecting more from him. At least he had promised to try.
“I’m sure it will be all right,” Rani promised her as they drove home. “He’s a kind man. We can trust him.”
In fact, they knew very little about the Shopkeeper. He seemed to be on their side. He was the one who had brought Sky to live with Sarah Jane in safety. He had helped them in other ways from time to time. But for all they knew he might be some kind of space criminal or a time renegade.
“Rani!” Sky was jolted from her thoughts by the car that swerved in front of them as they approached the usually busy junction of Broadway and High Street. A more experienced driver might have been able to avoid a collision, but Rani had only been taking lessons for a few months and the car slammed into the one in front before she could brake. Both girls screamed as they were thrown painfully forward and the seatbelts tightened while airbags exploded in front of them. Rani cried out in horror at the crumpled front of her mother’s car while Sky fainted in shock, wondering what Sarah Jane would say when she found out.
“Hey, sleepyhead, wake up!” She heard her brother’s voice again and something harder than a marshmallow pinged off her cheek. She grabbed it and noticed that it was a liquorice Allsort.
“That hurt,” she complained, sitting up. “What’s the big idea?”
“I ran out of marshmallows yesterday morning,” Luke replied.
“Yesterday?” Sky looked at the sweet. It was one of the jelly sort with lots of tiny balls stuck around it, her favourite of the Allsorts. She put it in her mouth. “What day is it then?” she asked.
“Boxing Day, obviously,” Luke replied. “The day AFTER Christmas Day. The day we have roast pork for lunch and the left over turkey with salad for tea, and get to properly enjoy our presents from yesterday. Oh, and Rani came round. She wants to talk to you.”
“Rani?” The memory of the car crash came back to her, but she didn’t feel bruised or hurt in any way. Sky jumped out of bed and ran to the window. Over the road she could see Mr Chandra’s Ford Lexus and the Fiat that Mrs Chandra drove parked behind it in their driveway. Both cars were intact.
“It must be all right,” she said, much to Luke’s bewilderment. She grabbed her dressing gown and ran downstairs. Rani was drinking coffee in the drawing room where most of Sky’s presents were still piled. Luke had tidied all of his away in his room.
“I had to come over,” Rani said. “To make sure you’re all right. Did you have a dream… about….”
“It wasn’t a dream,” Sky insisted. “It was real. But he must have managed to reverse the wish. None of it happened, now. We just had the first Christmas Day, the proper one we were supposed to have. And now it’s Boxing Day, at last.”
“I didn’t crash the car.” Rani was relieved. “That felt horribly real, but I can’t remember anything after that… you know, like the police coming and my dad going mental. So it CAN’T have really happened.”
“I didn’t really go to the church service,” Sky noted. “That’s a pity, because I quite liked that bit. But the rest… Remind me never to wish for anything again. It really is just too dangerous around here.”
They laughed together, and as they did so, both thought they heard the deep, ringing laughter of the Shopkeeper, too. As the sound died away Sarah Jane brought mince pies and cream for everyone and said it qualified as breakfast on Boxing Day.
“Happy Boxing Day!” Sky said as she tucked into her plate gladly.